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:
- Shelton (Photos)
- Kelso (Photos)
- Union Gap
- Hoquiam (Photos)
- Quincy (Photos)
- Aberdeen (Photos)
- Wapato (Photos)
- Tukwila (Photos)
- Centralia (Photos)
- 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.
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.
Population: 9,810Home 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.
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.
Population: 11,837Home 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).
Population: 8,479Home 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.
Population: 7,163Home 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.
Population: 16,429Home 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.
Population: 5,075Home 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.
And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
Population: 19,757Home 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.
Population: 16,683Home 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.
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:
- Mercer Island (Pop. 24,120)
- Sammamish (Pop. 50,163)
- Newcastle (Pop. 10,994)
For more Washington reading , check out:
- 10 Small Towns In Washington Where You’d Never Want To Live
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Washington
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Washington
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Washington