Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2020

Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in MI are the 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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in Michigan.

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Most Americans have never been to Michigan. However, as the people who live there know, Michigan is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Michigan has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Wolverine State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 243 of Michigan's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Michigan where you'd never want to live:

So what is the worst small town to call home in michigan for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Skidway Lake is the worst small town to live in Michigan.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Michigan has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in Michigan or the worst places to live in Michigan.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2020

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,426
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $47,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (22nd worst)
More on Skidway Lake:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,681
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $55,600 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.8% (6th worst)
More on St. Helen:  Data

Benton Heights, MI

Source: Wikipedia User |
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,263
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $52,400 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.9% (26th worst)
More on Benton Heights:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,848
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $66,600 (23rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (9th worst)
More on Mio:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,184
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $60,900 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 38.8% (1st worst)
More on Baldwin:  Data

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,693
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $66,300 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.8% (11th worst)
More on Rogers City:  Data

Manistique, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,941
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $59,100 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.6% (19th worst)
More on Manistique:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,671
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $68,500 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.3% (3rd worst)
More on Cassopolis:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,108
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $78,600 (64th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (98th worst)
More on Lakeview:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,245
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $67,900 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (209th worst)
More on White Cloud:  Data

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Michigan, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in Michigan for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 243 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In Michigan

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Wolverine State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in Michigan, according to science:

  1. Lake Orion (Pop. 3,131)
  2. Pleasant Ridge (Pop. 2,389)
  3. Village of Grosse Pointe Shores (Pop. 2,860)

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Michigan

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Skidway Lake 3,426 12.3% $47,700
2 St. Helen 2,681 15.8% $55,600
3 Benton Heights 4,263 11.9% $52,400
4 Mio 1,848 14.1% $66,600
5 Baldwin 1,184 38.8% $60,900
6 Rogers City 2,693 13.8% $66,300
7 Manistique 2,941 12.6% $59,100
8 Cassopolis 1,671 18.3% $68,500
9 Lakeview 1,108 7.2% $78,600
10 White Cloud 1,245 3.3% $67,900
11 Brownlee Park 1,480 4.9% $40,700
12 Harrison 2,159 8.8% $81,900
13 Roscommon 1,101 18.1% $61,900
14 Evart 1,587 12.8% $66,900
15 Hartford 2,605 13.4% $69,200
16 Grayling 1,846 8.9% $70,500
17 Nashville 1,728 9.2% $72,900
18 Coleman 1,406 7.1% $69,800
19 Houghton Lake 3,544 13.4% $87,600
20 Constantine 2,021 11.5% $75,000
21 Marlette 1,874 10.6% $70,300
22 Baraga 2,306 9.8% $83,700
23 Mount Morris 2,887 21.6% $49,400
24 Reed City 2,625 7.4% $67,300
25 Morenci 2,501 9.7% $75,300
26 Crystal Falls 1,701 6.5% $59,000
27 Bangor 1,773 6.6% $72,100
28 Iron River 2,856 6.7% $53,600
29 Standish 1,529 7.7% $76,700
30 Hart 2,303 10.8% $84,600
31 Ironwood 4,999 7.3% $49,500
32 Munising 2,242 12.9% $89,400
33 Lewiston 1,177 16.6% $95,500
34 K. I. Sawyer 3,094 13.3% $40,200
35 Kalkaska 2,217 7.3% $83,500
36 Manton 1,171 5.6% $81,000
37 Sandusky 2,545 10.2% $79,000
38 Harbor Beach 1,943 9.6% $72,900
39 Ontonagon 1,551 6.6% $61,400
40 Newaygo 1,928 8.5% $70,100
41 Sand Lake 1,553 10.6% $93,400
42 Kent City 1,059 13.3% $102,300
43 Edmore 1,297 8.5% $83,200
44 Galesburg 2,120 8.8% $69,200
45 Cheboygan 4,726 8.7% $81,800
46 Colon 1,243 11.6% $86,100
47 Brown City 1,192 9.0% $74,500
48 Capac 1,928 11.4% $80,500
49 Croswell 2,543 7.3% $76,000
50 West Branch 2,256 5.9% $78,100
51 East Jordan 2,341 5.2% $77,100
52 Beaverton 1,438 8.2% $73,100
53 Decatur 2,001 8.1% $80,600
54 Vassar 2,586 15.0% $82,700
55 Stanton 1,391 3.5% $77,100
56 Shelby 2,220 6.3% $87,800
57 Fennville 1,949 8.2% $79,900
58 Rapid City 1,465 6.1% $118,000
59 Imlay City 3,581 8.8% $102,700
60 Carson City 1,097 6.3% $82,000
61 Clio 2,524 9.4% $80,200
62 Reading 1,090 7.3% $71,300
63 Bronson 2,378 4.9% $78,800
64 Gladwin 2,883 7.8% $92,200
65 Pinconning 1,424 5.0% $65,900
66 Howard City 1,643 4.1% $75,900
67 Durand 3,317 6.0% $66,100
68 Mancelona 1,486 3.5% $71,200
69 Berrien Springs 1,590 9.3% $113,000
70 Lake Linden 1,078 7.1% $72,200
71 St. Ignace 2,257 10.4% $118,900
72 Level Park-Oak Park 3,769 11.9% $102,600
73 Mattawan 2,333 7.3% $107,300
74 Litchfield 1,291 7.1% $85,700
75 Quincy 1,454 6.0% $78,700
76 Au Sable 1,324 6.0% $74,700
77 Wakefield 1,537 2.3% $57,300
78 Indian River 1,879 10.5% $179,100
79 Union City 1,683 9.3% $72,400
80 Edwardsburg 1,200 6.6% $65,400
81 Corunna 3,374 6.2% $89,700
82 West Monroe 3,339 7.9% $47,700
83 Cedar Springs 3,651 12.3% $109,600
84 Scottville 1,235 3.4% $75,900
85 Tawas City 1,795 9.1% $93,700
86 Bessemer 1,890 3.1% $52,700
87 Gaylord 3,667 0.0% $95,500
88 Homer 1,799 7.9% $77,800
89 Montrose 1,540 8.8% $81,000
90 Millington 1,014 4.4% $77,400
91 Luna Pier 1,236 12.3% $119,000
92 Prudenville 1,951 9.1% $131,900
93 Newberry 1,352 3.6% $51,000
94 Clare 3,045 9.2% $108,100
95 Yale 2,010 7.2% $81,300
96 Breckenridge 1,243 6.1% $71,900
97 Paw Paw Lake 3,605 11.9% $122,900
98 Lawton 1,613 4.9% $101,000
99 Sebewaing 1,510 9.7% $69,600
100 Lake Michigan Beach 1,234 7.6% $131,300

How Is The Area In ?

27 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Michigan, 2020

  1. I am in Onaway and Pellston 3-4 times per week, you are off base., Great places,,Great people and business climates. Scott D. Way

  2. Wow, I am guessing you have never ventured into any of these towns. I adore Wolverine – the people, the Community, our schools, Library, parks, river – I could go on. I have lived there for 35 + years and have seen very little crime – and if it happens it’s an outsider 🙁

  3. I happen to live in Onaway it’s not as bad as your making it out to be there are great neighbors where I live , yes I agree some places are rough looking and need to be cleaned up and yes there is A lot of druggies here but isn’t that the. Case everywhere just more noticeable in a small town! Get off your high horse look beyond your thinking

  4. You’re an idiot. I love my “crummy” home town. I loved growing up out in wildwood and living across from the Sturgeon….I loved that we aren’t part of the “fast paced” stores aren’t open 24/7 and people don’t go a mile a min. I would trade Starke, FL for Wolverine MI any day of the week. Crime in wolverine is theft and robberies not being shot, stabbed or raped. Unlike most places, everyone knows you and you know them. Grow up Nick James and understand that you are insulting people and pthey love. Ignorance isn’t Bliss, that’s between Paradise & Hell. And if you don’t know what I mean by that, you need to not be writing about places in Michigan.

  5. This list is way off. Even the town name, Robin Glen-Indiantown, is incorrect. Robin Glen is a mobile home park. Indiantown is the name of an old town that really no longer exists.

  6. Funny that even though you have Onaway listed here, the boy’s basketball team just won regionals. Not bad for such a terrible little town. OH by the way, some very good people live there.

  7. What a shame that these small communities have been given such a bum-rap. My husband and I worked and raised our family in Onaway, MI… Our city hall, from the city Manager, Mayor and Commissioner’s are college educated, business minded, and always put the people in the community first… There is absolutely nothing stupid about the business owners or the people of the community. Just because a town is small, doesn’t make the people village idiots! The Onaway schools are constantly planning, and working to prepare the young people for higher education… There are some great resources in Onaway. The ‘Michigan Works!’ office offers a variety of help for those seeking work or education. There are many other great attributes about Onaway, Michigan… To the person writing the negative, false information regarding small towns, you better do your research and know what you’re talking about. Use some wisdom before you speak out!!

    1. Dont forget to include Moran and how he started an industrial arts school just so he could train the people of his community and make it a better place.

  8. I bet those crime rates he claims are per capita. So with a lower population. One person could commit a crime and it would send the crime rate numbers thru the roof.

  9. I grew up in Weidman and moved back several years ago. I love both the town and the people. People here do work. I believe I read something about unemployment? Perhaps there are not many employment opportunities in our small town, but we live near larger cities where there are. Most of my neighbors are working, in fact. And, something was mentioned about not being educated? If that was even the case, who cares? I have a post graduate degree and can tell you it makes no difference between me and any other person living in Weidman
    What snobbish bores you are.

  10. Nick James: Whittemore is one of the nicest places you would ever want to live.We have a beautiful School located in Ogemaw and Iosco Counties. We have more educated people here than you think. Did you even stop and talk to people or did you go to the Bar and received comments. There are lots of retired people in Whittemore who worked 40-50 years and deserve to be lazy. I noticed that you had Sand Lake on there, actually there is no town in Iosco County by the name of Sand Lake, it is National City. at least not in Iosco County.

  11. I grew up in Whittemore, mi. People here do work. I believe I read something about unemployment? Perhaps there are not many employment opportunities in our small town, cuz it’s small. If there was more opportunites to work. We wouldn’t be that small town. but we live near cities where there are. Most of my neighbors are working, in fact. And, something was mentioned about not being educated? Just some people don’t want be educated.. but don’t hold against are small town and crime. Ya i believe that one.

  12. My grandparents owned a bar in turner when it had a lot of people and stores a car dealer post office etc it was best time walking around there and now I can go back and it’s a total ghost town

  13. Your population numbers do not reflect Census 2000, 2010, or the recent population estimates. If you are going to make money by crapping on places you have never been, at least use the right numbers. You are a bottom feeder.

  14. Seems as though a lot of this is about crime, education, population, and lack of activities(being bored). Aside from crime that has nothing to do with whether it’s a nice place to live or not.

    I’d take living in a small town any day over a city like New York, Chicago, or even smaller cities like Grand Rapids. I’d rather make my own activities and teach my kids than carting them around from soccer practice to band camp to dance lessons or whatever. And if you can make a living without a high school diploma, more power to you. That says nothing about whether you are a nice person and a good neighbor.

  15. I know most of the 100 towns. Many were lumbering towns that survived the lumber bust to become small agricultural towns, then became cabin / cottage destinations. Many are great summer locations.

    the bust of the middleclass in Michigan with the loss of over 1,000,000 jobs since NAFTA was signed, has driven many small places over the brink.

    Getting jobs in these towns is horribly hard for long term employment. People won’t leave unless times got so bad they have no choice.

  16. I grew up in Whittemore as well.. Our High School was booming back then. We even had a band. My parents were employed as teachers there. Whittemore was a more booming town back then than it is now but it’s still not a bad town.. everyone knows just about everyone… Yes this is basically based on Crime and Education I think….you should take the time to go visit every one of these little towns 🙂 Love my hometown

  17. I live in Onaway and you are way off! There are a lot of hard working men and women that live here. We have to drive 30 to 45 min to get to a decent sized town. Im educated and hold a professional license. My mother, a nurse, lives here. Onaway has crime just like every other place does but i generally feel safe taking a walk. Everybody knows everybody!

  18. I don’t understand this ” author’s ” logic , since when dose a low population density and low cost housing make a town undesirable?

  19. Onaway is ranked as being 6 away from the worst town to live in out of 148 small town comparisons? Have you even been to Onaway, Atlanta, Vanderbilt, Wolverine, Mio, or Rose City? In Onaway, we know who our neighbors are, and there’s a very strong sense of pride and community spirit unmatched Up North. I’m very happy to live in the same location that I can also take a vacation! Some of the finest people I know live in the area. Hey, Nick James; according to the latest facts, statistics, and data I could find sitting on my ass staring at my computer screen, you’re ranked 3rd worst columnist out of 300 comparisons. Your writing is the pits! These facts are for infotainment only; don’t freak out.

  20. I feel the guy who wrote this article is snooty. He makes it sound like every person in these small towns are low-life scum. Just because a person didn’t finish high school does not mean they’re idiots. Do you really have to down those who are “uneducated” I’ve met people who have dropped out of high school and people who have attended college and received a bachelor degree, and I would have to say many of the people who have a higher educated are as dumb as a box of rocks. Higher education doesn’t mean you are smart or better. I have a masters degree making six figures, but never once looked down on a person without any higher education or high school education.

  21. I live in Lakeview. and I agree it should be on the list. The town sucks, at least for me. And I’ll be happy to see it in my rear view mirror some day. At least the fiber optic internet by Casair is good, because there’s nothing else to do in this town. The major fashion statement around here is camo print on everything. And the ladies wear pink camo. And middle aged women either wear the “I want to talk to your manager” haircut, or the dreaded permed mullet. At least these local rednecks are friendly and know how to fix nearly everything. LOL

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