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:
- Emmett (Photos)
- Nampa (Photos)
- Weiser (Photos)
- Caldwell (Photos)
- Rupert (Photos)
- Burley (Photos)
- Pocatello (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Idaho for 2018
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 5,300 people were considered — leaving 30 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 30 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 — Emmett. 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.
Population: 6,590Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $103,600 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (1st worst)
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 3rd longest commute of any residents on our list.
Population: 87,896Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Values: $120,900 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (8th worst)
Nampa places 2nd 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 $41,210.
Population: 5,350Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Home Values: $95,500 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (7th worst)
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 27th-highest crime rates in Idaho. So at least no one beats you up while you look for a job.
Population: 7,402 Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $104,900 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (5th worst)
There seems to be a pattern here, as Payette, another city on the western side of the Boise-Nampa area, ranks as the 4th-worst place to live in Idaho, according to the data.
Payette (population 7,402), which is about an hour drive north of Boise. The average household income here is less than most other cities in the state (16th 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.
Population: 50,288Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Values: $113,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (3rd worst)
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, 2030.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 6,416 Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Home Values: $136,300 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (10th worst)
Tiny Middleton, about a 30-minute drive west of Boise, takes the honor of statistically, being the 6th worst place to live in the entire state of Idaho.
With higher than average crime, some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and a very sparsely populated land area, folks in Middleton may enjoy the open space, but they most likely want more jobs and higher-paying jobs as well.
Middleton doubles in population every ten years, so perhaps as people move there and commute into Boise, these numbers will change.
Population: 11,140 Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Home Values: $112,600 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (26th worst)
Jerome is the 16th most dangerous place in the state of Idaho. That’s part of the reason it’s the 7th worst place in Idaho.
The fact remains, that when you’re within Jerome city limits, you have a 1 in 50.9 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Jerome also has the 26th highest unemployment rate in the state at 4.0%? Or that homes are only valued at $112,600?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s little demand to live in Jerome.
Population: 5,702Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Values: $97,000 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (15th worst)
Rupert takes the 8th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Rupert its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 28th worst in the whole state.
Population: 10,382Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Home Values: $103,200 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (29th worst)
Burley, ID needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 3.1%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 15th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 43.9 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
Population: 54,592Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Home Values: $135,500 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (9th worst)
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.
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, Emmett ranks as the worst city to live in Idaho for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Idaho:
- Meridian (Pop. 88,247)
- Eagle (Pop. 22,711)
- Star (Pop. 7,255)
For more Idaho reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Idaho According To Science
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Idaho
- These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Idaho
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Idaho