If you’ve ever been to Arizona, you know it’s a beautiful place. The desert landscapes are some of the prettiest places in the country, and the mountain areas have some of the best outdoor activities in the entire southwest.
But is it all great in the Copper State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Arizona has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in Arizona are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, you’ll most likely disagree if you see your town atop this list. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make Arizona your home. These places need a big hug right about now.
After analyzing 54 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Arizona:
- South Tucson (Photos)
- Eloy (Photos)
- Guadalupe (Photos)
- Winslow (Photos)
- San Luis (Photos)
- Coolidge (Photos)
- Globe (Photos)
- Tolleson (Photos)
- Tucson (Photos)
- Cottonwood (Photos)
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Arizona? That would be South Tucson.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Arizona reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Arizona
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Arizona
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Arizona
How we determined the worst places to live in Arizona for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 54 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 54 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.
Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in Arizona — South Tucson. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Arizona.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, South Tucson ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 1st cheapest in the state here at $77,700. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in South Tucson.
The median income levels here are the 1st lowest in the state of Arizona, at $21,160. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 16.4% of people in South Tucson were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Eloy, along I-10 south of Chandler, is also a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Eloy is the 30th most dangerous place you can live in Arizona.
Residents in Eloy have a 1 in 34.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Eloy, where average homes are valued at only$80,600. That’s the 2nd-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Guadalupe is another place in the Grand Canyon State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Guadalupe is a staggering 15.3%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($28,491 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $101,400, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Guadalupe is bad, but not horrible.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Winslow is the 8th most dangerous city in Arizona. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 12.0 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Winslow might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Winslow are really low. People here earn about $36,647 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Winslow are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Arizona than in Winslow.
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, San Luis is one of the worst places you can live in Arizona. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 15.9% unemployment rate for a city of 31,509 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing. That’s by far the highest unemployment rate of any city we’ve analyzed.
Not only that, but the public school system is completely underfunded in San Luis. The students get the least amount of spending in the entire state, and at $7,000 each per year, that’s about half the national average.
The city has a prison in town, and it sits right next to the Mexican border. Crime is above average here, and perhaps the only reason crime isn’t higher is that there are most likely lots of border patrol agents in the area.
Coolidge is only a half hour drive south of the outskirts of Chandler and ranks as the 6th worst city on this list. However, there are some major differences in the quality of life between the two.
Coolidge has the 20th highest crime rate in Arizona, where residents have a 1 in 23.1 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 6th cheapest in the state ($88,200), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Things are starting to get progressively more ‘modern’ and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Arizona when we get to Globe. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 9.3% (which is really high), and the median income is $44,821. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren’t a complete mess.
Globe is tucked away in the canyons of the Superstition Mountains, near two large reservations.
We’re seeing a pattern here. A small, isolated city with a bad economy. Tolleson is located in Maricopa County.
Here, the schools are way underfunded, when you compare them to the rest of Arizona. Families can barely make ends meet, and the unemployment rate (4.1%) is the 46th highest in the state. A home here sells for $161,500, on average. That signals it’s not a desirable place to live.
Plus, crime is in the top 10%.
Tucson, AZ needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.
Additionally, crime is 10th worst in the state, which is very high considering Tucson is so far removed from the rest of Arizona.
If you know anyone in Tucson, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
Cottonwood is one of the poorest cities in the state of Arizona. This city has 8.2% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $32,746 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Cottonwood has the 28th highest crime rate in Arizona. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Arizona is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it’s still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Grand Canyon State.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Arizona
If you’re looking at areas in Arizona with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, South Tucson ranks as the worst city to live in Arizona for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arizona:
- Gilbert (Pop. 232,176)
- Scottsdale (Pop. 239,283)
- Paradise Valley (Pop. 13,961)
For more Arizona reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Arizona
- 10 Safest Places In Arizona
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Arizona
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Arizona