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)
- River Rouge (Photos)
- Detroit (Photos)
- Benton Harbor (Photos)
- Lapeer (Photos)
- Hamtramck (Photos)
- Springfield (Photos)
- Muskegon Heights (Photos)
- Inkster (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. And the worst place to live in Michigan? That would be Highland Park.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Michigan reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Michigan
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan
- 10 Most Dangerous Places in Michigan
How we determined the worst places to live in Michigan for 2019
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 5,000 people were considered — leaving 146 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 146 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.
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, 11th in overall crime, 2nd 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.
If you live in River Rouge, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 2nd worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 27th highest crime rate in Michigan, which saw 76 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 35.7 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 99 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of River Rouge.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. River Rouge sports the state’s 3rd highest unemployment rate (21.6%), and families bring in a combined $29,671 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $34,800.
Detroit needs some tough love as it ranks as the 3rd worst city to live in Michigan for 2017.
Crime in Detroit is the 2nd highest in the state, where 1 in 22.3 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
. Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Michigan.
If commute time is important, Detroit residents have the 22nd longest commute of any residents on our list.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Benton Harbor ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 12th cheapest in the state here at $56,200. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Benton Harbor.
The median income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the state of Michigan, at $20,157. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 20.8% of people in Benton Harbor were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Lapeer is the birthplace of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, and it seems sadly appropriate that such one of the smallest cities on this list was able to produce one of the worst human beings on earth. The folks up here could use some kind thoughts right about now.
Although it has the highest home values of any city on this list, it still ranks in Michigan’s bottom third in crime, and it’s firmly in the state’s bottom fifth in income, education and unemployment. Further contributing to Lapeer’s ranking among the dregs of the state is the fact that it spends less money on its students that all but four cities in Michigan.
You might have passed through Hamtramck once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why Hamtramck needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 12.9%, residents earn about $24,369 a year, and home prices are just over $53,900. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in Hamtramck.
The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Springfield. The only real difference is Springfield is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.
However, the unemployment rate in Springfield is at 10.7%, which is the 26th worst in Michigan. And households earn a combined $35,458 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Springfield is merely $56,300.
Springfield is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
you’re looking to live in Michigan, Muskegon Heights might not be the best choice as it places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2017.
Muskegon Heights doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Muskegon Heights may not be your first choice for a vacation.
Inkster’s main issue is crime. It’s the 22nd most dangerous place in the state of Michigan. Is that a surprise?
If you live in Inkster, you have a 1 in 37.3 chance that you’ll be the victim of a property crime. That’s really high, especially for a city of its size. That’s a lot of stolen lawn mowers, cell phones and cameras. Perhaps it’s because the folks here live in far nicer homes than some of the other cities to top this list. They’re targets.
The unemployment rate is higher than the state average at 13.1%.
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 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Michigan:
- Birmingham (Pop. 20,836)
- Berkley (Pop. 15,269)
- Huntington Woods (Pop. 6,347)
For more Michigan reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Michigan
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Michigan
- 10 Safest Places In Michigan
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Michigan
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Michigan
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