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 51 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,200 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Arizona:
Where are these places, you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small towns in Arizona, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. For example, the best place to live in Arizona is Oro Valley.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), the state has far better options for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Arizona? The worst place to live in Arizona is Eloy.
Read below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city fared in 2023.
For more Arizona reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arizona For 2023
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 20th most dangerous place you can live in Arizona.
Residents in Eloy have a 1 in 37.4 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 $137,600. That’s the 5th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
If you’re a classic rock fan, you probably know Winslow from the Eagles song “Take It Easy.” In fact, the town has a statue commemorating the lyric: “Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona/And such a fine sight to see.” Unfortunately, reality doesn’t live up to the legend. Winslow stands as the number 2 worst location in Arizona.
The economy is the main problem in the area. The median income stands at $41,926. However, 25.4% of the town’s 8,961 residents live below the poverty level. 12.2% of them receive food stamps.
These financial hardships lead to other problems. The schools rate a score of 4/10 on Great Schools. The crime rate is more than 140% above the national average.
Snowflake has an ironic name. Typically, the average temperature in the area never drops below the high 40s. So, as you might guess, snowflakes are rare in Snowflake. That’s not all the community is missing. The town counts as the number 3 place you’d most want to avoid in Arizona.
Unfortunately, poverty is a major problem in the area. About 22.9% of the town’s 6,086 people live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, unemployment sits at 10.3% and the median income hovers at $63,458.
Guadalupe sits just outside of Phoenix, about 20 minutes from the center of the state’s biggest population center. Meanwhile, it’s also on the edge of the South Mountain Park and Reserve, providing access to abundant outdoor activities. Unfortunately, this great location comes with problems. Guadalupe also serves as the number 4 least appealing town in Arizona.
The economy is the main challenge for the 5,334 residents of Guadalupe. About 34.6% of them live below the poverty line. The median income sits at $45,114 and the unemployment rate hovers at 5.4%.
With such a limited tax base, Guadalupe also suffers from bad schools. They rank a score of 4/10 on Great Schools.
Coolidge is only a half hour drive south of the outskirts of Chandler and ranks as the 5th worst city on this list. However, there are some major differences in the quality of life between the two.
Coolidge has the 22nd highest crime rate in Arizona, where residents have a 1 in 38.4 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 4th cheapest in the state ($127,700), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Rank Last Year: –
Median Home Value: $114,400
Unemployment Rate: 6.9%
More on Benson: Data
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 9.9% unemployment rate for a city of 35,289 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing. That’s one 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.
Nogales is a little better off, but not by much.
The U.S. poverty line is $25,000 for a family of four. In Nogales, household incomes hover at just over $31,997. Which means most of Nogales is having trouble making ends meet. Especially when the unemployment rate is 13.2%.
Homes are very cheap here, and the public schools are just about as underfunded as those in San Luis. Nogales also sits on the Mexican border.
It’s beginning to look like Arizona is really the super rich, the middle class and the destitute.
Tolleson is part of the suburban sprawl surrounding Phoenix. It sits just of I-10, about 20 minutes west of the city’s heart. This prime location, close to the state’s biggest urban center, hasn’t given Tolleson a boost. In fact, it exists as the number 10 least appealing place to put down roots in Arizona.
Wages in the area just aren’t enough to provide a stable standard of living. The medium income sits at $48,002, with 18.4% of the people struggling below the poverty line.
There are other problems as well. Crime in the area is about 300% above the U.S. standard. Also, with rare exceptions, the schools in the area mostly below average.
Methodology: How we determined the worst places to live in Arizona for 2023
To figure out the worst places to live in Arizona, 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 more significant weight. If you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are typically 7x more common and bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 51 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 51 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 — Eloy. Read on for a detailed look at the ten worst cities in Arizona.
Summary: 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 little to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Eloy ranks as the worst city to live in Arizona for 2023.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arizona:
- Paradise Valley (Pop. 12,666)
- Gilbert (Pop. 262,249)
- Oro Valley (Pop. 46,515)
For more Arizona reading, check out:
Worst Places To Live In Arizona?