These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Michigan For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Wolverine need a little TLC right about now.

Join RoadSnacks
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 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in Michigan.

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.

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.

  1. Highland Park (Photos)
  2. River Rouge (Photos)
  3. Detroit (Photos)
  4. Benton Harbor (Photos)
  5. Lapeer (Photos)
  6. Hamtramck (Photos)
  7. Springfield (Photos)
  8. Muskegon Heights (Photos)
  9. Inkster (Photos)
  10. 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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Michigan reading, check out:

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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,955
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $33,500 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 29.4% (1st worst)
More on Highland Park:  Data | Photos

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, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,559
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $34,800 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.6% (3rd worst)
More on River Rouge:  Data | Photos

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, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 679,865
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $42,800 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.8% (5th worst)
More on Detroit:  Data | Photos

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.

Benton Harbor, MI

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 9,944
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $56,200 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.8% (4th worst)
More on Benton Harbor:  Data | Photos

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, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,769
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $93,400 (57th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.8% (14th worst)
More on Lapeer:  Data | Photos

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.

Hamtramck, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 21,959
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $53,900 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.9% (13th worst)
More on Hamtramck:  Data | Photos

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.

Springfield, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,203
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $56,300 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (26th worst)
More on Springfield:  Data | Photos

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.

Muskegon Heights, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,743
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $42,900 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.9% (6th worst)
More on Muskegon Heights:  Data | Photos

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, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 24,670
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $44,300 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (12th worst)
More on Inkster:  Data | Photos

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%.

Pontiac, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 60,039
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $56,300 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (9th worst)
More on Pontiac:  Data | Photos

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:

  1. Birmingham (Pop. 20,836)
  2. Berkley (Pop. 15,269)
  3. Huntington Woods (Pop. 6,347)

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Michigan

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Highland Park 10,955 29.4% $33,500
2 River Rouge 7,559 21.6% $34,800
3 Detroit 679,865 19.8% $42,800
4 Benton Harbor 9,944 20.8% $56,200
5 Lapeer 8,769 12.8% $93,400
6 Hamtramck 21,959 12.9% $53,900
7 Springfield 5,203 10.7% $56,300
8 Muskegon Heights 10,743 18.9% $42,900
9 Inkster 24,670 13.1% $44,300
10 Pontiac 60,039 14.9% $56,300
11 Flint 97,810 22.2% $28,200
12 Ecorse 9,321 18.8% $37,900
13 Greenville 8,385 9.3% $88,500
14 Muskegon 38,189 14.7% $65,800
15 Romulus 23,479 11.1% $77,900
16 Jackson 32,875 11.0% $63,200
17 Dowagiac 5,812 14.1% $67,300
18 Albion 8,263 11.3% $56,500
19 Niles 11,332 8.4% $79,000
20 Saginaw 49,366 15.4% $38,600
21 Melvindale 10,432 10.0% $60,100
22 Harper Woods 13,890 12.4% $67,800
23 Belding 5,730 8.3% $84,500
24 Battle Creek 51,505 8.9% $80,700
25 Port Huron 29,285 11.3% $77,300
26 Lincoln Park 37,028 9.8% $64,700
27 Lansing 115,222 10.4% $77,100
28 Escanaba 12,364 6.9% $82,500
29 Burton 28,856 10.1% $80,500
30 Cadillac 10,375 10.4% $71,100
31 Kalamazoo 75,833 8.8% $99,300
32 Mount Clemens 16,383 10.9% $87,000
33 Center Line 8,299 9.4% $63,700
34 Sturgis 10,861 6.6% $80,500
35 Taylor 61,648 9.6% $81,200
36 Roseville 47,617 8.0% $71,600
37 Swartz Creek 5,565 5.9% $108,700
38 Warren 135,147 9.4% $102,100
39 Wayne 17,090 7.8% $68,700
40 Ypsilanti 20,804 9.9% $136,700
41 Eastpointe 32,601 9.3% $64,700
42 Three Rivers 7,726 7.4% $78,700
43 Eaton Rapids 5,191 5.4% $104,000
44 Alpena 10,123 7.8% $75,200
45 Coldwater 10,819 4.3% $82,000
46 Adrian 20,743 7.8% $73,700
47 Hazel Park 16,587 6.9% $55,500
48 Owosso 14,641 8.2% $78,000
49 Fenton 11,364 6.8% $116,900
50 Ionia 11,253 10.8% $87,100
51 Ironwood 5,051 8.7% $49,900
52 Sault Ste. Marie 13,798 6.4% $85,200
53 Grand Rapids 195,355 7.4% $121,800
54 Hastings 7,289 11.5% $92,000
55 Wyoming 75,124 5.4% $107,700
56 Dearborn 95,295 8.4% $124,200
57 Dearborn Heights 56,201 7.5% $93,600
58 Monroe 20,128 7.9% $110,900
59 Auburn Hills 22,644 7.8% $134,600
60 Hillsdale 8,170 8.5% $85,500
61 Alma 9,108 12.4% $84,000
62 Ludington 8,047 11.4% $114,400
63 Charlotte 9,062 6.7% $107,200
64 Big Rapids 10,413 11.5% $91,500
65 Westland 82,172 6.8% $105,400
66 Holly 6,173 8.2% $102,400
67 Southfield 73,228 8.5% $124,300
68 Woodhaven 12,565 6.4% $144,000
69 St. Louis 7,261 6.2% $77,100
70 Southgate 29,291 7.0% $95,400
71 Menominee 8,298 8.0% $73,700
72 Oak Park 29,824 7.8% $90,600
73 Kentwood 51,154 4.3% $138,400
74 Manistee 6,079 6.6% $96,300
75 Madison Heights 30,173 5.1% $91,300
76 Richmond 5,871 5.0% $159,200
77 Holland 33,488 5.2% $131,700
78 St. Clair 5,375 5.6% $144,600
79 Mount Pleasant 25,711 10.5% $131,900
80 Hudsonville 7,335 6.6% $140,800
81 Fraser 14,616 5.1% $128,000
82 Howell 9,514 4.5% $157,600
83 Wixom 13,777 3.1% $227,600
84 Marshall 7,016 4.7% $113,500
85 Grandville 15,902 2.6% $147,700
86 Walled Lake 7,174 6.5% $129,100
87 Allegan 5,027 4.5% $94,200
88 Norton Shores 24,234 5.4% $116,900
89 Tecumseh 8,351 4.6% $120,800
90 Houghton 7,882 6.4% $141,900
91 Wyandotte 25,175 7.2% $89,700
92 Sterling Heights 131,996 5.3% $164,700
93 Zeeland 5,584 4.2% $125,500
94 Milan 5,965 6.8% $145,100
95 Grand Blanc 7,964 7.0% $148,000
96 Flat Rock 9,889 5.3% $131,900
97 Ishpeming 6,484 5.7% $80,700
98 Marquette 21,081 7.0% $172,900
99 Riverview 12,192 5.3% $132,500
100 Walker 24,618 3.4% $157,900

Like RoadSnacks on Facebook:

 Rankings, Worst 

30 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Michigan For 2019

  1. I am from Escanaba. I live in Las Vegas now but still have friends and family in Esky. This article is complete BS. The crime rate in Escanaba fits in a small column in the police blogger in the news paper. Two murders in 4 years is nothing compared to where I live now. The crime here daily would take up several pages of the newspaper. There are some beautiful buildings in downtown Esky and to take a picture of one of the worst buildings is just wrong. Escanaba depends a lot on tourism so saying it is one of the worst cities in Michigan is not helping anything. And why is Detroit not on this list?

    1. You haven’t been back lately , call the hospital with all the crack an meth babies. The jail is so full their releasing criminals every day . Wake up , the old u.p. is gone!

  2. Not only did the author not know where Escanaba is, they apparently don’t know that Beecher is NOT a city. The Beecher district is in FLINT, so basically the first two worst cities to live in are Flint and Flint.

    1. Please do not ever consider moving to Escanaba or any place in the Yoop!! It is awful up here! The snow….. I have to get work by sled dog! No indoor plumbing and the worst is firing up the propane phone!

      1. That’s what i would expect yoopers to say they don’t really like visitors….its funny all them ppl above saying dont come to escanaba

    1. I wonder if the “reporters” who wrote this article have ever visited Lapeer. If they had, they would notice a vibrant, growing, beautiful city. I have lived in Lapeer my entire 47 years, and I have never been a victim of a crime. In addition to that, they may be grouping the county in with their “facts” on crime and unemployment. It is true that Lapeer County has a higher unemployment rate, but the county is made up of numerous rural communities. Lapeer city itself is absolutely a perfect place to raise a family. I don’t know why I let these idiotic biops make me mad, but this one hits home, literally.

  3. The lakefront property in Muskegon is absolutely beautiful and far from the horrible area that skews the numbers for his statistics.

  4. LOL this article is truly a joke and completely false…..for several reasons! Any one can pull up a photo that looks like a run down , pre-demo building and pull up some statistics …. but that doesn’t mean squat to what the rest of the town looks like, thrives on, or has to offer in regards to safety, scenery, family values,actually knowing your neighbors and feeling safe in your homes or walking down the street! Escanaba has the most beautiful park and marina and the small town mentality that’s evaporating out of this crazy fast paced “lost” world. Just Ask Gust Asp – is a Landmark!! Its the place I use to buy penny candy! The memories so many of us share going back there whether its been being born and raised there, left and come back to visit, summer camping, hunting trips….etc…..The best place to be from! Gods Country!

    1. I agree, until you have been visited the area you have no clue what the area has to offer, the beauty is breath taking, the air is so fresh. LOVE it up their.

  5. Escanaba being on the list and not Detroit just made this entire article non-creditable. This cannot be serious journalism.

  6. This is bs I moved to Lapeer from clinton township I have never felt more safe then here and detroit is not even on here someone should sue him for slander causing out homes value down. He is an ass come here and check it out I dare him to !!!!!!

  7. I totally disagree with the choice of Greenville. Greenville has excellent schools that have excellent educators, miles of trails to walk or bicycle, the crime rate in the city is not high, what has been factored in the crime rate of Montcalm County and the same is true of the low income. The picture chosen does not represent Greenville. Greenville has a large medical community, an excellent hospital and medical staff is top notch. Likewise the Public Safety Department is top notch and they are not dodging bullets as this piece seems to imply. The festival referred to is one that celebrates the heritage of the city which is Danish and of which Greenville is very proud.

    The person writing this article has obviously not visited or researched the cities that he is writing about. Better look in your own backyard before you reach out to destroy other communities. Get your facts correct before you make yourself look like an idiot.

    1. Greenville has the worst public safety dept. I have ever experienced, when the police officers hang out in the local bars on weekends, in a town with a population of 8500 that’s a serious problem!

  8. I think Gelding and Orleans should both be on the list cause neither city has any place to go for any age. Both are low jobs and many homes up for sell. And drugs.

  9. The lack of legitamacy in this article is obvious just because Detroit is not even on it. Plus, the fact that u included quality of school tells me this is inaccurate. Michigans system for grading school districts is a complete joke. Whoever wrote this a

  10. I totally agree with most of the others posters about Escanaba should NOT be on this list. I have lived most of my life here in the good ole UP of Michigan and I have traveled the world being military. The only thing I ever found disagreeable about Esky is the streets and drivers more so than streets. Other than that it is one of the nicest friendliest places to live here in the UP.
    I am a YOOPER and I am PROUD!!!
    The writer should go and do some real research on these cities instead of just writing crap for his report.
    Oh and by the way Detroit most definitely should have been on this list.

  11. I wonder if the “reporters” who wrote this article have ever visited Lapeer. If they had, they would notice a vibrant, growing, beautiful city. I have lived in Lapeer my entire 47 years, and I have never been a victim of a crime. In addition to that, they may be grouping the county in with their “facts” on crime and unemployment. It is true that Lapeer County has a higher unemployment rate, but the county is made up of numerous rural communities. Lapeer city itself is absolutely a perfect place to raise a family. I don’t know why I let these idiotic biops make me mad, but this one hits home, literally.

  12. I have to say Escanaba being on this list is complete BS. I’m from Ishpeming, proudly, but our community is far worse than Escanaba and can think of dozens of communities across Michigan and the UP that are worse.

    Escanaba is a leader in the UP in technological manufacturing, one of the more beautiful shorelines in the UP and a sense of community as well. Escanaba has a top notch school system, several local golf courses, amazing restaurants and shops and a unique charm.

    I would suggest traveling to Escanaba before you even consider putting this community on the list.

  13. I have one thing to say, and I know the other Hooper’s may disown me…
    Yeah, Ishpeming is bad….Esky isn’t great……but u forgot K.I. Sawyer!!!!

  14. Alpena should be #1. rudest people you will ever meet starting with the hospital. Half of the time it smells. Tried to find an upscale place to have dinner and there are none.

  15. If you grew up near Escanaba, have friend and family there, then it’s actually a cool little town. Otherwise Don’t even waste your time. There is really nothing here except endless fast food restaurants, dive bars, pill and meth’d out welfare white trash. Then they want to build more low income house units to fill the town with more trash. There are not very many attractive people there. You can find a house for cheap, but you will also find a lot of young punk kids that never get put in jail. You will also have crooked cops which includes off duty drunk drivers. Some of these guys get a hard on putting people away for minor crimes. Years ago Escanaba was much better. Unfortunately it’s turning into a really bad place to live. Detroit is so much better. Sooner or later Escanaba will be about number ten on that list at this rate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *