The 10 Worst Tacoma Suburbs For 2023

We used data and Friday Night Science to identify the worst suburbs of Tacoma for 2023. The worst Tacoma suburbs are Tukwila and Algona.

The suburbs of Tacoma call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Tacoma to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Tacoma ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Tacoma area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Tacoma proper, although Mercer Island certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Tacoma are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones.

We examined the 45 biggest suburbs of Tacoma to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Washington lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Tacoma in terms of quality of life.

The 10 worst suburbs around Tacoma for 2023

  1. Tukwila
  2. Algona
  3. Bremerton
  4. Lakewood
  5. Fife
  6. SeaTac
  7. Rainier
  8. Eatonville
  9. Olympia
  10. Kent

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Tacoma? Tukwila ranks as the worst suburb of Tacoma for 2023 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Tacoma that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in Washington check out the best places in Washington overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Tacoma too.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

For more Washington reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Tacoma Suburbs To Live For 2023

Tukwila, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Joe Mabel | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,545
Median Income: $71,688 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $373,200 (16th lowest)
More on Tukwila:

We’ll get the ball rolling with Tukwila, the absolute worst place to live around Tacoma according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Tukwila beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 5th worst in the Tacoma area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 16th worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Tukwila.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area. There aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Algona, WA

Source: Wikipedia User brewbooks from near Seattle, USA | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,271
Median Income: $78,040 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $300,000 (2nd lowest)
More on Algona:

Welcome to Algona. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 10.0 miles to Tacoma. Income levels here are the 14th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $78,040 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Bremerton, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 43,345
Median Income: $61,741 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $306,700 (4th lowest)
More on Bremerton:

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Tacoma suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Bremerton on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school dropout rate is poor compared to other Tacoma suburbs.

But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.

Lakewood, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Kgrr | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 62,972
Median Income: $60,534 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (15th highest)
Median Home Value: $331,500 (8th lowest)
More on Lakewood:

If you live in Lakewood, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the lowest Tacoma suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 15th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Tacoma. Remember, we looked at 45 cities for this study.

Lakewood is about 6.8 miles to downtown.

Fife, WA

Source: Wikipedia User SounderBruce | CC BY-SA 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,869
Median Income: $75,557 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (24th highest)
Median Home Value: $337,200 (10th lowest)
More on Fife:

Fife has the distinction of being a Tacoma suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Fife has the 10th lowest home values in the metro Tacoma area, where the median price is $337,200. The median income is $250,001.

Fife has an unemployment rate of 4.86% which ranks 24th worst.

Seatac, WA

Source: Wikipedia User SounderBruce from Seattle, United States | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,867
Median Income: $73,540 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $364,400 (15th lowest)
More on Seatac:

SeaTac has 30,867 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom, and the poverty rate sits at 10.711414790996782%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,772
Median Income: $88,036 (24th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $252,500 (lowest)
More on Rainier:

Ah, Rainier. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Tacoma.

It’s the place with the 9th most out of work residents in the Tacoma metro area (6.15%).

Eatonville, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Steven Pavlov | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,863
Median Income: $80,288 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $305,700 (3rd lowest)
More on Eatonville:

Eatonville is a city about 28.0 miles from Tacoma, but Tacoma probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a worse place to live. Eatonville has the 9th most uninsured people, 18th worst incomes, and has the 18th highest unemployment rate (5.14%) in the entire Tacoma metro area.

Homes only cost $305,700 for a reason. That’s cheap for Tacoma standards.

Olympia, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Patrick | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 54,579
Median Income: $67,975 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $355,100 (12th lowest)
More on Olympia:

If you absolutely have to live near Tacoma, then Olympia might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Tacoma suburb.

About 6.45% of residents are out of work.

Kent, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 134,890
Median Income: $79,781 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $414,200 (25th lowest)
More on Kent:

Rounding out the ten worst Tacoma suburbs to call home is Kent.

Located 14.9 miles outside the city, Kents is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 4th highest unemployment rate (7.45%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Tacoma for 2023

To figure out how bad a Tacoma suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

It’s Saturday Night Science.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Tacoma.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 45 suburbs to evaluate around Tacoma.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 45 in each category, where 1 was the “worst.”

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality-of-life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index, the “Worst Suburb near Tacoma.” We’re looking at you, Tukwila.

We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Tacoma.

Summary: The areas around Tacoma where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Tacoma with Tukwila casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Tacoma aren’t all bad. Mercer Island takes the cake as the best place to live around Tacoma.

  • Mercer Island
  • Clyde Hill
  • Medina

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Tacoma Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Tukwila 21,545 $71,688 $373,200
2 Algona 3,271 $78,040 $300,000
3 Bremerton 43,345 $61,741 $306,700
4 Lakewood 62,972 $60,534 $331,500
5 Fife 10,869 $75,557 $337,200
6 Seatac 30,867 $73,540 $364,400
7 Rainier 2,772 $88,036 $252,500
8 Eatonville 2,863 $80,288 $305,700
9 Olympia 54,579 $67,975 $355,100
10 Kent 134,890 $79,781 $414,200
11 Des Moines 32,631 $73,131 $416,500
12 Tumwater 24,855 $77,849 $343,300
13 Auburn 85,306 $79,415 $393,500
14 Federal Way 99,792 $72,969 $384,200
15 Lacey 52,572 $75,059 $310,600
16 Sumner 10,545 $77,601 $390,700
17 Burien 51,646 $79,797 $459,800
18 Port Orchard 15,315 $75,766 $377,700
19 Pacific 7,130 $69,095 $331,200
20 Yelm 10,205 $83,027 $315,400
21 Puyallup 42,366 $81,224 $387,800
22 Milton 8,501 $81,690 $359,400
23 Orting 8,781 $97,614 $336,300
24 Enumclaw 12,544 $91,855 $358,000
25 Renton 105,313 $84,374 $474,700
26 Fircrest 7,109 $90,854 $406,500
27 Buckley 5,098 $115,245 $415,500
28 Dupont 9,974 $98,409 $385,500
29 University Place 34,565 $84,673 $430,500
30 Bonney Lake 22,229 $108,705 $396,700
31 Seattle 726,054 $105,391 $767,500
32 Edgewood 12,132 $108,492 $484,700
33 Covington 20,608 $114,247 $434,500
34 Steilacoom 6,673 $95,316 $442,500
35 Gig Harbor 11,505 $96,192 $574,600
36 Normandy Park 6,716 $113,328 $715,700
37 Black Diamond 5,002 $118,140 $609,200
38 Maple Valley 27,643 $125,092 $498,100
39 Bellevue 149,365 $140,252 $951,200
40 Issaquah 39,057 $132,984 $745,100
41 Newcastle 12,855 $139,439 $888,400
42 Bainbridge Island 24,557 $145,475 $852,700
43 Medina 2,928 $208,500 $2,000,001
44 Clyde Hill 3,118 $250,001 $2,000,001
45 Mercer Island 25,506 $170,000 $1,504,500
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *