The Worst Neighborhoods to Live in Phoenix AZ

Phoenix, Arizona, often hailed as one of the best places to live in America, boasts a plethora of diverse neighborhoods that cater to various lifestyles and preferences. While the city primarily exudes scenic sunsets and delectable tacos around every corner, it’s essential to acknowledge that, like any metropolis, not all neighborhoods are created equal. In this article, we delve into the five neighborhoods in Phoenix that have faced their fair share of challenges. Remember, this assessment is based on data-driven metrics, such as crime rates, school ratings, and more. Your perspective might vary, and that’s perfectly okay. Let’s take a closer look at the neighborhoods that could use a little improvement.


Southern Phoenix

The southern region of Phoenix often draws mixed reviews, largely due to its older housing, chain-link-fenced yards, and cracked sidewalks. It’s essential to remember that many of the neighborhoods here are steeped in history, with residents who have called this area home for decades. Predominantly blue-collar families and elderly residents give Southern Phoenix a unique charm. Despite its sometimes unfavorable reputation, these neighborhoods can be safe, provided you remain vigilant – a practice that’s wise no matter where you live.

Central Village

Central Village stands as the least safe neighborhood in Phoenix, with a history dating back to the city’s early days. This area boasts a unique charm with its historic infrastructure and beautiful old homes. However, higher population density often correlates with increased crime rates. Central Village has struggled with crime over the years, though it’s gradually improving. Incidents such as break-ins, muggings, and even shootings have plagued the area. Shockingly, the crime rate here is over 500% higher than the national average.


South Mountain

South Mountain’s breathtaking natural beauty, encompassing over 16,000 acres of preserved desert forest, can be misleading. Historically, this area was a hub for low-income families, making it notorious for its safety issues. Though it’s on the mend, a significant gang culture still looms, with a 1 in 22 chance of being a crime victim. As you approach the foothills of South Mountain, you’ll find beautiful homes, offering close proximity to nature. As with any neighborhood, conducting thorough research before moving in is essential.


Originally conceived as Phoenix’s first master-planned community in the 1950s, Maryvale never quite attained its “Pleasantville” vision. While it’s improved over the years, there is still an underlying issue with crime, primarily vandalism and property-related offenses. The sound of gunshots remains a concern for residents, though violent crimes like shootings and muggings have become less frequent. Maryvale neighbors the family-friendly Glendale neighborhood, which has positively influenced the overall living situation in the region.



Alhambra, one of the first subdivisions in Phoenix, saw a population boom in the 1940s and 1950s, largely attributed to military families stationed at Luke Air Force Base. To cater to these families on tight budgets, affordable housing was constructed. The age of these homes keeps prices low, but the same affordability makes it a magnet for crime. The crime rate here is 165% higher than the national average, predominantly involving theft. Locals suggest that the eastern part of Alhambra is the safest, though reviews on safety vary.


Despite making our list of the worst neighborhoods in Phoenix, Encanto is, in many ways, the lesser of several evils. Crimes in this neighborhood tend to be nonviolent, often involving home invasions and property theft. The community features a mix of residents from different age groups, with a large number of long-term families who appreciate the area’s unique quirks. It’s generally safe to bike or walk around Encanto, but like any city, supervision is necessary for young children playing in the streets.

In conclusion, Phoenix’s neighborhoods have diverse backgrounds and experiences. Some areas have faced historical challenges, including higher crime rates, while others have gradually improved. Phoenix’s neighborhoods are home to a broad spectrum of residents from various socioeconomic backgrounds, making each area unique. If you plan to move to one of these neighborhoods or any other area in Phoenix, thorough research is essential to determine what aligns with your safety and lifestyle preferences.