Wisconsin might be one of the most misunderstood states in America. If you live there, you most likely wouldn’t live anywhere else. If you’ve been there, you understand why people make it their home.
If you’ve never been there, you probably think it’s some place with a bunch of farms and snow. Which it kinda is, right?
But most of the people who will read this live in Wisconsin. And you know how good you have it up there.
But is it all great in The Big Cheese? Of course not. Just like every other state, Wisconsin has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in the Badger State are the least desirable to live in.
After analyzing 141 of the state’s most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst (not wurst) places to live in Wisconsin:
- Beloit (Photos)
- Milwaukee (Photos)
- Antigo (Photos)
- Racine (Photos)
- Delavan (Photos)
- Rhinelander (Photos)
- Ashland (Photos)
- Rice Lake
- Superior (Photos)
- Kenosha (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 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Wisconsin for 2018
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 141 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 141 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 Wisconsin — Beloit. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Wisconsin.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 36,812Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $85,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (1st worst)
Beloit is the last city you hit when you’re driving route on Highway 90 on your way to Illinois. According to the data, it might be one of the last places you want to move.
Beloit is actually slightly more dangerous than Merrill and Rhinelander. There was a murder here in 2014, and residents had a 1 in 32.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and Aaron Rodgers jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Beloit is through the roof, as more than 12.0% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $85,000, Beloit has the 4th-lowest home prices in the state of Wisconsin.
Population: 598,672Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $115,500 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (3rd worst)
Most of the rest of the cities on this list deserve to be on here due to their high crime numbers. Milwaukee is the 6th most dangerous city in Wisconsin, according to the FBI. Residents had a 1 in 24.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s really high for Wisconsin, but not even the highest in the state.
Home values are the 22nd cheapest in the state, and income levels are almost as low as you can get. Households in Milwaukee bring in just under $36,801 a year annually.
Population: 7,930Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $77,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (6th worst)
What the heck is going on in little Antigo? The crime is the 5th highest in the state of Wisconsin. Here, residents have a 1 in 17.0 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn’t have something stolen from you, there’s a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we’ve seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 8.9% of Antigo residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 6th highest in the state.
Population: 77,931Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $106,400 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (2nd worst)
Welcome to Racine. Home of the laziest people in the state of Wisconsin, where more than 1 in 9.2 are without jobs, crime is rampant (21st highest in the state), and home values are some of the lowest around.
The public schools are quite lacking in terms of expenditures per student. The only thing saving Racine from ranking much higher on this list is the fact that the schools aren’t overcrowded. So while students don’t get financial resources, they get lots of 1-on-1 attention.
They need it here. In fact, a lot of people in Racine could use a big hug right about now.
Population: 8,410Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Home Values: $140,600 (55th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (15th worst)
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Delavan is the 5th worst place in the state of Wisconsin.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Delavan is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Delavan are the 55th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Wisconsin.
Population: 7,552Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Values: $86,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (28th worst)
Rhinelander is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s surrounded by lakes. But you can only get out on the water maybe 5 months a year, right? The rest of the time, you’re stuck indoors watching the Packers and Badgers on the boob tube.
Rhinelander residents earn the 3rd-lowest salaries in the state. At $35,745 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $86,900, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 45th highest in Wisconsin per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 28th highest in the state, at 6.4%.
Population: 8,083Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 6)
Home Values: $107,800 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (25th worst)
LIttle Ashland is practically in the U.P., so, while summers are absolutely fantastic, the rest of the year ranges from tolerable to absolutely miserable, weather wise.
Crime in Ashland isn’t downright horrible, but it’s in the highest 15% in Wisconsin. Folks way up here earn poor salaries, and many have trouble getting jobs. The unemployment rate is at nearly 9%.
If there’s a bright side for Ashland, it’s the education ranking. The public schools here are rated towards the top when you factor in the amount spent per student and the teacher-student ratio. So at least they have that.
8. Rice Lake
Population: 8,343 Rank Last Year: 30 (Up 22)
Home Values: $112,500 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (25th worst)
If you want to live in an area where people are underpaid and there’s a lot of crime, then move to Rice Lake, a tiny blip an hour north of Eau Claire where residents don’t have much to do except stare out over?Rice Lake.
Crime is the 9th highest in the state, and residents earn the 9th lowest incomes in Wisconsin.
A bright side to living here is the quality of the schools. Public school kids get far more attention and resources than their Wisconsin peers.
Population: 26,676Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Home Values: $116,000 (23rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (30th worst)
Say what you want about how beautiful Superior might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 30th highest in the state at 6.3%. Homes are the 23rd lowest priced ($116,000), and the median income per household is just a tad over $41,030.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
Population: 99,865Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Home Values: $141,400 (58th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (4th worst)
Kenosha places 10th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Wisconsin.
You can imagine it’s a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 58th cheapest in the state, and at $141,400, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (9.6%) is the 4th highest in Wisconsin, and income levels are far below the state average. And 1930.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Kenosha has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Wisconsin?
Wrapping Up The Worst In Wisconsin
If you’re looking at areas in Wisconsin 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, Beloit ranks as the worst city to live in Wisconsin for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Wisconsin:
- Fox Point (Pop. 6,695)
- Whitefish Bay (Pop. 14,088)
- Elm Grove (Pop. 6,085)
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Wisconsin
- These Are The 10 Fattest Cities In Wisconsin
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Places In Wisconsin
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Wisconsin
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|Fond Du Lac||39||28|
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