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)
- Hamtramck (Photos)
- Benton Harbor (Photos)
- Ecorse (Photos)
- Flint (Photos)
- Inkster (Photos)
- Muskegon Heights (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 2017.
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.
1. Highland Park
Population: 11,102Home 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.
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.
Population: 690,074Home 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
Population: 7,673Home 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.
Population: 22,150Home 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
Population: 10,014Home 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.
Population: 9,338Home 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%.
Population: 99,802Home 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.
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.
Population: 24,897Home 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
Population: 10,809Home 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.
Population: 59,928Home 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:
- Huntington Woods (Pop. 6,333)
- East Grand Rapids (Pop. 11,128)
- Birmingham (Pop. 20,489)
For more Michigan reading , check out:
- If You’re From Michigan This Will Be The Most Spell-Binding Christmas Display You See All Week. Guaranteed.
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- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Michigan
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Michigan
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