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:
- Weiser (Photos)
- Emmett (Photos)
- Caldwell (Photos)
- Nampa (Photos)
- Jerome (Photos)
- Pocatello (Photos)
- Burley (Photos)
- Hayden (Photos)
- Payette (Photos)
- Rupert (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 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
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.
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.
Say what you want about how beautiful Jerome might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 26th highest in the state at 3.0%. Homes are the 6th lowest priced ($116,000), and the median income per household is just a tad over $39,115.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
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.
Welcome to Hayden, where criminals go to make a living. Hayden has the 8th highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Hayden city limits, you have a 1 in 42.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 80 violent crimes here in 2019. For a city of 14,096 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 246 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Hayden every year as well.
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.
The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Rupert. The only real difference is Rupert is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.
However, the unemployment rate in Rupert is at 3.0%, which is the 26th worst in Idaho. And households earn a combined $35,510 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Rupert is merely $93,700.
Rupert is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
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:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Idaho
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Idaho
- 10 Safest Places In Idaho
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Idaho
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Idaho