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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Vancouver.
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 Vancouver 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Vancouver area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Vancouver proper, although Sherwood certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Vancouver are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..
We examined the 33 biggest suburbs of Vancouver 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 Vancouver in terms of quality of life.
What's the worst suburb of Vancouver? St. Helens ranks as the worst suburb of Vancouver for 2022 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Vancouver that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Vancouver 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:
- Best Places To Live In Washington
- Cheapest Places To Live In Washington
- Most Dangerous Cities In Washington
The 10 Worst Vancouver Suburbs To Live For 2022
1. St. Helens
We'll get the ball rolling with St. Helens, the absolute worst place to live around Vancouver according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, St. Helens beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Vancouver area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd 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 St. Helens.
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.
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $57,234 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $235,700 (2nd lowest)
More on St. Helens:
Welcome to Woodland. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 21.0 miles to Vancouver. Income levels here are the 8th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $70,287 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.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Vancouver suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Gresham 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 Vancouver suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $58,250 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $318,300 (10th lowest)
More on Gresham:
If you live in Columbia, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the lowest Vancouver suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 5th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Vancouver. Remember, we looked at 33 cities for this study.
Columbia is about 20.9 miles to downtown.
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $41,607 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $125,300 (lowest)
More on Columbia:
Fairview has the distinction of being a Vancouver suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Fairview has the 8th lowest home values in the metro Vancouver area, where the median price is $306,100. To put that into perspective, in Sherwood, the median income is $124,381, which is the best in the area.
Fairview has an unemployment rate of 4.63% which ranks 12th worst.
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $61,377 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $306,100 (8th lowest)
More on Fairview:
Estacada has 3,642 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 17.380560131795715%.
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 13)
Median Income: $73,398 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (2highest)
Median Home Value: $343,200 (15th lowest)
More on Estacada:
Ah, Cornelius. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Vancouver.
It's the place with the 23rd most out of work residents in the Vancouver metro area (3.07%).
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Median Income: $72,788 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $301,600 (6th lowest)
More on Cornelius:
8. Forest Grove
Forest Grove is a city about 26.0 miles from Vancouver, but Vancouver 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. Forest Grove has the 20th most uninsured people, 6th worst incomes, and has the 14th highest unemployment rate (4.58%) in the entire Vancouver metro area.
Homes only cost $346,400 for a reason. That's cheap for Vancouver standards.
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $69,513 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $346,400 (16th lowest)
More on Forest Grove:
If you absolutely have to live near Vancouver, then Gladstone might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Vancouver suburb.
About 5.18% of residents are out of work.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $69,266 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $337,000 (13th lowest)
More on Gladstone:
Rounding out the ten worst Vancouver suburbs to call home is Washougal.
Located 12.8 miles outside the city, Washougals is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the highest unemployment rate (8.18%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Vancouver 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 Vancouver.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 33 suburbs to evaluate around Vancouver.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 33 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 Vancouver." We're lookin' at you, St. Helens. 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 Vancouver where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022
Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Vancouver with St. Helens casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Vancouver aren't all bad. Sherwood takes the cake as the best place to live around Vancouver.
- Lake Oswego
- Happy Valley
For more Washington reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Washington
- Richest Cities In Washington
- Safest Places In Washington
- Worst Places To Live In Washington
Detailed List Of The Worst Vancouver Suburbs