10 Worst Places To Live In Washington For 2019


These places are not the best that Washington has to offer.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in Washington.

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When you think of Washington, you normally think of Seattle, rain, and beautiful mountains.

What you don’t normally think about are the potential stink holes that are around the mountains.

So we dug in and did the dirty work for you to figure out where the worst places to live are in the Evergreen State.

The following are the worst, not so evergreen places in Washington:

Here are the 10 worst places to live in Washington for 2019:

  1. Centralia (Photos)
  2. Tukwila (Photos)
  3. Union Gap (Photos)
  4. Shelton (Photos)
  5. Kelso (Photos)
  6. Fife (Photos)
  7. Aberdeen (Photos)
  8. Ocean Shores (Photos)
  9. Chehalis (Photos)
  10. Hoquiam (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 Washington? That would be Centralia.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Washington reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Washington For 2019

Centralia, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,771
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $141,300 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (16th worst)
More on Centralia:  Data | Photos

Centralia was the site of an infamous massacre in 1919 and now it has massacred the competition when it comes to being the worst place to live in Washington.

The mix of extremely high unemployment and crime is a winning combination to end up high on our list of worst places to live. Centralia resides in the worst 10% of both categories.

On the plus side, those who do a job have a relatively short commute to work as the median commute time for people in Centralia is the top 20% of places in Washington.

Review Of Centralia by HomeSnacks User

The crime is surprisingly low. Yes theres drug activity but not enough to effect your day to day life. The school system is fairly decent, the teachers all care very much for the students and the schools are in the process of being remodeled the only issue I have seen is parents not being active enough in their childs education. The sports are what brings this town together, specifically the high schools football season, that is when the small town really becomes a community. Their is a local community college right in town as well. The housing market is fairly decent, homes that are for sale are fairly cheap but the rental market is very high for just the bare minimum apartments. There are a large selection of Low Income apartments and Affordable Housing apartments as well. There are many local resources for struggling families and the elderly such as WorkSource, Faith based Counseling and help held in and from the local churches, Community Action, and Housing Resource Center.

In my opinion the best places to visit when going to Centralia,WA is the Oly club on the downtown strip, the borst park off of Harrisons ave, and the yellow Big T BBQ off of Pearl St out towards the steam plant! The bad place however in my opinion are the downtown strip past 11 due to the homeless shelter then being closed, the shaefar parks woods area due to homeless people camping there as well, and the Hispanic trailer park off of long Road.

Tukwila, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 20,025
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $260,200 (58th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (22nd worst)
More on Tukwila:  Data | Photos

Here in Tukwila, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Washington. That’s not a good combination.

Located in King County, you have a 1 in 18.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Tukwila city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (8.5%). That’s good for the 22nd highest unemployment rate in Washington.

Union Gap, WA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 6,152
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $97,700 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (54th worst)
More on Union Gap:  Data | Photos

When you’re looking at science and data, Union Gap is the 3rd worst place you can live in the state of Washington. Let’s see why.

First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of Washington. Union Gap is the 1st most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 9.2 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.

Homes here average $97,700, which is the 2nd 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 Union Gap.

Income levels are just about $38,667, the 9th lowest in Washington.

When you add it all up, Union Gap really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.

Shelton, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,882
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $150,800 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (20th worst)
More on Shelton:  Data | Photos

Out of all the places to live in Washington, Shelton ranks as the 4th worst — not something to brag about.

Shelton’s unemployment rate stands at 8.7%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $39,072 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.

Additionally, the homes are the 15th cheapest in the entire state at $150,800. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there’s not a lot of demand to live way out in Shelton. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?

Crime is the 18th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 18.6 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 318 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.

Review Of Shelton by HomeSnacks User

Like many lower income small cities around the US. Families doing their best to get on. Crime is present for sure. Not much imagination on the part of local officials who could be taking advantage of the spectacular setting of the town. The water and the Olympic Mountains!

Homeless are almost non-existant even at the bus station. Way better experience that Seattle or Olympia and nowhere near as rough as Burien or Tacoma!

Kelso, WA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,864
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $123,100 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (4th worst)
More on Kelso:  Data | Photos

Located in southwest Washington close to Mount St. Helens, Kelso ranks as the most unlivable place in Cowlitz County.

The city scored poorly across the board for the criteria we analyzed, with the exception of having an excellent commute time.

It seems that people in the cities on our list are much more likely on average to find ways to get out.

Fife, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,805
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $243,200 (50th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (40th worst)
More on Fife:  Data | Photos

Fife ranks as the 6th worst place to live in Washington for 2019.

While the unemployment rate is high (but not terrible), crime is a real factor here. It’s the 2nd most dangerous place you can live in Washington, according to the latest FBI numbers. If you live here, you have a high chance of being a victim each year.

Residents here earn about $58,649 a year. That’s in the bottom half of what people in Washington normally make.

Aberdeen, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 16,281
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $125,700 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (30th worst)
More on Aberdeen:  Data | Photos

Aberdeen ranks as the 7th worst place to live in Washington.

Known as the “Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula” it seems as if the nickname might want to add “Gateway to high unemployment” as it ranks as the 30th worst in the State.

That being said, the spending on childhood education in the city is higher than the state average and the weather is about average for Washington.

Review Of Aberdeen by HomeSnacks User

I agree with your ranking of Aberdeen, I’ve lived in Aberdeen for about 66 years. Since high school in the 60s we’ve lost about 5,000 people and the economy is worse. Many homeless people are piling up their junk in front of businesses, the new mayor has raised taxes and now wants to accommodate these often dangerous people. It will only bring more bums into our area. The alleys are full of litter and drunks.

The cost of services are going up and up, and there is nothing to do for entertainment. I’ve waited all my life for it to get better here but this place is 1 step forward and 3 steps back.

Ocean Shores, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,714
Rank Last Year: 33 (Up 25)
Median Home Value: $198,600 (32nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.3% (6th worst)
More on Ocean Shores:  Data | Photos

Ocean Shores ranks as the 8th worst city in Washington. Located in Grays Harbor County, Ocean Shores has the 16th lowest income levels in the state of Washington ($40,451), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 11.3%.

Chehalis, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,337
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 12)
Median Home Value: $169,800 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (30th worst)
More on Chehalis:  Data | Photos

When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Chehalis is the 9th worst place in the state of Washington.

The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Chehalis is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Chehalis are the 22nd lowest in the entire state.

And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Washington.

Hoquiam, WA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,416
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $95,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.8% (2nd worst)
More on Hoquiam:  Data | Photos

The city of Hoquiam is the 10th worst place you can live in the state of Washington in 2019.

It’s unlucky for Hoquiam, which has the 2nd highest unemployment rate (12.8%), the 15th lowest household incomes ($40,301) and the 1st lowest home prices in the state ($95,000).

Basically, a lot of people in Hoquiam are out of work. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it’s not one of the most dangerous places we’ll look at, it’s in the top 20%.

Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Washington.

How we determined the worst places to live in Washington 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

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 5,000 people were considered — leaving 118 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 118 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 Washington — Centralia. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Washington.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

Wrapping Up The Worst In Washington

If you’re looking at areas in Washington 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, Centralia ranks as the worst city to live in Washington for 2019.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Washington:

  1. Duvall (Pop. 7,683)
  2. Sammamish (Pop. 62,877)
  3. Mercer Island (Pop. 24,768)

For more Washington reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Washington?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Centralia 16,771 9.2% $141,300
2 Tukwila 20,025 8.5% $260,200
3 Union Gap 6,152 6.4% $97,700
4 Shelton 9,882 8.7% $150,800
5 Kelso 11,864 11.7% $123,100
6 Fife 9,805 6.7% $243,200
7 Aberdeen 16,281 7.3% $125,700
8 Ocean Shores 5,714 11.3% $198,600
9 Chehalis 7,337 7.3% $169,800
10 Hoquiam 8,416 12.8% $95,000

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

31 thoughts on “10 Worst Places To Live In Washington For 2019

  1. We just moved to Bremerton about a year ago and absolutely love it! There are gorgeous family friendly refurbished parks, the downtown has already had the sidewalks widened, more streets are becoming pedestrian friendly, and there are beautiful homes that are very affordable when compared to King County and Tacoma.
    I will admit, I would like to see more little shops and restaurants fill the storefronts, but it’s only a matter of time. I think that Bremerton gets a bad rap for how it looked a decade ago, but it is lovely now and getting better every month.

    1. I agree with you I have lived in Bremerton for about 18 years, I love it ..I agree we need to have more business here but too you have to remember we are a navy town so people come and go causing our economy to change alot..

  2. This article should be titled “10 Worst Places to Live in Western Washington”. I know of some absolutely horrible places on the east side that are a lot worse than several of the towns on this list.

  3. Most of the towns in this top 10 list were built on ailing industries, like lumber and shipping. They continue to be the homes of hard-working people who struggle daily in the wake of a changing economy and a coarsening society.

    The numbers are the numbers, and they unfortunately don’t tell the whole story. But when you say things ” And remember, don’t blame the messenger,” followed by some of the F’d up things you wrote for “entertainment purposes only,” it seems disingenuous.

  4. Boy this must say alot about me when I have lived in #1,#2 and # 4 on this list Its not any thing to get upset about, we still live in a great state and area, so take it as something to improve on maybe they’ll add its citizen’s care about its homeless or those who are less fortionate then themselves, they will rate each of these cities higher then many others because under the situations that are before each of us, helps us learn compassion for others do you agree?

  5. Geez calm down everyone! In case some of you missed the quote at the end of the article here it is. “This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Snarkiness incorporated for entertainment purposes only. Hold on to your pants”

    I enjoyed this article while relaxing at home here in Tacoma #12 on the list, the city everyone loves to hate.

  6. I agree with Longview. The worst of Washington. Should be #1. Meth capital of the state. A hockey team has more teeth than that whole city.

  7. Just moved to Bainbridge Island last year and we think it’s fabulous! Weak reasons for BI to appear on this list! And I’ll take 35 minute ferry ride any day instead of sitting in my car in traffic! That 35 minutes; read the paper, check emails, and a fabulous Happy Hour on the ride home! Are you kidding me!!! Who made up this list? BTW, there’s plenty to do on the island! Hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, shopping, boating, golf, tennis, should I go on?

  8. Funny you should mention Skipper and Gilligan for Bainbridge Island. Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, resided there for decades and seemed to like it. Obviously, he thought it befitted him.

  9. A nice example of interweb bullsh*t . Have the writers ever visited any of these towns? I have, and there’s some damn fine areas on this pathetic list. Statistics can be manipulated to prove whatever point the writer wants to make.

  10. I had to laugh when I saw population density was a positive on this list. I’d rather live in a cave than a city. Though, you can add Centralia’s taser-happy, killing-cats-with-hammers, union-protected cop to the list of reasons not to live there.

  11. This clearly removes any credibility from this writer. Yeah, look at those views from PA and Bainbridge, not to mention Bremerton. How about an article that is truly helpful and not idiotic? Of note, PA is consistently ranked in the best places to live in the country by legitimate pubs.

  12. Your metrics for determining the worst places to live is completely broken. Firstly, anyone that lives in Washington – as I do – knows instinctively that Yakima should be on the top of this list. Also, White Center and Sea Tac not being in the top ten is very curious. Those are the places where people are mugged and shot on a fairly regular basis. And Bainbridge Island? Are you crazy? Almost everyone on Bainbridge Island works in Downtown Seattle. It’s a 30 minute ferry ride. And it’s a 30 second drive across the bridge to the rest of Kitsap. There are so many pieces of evidence that would suggest that this list is insane but the final piece that I would like to enter as evidence: Kingsgate is at the BOTTOM of the list! Kingsgate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Case closed.

    1. Now that I think about it, White Center & South Park should absolutely be on this list. When you drive through White Center, you can see bullet holes on the walls.

      Tukwila has the worst traffic.

  13. I own a home in Centralia. The crime rate is dead on. I have had my wheelbarrow and baby stroller taken from my yard.I accidentally left the stroller outside but who steals a wheelbarrow. I also have had my car broken into and multiple tweakers knock on my door late at night. At least they give you the courtesy of being really loud by knocking hard and yelling to make sure your not home before they break in. I have yet to put up a fence.
    But the good overrides that. The capitol is only a 25 minute drive away and if you hit 508 or highway 12 there are endless outdoor activities. If you live in town there is the Centralia college, post office, grocery store, and other shops within walking distance. I also enjoy living 20 minutes from the Lucky Eagle Casino. Wasting money on the slot machines is fun occasionally.

  14. Port Angeles has good points, but the Crime Rate is getting way out of hand! Heroin and Meth use is booming…seeming its quickly becoming the best business in town. On the up side…they are hiring for corrections officers for both adult and juvenile. Job security, right? :-/ It is a very picturesque city, if you can overlook the dirty needles…
    Canada is just across the straight, with Hurricane ridge at our back door.

    Unemployment is high, and this is supported with all of the free “help” we’re advertising for drug users and mentally unstable people. They are migrating here from the bigger cities. Population is growing, but it’s not with people who are contributing to the community…it’s with tweakers!!!

  15. Well I live in University Place right between Tacoma and Lakewood, Parkland and while I have not been burglarized there are lots of homes around me according to spotcrime.com that have been burglarized. I think what should be measured here in Washington is the aggression level. I have never met so many angry people in my life. Unpleasant is the word for the locals around here. Aggression just the high-level and understand it with all the weed available what is the deal here. And I just have one more pet peeve leggings are not pants

    1. ^ what the OP said about the random aggression from strangers is true for this area. Whether they are driving recklessly or screaming at you in the supermarket, it is enough to make you want to drive 30 minutes away to shop when it isn’t urgent instead.

  16. Never would have guessed Port Angeles. I visit there every year for the crab festival. Now nearby Forks would make sense, since it’s a tiny, secluded town in the middle of the forest &, a 2 hour drive from the nearest town.

    Buuut…I’ll admit that the last time I visited Port Angeles, a lot more business buildings were vacant, & while they have many hotels, the Olympic Lodge is the only 4 star hotel, & because of that, they’re often completely booked.

    1. A few years ago, I would have put Federal Way on the list. The mall is on death’s door & there were so many shut down boarded up businesses on the main road that goes through town. After 10 years of driving down that street to & from work, I see the same vacant buildings, or specific buildings that never stay in business for more than a year before a new tennant moves in.

  17. I would like to live in Washington State and I have to live near the Puget Sound near the water and health care. I live in Oahu and getting rock fever living on the Island and the cost of living and getting out of hand because of these politicians making it difficult to live on Oahu. You have to have money to live in Oahu. I use to live in E. Bremerton and Port Orchard when I was in the navy, and no way will I ever move back to that area. It use to be a place to live at, but today no way. It will take some serious googling and home work to decide what part of Washington to live at. I guess the best way is to take a vacation and rent a care and look around. I don’t trust realtors anymore and most of them are just like lawyers and just want your money and make a quick sale, with no morals of the soul. Aloha

  18. You might want to fix the typos in the article, especially when referencing the lack of educated residents in each city.

  19. Yep. Over crowding, the traffic snarls that go with it, maximum noise levels, day and night, 24/7 and sky high housing costs. Gee, what more could a person ask for in picking the perfect place to live?

  20. Um, your ranking is not ‘science’. You could have at least quoted something like ppm’s of air pollutants to introduce some sort of science into your ranking.

  21. I agree with your ranking of Aberdeen, I’ve lived in Aberdeen for about 66 years. Since high school in the 60s we’ve lost about 5,000 people and the economy is worse. Many homeless people are piling up their junk in front of businesses, the new mayor has raised taxes and now wants to accommodate these often dangerous people. It will only bring more bums into our area. The alleys are full of litter and drunks. The cost of services are going up and up, and there is nothing to do for entertainment. I’ve waited all my life for it to get better here but this place is 1 step forward and 3 steps back.

  22. I own a home in Ocean Shores (plan to retire there sooner than later) and I own a home Seattle. I have no idea how Ocean Shores is on this list and Seattle isn’t! Look, I know there’s pretty buildings, lots of jobs and shinny things in Seattle but let’s face it…the place is HORRIBLE to live in. Not sure where to start but I’ll say that at least I can drive down Ocean Shores BL and not see any Homeless camps and garbage all over the place. Also I can walk outside at night in OS and not worry about being mugged, people are actually nice in OS where in Seattle they’re self-centerd, cold, and often very rude (ranked In The top 20 for rudest cities). Education…well the schools aren’t much better in Seattle, in fact they’re among the worst in the county. Oh, I can also look to not be taxed to hell and back in OS where in Seattle my taxes go up every year…and for what? Good thing about this list is it could help keep the Seattle elitist left wing snobs out of Ocean Shores, stay in your little “paradise” on Elliot Bay.

  23. There’s a town on this list I was going to move to.

    Now i’m going to reconsider.

    I should have known better anyway.

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