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:
- Centralia (Photos)
- Tukwila (Photos)
- Union Gap (Photos)
- Shelton (Photos)
- Kelso (Photos)
- Fife (Photos)
- Aberdeen (Photos)
- Ocean Shores (Photos)
- Chehalis (Photos)
- 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.
For more Washington reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Washington
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Washington
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities 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
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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:
- Duvall (Pop. 7,683)
- Sammamish (Pop. 62,877)
- Mercer Island (Pop. 24,768)
For more Washington reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Washington
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Washington
- 10 Safest Places In Washington
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Washington
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Washington