The 10 Worst Tempe Suburbs For 2021

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

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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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Tempe.

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

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 Tempe 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Tempe area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Tempe proper, although Paradise Valley certainly tries.

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

We examined the 21 biggest suburbs of Tempe to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in arizona lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Tempe in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Tempe for 2021:

  1. Guadalupe
  2. Apache Junction
  3. Tolleson
  4. Phoenix
  5. Glendale
  6. El Mirage
  7. Avondale
  8. Mesa
  9. Maricopa
  10. Goodyear

What's the worst suburb of Tempe? Guadalupe ranks as the worst suburb of Tempe for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

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

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

And remember, there are some good places to live around Tempe 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 Arizona reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Tempe Suburbs To Live For 2021

Guadalupe, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,482
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $38,125 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (highest)
Median Home Value: $100,100 (lowest)
More on Guadalupe:  Data | Photos

We'll get the ball rolling with Guadalupe, the absolute worst place to live around Tempe according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Guadalupe beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the worst in the Tempe area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 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 Guadalupe.

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.

Apache Junction, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 40,592
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,653 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $105,600 (2nd lowest)
More on Apache Junction:  Data | Photos

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

This city is 22.9 miles to Tempe. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $45,653 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.

Tolleson, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,246
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,952 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $174,800 (4th lowest)
More on Tolleson:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Tempe suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Tolleson 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 Tempe suburbs.

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

Phoenix, AZ

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,633,017
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $57,459 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $235,400 (9th lowest)
More on Phoenix:  Data | Photos

If you live in Phoenix, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 5th lowest Tempe suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 7th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Tempe. Remember, we looked at 21 cities for this study.

Phoenix is about 15.6 miles to downtown.

Glendale, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 247,813
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Income: $55,020 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $214,700 (6th lowest)
More on Glendale:  Data | Photos

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

All snarkiness aside, Glendale has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Tempe area, where the median price is $214,700. To put that into perspective, in Paradise Valley, the median income is $211,393, which is the best in the area.

Glendale has an unemployment rate of 5.75% which ranks 5th worst.

El Mirage, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 35,333
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $58,216 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $160,800 (3rd lowest)
More on El Mirage:  Data | Photos

El Mirage has 35,333 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 15.31900375298533%.

Avondale, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 84,736
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $61,825 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $215,100 (7th lowest)
More on Avondale:  Data | Photos

Ah, Avondale. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Tempe.

It's the place with the 4th most out of work residents in the Tempe metro area (5.91%).

Mesa, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 499,720
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $58,181 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $226,500 (8th lowest)
More on Mesa:  Data | Photos

Mesa is a city about 12.4 miles from Tempe, but Tempe 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. Mesa has the 5th most uninsured people, 6th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (4.93%) in the entire Tempe metro area.

Homes only cost $226,500 for a reason. That's cheap for Tempe standards.

Maricopa, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 48,629
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $74,515 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $202,100 (5th lowest)
More on Maricopa:  Data | Photos

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

About 3.87% of residents are out of work.

Goodyear, AZ

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 80,371
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $83,866 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $290,800 (10th lowest)
More on Goodyear:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Tempe suburbs to call home is Goodyear.

Located 26.7 miles outside the city, Goodyears is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 9th highest unemployment rate (4.52%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Tempe for 2021

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 2015-2019, 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 Tempe.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 6,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 21 suburbs to evaluate around Tempe.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 21 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 Tempe." We're lookin' at you, Guadalupe. 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.

The areas around Tempe where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Tempe with Guadalupe casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Tempe aren't all bad. Paradise Valley takes the cake as the best place to live around Tempe.

  • Paradise Valley
  • Fountain Hills
  • Scottsdale

For more Arizona reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Tempe Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Guadalupe 6,482 $38,125 $100,100
2 Apache Junction 40,592 $45,653 $105,600
3 Tolleson 7,246 $45,952 $174,800
4 Phoenix 1,633,017 $57,459 $235,400
5 Glendale 247,813 $55,020 $214,700
6 El Mirage 35,333 $58,216 $160,800
7 Avondale 84,736 $61,825 $215,100
8 Mesa 499,720 $58,181 $226,500
9 Maricopa 48,629 $74,515 $202,100
10 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
11 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
12 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
13 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
14 Santa Cruz 64,522 $77,921 $854,200
15 Chandler 252,692 $82,925 $300,800
16 Litchfield Park 6,073 $83,156 $318,000
17 Gilbert 243,254 $96,857 $328,700
18 Queen Creek 43,129 $105,729 $348,600
19 Scottsdale 250,602 $88,213 $475,300
20 Fountain Hills 24,729 $85,200 $402,100
21 Paradise Valley 14,362 $211,393 $1,516,200

How Is Your Town In ?

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.