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)
- Weiser (Photos)
- Jerome (Photos)
- Nampa (Photos)
- Payette (Photos)
- Caldwell (Photos)
- Blackfoot (Photos)
- Burley (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in Idaho for 2017
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
The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
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 5,200 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: 6,548Home Values: $106,100 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.6% (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: 5,362Home Values: $91,100 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (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 30th-highest crime rates in Idaho. So at least no one beats you up while you look for a job.
Population: 11,100Home Values: $110,100 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (18th worst)
Jerome is the 12th most dangerous place in the state of Idaho. That’s part of the reason it’s the 3rd worst place in Idaho.
The fact remains, that when you’re within Jerome city limits, you have a 1 in 37.8 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 18th highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.3%? Or that homes are only valued at $110,100?
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: 86,203Home Values: $111,900 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (8th worst)
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 $40,060.
Population: 7,428Home Values: $102,500 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (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 5th-worst place to live in Idaho, according to the data.
Payette (population 7,428), which is about an hour drive north of Boise. The average household income here is less than most other cities in the state (14th 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: 49,149Home Values: $104,600 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (4th 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, 16.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 11,843Home Values: $123,400 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (13th worst)
Say what you want about how beautiful Blackfoot might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 13th highest in the state at 7.4%. Homes are the 9th lowest priced ($123,400), and the median income per household is just a tad over $38,406.
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.
Population: 6,145 Home Values: $128,300 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (11th worst)
Tiny Middleton, about a 30-minute drive west of Boise, takes the honor of statistically, being the 8th 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: 10,245Home Values: $104,200 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (24th worst)
Things are starting to get progressively more ‘modern’ and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Idaho when we get to Burley. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 5.3% (which is really high), and the median income is $35,820. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren’t a complete mess.
Population: 5,601Home Values: $94,200 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (19th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Rupert is the worst place you can live in Idaho. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 6.2%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $94,200, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 68.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Rupert is a far drive south from Louisville.
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 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Idaho:
- Meridian (Pop. 84,018)
- Eagle (Pop. 21,863)
- Moscow (Pop. 24,688)
For more Idaho reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Idaho
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Idaho
- These Are The 10 Most Affordable Places In Idaho
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Idaho