These Are The 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:

  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:

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.

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 Oh yeah Yeah

I live in Centralia and it’s really peaceful and quiet lol

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

Tukwila ranks as the 2nd 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 12th 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 $51,318 a year. That’s in the bottom half of what people in Washington normally make.

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

Union Gap takes the 3rd worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.

But what gives Union Gap its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 1st worst in the whole state.

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

If you live in Washington, you may or may not be surprised that Shelton ranked, at least on paper, as the 4th worst place to live in the state. It has the 20th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 18th most dangerous.

Incidentally, Shelton is the 32nd most densely populated city in Washington. Draw your own conclusions.

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

Most of the rest of the cities on this list deserve to be on here due to their high crime numbers. Fife is the 2nd most dangerous city in Washington, according to the FBI. Residents had a 1 in 13.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s really high for Washington, but not even the highest in the state.

Home values are the 50th cheapest in the state, and income levels are almost as low as you can get. Households in Fife bring in just under $58,649 a year annually.

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

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

Located in Grays Harbor County, you have a 1 in 29.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Ocean Shores city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (11.3%). That’s good for the 6th highest unemployment rate in Washington.

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

Chehalis is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $35,433 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Washington, a 7.3% unemployment rate is really high.

Crime is also the 5th highest in Washington here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.

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

Out of all the places to live in Washington, Hoquiam ranks as the 10th worst — not something to brag about.

Hoquiam’s unemployment rate stands at 12.8%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $40,301 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.

Additionally, the homes are the 1st cheapest in the entire state at $95,000. 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 Hoquiam. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?

Crime is the 46th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 26.8 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 647 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.

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:

Detailed List Of 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
11 Lakewood 59,102 9.7% $232,600
12 Quincy 7,333 11.0% $139,900
13 Seatac 28,597 5.5% $264,500
14 Auburn 77,440 6.4% $259,600
15 Yakima 93,182 7.9% $160,000
16 Yelm 8,425 10.3% $220,100
17 Bremerton 39,584 7.1% $194,100
18 Everett 107,560 7.2% $267,800
19 Moses Lake 22,038 5.2% $149,400
20 Port Angeles 19,419 9.0% $193,600
21 Sunnyside 16,248 10.7% $121,200
22 Toppenish 8,923 8.5% $116,400
23 Tacoma 207,280 6.7% $227,200
24 Federal Way 94,905 6.3% $280,700
25 Grandview 11,112 13.9% $131,100
26 Sequim 6,819 10.6% $203,700
27 Longview 36,740 9.6% $165,600
28 Kent 126,561 6.5% $284,900
29 Mount Vernon 33,787 6.7% $221,000
30 Ephrata 7,956 6.5% $146,500
31 Puyallup 39,637 6.5% $278,900
32 Burien 50,729 6.4% $318,800
33 Burlington 8,590 7.5% $196,600
34 Lynnwood 37,242 4.8% $331,300
35 Des Moines 31,080 5.8% $290,700
36 Walla Walla 32,585 6.8% $178,800
37 Wapato 5,049 11.4% $109,800
38 Port Orchard 13,476 6.1% $277,100
39 Spokane 212,982 6.5% $166,700
40 Sumner 9,789 5.4% $249,100
41 Clarkston 7,344 8.6% $139,700
42 Olympia 49,928 7.5% $265,400
43 Monroe 18,149 6.0% $283,200
44 Kennewick 78,858 6.6% $182,900
45 Snohomish 9,713 5.6% $318,900
46 Vancouver 171,393 7.1% $238,300
47 Arlington 18,884 5.6% $268,200
48 Pasco 70,607 5.8% $176,800
49 Connell 5,447 6.2% $122,400
50 Airway Heights 8,017 6.4% $160,900
51 Woodland 5,765 4.8% $212,700
52 Prosser 5,967 2.7% $159,100
53 Gig Harbor 8,651 9.4% $378,900
54 Spokane Valley 94,424 5.3% $177,100
55 Othello 7,797 4.2% $154,300
56 Dupont 9,303 10.7% $305,800
57 Blaine 5,075 8.3% $315,400
58 Renton 99,692 4.6% $339,800
59 Bellingham 85,388 6.7% $328,300
60 Marysville 66,178 6.6% $267,400
61 Cheney 11,735 12.0% $181,300
62 Enumclaw 11,670 5.4% $254,100
63 North Bend 6,645 7.0% $453,900
64 Pacific 7,113 6.1% $243,300
65 Orting 7,460 6.4% $229,000
66 Tumwater 22,005 6.6% $236,400
67 Lacey 46,655 7.1% $243,200
68 Poulsbo 10,005 5.6% $311,500
69 Milton 7,481 5.6% $250,700
70 Ellensburg 19,307 3.7% $216,200
71 Wenatchee 33,544 5.1% $221,800
72 Ferndale 13,171 7.4% $264,000
73 Seattle 688,245 4.7% $537,800
74 East Wenatchee 13,624 4.2% $229,500
75 College Place 9,041 5.4% $177,000
76 Stanwood 6,825 4.6% $276,800
77 Bonney Lake 19,560 5.2% $286,200
78 Edgewood 10,165 3.7% $337,800
79 Oak Harbor 22,527 7.6% $237,900
80 Battle Ground 19,439 5.2% $244,200
81 Anacortes 16,425 5.0% $351,100
82 Port Townsend 9,315 5.8% $298,700
83 Mountlake Terrace 20,922 4.9% $311,300
84 University Place 32,528 6.7% $319,900
85 West Richland 13,797 6.4% $217,700
86 Shoreline 55,431 4.9% $389,300
87 Richland 53,991 4.8% $226,300
88 Covington 19,918 4.2% $301,300
89 Lake Stevens 31,022 4.4% $296,200
90 Pullman 32,382 10.5% $240,600
91 Selah 7,652 3.0% $219,600
92 Bothell 44,082 5.6% $414,200
93 Washougal 15,241 4.9% $270,500
94 Fircrest 6,666 9.0% $293,700
95 Liberty Lake 8,905 9.1% $266,400
96 Ridgefield 6,637 2.3% $330,500
97 Camas 22,086 5.8% $381,500
98 Steilacoom 6,199 5.5% $326,900
99 Edmonds 41,309 4.3% $443,800
100 Mill Creek 19,706 2.7% $445,800

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30 thoughts on “These Are The 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.

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