These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2019

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 . This is our fourth 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:

These are the worst small towns in Michigan for 2019:

  1. Skidway Lake
  2. St. Helen
  3. Lewiston
  4. Benton Heights (Photos)
  5. White Cloud
  6. Baldwin
  7. Grayling
  8. Manistique (Photos)
  9. Mio
  10. Lakeview

So what is the worst small town to call home in Michigan for 2019? 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.

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 2019

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 2013-2017 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,237
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $48,900 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.7% (18th worst)
More on Skidway Lake:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,786
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $56,300 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.9% (5th worst)
More on St. Helen:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,209
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $72,400 (48th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.9% (3rd worst)
More on Lewiston:  Data

Benton Heights, MI

Source: Wikipedia User |
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,343
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 10)
Median Home Value: $52,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (42nd worst)
More on Benton Heights:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,346
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $68,600 (32nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (124th worst)
More on White Cloud:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,310
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $60,000 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.6% (2nd worst)
More on Baldwin:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,813
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $69,300 (34th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.3% (12th worst)
More on Grayling:  Data

Manistique, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,944
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $62,500 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (4th worst)
More on Manistique:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,884
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $66,400 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.3% (39th worst)
More on Mio:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,073
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $76,400 (65th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (88th worst)
More on Lakeview:  Data

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. Sylvan Lake (Pop. 1,753)
  2. Village of Grosse Pointe Shores (Pop. 2,910)
  3. Pleasant Ridge (Pop. 2,365)

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 3,237 13.7% $48,900
2 St. Helen 2,786 18.9% $56,300
3 Lewiston 1,209 22.9% $72,400
4 Benton Heights 4,343 11.1% $52,100
5 White Cloud 1,346 6.8% $68,600
6 Baldwin 1,310 24.6% $60,000
7 Grayling 1,813 14.3% $69,300
8 Manistique 2,944 19.7% $62,500
9 Mio 1,884 11.3% $66,400
10 Lakeview 1,073 8.2% $76,400
11 Houghton Lake 3,528 11.0% $83,200
12 Rogers City 2,709 18.2% $66,600
13 Brownlee Park 1,778 5.1% $41,000
14 Harrison 2,200 13.0% $81,500
15 Standish 1,635 12.4% $80,700
16 Cassopolis 1,730 18.4% $67,400
17 Nashville 1,719 11.2% $68,500
18 Marlette 1,878 13.0% $66,200
19 Cheboygan 4,732 12.0% $77,700
20 Lawrence 1,065 9.5% $72,700
21 Iron River 2,878 7.0% $51,600
22 Hartford 2,619 13.8% $70,400
23 Mount Morris 2,920 26.1% $48,300
24 East Jordan 2,304 7.3% $75,800
25 Evart 1,552 9.0% $67,100
26 Roscommon 1,143 17.3% $63,500
27 Baraga 2,575 9.6% $83,400
28 Coleman 1,495 7.2% $67,100
29 Newberry 1,533 11.5% $51,000
30 Manton 1,203 7.2% $79,800
31 Capac 1,940 15.2% $75,600
32 Kalkaska 2,057 7.3% $80,900
33 Vassar 2,599 12.7% $82,900
34 Hart 2,275 9.8% $84,300
35 Reed City 2,709 6.4% $64,900
36 Harbor Beach 1,871 10.3% $72,600
37 West Branch 2,288 10.3% $78,000
38 Beaverton 1,199 9.1% $71,900
39 K. I. Sawyer 3,255 10.7% $44,100
40 Constantine 1,973 10.4% $73,200
41 Galesburg 2,013 13.4% $75,400
42 Ontonagon 1,448 9.7% $61,300
43 Sand Lake 1,466 11.6% $96,000
44 Munising 2,307 9.9% $90,000
45 Durand 3,334 10.9% $63,800
46 Imlay City 3,583 12.3% $90,800
47 Bangor 1,896 6.1% $72,500
48 Kent City 1,061 13.6% $93,900
49 Clare 3,087 11.0% $98,800
50 Sandusky 2,560 9.3% $76,700
51 Morenci 2,567 10.3% $76,200
52 Carson City 1,165 8.9% $77,800
53 Edmore 1,281 7.2% $78,800
54 Howard City 1,787 5.6% $69,600
55 Au Sable 1,320 9.9% $72,000
56 Newaygo 1,921 8.8% $74,500
57 Croswell 2,528 7.5% $71,800
58 Brown City 1,288 8.2% $76,300
59 Edwardsburg 1,297 7.3% $78,200
60 Caro 4,091 14.8% $76,700
61 Decatur 1,932 10.6% $80,300
62 Litchfield 1,311 8.4% $85,900
63 Colon 1,126 11.6% $87,600
64 Shelby 2,256 7.1% $84,600
65 Hubbell 1,002 9.3% $62,200
66 Pinconning 1,468 5.8% $66,500
67 Fennville 1,808 9.0% $78,100
68 Lake Linden 1,094 7.0% $67,000
69 St. Ignace 2,458 11.8% $111,300
70 Reading 1,026 7.4% $68,500
71 Clio 2,541 14.0% $69,700
72 Prudenville 1,776 13.8% $115,700
73 Crystal Falls 1,696 4.3% $62,600
74 Otisville 1,048 9.2% $58,600
75 Rapid City 1,614 6.0% $109,300
76 Wakefield 1,667 4.6% $59,100
77 Bronson 2,484 5.1% $78,300
78 Corunna 3,398 6.1% $84,200
79 Union City 1,667 8.4% $67,400
80 Stanton 1,392 3.9% $81,300
81 Tawas City 1,780 10.1% $89,000
82 Scottville 1,262 3.8% $73,200
83 Breckenridge 1,210 7.3% $70,400
84 North Branch 1,067 9.5% $75,000
85 Montrose 1,560 15.4% $77,900
86 Wolf Lake 3,980 9.8% $83,200
87 Luna Pier 1,314 11.7% $115,600
88 Mattawan 2,307 6.7% $101,400
89 Indian River 1,870 13.2% $176,000
90 Yale 2,005 6.9% $76,800
91 Cedar Springs 3,620 13.1% $99,700
92 Gladwin 2,897 6.6% $86,600
93 Berrien Springs 1,465 8.6% $111,200
94 Mancelona 1,409 3.0% $70,300
95 Hudson 2,413 8.5% $77,800
96 Norway 2,791 7.9% $71,400
97 Napoleon 1,212 10.0% $62,100
98 Ithaca 2,827 6.1% $80,700
99 Bessemer 1,908 3.0% $50,300
100 Homer 1,793 8.1% $71,800

26 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Michigan For 2019

  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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