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 is a really small, densely populated place in Michigan.
The unemployment rate here is sky high at 21.6%, and income levels are the 13th lowest in Michigan. Homes sell for an average of $34,800.
If you’re trying to have some sort of professional career in Michigan, this is one of the last places you would want to live.
Detroit is by far, the largest place that’s lousy to live in the state of Michigan. In fact, it’s one of the largest cities in the Wolverine State.
There’s a lot more entertainment in Detroit than in the cities we mentioned above, so at least folks here can take their mind off of these statistics. Detroit has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the state, and homes are valued far below the rest of the state average.
Plus, crime is sky high here, in comparison to the rest of Michigan. There were four murders here in 2018, and residents have a 1 in 22.3 chance of being robbed. Since the average person has 300 Facebook friends, if everyone you were friends with lived in Detroit, 6 of them would have had something stolen from them last year.
Benton Harbor ranks as the 4th worst city on this list.
Benton Harbor has the 4th highest crime rate in Michigan, where residents have a 1 in 25.4 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 12th cheapest in the state ($56,200), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
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.
The unemployment rate in Hamtramck is a sky high 12.9%, which is the 13th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Hamtramck is $24,369. That means 50.9% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 35.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
Springfield is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $56,300. That means it ranks as the 14th lowest in Michigan.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Springfield has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 8th worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in Michigan.
Muskegon Heights, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 8th worst city in Michigan.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Muskegon Heights has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 18.9%, and families earn around $25,411 a year. It’s also the 1st highest in Michigan for crime, where 1 in 16.6 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Inkster ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 8th cheapest in the state here at $44,300. 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 Inkster.
The median income levels here are the 19th lowest in the state of Michigan, at $32,379. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 13.1% of people in Inkster were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
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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