Arizona is a state of wild beauty, of canyons and gorges, vibrant cities, and charming small towns. But nowhere is perfect. No state is immune from its trouble spots and unfortunately, it doesn’t take much digging to find them. Scratch beneath the surface of some communities in Arizona and you’ll be shocked at what you find. Sky-high crime rates, rocketing unemployment, subsistence wages… regardless of what kind of spin the tourism board tries to put on it, it’s not a pretty picture. So, which of Arizona’s towns and cities rank as the very worst? Which areas should you avoid like the plague? Find out as we take a look at the 20 worst places to live in Arizona.
Phoenix is huge. With over one and a half million people to its name, Arizona’s capital is a vast, sprawling metropolis that’s packed with world-class resorts, championship golf courses, botanical gardens, and a whole host of other attractions. But despite the good stuff, the city has its fair share of problems – dealing with the fallout from its crime rate being one of them. Last year, Phoenix had the 6th highest murder rate in the state and the 4th highest rape rate. The property crime rate, meanwhile, has risen to the point that 1 resident in 30.2 has been the victim of burglary or auto theft.
Last year, 86 burglaries were reported in Holbrook. It doesn’t seem too high a number at first glance, but once you consider the town only has 5098 residents to its name, it suddenly becomes a lot more daunting. As the gateway to the Petrified Forest National Park, the town attracts millions of visitors every year. If those visitors know what’s good for them, they’ll watch their back – the town that prides itself on its roadside Americana charm has the 4th worst property crime rate in the state and the 5th worst violent crime rate.
Arizona’s second-largest city advertises itself as “America’s biggest small town”. But if small towns are about low crime rates, old fashioned morality, and a ‘respect your neighbors’ philosophy, it might need to re-think its marketing strategy. Last year, the city experienced 2497 burglaries and 2,250 car thefts. Worse still, the number of violent crimes reported has earned it Arizona’s 2nd highest rape rate and 7th highest murder rate. With stats like that obscuring the view, it’s hard to see the charm.
Kingman may be considered the heart of Route 66, but if you want our advice, push your foot to the floor and keep on driving. Park up and head into town, and not only is there a very good chance your car will get stolen in your absence, but you’ve also got a 326 in 100,000 chance of falling victim to a violent crime.
16. Avra Valley
If you’re a woman, steer clear of Avra Valley. While the city might be a decent enough place for men, it’s a whole different story for women. According to zippia.com, 21.5% of the area’s women live in poverty. Only 24.1% of management jobs are held by women, and for every dollar men make, women make just 63 cents. No wonder it’s earned the ignominious title of Arizona’s worst city for women in 2020.
15. South Tucson
Unemployment in South Tuscon is on the rise. According to bestplaces.net, the unemployment rate now sits at an uncomfortable 5.3%. What’s worse, even those fortunate enough to have a job aren’t exactly any better off: the average salary is just $10,920 compared to the US average of $28,555 a year. In fairness, the crime rate isn’t quite so appalling as some of our other entries, but considering its still over 50% higher than the national average, you might want to hold your applause for now.
Snowflake may be small, it may have a cool sounding name. It may even have some stunning scenery. But what it also has is one of the highest crime rates in Arizona. According to roadsnacks.net, your chance of being the victim of a property crime here is 1 in 23.2. And the bad news just keeps coming – most households bring in just $44,363 a year annually, while the home values are the 24th lowest in the state.
Coolidge boasts a crime rate of 36 per one thousand residents. A bad statistic by Arizona standards, and an equally bad statistic by US standards. Due to its climate, it’s also prone to haboobs and flash flooding. On the upside, its economy might soon be getting an uplift thanks to Nikola Motor Company’s decision to open a 389-acre factory here.
Tolleson is small, poor, and rife with crime. According to welfareinfo.org, one out of every 4.3 residents of Tolleson lives in poverty. Equally depressing is the fact that 3.8% of the population are currently registered as unemployed.
11. Chino Valley
Move to Chino Valley and your chances of being the victim of a crime raise by 47%. Your chances of being unemployed skyrocket too, while your odds of earning a decent wage hit the floor. Most households are earning the tiny salary of $32,289, over $20,000 less than most households across the US. Little wonder 20.2% of those aged under 18 are living below the breadline.
According to datausa.io, most households in Guadalupe are struggling to manage on the meager income of $32,298. In fairness, that figure is 13.4% higher than it was this time last year, but considering it’s still over $20,000 less than the US average, we doubt the city’s residents are popping out the balloons and party hats just yet. Unemployment is the 5th worst in the state, while the crime rate is one of the worst around: live here, and your chance of being the victim of a violent crime is 50% higher than it would be in most other cities across the US.
Eloy is a city in Pinal County located just east of Casa Grande. It’s smallish (18,083 people call it home) and so far, its greatest claim to fame is boasting the world’s largest skydive dropzone, Skydive Arizona. But if it doesn’t start cleaning up its act soon, it’s going to start getting a reputation for a lot more than skydiving. Over 31.9% of the population currently live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is a worrying 8.90%, while only 27.70% of the population is a member of the workforce. The economy is shrinking, the crime is rocketing, morale is dropping, and the picture’s not getting any prettier.
Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona might have made Glenn Frey and the rest of the Eagles pretty happy back in the 70s, but half a century later, and you can forget about taking it easy in this little corner of Arizona. With a crime rate that’s twice as high as the US average, watching your back has become a full-time occupation. Which is just as well, really – with an unemployment rate that roadsnacks.net reports as the 6th highest in Arizona, there’s not much else to do.
7. San Luis
Up next is San Luis, a small desert city of 32,279 resident that’s nestled away in the southwest corner of Arizona along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the interests of balance, it’s worth pointing out the abundance of recreational pursuits, the desert climate, and the low cost of living, all of which have their attractions. But unfortunately, the bad far outweighs the good. According to Homesnacks.com, the unemployment rate of 13.9% is the 2nd worst in the state. The public school system, meanwhile, is drastically underfunded, with each student receiving just $7000 of spending per year – less than half the US average. Crime isn’t horrible, but it’s not great either.
Despite the gloomy news reports, most places across the US are safer now than they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, there are still enough places bucking the trend to turn our smiles upside down and give us a bad news day. Take Globe as an example. As onlyinyourstate.com reports, the former mining town used to have a decent enough reputation, but in the past few years, it’s taken a downward slide into poverty, crime, and unpleasantness. Your chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime here is 382% higher than in most of the US. Property crime is faring slightly better but still manages to be a whopping 240% higher than average. If you value your safety, your property, and quite possibly your sanity, give Globe a miss.
With a sizable population of 196,499, you’d forgive Tempe for lacking in small-town charm. What you might be less inclined to forgive is its crime rate. Last year, it had the third-highest number of rape cases in the state. Although reports of other violent crimes aren’t that high, the rape figure alone is enough to make it one of the most dangerous places to live in Arizona – not to mention a huge cause of concern to the parents packing their kids off to study at Arizona State University.
Perched atop Manson Mesa and offering breathtaking views of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, and the surrounding canyons, Page is a multifaceted tourism destination with a lot to offer. It’s got views, it’s got national parks, it’s got the Antelope Canyon, it’s got the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, it’s got long, hot summers, and it’s got the 2nd highest violent crime rate in Arizona. Yep, what all the tourist brochures neglect to mention is that this ‘ hub of the American Southwest’ is just a much a hub of crime as anything else. According to Area Vibes, your chance of being the victim of a crime here is 251% above the national average. Unless you want your odds of suffering a rape, assault, or murder to rise to 1 in 12, forget about visiting the canyons on your next vacation and go to the beach instead.
3. Arizona City
Arizona City isn’t having the best of luck at the moment. Not only has its employment numbers shrunk by 0.6% in the past five years (sending the total unemployment rate soaring to a way above average 9.3%), everything else seems to have gone on a crash diet too – the number of bars, restaurants, and shops in some areas of the city has wasted away to nothing, meaning local residents are far more likely to need to travel long distances to get to the grocery store than most people in the US. The median home value has shrunk to a worrying $102,000, while the median household income of $41,776 is in danger of disappearing entirely. The only things that don’t seem to have started counting the calories are the poverty rate, which has ballooned to 20.9%, and the crime rate, which sits at a bloated 3,666 per 10,000 residents.
Located along the U.S.-Mexico border, Douglas is one of the poorest cities in the entire US. Its poverty rate of 29.4% is over double the US average. More worryingly still, 13.3% of the city’s residents are living on less than $10,000 per year. The average house price of $94,500 might seem attractive to first-time buyers, but as property value is illustrative of the general desirability of an area, you might want to consider getting a bigger mortgage and moving elsewhere.
1. Golden Valley
The name ‘Golden Valley’ may have a nice ring to it, but the shine wore off this small Mohave County town a long time ago. These days, it ranks as the worst place to live in Arizona. Worse still, USA Today ranks it as the 7th worst place to live in the entire US. Its problems extend to a contracted economy, a weak job market, an unemployment rate that currently hovers at the 14.1% mark, and a poverty rate of 24.1%. But there’s still more bad news to come. Three-quarters of its residents struggle to access basic amenities, with most having to travel between 1 and 10 miles to reach the nearest grocery store. Its crime rate, meanwhile, is higher than 54% of the state’s other cities and towns.