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.

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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.

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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.

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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Michigan For 2019

Highland Park, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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


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

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.

Review Of River Rouge by HomeSnacks User

I give river rouge 10 stars…great people grest community….its only cut out for the people who live there…most lived their there whole life….

city hall coney island…mr. Ks salloon…zenith dinner….mexico way!!!! Do I need to go any further…

Watch out for ecorse……they should be #1 not river rouge…..ecorse is a s**t whole….river rouge shouldnt even be on here

Detroit, MI

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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

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.

Review Of Detroit by HomeSnacks User

The crime rate is being reduced. I love that it’s up and coming. More money is being put into the city which is bringing it back to how lively it used to be, especially downtown.

The coney island are great! They are every where and I love the music that comes from the city.

Benton Harbor, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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

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, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


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.

Review Of Lapeer by HomeSnacks User

If you visit Lapeer you 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.

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.

Hamtramck, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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

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.

Springfield, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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

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.

Muskegon Heights, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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

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, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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 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%.

Pontiac, MI

Overall SnackAbility


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.

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.

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:

Where Are 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

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31 thoughts on “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.

  16. Niles? What the Niles area is not that bad. The people in Niles are great people. Love going to the Apple Fest/ ice fest. The people there support the community. Benton Harbor, St Joseph, Niles and Dowagiac. Yeah I will admit Benton Harbor has had its problems. But I have driven through this small city with no problems. The schools are improving believe it or not. They have a good plan to turn things around. St Joseph nice beaches great food downtown. Dowagiac nice community. Great food downtown. Dowagiac’s Sister Lakes resort area fun in the summer. Dowagiac schools are in the middle of a 36 million improvements. Dowagiac a lot of history. Very interesting area.

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