These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Washington For 2017

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

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2017.

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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. Shelton (Photos)
  2. Kelso (Photos)
  3. Union Gap
  4. Hoquiam (Photos)
  5. Quincy (Photos)
  6. Aberdeen (Photos)
  7. Wapato (Photos)
  8. Tukwila (Photos)
  9. Centralia (Photos)
  10. Seatac (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.

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

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How we determined the worst places to live in Washington 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 5,100 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 — Shelton. 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.

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1. Shelton

Shelton, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,810
Home Values: $156,800 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (15th worst)
Shelton places 1st in our ranking of the worst places to live in Washington. Here, 19.9% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Shelton have the 12th highest adult drop out rate in Washington.

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Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $156,800 each — the 18th lowest in Washington.

As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.

2. Kelso

Kelso, Washington

Source: Flickr

Population: 11,837
Home Values: $122,400 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.4% (2nd worst)
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.

3. Union Gap

Population: 6,042
Home Values: $92,500 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (61st worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Union Gap is the 3rd worst place you can live in the state of Washington. Let’s see why.

You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 4th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.

Residents in Union Gap had a 1 in 9.4 chance of being robbed in 2014. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Union Gap, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.

Union Gap’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (7.8%) and income levels of its residents ($35,777).

4. Hoquiam

Hoquiam, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,479
Home Values: $104,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.4% (3rd worst)
Hoquiam’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.

Hoquiam has the 62nd worst crime index of any place in Washington, and has the 5th lowest income.

5. Quincy

Quincy, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,163
Home Values: $133,400 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.9% (4th worst)
you’re looking to live in Washington, Quincy might not be the best choice as it places 5th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2015.

Quincy doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Quincy may not be your first choice for a vacation.

6. Aberdeen

Aberdeen, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 16,429
Home Values: $121,000 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (32nd worst)
Aberdeen ranks as the 6th 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 32nd 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.

7. Wapato

Wapato, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,075
Home Values: $107,200 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (6th worst)
Wapato doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 14.9%, and people average less than $32,722 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $107,200, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Washington.

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And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.

8. Tukwila

Tukwila, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 19,757
Home Values: $241,000 (64th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (48th worst)
Tukwila places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Washington. Here, 17.3% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Tukwila have the 19th highest adult drop out rate in Washington.

Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $241,000 each — the 64th lowest in Washington.

As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.

9. Centralia

Centralia, Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 16,683
Home Values: $149,500 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.3% (7th worst)
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.

10. Seatac

Population: 27,859
Home Values: $231,700 (61st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (30th worst)
What the heck is going on in little Seatac? The crime is the 27th highest in the state of Washington. Here, residents have a 1 in 19.8 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn’t have something stolen from you, there’s a good chance your neighbor did.

That ratio is one of the highest we’ve seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 9.3% of Seatac residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 30th highest in the state.

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 2017.

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

  1. Mercer Island (Pop. 24,120)
  2. Sammamish (Pop. 50,163)
  3. Newcastle (Pop. 10,994)

For more Washington reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Washington

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Shelton 9,810 11.1% $156,800
2 Kelso 11,837 18.4% $122,400
3 Union Gap 6,042 7.8% $92,500
4 Hoquiam 8,479 16.4% $104,300
5 Quincy 7,163 15.9% $133,400
6 Aberdeen 16,429 9.2% $121,000
7 Wapato 5,075 14.9% $107,200
8 Tukwila 19,757 8.6% $241,000
9 Centralia 16,683 14.3% $149,500
10 Seatac 27,859 9.3% $231,700
11 Toppenish 9,006 9.0% $113,400
12 Yakima 93,261 10.5% $156,700
13 Chehalis 7,314 9.8% $165,800
14 Grandview 11,083 15.1% $119,300
15 Clarkston 7,330 13.8% $123,300
16 Yelm 7,701 12.0% $197,100
17 Burlington 8,509 9.0% $186,900
18 Fife 9,477 8.6% $223,500
19 Othello 7,624 9.0% $143,600
20 Sunnyside 16,204 9.3% $119,600
21 Sedro-Woolley 10,673 10.3% $178,300
22 Longview 36,619 11.9% $162,400
23 Airway Heights 6,449 11.0% $148,000
24 Lakewood 59,122 13.2% $209,100
25 Moses Lake 21,579 8.4% $157,100
26 Bremerton 39,017 9.8% $178,300
27 Mount Vernon 32,957 9.1% $205,800
28 Tacoma 203,481 10.1% $203,600
29 Port Angeles 19,200 11.5% $189,800
30 Woodland 5,589 8.5% $174,500
31 Everett 105,685 9.2% $230,800
32 Sequim 6,695 13.4% $212,900
33 Walla Walla 31,957 8.2% $170,600
34 Auburn 74,527 8.2% $233,400
35 Spokane 210,695 9.0% $159,400
36 Pasco 67,391 7.4% $163,300
37 Ocean Shores 5,637 20.0% $165,300
38 Connell 5,359 7.0% $116,700
39 Port Orchard 13,004 10.9% $251,200
40 Federal Way 92,859 8.3% $245,800
41 Spokane Valley 92,286 8.7% $168,400
42 Cheney 11,171 10.6% $176,100
43 Vancouver 168,050 9.5% $200,100
44 Kent 124,292 8.2% $250,900
45 Kennewick 76,918 6.9% $170,800
46 Arlington 18,578 9.4% $229,200
47 Prosser 5,819 6.9% $156,000
48 Sumner 9,584 5.9% $227,100
49 Ellensburg 18,637 8.0% $195,000
50 Pacific 6,954 9.3% $204,100
51 Burien 49,785 7.0% $274,500
52 Monroe 17,734 7.2% $242,200
53 Puyallup 38,720 8.7% $255,300
54 Ephrata 7,948 5.4% $144,600
55 Lynnwood 36,491 6.4% $280,000
56 Des Moines 30,715 7.0% $254,800
57 Olympia 48,941 8.8% $242,100
58 Wenatchee 32,950 7.1% $205,900
59 Orting 7,078 8.2% $199,000
60 Bellingham 82,944 9.1% $285,900
61 Tumwater 18,478 7.3% $214,000
62 Ferndale 12,355 8.6% $244,700
63 Battle Ground 18,576 7.8% $210,800
64 Marysville 63,760 8.9% $228,300
65 Renton 97,234 6.3% $291,300
66 East Wenatchee 13,473 7.3% $219,100
67 Enumclaw 11,494 5.6% $233,500
68 Snohomish 9,437 6.7% $267,600
69 Washougal 14,777 9.1% $225,800
70 Gig Harbor 7,918 12.9% $347,500
71 College Place 8,957 4.7% $175,000
72 Stanwood 6,560 6.7% $263,700
73 Port Townsend 9,208 9.2% $288,800
74 Lacey 44,825 8.4% $223,600
75 Lake Stevens 29,774 7.2% $255,000
76 Bonney Lake 18,516 7.3% $255,200
77 Pullman 31,502 10.4% $222,900
78 Oak Harbor 22,331 8.6% $223,000
79 Poulsbo 9,588 4.3% $282,500
80 West Richland 13,048 7.3% $194,100
81 Mountlake Terrace 20,521 6.8% $261,100
82 University Place 31,991 10.4% $282,200
83 Seattle 653,017 5.7% $452,800
84 Covington 18,689 6.3% $267,700
85 Dupont 9,054 5.4% $294,600
86 Selah 7,531 3.4% $196,200
87 Richland 52,291 5.8% $207,100
88 Ridgefield 5,693 6.6% $280,700
89 North Bend 6,305 5.3% $404,600
90 Anacortes 16,048 6.2% $311,700
91 Shoreline 54,774 7.7% $336,800
92 Milton 7,219 5.1% $223,800
93 Fircrest 6,612 8.7% $270,000
94 Lynden 12,886 4.3% $275,800
95 Liberty Lake 8,269 7.3% $274,600
96 Bothell 41,207 7.0% $355,100
97 Steilacoom 6,118 5.0% $283,800
98 Edgewood 9,600 4.2% $308,100
99 Edmonds 40,689 5.9% $393,700
100 Camas 20,890 6.4% $315,800
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26 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Washington For 2017

  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 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

  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?

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