These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Michigan For 2018

We used science and data to determine which MI cities are really ghetto.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of Michigan’s largest cities are the most ghetto of all?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state and then put out a list.

After analyzing all cities with 10,000 people or more, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places in Michigan:

  1. Muskegon (Photos)
  2. Saginaw (Photos)
  3. Benton Harbor (Photos)
  4. Detroit (Photos)
  5. Hamtramck (Photos)
  6. Inkster (Photos)
  7. Flint (Photos)
  8. Niles (Photos)
  9. Muskegon Heights
  10. Beecher

What’s interesting is that when you run the data, two of the biggest ‘known’ cities for being ghetto aren’t in the top three. So, statistically, by the dictionary definition of a ghetto, Detroit and Flint aren’t the worst.

Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.

For more Michigan reading, check out:


What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in Michigan, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of every place in Michigan with more than 10,000 people based on the 2013 American Community Survey. That left us with more than 100 places in the Wolverine State.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.


1. Muskegon

Source: wikipedia

Income: $25,480
Drop out rate: 30%
Convenience stores: 4th highest

This may or may not come as a surprise, but technically, according to the data, Muskegon is more ghetto than any other city in Michigan. Let’s see why.

First off, 3 in 10 residents never finished high school. Does that make a ghetto? Not always, but the income levels sure reflect it. The government stipulates a family of four has to earn about $25,000 a year, or they’re considered in poverty. The average family earns that here in Muskegon.

Crime isn’t the worst, but it’s in the top 20 in terms of what the FBI considers dangerous.

And, Muskegon has the 4th highest number of convenience stores per capita. Sociologists have indicated that discount stores like these are a staple of inner city life.

2. Saginaw

Source: wikipedia

Income: $27,658
Drop out rate: 29%
Crime: 6th worst

Saginaw is in a bad place, economically, and with crime. This mid-size city north of Flint is statistically, one of the brokest and most dangerous places in Michigan.

There were 29 murders here in 2013. Wow. For a city of barely over 50,000 (and obviously shrinking fast), that means you have a 1 in 1,744 chance of being killed if you spent a year within Saginaw city limits.

To put that into perspective, the average Facebook person has 350 friends. If all of your Facebook friends lived in Saginaw, there’s a 1 in 5 chance one of them would be killed next year.

3. Benton Harbor

Source: wikipedia

Income: $17,766
Crime: The worst in MI
High school dropout rate: 38%

A lot of people call this place ‘Benton Harlem”. You can see why when you look at the numbers. Harlem isn’t even this bad.

There isn’t a more broke and outright dangerous place in the state of Michigan (and likely in the entire midwest) than Benton Harbor. The 10,000 people just a short drive north of the Indiana state line have quite a lifestyle to endure.

There were quite a few #ghetto Tweets that we found coming from this location. Stuff like this: “Ghetto ghetto so ghetto, Benton harbor. So ghetto.”

4. Detroit

Source: wikipedia

Income: $26,955
Drop out rate: 30%
Crime: 4th worst

Here’s why Detroit isn’t the most ghetto place in Michigan:

Incomes are really, really low, but far above a few other places. In fact, 1 in 3 Detroit families lives in poverty, and that’s only the 9th lowest in the state.

Crime, of course, is horrible here, and even the police won’t drive into certain neighborhoods for routine calls. Just about every day, someone is murdered in Detroit (at least that’s what it was in 2013).

In Michigan, there are higher pockets of crime, where people are even poorer and less educated than they are in Detroit. Or Flint.

5. Hamtramck

Source: wikipedia

Income: $24,488
Drop out rate: 40%
Crime: 2nd highest

This ghetto city might be a little under the radar. Hamtramck is a city of about 22,000 people that’s just north of Detroit. Statistically, this place is even more dangerous than Detroit proper, and it’s certainly poorer and less educated.

4 in 10 people here is walking around without a high school education. That’s just crazy.

If you’re between the GM Assembly Center off of I-94 and Carpenter Avenue, get outta there. ‘Only’ 1 in 7,000 people here was murdered in 2013.

6. Inkster

Source: wikipedia

Income: $28,095
Drop out rate: 26%
Crime: 7th worst

Continuing our tour of ghetto cities and neighborhoods in the Detroit area, we come to Inkster. This mid-size city is jam packed on the western side of the Detroit sprawl, between Annapolis Avenue, Beech Daly Road, Cherry Hill Road, and Henry Ruff Road.

And ‘Ruff’ this place is. There were 15 people killed here in the last reporting year, and you have a 1 in 22 chance of being robbed for every year you stay here. Essentially, either you, or someone you know, had something taken from them this year.

Route 12 goes right through the heart of Inkster. There are about 10 gas stations along this stretch. Don’t stop.

7. Flint

Source: wikipedia

Income: $26,595
Drop out rate: 24%
Crime: 3rd worst

Of course, Flint is ghetto. We already know that. What the data is telling us is that Flint is not as ‘ghetto’ as other places. People in Flint are either going to argue with us on that or praise the Lord that we published this.

Sure, Flint had 48 murders. But there are more than 100,000 people. We digress.

We were a little entertained combing through the ghetto Tweets coming from Flint.

“Flint..where you have to wait for the ghetto bird to fly past before you can get home”

A ghetto bird is a police helicopter in case you didn’t know the lingo.

8. Niles

Source: wikipedia

Income: $31,264
Drop out rate: 25%
Convenience stores: 10th most

Niles is above average for crime, but it isn’t horrible. There weren’t any murders here in 2013 (surprise!). But other factors make it a ghetto.

More than a quarter of the adults here don’t have a high school diploma. And the Census measures adults 25 years or older. Which gives lots of people plenty of time to get their GED instead of always trying to get their BUD.

It’s a pretty poor place, not too far away from South Bend, Indiana.

And if you’ve ever been to South Bend, you know that two blocks from Notre Dame, that place is really ghetto, too.

9. Muskegon Heights

Source: Public Domain

Income: $19,853
Drop out rate: 28%
Crime: 4th worst

While the people in ‘The Heights’ might earn an extra few hundred bucks a month than those in Muskegon, it’s a far more dangerous place. Each city had three murders, but Muskegon Heights is much smaller, meaning your chances of getting a bullet to the head are that much higher.

If you’re driving along Route 31, wait until you’ve made it to either Grand Haven or Whitehall to stop.

10. Highland Park

Source: Public Domain

Income: $20,298
Drop out rate: 28%
Crime: 9th worst

Highland Park is another ‘city’ within the Detroit metro area. It’s very dangerous and poor. It’s bordered by McNichols, Woodrow Wilson and Woodland Avenue.

It’s quite literally across the tracks.

If you live in the area, you know what we’re talking about.

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in Michigan where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in Michigan:

  1. East Grand Rapids
  2. Grosse Pointe Park
  3. Berkley
  4. Jenison
  5. Okemos

Now that you’re done reading that story, you might enjoy our video summary of the 10 most redneck cities in Michigan. Hilarious. Click here to watch it.

Desktop users, below is a ghetto ranking chart of all large cities in Michigan, along with their crime numbers:

City Crime Rank
Muskegon 78.6 1
Saginaw 94.8 2
Benton Harbor 97.1 3
Detroit 95.1 4
Hamtramck 95.2 5
Inkster 94.7 6
Flint 95.2 7
Niles 59.2 8
Muskegon Heights 95.1 9
Highland Park 92.6 10
Beecher 81.1 11
Bay City 70 12
Wayne 68.5 12
Kalamazoo 80.3 14
Port Huron 66.1 15
Jackson 79.1 16
Mount Clemens 61.6 17
Sault Ste. Marie 64.2 18
Taylor 64 18
Hazel Park 55.7 20
Melvindale 62.9 21
Escanaba 49.9 22
Lansing 83.8 23
Cadillac 66 24
Ypsilanti 80.9 25
Pontiac 94.7 26
Adrian 64.4 27
Lincoln Park 57.2 28
Owosso 63.6 29
Grand Rapids 74.7 30
Sturgis 52.5 31
Coldwater 49.4 32
Holland 57.2 33
Romulus 66.1 34
Madison Heights 48.8 35
Dearborn Heights 55 36
Monroe 62.4 37
Battle Creek 86.1 38
Roseville 58.4 39
Eastpointe 69.1 40
Mount Pleasant 46.8 40
Ionia 46.2 42
East Lansing 54.2 43
Ferndale 53.8 44
Comstock Park 71.9 45
Dearborn 58.3 46
Oak Park 64.3 47
Cutlerville 46.9 48
Big Rapids 51.5 49
Marquette 31.5 50
Marquette 31.5 51
Southfield 61.8 52
Traverse City 48.5 53
Harper Woods 82.2 54
Warren 63.5 55
Southgate 47.7 55
Westland 60.2 57
Wyoming 52.3 58
Garden City 52.5 59
Burton 44.3 60
Alpena 45.2 61
Grand Haven 48 61
Fenton 35.7 63
Ann Arbor 47.8 64
Grandville 41.3 65
Clawson 36.1 66
Wyandotte 43.3 67
Livonia 41.3 68
Kentwood 57.5 69
Trenton 46.9 70
South Lyon 36.6 71
Fraser 46.9 72
Royal Oak 39.2 73
Rochester 40 74
Auburn Hills 55 75
Sterling Heights 39.4 76
Novi 25.5 77
Allen Park 42.6 78
Waverly 47.6 79
Portage 45.5 80
Riverview 29.3 81
Birmingham 36.8 81
Walker 37.3 83
Farmington 43.3 84
Woodhaven 31 85
Norton Shores 45.2 86
Allendale 37.9 87
Wixom 36.3 88
Troy 27 89
Holt 39.8 90
Northview 36.6 91
Haslett 40.8 92
Beverly Hills 40 93
Forest Hills 11.6 94
Midland 35.5 95
New Baltimore 37.7 96
Rochester Hills 24.7 97
Okemos 31.4 98
Jenison 14 99
Berkley 29.4 100
Grosse Pointe Park 30.5 101
East Grand Rapids 25.8 102

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.