These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Michigan For 2017


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

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2017.

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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. Detroit (Photos)
  3. River Rouge (Photos)
  4. Hamtramck (Photos)
  5. Benton Harbor (Photos)
  6. Ecorse (Photos)
  7. Flint (Photos)
  8. Inkster (Photos)
  9. Muskegon Heights (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2017.

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

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How we determined the worst places to live in Michigan for 2017

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.

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1. Highland Park

Highland Park, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 11,102
Home Values: $36,000 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 32.0% (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.

  These Are The 10 Most Miserable Cities In Michigan

Highland Park ranks 1st in all of Michigan in unemployment, 17th in overall crime, 4th 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.

2. Detroit

Detroit, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 690,074
Home Values: $42,300 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.9% (3rd worst)
Detroit is another place in the Wolverine State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Detroit is a staggering 24.9%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($25,764 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $42,300, but still far lower than the state average.

Crime in Detroit is bad, but not horrible.

3. River Rouge

River Rouge, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,673
Home Values: $34,100 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 26.0% (2nd worst)
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, River Rouge is one of the worst places you can live in Michigan. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.

We’re not economists, but when you have a 26.0% unemployment rate for a city of 7,673 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.

4. Hamtramck

Hamtramck, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 22,150
Home Values: $41,900 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.4% (13th worst)
The unemployment rate in Hamtramck is a sky high 17.4%, which is the 13th highest in the state. Ouch.

The median income in Hamtramck is $23,759. That means 43.1% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 34.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.

5. Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,014
Home Values: $47,800 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (7th worst)
You might have passed through Benton Harbor once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.

Here’s what science says about why Benton Harbor needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 23.9%, residents earn about $18,085 a year, and home prices are just over $47,800. 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 Benton Harbor.

6. Ecorse

Ecorse, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,338
Home Values: $40,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.6% (4th worst)
Ecorse ranks as the 6th worst city in Michigan. Located in Wayne County, Ecorse has the 14th lowest income levels in the state of Michigan ($28,131), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 24.6%.

7. Flint

Flint, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 99,802
Home Values: $32,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (6th 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 146 cities considered in this ranking, Flint had the least to be proud of across the board.

  10 Small Towns in Michigan Where You'd Never Want To Live

Not only does Flint have Michigan’s 1st lowest home value rank, but it also had the 6th 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.

8. Inkster

Inkster, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 24,897
Home Values: $49,100 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.8% (15th worst)
Inkster places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Michigan. Here, 16.4% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Inkster have the 24th highest adult drop out rate in Michigan.

Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $49,100 each — the 10th lowest in Michigan.

As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.

9. Muskegon Heights

Muskegon Heights, Michigan

Source: Flickr

Population: 10,809
Home Values: $41,900 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.5% (5th worst)
According to science, Muskegon Heights is the 9th worst place you can live in Michigan.

Let’s see why. Muskegon Heights has the 1st-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Muskegon Heights is certainly up there.

Factor in a very low housing cost ($41,900), and the 5th-highest unemployment rate in the state (24.5%), and across the board, Muskegon Heights doesn’t sound like the best of the best.

Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.

10. Pontiac

Pontiac, Michigan

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 59,928
Home Values: $54,100 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.9% (11th 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 2017.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Michigan:

  1. Huntington Woods (Pop. 6,333)
  2. East Grand Rapids (Pop. 11,128)
  3. Birmingham (Pop. 20,489)

For more Michigan reading , check out:

  These Are The 10 Drunkest Places In Michigan

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Michigan

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Highland Park 11,102 32.0% $36,000
2 Detroit 690,074 24.9% $42,300
3 River Rouge 7,673 26.0% $34,100
4 Hamtramck 22,150 17.4% $41,900
5 Benton Harbor 10,014 23.9% $47,800
6 Ecorse 9,338 24.6% $40,400
7 Flint 99,802 23.9% $32,600
8 Inkster 24,897 16.8% $49,100
9 Muskegon Heights 10,809 24.5% $41,900
10 Pontiac 59,928 18.9% $54,100
11 Springfield 5,216 16.2% $56,300
12 Romulus 23,557 15.3% $69,400
13 Lapeer 8,790 15.9% $84,900
14 Jackson 33,255 15.6% $62,500
15 Muskegon 37,861 18.3% $63,700
16 Saginaw 50,288 21.1% $44,100
17 Dowagiac 5,866 20.2% $67,000
18 Greenville 8,443 13.4% $85,000
19 Albion 8,316 13.3% $58,600
20 Mount Clemens 16,381 14.6% $76,000
21 Three Rivers 7,787 11.7% $74,400
22 Niles 11,450 12.0% $78,100
23 Taylor 62,021 14.4% $72,500
24 Hazel Park 16,600 12.3% $50,300
25 Ionia 11,384 20.3% $79,800
26 Battle Creek 51,830 12.1% $81,100
27 Belding 5,771 14.3% $74,800
28 Escanaba 12,468 11.1% $81,700
29 Port Huron 29,508 14.7% $73,200
30 Lincoln Park 37,362 12.0% $58,700
31 Melvindale 10,510 11.6% $54,300
32 Roseville 47,529 11.1% $63,200
33 Wayne 17,251 10.1% $64,700
34 Harper Woods 13,964 12.2% $64,800
35 Burton 29,223 13.5% $70,400
36 Eastpointe 32,585 13.8% $58,300
37 Sturgis 10,916 10.5% $80,900
38 Owosso 14,826 12.0% $77,300
39 Lansing 114,485 11.7% $76,600
40 Ypsilanti 19,874 12.4% $118,000
41 Center Line 8,306 8.8% $60,700
42 Ironwood 5,153 12.1% $53,100
43 Warren 134,857 11.8% $87,800
44 Adrian 20,878 13.5% $69,500
45 Kalamazoo 75,499 11.5% $96,600
46 Dearborn 96,069 9.9% $105,800
47 Alpena 10,273 9.2% $75,700
48 Coldwater 10,866 8.8% $75,500
49 Big Rapids 10,532 17.1% $88,900
50 Menominee 8,456 11.3% $74,700
51 Grand Rapids 192,416 10.4% $109,400
52 Dearborn Heights 56,656 11.4% $82,500
53 Ludington 8,055 14.7% $110,400
54 Sault Ste. Marie 14,048 11.7% $81,600
55 Fenton 11,538 9.1% $101,700
56 Hillsdale 8,203 10.4% $79,900
57 Eaton Rapids 5,221 13.2% $106,200
58 Madison Heights 30,123 9.8% $79,700
59 Holly 6,171 9.6% $83,500
60 Hastings 7,304 12.3% $90,100
61 Oak Park 29,727 12.3% $78,800
62 Alma 9,264 11.7% $79,700
63 Swartz Creek 5,632 11.5% $105,500
64 Westland 82,642 9.2% $90,900
65 Allegan 5,036 8.2% $85,500
66 Wyoming 74,105 7.2% $98,400
67 Cadillac 10,327 9.3% $75,600
68 St. Louis 7,355 8.0% $72,400
69 Monroe 20,335 9.2% $105,800
70 Charlotte 9,057 8.6% $109,900
71 Southfield 72,859 11.4% $105,800
72 Richmond 5,825 6.8% $121,600
73 Ishpeming 6,517 6.3% $77,700
74 Howell 9,502 6.2% $131,000
75 Auburn Hills 22,085 8.9% $113,800
76 Ferndale 20,160 9.3% $99,500
77 Southgate 29,518 9.2% $84,900
78 Holland 33,526 6.7% $116,200
79 Kentwood 50,286 7.2% $126,600
80 Mount Pleasant 26,134 12.4% $123,700
81 Hudsonville 7,271 8.6% $129,100
82 Davison 5,029 10.6% $92,500
83 Wyandotte 25,376 10.3% $84,800
84 Manistee 6,136 12.2% $93,600
85 St. Clair 5,394 7.3% $131,200
86 Trenton 18,522 5.7% $118,000
87 Tecumseh 8,393 6.6% $105,900
88 Marquette 21,444 8.9% $160,500
89 Grand Haven 10,819 10.2% $118,200
90 Flat Rock 9,879 8.6% $110,100
91 Norton Shores 23,982 8.6% $110,500
92 Wixom 13,690 5.2% $191,300
93 Grandville 15,739 4.3% $136,100
94 Marshall 7,038 4.9% $108,400
95 Kingsford 5,104 6.9% $70,900
96 Fraser 14,582 8.5% $111,500
97 St. Johns 7,954 6.7% $115,900
98 Sterling Heights 131,139 8.1% $147,700
99 Iron Mountain 7,571 4.6% $73,400
100 St. Clair Shores 59,888 8.9% $95,000

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27 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Michigan For 2017

  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!!!!

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