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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 55 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:
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 2020.
For more Arizona reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arizona For 2020
South Tucson is another place in the Grand Canyon State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in South Tucson is a staggering 14.2%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($23,603 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $82,000, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in South Tucson is bad, but not horrible.
While the median household income in Guadalupe is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of "worst cities", Guadalupe still has the 5th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 3rd worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Guadalupe household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn't help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
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 39th most dangerous place you can live in Arizona.
Residents in Eloy have a 1 in 51.5 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$83,100. 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.
Winslow ranks as the 4th worst place to live in Arizona for 2020.
The issues Winslow has is with its local economy. The unemployment rate is the 6th highest in Arizona (11.8%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom of Arizona.
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 13.9% unemployment rate for a city of 32,279 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.
Most of the rest of the cities on this list deserve to be on here due to their high crime numbers. Snowflake is the 12th most dangerous city in Arizona, according to the FBI. Residents had a 1 in 23.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's really high for Arizona, but not even the highest in the state.
Home values are the 24th cheapest in the state, and income levels are almost as low as you can get. Households in Snowflake bring in just under $44,363 a year annually.
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 10.3% (which is really high), and the median income is $47,086. 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.
Coolidge is only a half hour drive south of the outskirts of Chandler and ranks as the 8th worst city on this list. However, there are some major differences in the quality of life between the two.
Coolidge has the 23rd highest crime rate in Arizona, where residents have a 1 in 28.9 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 6th cheapest in the state ($92,500), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Tolleson is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $42,935 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Arizona, a 3.8% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 6th highest in Arizona here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
Chino Valley is one of the poorest cities in the state of Arizona. This city has 6.0% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $47,065 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Chino Valley has the 45th 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.
How we determined the worst places to live in Arizona for 2020
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 55 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 55 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. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arizona:
- Scottsdale (Pop. 246,026)
- Gilbert (Pop. 237,484)
- Paradise Valley (Pop. 14,215)
For more Arizona reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Arizona?