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.
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
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Michigan For 2019
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.
River Rouge ranks as the 2nd worst city on this list.
River Rouge has the 27th highest crime rate in Michigan, where residents have a 1 in 35.7 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 3rd cheapest in the state ($34,800), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Michigan, Detroit came in 3rd. Let’s see why.
The city has very bad crime (2nd worst) and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size 19.8%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Benton Harbor is the 4th worst place you can live in the state of Michigan. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 4th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Benton Harbor had a 1 in 25.4 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Benton Harbor, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Benton Harbor’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (20.8%) and income levels of its residents ($20,157).
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.
There’s probably not many people in Michigan that would be surprised to see Hamtramck on this list. In fact, if Hamtramck wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Hamtramck has the 30th worst crime rate in Michigan. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 175 violent crimes in Hamtramck in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 125 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Hamtramck are the 10th cheapest in the state ($53,900), the unemployment rate is the 13th highest (12.9%), and the annual household income is 4th lowest in Michigan, at $24,369. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Springfield is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of Michigan. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Springfield, located in Calhoun County, have the 8th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $56,300, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Michigan, that is.
Out of all the places to live in Michigan, Muskegon Heights ranks as the 8th worst — not something to brag about.
Muskegon Heights’s unemployment rate stands at 18.9%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $25,411 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 7th cheapest in the entire state at $42,900. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there’s not a lot of demand to live way out in Muskegon Heights. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 1st worst in the state. You have a 1 in 16.6 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 55 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Inkster 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.
Inkster residents earn the 19th-lowest salaries in the state. At $32,379 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $44,300, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 22nd highest in Michigan per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 12th highest in the state, 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.
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.
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)
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