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 the worst places you could live in Idaho, Jerome came in 5th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Idaho residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Idaho, you can see some really big differences. In Jerome, the number of people out of work is 3.0%
In Idaho, that’s the 26th highest in the state.
The residents in Jerome have the 8th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Jerome average $39,115 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $116,000 on average. That’s the 6th lowest in the state.
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.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 8th worst in Idaho.
Hayden residents had a 1 in 42.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Hayden is through the roof, as more than 5.0% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $219,200, Hayden has the 27th-lowest home prices in the state of Idaho.
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 unemployment rate in Rupert is a sky high 3.0%, which is the 26th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Rupert is $35,510. That means 27.7% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 61.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
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: