Thrillist just ranked Michigan as the best state in the nation, which should really come as no surprise to anyone. With its four legitimate seasons, natural wonders, regional diversity and seemingly endless waterfront, it’s no wonder that Michigan would top all 49 of the lesser states on any list you might want to throw together.
All the same, anyone familiar with Michigan knows there are places that need some real TLC right now. And it’s not just Detroit. In fact, there are cities that might need a hug even more than Detroit. Here are the 10 cities in the Great Lakes State who have it a little rough right now.
- Highland Park (Photos)
- Detroit (Photos)
- River Rouge (Photos)
- Benton Harbor (Photos)
- Hamtramck (Photos)
- Flint (Photos)
- Muskegon Heights
- Inkster (Photos)
- Ecorse (Photos)
- Pontiac (Photos)
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case. We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Michigan for 2018
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,100 people were considered — leaving 145 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 145 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one ‘Worst Place To Live Score’.
Finally, we ranked every city on the ‘Worst Place To Live Score’ with the lowest score being the worst city in Michigan — Highland Park. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Michigan.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
1. Highland Park
Population: 10,978Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $32,600 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 28.9% (1st worst)
Highland Park is entirely surrounded by Detroit, and it is so bad that Detroit’s government won’t even consider absorbing Highland Park into the larger city due to the fact that all of Detroit’s unflattering crime and unemployment statistics would instantly be made worse. If you live in Detroit and you’re passing through Highland Park, give a friendly wave and a smile. You need each other’s support right about now.
Highland Park ranks 1st in all of Michigan in unemployment, 15th in overall crime, 3rd from the bottom in adult drop out rates, and it has the 1st worst average income level in the state. In fact, the only thing saving Highland Park is a middle of the road population density, so there’s at least something to do while you look for a job.
Population: 683,443Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $41,000 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.1% (5th worst)
Detroit is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $41,000. That means it ranks as the 6th lowest in Michigan.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Detroit has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 3rd worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in Michigan.
3. River Rouge
Population: 7,609Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $35,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.3% (3rd worst)
If, by some reason, you were driving through River Rouge, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($27,463) and they can’t get good jobs (23.3% unemployment rate).
River Rouge ranks as the 3rd wost place in Michigan.
4. Benton Harbor
Population: 9,988Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $49,200 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.0% (4th worst)
Here in Benton Harbor, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Michigan. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Berrien County, you have a 1 in 22.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Benton Harbor city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (23.0%). That’s good for the 4th highest unemployment rate in Michigan.
Population: 21,985Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Values: $47,300 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (17th worst)
Hamtramck’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Hamtramck has the 19th worst crime index of any place in Michigan, and has the 4th lowest income.
Population: 98,918Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $30,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.7% (2nd worst)
Flint needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Flint. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Flint. Of the 145 cities considered in this ranking, Flint had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Flint have Michigan’s 1st lowest home value rank, but it also had the 2nd and 10th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of ‘Worst City in Michigan.’
If you know anyone in Flint, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
7. Muskegon Heights
Population: 10,792 Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Home Values: $42,500 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.9% (7th worst)
Muskegon Heights needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Muskegon Heights. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Muskegon Heights. Of the 145 cities considered in this ranking, Muskegon Heights had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Muskegon Heights have Michigan’s 7th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 7th and 2nd highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of ‘Worst City in Michigan.’
If you know anyone in Muskegon Heights, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
Population: 24,738Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Values: $45,000 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (15th worst)
Inkster takes the 8th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Inkster its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 20th worst in the whole state.
Population: 9,270Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Home Values: $39,600 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.4% (6th worst)
Ecorse is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and ‘fun’. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Ecorse residents earn the 9th-lowest salaries in the state. At $26,496 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $39,600, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 9th highest in Michigan per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 6th highest in the state, at 21.4%.
Population: 59,920Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Home Values: $53,700 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (12th worst)
There would be a temptation to put Pontiac on this list simply because the Silverdome, with its deflated roof and gutted interior, is one of the biggest eyesores in the state. It’s hard to think of it as the site where 93,000 fans once gathered to watch Wrestlemania III.
An eyesore that definitely landed Pontiac on this list of worst cities is the city’s unemployment rank, which was second from the bottom, incomes and home values in Michigan’s lowest 20 percent, and a crime rate in the top 20 percent. With statistics like that, we couldn’t keep Pontiac off this list even if the Silverdome’s ruins were made of actual silver.
The people of Pontiac are undoubtedly trying to pull themselves up from their bootstraps and could use a kind thought right about now.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Michigan
If you’re looking at areas in Michigan with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Highland Park ranks as the worst city to live in Michigan for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Michigan:
- East Grand Rapids (Pop. 11,297)
- Huntington Woods (Pop. 6,330)
- Birmingham (Pop. 20,653)
For more Michigan reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Cities For Dating In Michigan
- 20 Really Lame Excuses Michigan Residents Use To Get Out Of Work
- 10 Small Towns in Michigan Where You’d Never Want To Live
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Michigan
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