Idaho is one of those off-the-radar states that you don’t hear about very often. As far as we’re concerned, Idaho is a beautiful state with hard-working Americans. But we’re not here to debate Idaho’s merits — either good or bad.
We’re here to simply make an unbiased, research-driven analysis of where the worst places to live in Idaho are. And for those looking to visit the Gem State, or move there permanently, this list should provide some value.
According to scientific data, and after analyzing the most populated cities, these are the worst 10 places that you could possibly live in Idaho:
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 Idaho? That would be Weiser.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Idaho reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Idaho
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Idaho
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Idaho
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Idaho For 2019
Weiser, about 76 miles north of Boise, has almost the worst unemployment in Idaho. Factor in longer than normal commute times and lower than normal household incomes and Weiser ranks as one of the worst places for residents of Idaho.
On the upside, Weiser has the 13th-highest crime rates in Idaho. So at least no one beats you up while you look for a job.
Emmett, Idaho, about 45 minutes north of Boise (without traffic), has some of the highest home vacancy rates and has a higher than normal unemployment rate in the state. Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Idaho.
If commute time is important, Emmett residents have the 1st longest commute of any residents on our list.
On the other end of the spectrum, population wise, is Caldwell. Just south of Middleton, but with a population of nearly 50,000, Caldwell has, essentially, the highest unemployment rate in Idaho. Crime is exceptionally high for the state as well.
Additionally, 19.3% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Nampa places 4th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Idaho.
Nampa has worse crime and much higher unemployment than its neighbor, Boise.
While Nampa’s unemployment rate is lower than average, its residents earn about $10,000 less a year than residents of Boise at $43,058.
When you’re looking at science and data, Jerome is the 5th worst place you can live in the state of Idaho. Let’s see why.
First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of Idaho. Jerome is the 11th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 45.2 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $116,000, which is the 6th lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Jerome.
Income levels are just about $39,115, the 8th lowest in Idaho.
When you add it all up, Jerome really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
Pocatello, one of the largest cities in Idaho, makes it toward the top of the list primarily due to the crime levels and education rankings. Expenditure per student is $6.586 — far lower than other cities in Idaho — and a teacher-to-student ratio of 23:1, also far lower than other cities on the list.
Pocatello does have a low unemployment rate (4.6%), and was named as one of the best small places for business and careers about eight years ago.
Burley ranks as the 7th worst city on this list.
Burley has the 13th highest crime rate in Idaho, where residents have a 1 in 47.0 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 3rd cheapest in the state ($104,100), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Hayden is the 8th worst city in Idaho for 2019. When you’re comparing other cities to Hayden, things just don’t look great, at least according to science.
Hayden is the 8th most dangerous place in Idaho, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job — at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 5.0%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($219,200), and residents earn just $57,355 a year.
There seems to be a pattern here, as Payette, another city on the western side of the Boise-Nampa area, ranks as the 9th-worst place to live in Idaho, according to the data.
Payette (population 7,366), which is about an hour drive north of Boise. The average household income here is less than most other cities in the state (20th lowest), and crime is exceptionally high for the state of Idaho.
At least the sun shines more here, as Payette has more sunny days than any other city except the town of Buhl.
Rupert needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Rupert. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Rupert. Of the 31 cities considered in this ranking, Rupert had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Rupert have Idaho’s 1st lowest home value rank, but it also had the 26th and 20th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of “Worst City in Idaho.”
If you know anyone in Rupert, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
How we determined the worst places to live in Idaho 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 31 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 31 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 Idaho — Weiser. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Idaho.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Idaho
If you’re looking at areas in Idaho 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, Weiser ranks as the worst city to live in Idaho for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Idaho:
- Eagle (Pop. 23,708)
- Rexburg (Pop. 27,369)
- Meridian (Pop. 91,917)
For more Idaho reading, check out: