These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2018


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in MI are the pits.

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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 246 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:

  1. Jennings
  2. Wellston
  3. Twining
  4. Whittemore
  5. Barryton
  6. Amasa
  7. Luther
  8. Clifford
  9. Copemish
  10. Vanderbilt

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.

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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 crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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 100 and 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 246 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.

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1. Jennings


Population: 167
Median Income: $18,950
Median Home Value: $52,100

2. Wellston


Population: 262
Median Income: $32,578
Median Home Value: $47,000

3. Twining


Population: 185
Median Income: $33,125
Median Home Value: $57,100

4. Whittemore


Population: 467
Median Income: $28,167
Median Home Value: $45,000

5. Barryton


Population: 453
Median Income: $26,146
Median Home Value: $55,000

6. Amasa


Population: 289
Median Income: $33,472
Median Home Value: $49,100

7. Luther


Population: 363
Median Income: $29,167
Median Home Value: $56,400

8. Clifford


Population: 364
Median Income: $39,375
Median Home Value: $60,500

9. Copemish


Population: 162
Median Income: $27,500
Median Home Value: $70,000

10. Vanderbilt


Population: 594
Median Income: $27,500
Median Home Value: $61,800

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. Best: Eagle
  2. 2nd Best: Shoreham
  3. 3rd Best: Michiana

For more reading, check out:

  • These Are The 10 Most Boring Places In Michigan
  • These Are The 10 Safest Places In Michigan
  • These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Places in Michigan
  • Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Michigan

    City Rank Population Home Price
    Jennings 1 167 $52,100
    Wellston 2 262 $47,000
    Twining 3 185 $57,100
    Whittemore 4 467 $45,000
    Barryton 5 453 $55,000
    Amasa 6 289 $49,100
    Luther 7 363 $56,400
    Clifford 8 364 $60,500
    Copemish 9 162 $70,000
    Vanderbilt 10 594 $61,800
    Posen 11 207 $66,300
    Breedsville 12 194 $80,300
    Thompsonville 13 586 $64,800
    Montgomery 14 319 $62,100
    Free Soil 15 100 $62,000
    Rose City 16 612 $65,200
    Marion 17 742 $73,100
    Mecosta 18 540 $54,400
    Onaway 19 786 $48,200
    Omer 20 286 $66,500
    Hillman 21 659 $82,800
    Robin Glen-Indiantown 22 759 $20,300
    Republic 23 370 $49,600
    Owendale 24 222 $61,100
    Kingston 25 415 $60,500
    Jasper 26 275 $66,700
    Gag 27 305 $46,100
    Akron 28 428 $54,400
    Turner 29 125 $53,600
    Zeba 30 332 $101,000
    Levering 31 221 $88,300
    Farwell 32 786 $66,000
    Wolverine 33 230 $77,300
    Vandalia 34 429 $38,700
    Alba 35 354 $76,400
    Kaleva 36 492 $59,500
    Mesick 37 415 $62,800
    White Pine 38 452 $42,900
    Nessen City 39 128 $88,000
    Bay Port 40 400 $58,000
    Mackinaw City 41 655 $123,800
    Ahmeek 42 122 $38,400
    Bear Lake 43 261 $67,000
    Weidman 44 818 $96,700
    Lincoln 45 373 $74,300
    Lupton 46 281 $47,900
    Prescott 47 272 $50,000
    Snover 48 481 $78,100
    Atlanta 49 730 $72,800
    De Tour Village 50 253 $97,800
    Carsonville 51 461 $59,600
    Camden 52 537 $51,100
    Copper City 53 255 $51,800
    Haring 54 609 $63,500
    Calumet 55 666 $49,600
    Millersburg 56 200 $67,700
    Walkerville 57 174 $58,800
    Au Gres 58 820 $82,500
    Loomis 59 186 $83,400
    Applegate 60 262 $57,000
    Mcbride 61 161 $49,200
    Perrinton 62 566 $64,400
    Pierson 63 226 $52,500
    Oakley 64 212 $67,300
    Caspian 65 648 $55,000
    Morley 66 665 $69,200
    Marenisco 67 178 $71,700
    Lawrence 68 982 $73,600
    Minden City 69 194 $67,200
    Pellston 70 832 $82,200
    Harrisville 71 370 $83,600
    Manistee Lake 72 353 $124,400
    Sherwood 73 348 $53,700
    Clayton 74 345 $70,000
    Brethren 75 443 $79,800
    Watersmeet 76 410 $54,500
    Melvin 77 185 $87,300
    Fountain 78 164 $58,800
    Deckerville 79 862 $60,200
    Middletown 80 742 $61,100
    Elberta 81 163 $105,400
    Powers 82 467 $77,100
    Le Roy 83 352 $75,700
    Kinde 84 541 $60,300
    Garden 85 199 $60,000
    Filer City 86 157 $81,600
    Vineyard Lake 87 658 $71,700
    Gaastra 88 355 $45,000
    Cement City 89 443 $65,900
    Tekonsha 90 617 $66,200
    Mayville 91 933 $70,300
    Harrietta 92 178 $77,300
    Port Austin 93 700 $103,900
    Oden 94 388 $66,500
    Muir 95 692 $58,400
    Mcbain 96 682 $87,100
    Sand Lake 97 567 $77,600
    Lyons 98 839 $72,600
    Henderson 99 341 $102,800
    Waldron 100 568 $44,200

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    25 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2018

    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.

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