These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Washington

These places are not the best that Washington has to offer.

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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:

  1. Centralia
  2. Bremerton
  3. Kelso
  4. Port Orchard
  5. Aberdeen
  6. Port Angeles
  7. Longview
  8. Parkland
  9. Lakewood
  10. Bainbridge Island

Read on to find out how we came up with this list. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.

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How we determined the worst places to live in Washington

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
  • Great weather
  • High incomes
  • High population density (Lots of things to do)
  • Short work commutes
  • Houses that aren’t vacant and boarded up

Then, we ranked the list based on places that are the worst in all of these categories that have over 10,000 people.

We crunched the numbers and – like magic – got the list from worst to best.

Read on below to learn more about these terrible places in Washington to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 110 places in Washington with more than 10,000 people ranked from worst to best.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Snarkiness incorporated for entertainment purposes only. Hold on to your pants.

1. Centralia

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 16,381
Unemployment Rate: 2nd worst in the state
Crime Rate: Worst 10% in the state
Median Income: $34,777

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.

2. Bremerton

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 38,311
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 20%
Crime Rate: Bottom 20%
Median Income: $40,644

Bremerton’s population places it as the largest city in Kitsap County and our ranking places it as the worst place to live in Kitsap County.

Just a 60 minute ferry ride from Seattle, this city of 38,311 doesn’t share the same booming economy as Seattle with unemployment and crime in the bottom 20% of places in Washington.

Bremerton also has an extremely high vacancy rate, the 4th worst in the state, so it seems like locals already know it’s not the best place to live

3. Kelso

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Flickr user kuknauf

Population: 11,929
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 10%
Crime Rate: Bottom 10%
Median Income: $33,829

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.

4. Port Orchard

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Flickr user compdude787

Population: 11,239
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 50%
Crime Rate: 4th worst in the state
Median Income: $56,257

Port Orchard comes in as our 4th worst place to live in Washington powered by a very high crime rate and high vacancy rate.

The smallest town in our ranking, Port Orchard seems like the little brother of Bainbrige Island, number 10 on our list, since they rank similarly in a lot of categories; it’s just that Port Orchard ranks worse.

In that vein, it’s tied with Bainbridge Island for having the best unemployment rate of any city in our top 10. At 5.5% unemployment, it ranks number 57 out of 110 for places in Washington.

5. Aberdeen

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Flickr user iamchad

Population: 16,779
Unemployment Rate: Worst in the state
Crime Rate: Bottom 20%
Median Income: $39,872

Aberdeen ranks as the 5th 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 dead last 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.

6. Port Angeles

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 19,061
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 10%
Crime Rate: Bottom 20%
Median Income: $41,157

Port Angeles doesn’t seem to be as heavenly as its name would imply. It manages to rank in the bottom 20% for unemployment, crime, and housing vacancy.

It’s not all bad news in Port Angeles. It actually ranks highest in the state for Comfort Index, a index based on temperature, rainy days, and humidity.

The views across the water, and of the mountains, probably don’t hurt the comfort index either.

7. Longview

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 36.660
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 10%
Crime Rate: Bottom 30%
Median Income: $40,660

Longview ranks 7th on our list of worst places due to a high unemployment rate and slightly below average marks in everything else.

Being the next door neighbor to the number 3 city on our list, Kelso, it seems Longview hasn’t picked up all of its bad tendencies.

Not to mention it’s the home to “Nutty Narrows Bridge”, one of the few bridges made only for squirrels. Yep, that’s a real thing and totally fitting for this list.

8. Parkland

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Parkland Branch Library — Demco

Population: 35,466
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 10%
Crime Rate: Bottom 20%
Median Income: $46,982

Just eight miles south of Tacoma, Parkland outpaces its neighbor when it comes to being one of the worst places to live in Washington.

Parkland scored scored in the bottom 50% for all of the criteria we analyzed, with the lone exception being population density.

It scores in the top 20% in terms of density. So get ready to snuggle up if you decide to come to Parkland.

9. Lakewood

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Flickr user Brett Va

Population: 58,688
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 20%
Crime Rate: Bottom 10%
Median Income: $42,241

Lakewood came in at number nine on our of list of worst places to live.

It’s the most populous in our top ten. That means that relative to the other cities on the list, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the city.

Just make sure to keep an eye on your wallet while you’re out; the city has one of the highest crime rates in Washington.

10. Bainbridge Island

Worst places to live in Washington

Source: Flickr user Jan Tik

Population: 22,933
Unemployment Rate: Bottom 50%
Crime Rate: Top 20%
Median Income: $92,558

Bainbridge Island sticks out like a sore thumb on our list. It’s the odd duck of the worst places to live. The black swan.

Basically, it’s a bad place to live because it’s in the middle of nowhere. Or better yet, the middle of water.

You can tell by our quick summary that people make plenty of money and crime isn’t a problem. However, the median commute time is the 2nd worst in the state and the population density is 5th worst.

Stuck on island with nothing to do. Sounds a bit like it should be home to Gilligan and the Skipper.

Bringing It All Home

And there you have it, the worst places to live in Washington.

While some cities at the top of this list are really in bad shape, across the board, most of the cities are just below average, in comparison to one another.

We’re waiting to hear cries of protest from Bainbridge Island, but we won’t be able to hear them from across the water.

Worst Places To Live In Washington, Detailed Ranking

Download the data set here.

City Population Worst Place Score Rank
Centralia 16381 84.1875 1
Bremerton 38311 80.1875 2
Kelso 11929 80 3
Port Orchard 11239 77.125 4
Aberdeen 16779 76.75 5
Port Angeles 19061 75.625 6
Longview 36660 75.0625 7
Parkland 35466 74.25 8
Lakewood 58688 73.9375 9
Bainbridge Island 22933 72.8125 10
Frederickson 18371 71.9375 11
Tacoma 200013 71.4375 12
Walla Walla 31595 70.6875 13
Puyallup 37358 69.875 14
Fort Lewis 13935 69.1875 15
Moses Lake 20305 68.75 16
Washougal 14031 67.875 17
Graham 23196 67.125 18
Lake Tapps 11870 66.75 19
Elk Plain 14645 66.5625 20
Battle Ground 17428 66.0625 21
Wenatchee 31956 65.3125 22
Mount Vernon 31804 64.9375 23
Artondale 12863 64.75 24
Spanaway 29243 64.5 25
Tumwater 17469 63.9375 26
Vashon 10854 63.6875 27
Anacortes 15798 63.6875 27
Bonney Lake 17336 63.25 29
Seatac 27003 63 30
Vancouver 162699 63 30
Hazel Dell 18511 62.9375 32
Kennewick 73640 62.9375 32
Yakima 91083 62.375 34
Camas 19483 61.3125 35
Cheney 10631 61.25 36
Sunnyside 15775 60.4375 37
South Hill 54093 60.3125 38
Arlington 17773 60.0625 39
Grandview 10763 59.8125 40
Five Corners 18710 59.8125 40
Kent 108700 59.6875 42
Ellensburg 18204 59.625 43
Silverdale 19490 58.875 44
Pasco 60024 58.875 44
Auburn 70297 58.5 46
Everett 103135 58.3125 47
Sedro-Woolley 10536 58.0625 48
Tukwila 19127 57.9375 49
Oak Harbor 22118 57.75 50
Prairie Ridge 11795 57.4375 51
Lacey 42383 57.375 52
Bellingham 80930 57 53
Lake Stevens 28130 56.0625 54
Spokane 208701 56 55
Richland 48556 55.8125 56
Monroe 17198 55.125 57
University Place 31315 54.4375 58
White Center 15198 53.4375 59
Lynnwood 35901 52.625 60
Des Moines 29862 52.3125 61
Salmon Creek 21168 52.0625 62
Bryn Mawr-Skyway 16404 51.8125 63
Pullman 29895 51.4375 64
North Lynnwood 16765 51.1875 65
Federal Way 89691 50.5625 66
Enumclaw 10963 50.0625 67
East Wenatchee 13169 49.9375 68
Ferndale 11507 49.5 69
Issaquah 30473 49.25 70
Woodinville 10945 49.125 71
Spokane Valley 89793 48.875 72
West Richland 11904 48.75 73
Snoqualmie 10500 48.5625 74
Burien 42418 47.5 75
Renton 91273 45.875 76
Lakeland South 12186 45.6875 77
Seattle 612916 45 78
Lynden 12072 44.8125 79
Martha Lake 15785 44.3125 80
Marysville 60202 43.5625 81
Kenmore 20589 42.75 82
Union Hill-Novelty Hill 21422 41.1875 83
Shoreline 53282 40.9375 84
Covington 17579 40.8125 85
Mill Creek East 15269 40.6875 86
Edmonds 39925 40.625 87
East Renton Highlands 12627 39.6875 88
Maltby 11403 39.5625 89
Bothell 33664 37.9375 90
Mukilteo 20263 37.75 91
Mountlake Terrace 20026 37.5625 92
Kirkland 49090 37.1875 93
Bellevue 122873 37.0625 94
Mill Creek 18163 36.9375 95
Cottage Lake 23416 36.0625 96
Bothell West 15858 35.8125 97
Silver Firs 21433 35.0625 98
Maple Valley 22663 34.9375 99
Mercer Island 22922 34.375 100
Newcastle 10358 33.6875 101
Redmond 54389 32.8125 102
Fairwood (King County) 20647 30.375 103
Lake Forest Park 12718 29.75 104
Sammamish 46405 29.75 104
Eastmont 20091 28.8125 106
Lakeland North 13767 27.4375 107
Inglewood-Finn Hill 24809 25.5 108
Kingsgate 13766 25 109
Klahanie 11991 21.75 110

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15 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Washington

  1. We just moved to Bremerton about a year ago and absolutely love it! There are gorgeous family friendly refurbished parks, the downtown has already had the sidewalks widened, more streets are becoming pedestrian friendly, and there are beautiful homes that are very affordable when compared to King County and Tacoma.
    I will admit, I would like to see more little shops and restaurants fill the storefronts, but it’s only a matter of time. I think that Bremerton gets a bad rap for how it looked a decade ago, but it is lovely now and getting better every month.

  2. This article should be titled “10 Worst Places to Live in Western Washington”. I know of some absolutely horrible places on the east side that are a lot worse than several of the towns on this list.

  3. Most of the towns in this top 10 list were built on ailing industries, like lumber and shipping. They continue to be the homes of hard-working people who struggle daily in the wake of a changing economy and a coarsening society.

    The numbers are the numbers, and they unfortunately don’t tell the whole story. But when you say things ” And remember, don’t blame the messenger,” followed by some of the F’d up things you wrote for “entertainment purposes only,” it seems disingenuous.

  4. Boy this must say alot about me when I have lived in #1,#2 and # 4 on this list Its not any thing to get upset about, we still live in a great state and area, so take it as something to improve on maybe they’ll add its citizen’s care about its homeless or those who are less fortionate then themselves, they will rate each of these cities higher then many others because under the situations that are before each of us, helps us learn compassion for others do you agree?

  5. Geez calm down everyone! In case some of you missed the quote at the end of the article here it is. “This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Snarkiness incorporated for entertainment purposes only. Hold on to your pants”

    I enjoyed this article while relaxing at home here in Tacoma #12 on the list, the city everyone loves to hate.

  6. I agree with Longview. The worst of Washington. Should be #1. Meth capital of the state. A hockey team has more teeth than that whole city.

  7. Just moved to Bainbridge Island last year and we think it’s fabulous! Weak reasons for BI to appear on this list! And I’ll take 35 minute ferry ride any day instead of sitting in my car in traffic! That 35 minutes; read the paper, check emails, and a fabulous Happy Hour on the ride home! Are you kidding me!!! Who made up this list? BTW, there’s plenty to do on the island! Hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, shopping, boating, golf, tennis, should I go on?

  8. Funny you should mention Skipper and Gilligan for Bainbridge Island. Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, resided there for decades and seemed to like it. Obviously, he thought it befitted him.

  9. A nice example of interweb bullsh*t . Have the writers ever visited any of these towns? I have, and there’s some damn fine areas on this pathetic list. Statistics can be manipulated to prove whatever point the writer wants to make.

  10. I had to laugh when I saw population density was a positive on this list. I’d rather live in a cave than a city. Though, you can add Centralia’s taser-happy, killing-cats-with-hammers, union-protected cop to the list of reasons not to live there.

  11. Burlington wash. should be on the list. There is a lack of amenities. Most of the restaurants are fast food or commercial chains. There are only two grocery stores supporting the population, and these stores are often too crowded. There is a charge for the library if a person lives outside the city limits.
    I wish I could move away from here.

  12. How do you have Prairie Ridge at 51 it is the meth and trailer park capital of pierce county? I guess you count selling drugs as a job.

  13. Omg…I really HOPE this list doesn’t represent the truth about Bremerton. I live on the East coast, North Carolina, and have never visited Washington state. My daughter, however, has visited and decided to move there. Lindsey is 21 and is transferring schools and moving her life across the country to be with her guy who’s stationed there. He’s in the navy. She’s such a fearless, adventurous soul. She’s smart and classy. Not culpable or naive at all. Still, she’s my baby girl and I worry so much for her safety. I guess all I can do is trust that I’ve raised her right and pray.

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