The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2023

We used Saturday Night Science to determine the worst small towns in Michigan.

Most Americans have never been to small town Michigan. However, as the Michigander who live there know, small town Michigan is an awesome place to call home.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Michigan has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using Saturday Night Science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Wolverine State. Don’t freak out, we will use data to show which places have high crime, poverty, and unemployment.

After analyzing more than 245 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:

These are the worst small towns in Michigan for 2023:

  1. Skidway Lake
  2. Benton Heights
  3. Mio
  4. Standish
  5. Evart
  6. Caro
  7. Weidman
  8. Cassopolis
  9. Marlette
  10. St. Helen

So what is the worst small town to call home in Michigan for 2023? According to the most recent census data, Skidway Lake is the worst small town to live in Michigan.

While many of these small towns have seen better days, they have wonderful communities and people. This report in no way means to knock the folks that call towns like Skidway Lake home. Everyone

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.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2023

1. Skidway Lake

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,142
Median Home Value: $47,900 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (7th worst)

2. Benton Heights

Benton Heights, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,917
Median Home Value: $73,000 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (8th worst)

3. Mio

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,497
Median Home Value: $78,000 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (4th worst)

4. Standish

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,511
Median Home Value: $75,500 (2worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (14th worst)

5. Evart

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,593
Median Home Value: $82,800 (40th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (6th worst)

6. Caro

Caro, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,318
Median Home Value: $78,700 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.6% (16th worst)

7. Weidman

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,288
Median Home Value: $82,500 (39th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (184th worst)

8. Cassopolis

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,842
Median Home Value: $81,100 (34th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (9th worst)

9. Marlette

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,862
Median Home Value: $86,800 (56th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (20th worst)

10. St. Helen

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,791
Median Home Value: $65,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (70th worst)

Methodology: How do you decide if a small place in Michigan is lousy or not?

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

We then analyzed the criteria using Saturday Night Science, the thinking you’d use at a bar. It seems like even your crazy Uncle would agree that a town with high crime is worse than a town with low crime; all else the same.

Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2017-2021 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 many – 245 to be exact.

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

We base all our research on facts, which is meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the worst small places to live in Michigan.

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. North Muskegon (Pop. 4,063)
  2. Sylvan Lake (Pop. 1,778)
  3. Village of Grosse Pointe Shores (Pop. 2,608)

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 3,142 14.5% $47,900
2 Benton Heights 3,917 14.1% $73,000
3 Mio 1,497 16.1% $78,000
4 Standish 1,511 13.0% $75,500
5 Evart 1,593 14.8% $82,800
6 Caro 4,318 12.6% $78,700
7 Weidman 1,288 3.3% $82,500
8 Cassopolis 1,842 13.9% $81,100
9 Marlette 1,862 11.0% $86,800
10 St. Helen 2,791 7.1% $65,100
11 Stanton 1,435 6.2% $78,000
12 Scottville 1,343 3.8% $81,400
13 Hartford 2,473 9.1% $84,200
14 Reading 1,281 3.9% $78,600
15 Baldwin 1,036 10.4% $79,100
16 Kalkaska 2,304 3.8% $92,400
17 Baraga 1,942 5.0% $79,800
18 Grayling 1,784 6.9% $90,300
19 Edmore 1,443 6.0% $81,900
20 Imlay City 3,699 8.1% $101,000
21 Morenci 2,011 8.0% $72,700
22 Mount Morris 3,131 19.7% $68,900
23 Crystal Falls 1,734 4.6% $68,600
24 Manistique 2,817 9.7% $67,600
25 Brownlee Park 2,194 4.4% $56,000
26 Harrison 2,173 7.1% $86,600
27 Iron River 2,989 3.8% $56,800
28 Mayville 1,098 8.2% $84,300
29 Au Sable 1,781 8.6% $91,500
30 Beaverton 1,235 6.7% $74,000
31 Cheboygan 4,797 7.2% $90,900
32 Newaygo 2,350 5.1% $78,900
33 Nashville 1,404 7.4% $83,500
34 Decatur 2,042 7.8% $97,600
35 Capac 1,934 11.0% $99,000
36 Manton 1,295 6.2% $87,700
37 Lakeview 1,069 1.0% $98,400
38 Bangor 2,179 5.0% $85,000
39 Reed City 2,465 7.9% $87,600
40 Gladwin 3,062 10.8% $89,800
41 Croswell 2,372 10.3% $100,500
42 Harbor Beach 1,804 6.8% $81,300
43 Clare 3,312 8.4% $114,100
44 Sand Lake 1,203 5.3% $101,500
45 White Cloud 1,200 2.7% $81,000
46 Grant 1,443 13.0% $128,900
47 North Branch 1,026 7.3% $91,000
48 Munising 2,137 7.5% $107,900
49 Yale 2,100 17.5% $86,400
50 Mancelona 1,555 7.9% $84,000
51 Coleman 1,189 5.7% $64,900
52 Colon 1,143 6.6% $99,300
53 Clio 2,106 13.3% $81,200
54 Howard City 1,838 2.9% $85,800
55 Ontonagon 1,322 6.2% $66,600
56 St. Ignace 2,041 5.8% $114,900
57 K. I. Sawyer 3,012 5.9% $47,000
58 East Tawas 2,684 10.4% $96,300
59 L’anse 2,089 5.4% $79,700
60 Montrose 2,126 2.8% $86,900
61 Indian River 2,128 4.3% $160,800
62 Tawas City 1,870 11.0% $103,900
63 Sebewaing 1,799 9.4% $77,300
64 Shelby 2,627 4.0% $96,900
65 Roscommon 1,162 2.8% $68,100
66 Webberville 1,340 8.0% $122,600
67 Fennville 1,874 5.0% $103,000
68 Mackinac Island 1,025 2.4% $422,700
69 Galesburg 2,146 4.5% $76,400
70 Litchfield 1,227 3.4% $84,200
71 Rogers City 2,838 3.1% $93,500
72 Constantine 2,099 6.5% $90,900
73 Brown City 1,186 15.3% $101,000
74 Vassar 2,738 13.5% $103,700
75 East Jordan 2,044 3.5% $100,200
76 Bronson 2,085 3.8% $83,200
77 Sandusky 2,676 5.6% $88,200
78 Union City 1,699 7.0% $88,800
79 Bad Axe 3,046 5.7% $84,000
80 Rapid City 1,403 5.4% $162,700
81 Newberry 1,436 3.5% $53,100
82 Wakefield 1,619 2.0% $55,100
83 Lawton 1,805 7.8% $125,000
84 Olivet 1,610 11.1% $113,300
85 West Branch 2,068 6.6% $90,800
86 Cedar Springs 3,635 6.3% $135,600
87 Luna Pier 1,146 9.6% $142,100
88 Frankfort 1,034 8.0% $221,600
89 White Pigeon 1,528 4.2% $109,300
90 Zilwaukee 1,713 7.0% $75,600
91 Lake Linden 1,199 9.4% $73,300
92 Wolf Lake 4,017 13.6% $96,600
93 Chesaning 2,415 8.9% $97,000
94 Homer 1,560 5.2% $94,500
95 Hart 2,193 5.1% $96,800
96 Lakewood Club 1,232 6.9% $114,100
97 Memphis 1,050 5.8% $150,900
98 Fremont 4,455 2.2% $114,100
99 Breckenridge 1,548 4.9% $93,600
100 Charlevoix 2,353 4.5% $192,300
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

27 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2023

  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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