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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
You can sure expect that South Tucson is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 1st in our analysis. It is. In fact, South Tucson has the 10th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 80 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 20.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in South Tucson, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 14.2% which is the worst in Arizona.
Guadalupe is the 3rd most dangerous place in the state of Arizona. That's part of the reason it's the 2nd worst place in Arizona.
The fact remains, that when you're within Guadalupe city limits, you have a 1 in 0.0 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Guadalupe also has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the state at 12.1%? Or that homes are only valued at $89,300?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's little demand to live in Guadalupe.
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.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Arizona, Winslow ranks 4th worst. Let's see why.
Here in Winslow, crime is the 12th highest in the state, and 1 out of 23.2 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 114 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.
When you look at adult education in Arizona, the folks in Winslow have the 10th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Winslow undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 6th highest in Arizona, at 11.8%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Arizona has some hard workers.
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.
You might have passed through Snowflake once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Snowflake needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 10.5%, residents earn about $44,363 a year, and home prices are just over $159,200. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn't anything to do in Snowflake.
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 ranks as the 9th worst place to live in Arizona for 2020.
While the unemployment rate is high (but not terrible), crime is a real factor here. It's the 6th most dangerous place you can live in Arizona, according to the latest FBI numbers. If you live here, you have a high chance of being a victim each year.
Residents here earn about $42,935 a year. That's in the bottom half of what people in Arizona normally make.
Chino Valley is another place in the Grand Canyon State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Chino Valley is a staggering 6.0%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($47,065 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $190,700, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Chino Valley is bad, but not horrible.
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:
- Best Places To Retire In Arizona
- Richest Cities In Arizona
- Safest Places In Arizona
- Best Cities For Singles In Arizona
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Arizona?