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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:
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 Shelton.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Washington reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Washington
- Cheapest Places To Live In Washington
- Most Dangerous Cities In Washington
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Washington For 2020
Shelton needs some tough love as it ranks as the worst city to live in Washington for 2020. There's not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it's not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Shelton is the 8th highest in the state, where 1 in 15.2 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Tukwila is one of the poorest cities in the state of Washington. This city has 7.8% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $57,215 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Tukwila has the 2nd highest crime rate in Washington. While the numbers aren't staggering (Washington is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it's still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Evergreen State.
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.
Aberdeen ranks as the 4th 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 3worst 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.
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.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Washington, Union Gap came in 6th. Let's see why.
When you're comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Washington residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Washington, you can see some really big differences. In Union Gap, the number of people out of work is 5.1%
In Washington, that's the 67th highest in the state.
The residents in Union Gap have the 7th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Union Gap average $38,957 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 $105,200 on average. That's the 2nd lowest in the state.
Wapato is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we're aware that it's beautiful and "fun". But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Wapato residents earn the 6th-lowest salaries in the state. At $38,208 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $107,600, which means there isn't a lot of demand.
Crime is the 4th highest in Washington per capita, and the unemployment rate here is highest in the state, at 14.4%.
Things are starting to get progressively more 'modern' and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Washington when we get to Toppenish. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 9.4% (which is really high), and the median income is $43,823. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren't a complete mess.
Lakewood came in at number nine on our of list of worst places to live.
It's the most populous in our top ten. That means that relative to the other cities on the list, there's plenty to keep you busy in the city.
Just make sure to keep an eye on your wallet while you're out; the city has one of the highest crime rates in Washington.
When you're looking at science and data, Ocean Shores is the worst place you can live in Washington. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 7.9%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $219,800, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 48.5 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.
Ocean Shores is a far drive south from Louisville.
How we determined the worst places to live in Washington for 2020
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 120 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 120 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 -- Shelton. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Washington. You can download the data here.
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, Shelton ranks as the worst city to live in Washington for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Washington:
- Brier (Pop. 6,819)
- Sammamish (Pop. 64,049)
- Mercer Island (Pop. 25,492)
For more Washington reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Washington
- Richest Cities In Washington
- Safest Places In Washington
- Best Cities For Singles In Washington
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Washington?