The 10 Worst Tacoma Suburbs For 2022

We used science and data to determine which Tacoma suburbs are the real pits.

Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Tacoma.

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 science and data to determine which Tacoma 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Tacoma area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all 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.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Tacoma for 2022:

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

What's the worst suburb of Tacoma? Tukwila ranks as the worst suburb of Tacoma for 2022 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.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Washington reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Tacoma Suburbs To Live For 2022

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 3rd worst in the Tacoma area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 11th 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,265
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $63,053 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $314,200 (11th lowest)
More on Tukwila:  Data | Photos

Tukwila, WA

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

This city is 23.2 miles to Tacoma. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $57,963 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

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

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 41,258
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $57,963 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $270,100 (2nd lowest)
More on Bremerton:  Data | Photos

Bremerton, WA

Source: Public domain

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Tacoma suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Eatonville 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 drop out rate is poor compared to other Tacoma suburbs.

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

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,007
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $76,500 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $271,200 (5th lowest)
More on Eatonville:  Data | Photos

Eatonville, WA

If you live in Algona, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 13th lowest Tacoma suburb when it comes to residents making money.

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

Algona is about 10.0 miles to downtown.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,207
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Income: $73,611 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (highest)
Median Home Value: $270,400 (3rd lowest)
More on Algona:  Data | Photos

Algona, WA

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

All snarkiness aside, Lakewood has the 9th lowest home values in the metro Tacoma area, where the median price is $309,600. To put that into perspective, in Mercer Island, the median income is $250,001, which is the best in the area.

Lakewood has an unemployment rate of 5.45% which ranks 16th worst.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 60,564
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $55,723 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (16th highest)
Median Home Value: $309,600 (9th lowest)
More on Lakewood:  Data | Photos

Lakewood, WA

SeaTac has 29,102 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 12.476034935738125%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 29,102
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $66,131 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $338,000 (15th lowest)
More on Seatac:  Data | Photos

Seatac, WA

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

It's the place with the 6th most out of work residents in the Tacoma metro area (6.94%).

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 52,290
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Income: $63,185 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $330,800 (13th lowest)
More on Olympia:  Data | Photos

Olympia, WA

Rainier is a city about 27.1 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. Rainier has the 34th most uninsured people, 16th worst incomes, and has the 18th highest unemployment rate (5.19%) in the entire Tacoma metro area.

Homes only cost $232,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Tacoma standards.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,603
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 6)
Median Income: $76,016 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $232,800 (lowest)
More on Rainier:  Data

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

About 5.08% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,246
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Income: $68,447 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (19th highest)
Median Home Value: $347,500 (18th lowest)
More on Sumner:  Data | Photos

Sumner, WA

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 7th highest unemployment rate (6.77%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 130,038
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 7)
Median Income: $73,891 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $378,800 (25th lowest)
More on Kent:  Data | Photos

Kent, WA

Source: Public domain

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Tacoma for 2022

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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2016-2020, 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 drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Tacoma.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have 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 lookin' at you, Tukwila. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

Summary: The areas around Tacoma where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022

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
  • Medina
  • Clyde Hill

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Tacoma Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Tukwila 20,265 $63,053 $314,200
2 Bremerton 41,258 $57,963 $270,100
3 Eatonville 3,007 $76,500 $271,200
4 Algona 3,207 $73,611 $270,400
5 Lakewood 60,564 $55,723 $309,600
6 Seatac 29,102 $66,131 $338,000
7 Olympia 52,290 $63,185 $330,800
8 Rainier 2,603 $76,016 $232,800
9 Sumner 10,246 $68,447 $347,500
10 Kent 130,038 $73,891 $378,800
11 Port Orchard 14,303 $71,719 $357,500
12 Fife 10,345 $75,151 $325,500
13 Burien 51,588 $71,233 $419,500
14 Auburn 80,914 $76,410 $356,200
15 Des Moines 31,983 $70,268 $379,300
16 Federal Way 96,812 $68,672 $359,000
17 Tumwater 23,390 $76,676 $312,600
18 Yelm 9,262 $77,297 $270,900
19 Lacey 50,827 $69,752 $286,200
20 Enumclaw 12,062 $78,750 $333,600
21 Orting 8,267 $85,701 $293,800
22 Pacific 7,122 $65,022 $305,200
23 Milton 8,211 $77,064 $340,600
24 Puyallup 41,666 $76,565 $352,800
25 Renton 101,871 $79,824 $442,600
26 Fircrest 6,844 $82,578 $375,600
27 Buckley 4,960 $98,780 $384,500
28 Steilacoom 6,366 $85,083 $394,500
29 University Place 33,661 $77,832 $387,800
30 Covington 21,131 $106,737 $386,900
31 Seattle 741,251 $97,185 $713,600
32 Bonney Lake 21,247 $100,951 $372,200
33 Edgewood 12,010 $103,193 $430,600
34 Dupont 9,514 $93,405 $343,400
35 Gig Harbor 10,280 $84,861 $509,800
36 Black Diamond 4,703 $111,250 $464,300
37 Issaquah 38,707 $122,053 $677,500
38 Normandy Park 6,643 $102,212 $685,800
39 Maple Valley 26,739 $117,706 $451,900
40 Bainbridge Island 24,859 $125,861 $783,600
41 Bellevue 146,145 $129,497 $887,700
42 Newcastle 12,078 $155,933 $780,100
43 Clyde Hill 3,360 $250,001 $2,000,001
44 Medina 3,283 $185,163 $2,000,001
45 Mercer Island 25,820 $150,506 $1,386,300

How Is Your Town In ?

Editor's Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don't freak out we updated this article for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the worst suburbs around Tacoma.
About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.