The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs

The worst Detroit suburbs are River Rouge and Pontiac based on Saturday Night Science. Find out where your town ranks.

More and more people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Detroit to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: what suburbs of Detroit are the worst?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Detroit ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Detroit area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Detroit proper, although Huntington Woods certainly tries.

We examined the 76 biggest suburbs of Detroit to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Michigan lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Detroit in terms of quality of life.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 worst suburbs around Detroit for 2024

  1. River Rouge
  2. Pontiac
  3. Highland Park
  4. Ecorse
  5. Inkster
  6. Melvindale
  7. Wayne
  8. Hamtramck
  9. Romulus
  10. Taylor

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Detroit? River Rouge ranks as the worst suburb of Detroit for 2024 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in Michigan check out the best places in Michigan overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Detroit too.

The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs To Live For 2024

River Rouge, MI

Source: Public domain
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Population: 7,200
Median Income: $26,343 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.9% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $62,263 (lowest)
More on River Rouge: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

We’ll get the ball rolling with River Rouge, the absolute worst place to live around Detroit according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, River Rouge beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the worst in the Detroit area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s River Rouge.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area. There aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Pontiac, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Andrew Jameson | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 61,965
Median Income: $40,307 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $114,719 (5th lowest)
More on Pontiac: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Welcome to Pontiac. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 20.7 miles to Detroit. Income levels here are the 6th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $40,307 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Highland Park, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Andrew Jameson (talk) at en.wikipedia | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 9,032
Median Income: $30,341 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $67,728 (2nd lowest)
More on Highland Park: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Detroit suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Highland Park on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school dropout rate is poor compared to other Detroit suburbs.

But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.

Ecorse, MI

Source: Wikipedia User | GFDL
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Population: 9,292
Median Income: $45,473 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $69,697 (3rd lowest)
More on Ecorse: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you live in Ecorse, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 8th lowest Detroit suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 10th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Detroit. Remember, we looked at 76 cities for this study.

Ecorse is about 9.4 miles to downtown.

Inkster, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Dwight Burdette | CC BY 3.0
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Population: 25,839
Median Income: $38,381 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $86,767 (4th lowest)
More on Inkster: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Inkster has the distinction of being a Detroit suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Inkster has the 4th lowest home values in the metro Detroit area, where the median price is $86,767. The median income is $200,054.

Inkster has an unemployment rate of 11.7% which ranks 5th worst.

Melvindale, MI

Source: Wikipedia User | GFDL
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Population: 12,639
Median Income: $38,918 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $127,178 (6th lowest)
More on Melvindale: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Melvindale has 12,639 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom, and the poverty rate sits at 33.17509296621568%.

Wayne, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Dwight Burdette | CC BY 3.0
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Population: 17,568
Median Income: $52,709 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $153,609 (10th lowest)
More on Wayne: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Ah, Wayne. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Detroit.

It’s the place with the 11th most out of work residents in the Detroit metro area (9.19%).

Hamtramck, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Andrew Jameson | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 27,842
Median Income: $39,648 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $157,381 (13th lowest)
More on Hamtramck: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Hamtramck is a city about 2.5 miles from Detroit, but Detroit probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a worse place to live. Hamtramck has the 6th most uninsured people, 5th worst incomes, and has the 4th highest unemployment rate (11.74%) in the entire Detroit metro area.

Homes only cost $157,381 for a reason. That’s cheap for Detroit standards.

Romulus, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Traveler100 | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 25,055
Median Income: $63,854 (3lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $179,648 (19th lowest)
More on Romulus: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you absolutely have to live near Detroit, then Romulus might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Detroit suburb.

About 9.82% of residents are out of work.

Taylor, MI

Source: Wikipedia User Booboobay1 | CC BY-SA 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 62,937
Median Income: $59,352 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (2highest)
Median Home Value: $161,574 (16th lowest)
More on Taylor: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Rounding out the ten worst Detroit suburbs to call home is Taylor.

Located 13.8 miles outside the city, Taylors is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 2highest unemployment rate (7.35%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Detroit for 2024

To figure out how bad a Detroit suburb is to live in, we used Saturday Night Science to identify the kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2018-2022, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Detroit.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 76 suburbs to evaluate around Detroit.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 76 in each category, where 1 was the “worst.”

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality-of-life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index, the “Worst Suburb near Detroit.” We’re looking at you, River Rouge.

We updated this article for 2024, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Detroit.

Summary: The areas around Detroit where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2024

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Detroit with River Rouge casting itself ahead of the pack.

The worst suburbs of Detroit are .

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Detroit aren’t all bad. Huntington Woods takes the cake as the best place to live around Detroit.

  • Huntington Woods
  • Grosse Pointe Park
  • Grosse Pointe

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Detroit Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 River Rouge 7,200 $26,343 $62,263
2 Pontiac 61,965 $40,307 $114,719
3 Highland Park 9,032 $30,341 $67,728
4 Ecorse 9,292 $45,473 $69,697
5 Inkster 25,839 $38,381 $86,767
6 Melvindale 12,639 $38,918 $127,178
7 Wayne 17,568 $52,709 $153,609
8 Hamtramck 27,842 $39,648 $157,381
9 Romulus 25,055 $63,854 $179,648
10 Taylor 62,937 $59,352 $161,574
11 New Haven 6,200 $63,424 $280,596
12 Mount Clemens 15,679 $55,154 $156,898
13 Lincoln Park 39,807 $55,777 $137,851
14 Eastpointe 34,087 $57,953 $143,733
15 Warren 138,588 $61,633 $187,656
16 Dearborn Heights 62,474 $58,335 $186,873
17 Roseville 47,476 $57,274 $159,392
18 Hazel Park 15,065 $59,576 $154,739
19 Harper Woods 15,296 $60,030 $146,667
20 Dearborn 108,414 $64,600 $213,451
21 Ypsilanti 20,204 $41,914 $309,294
22 Westland 84,806 $59,930 $194,197
23 Belleville 3,979 $55,979 $240,228
24 Carleton 2,655 $54,028 $290,962
25 Flat Rock 10,448 $65,374 $237,743
26 Auburn Hills 24,593 $77,724 $245,506
27 Center Line 8,493 $52,067 $158,320
28 Utica 5,195 $52,247 $247,172
29 Fraser 14,668 $61,039 $217,570
30 Madison Heights 28,521 $63,224 $203,911
31 Southfield 76,107 $63,980 $234,297
32 Oak Park 29,495 $61,991 $212,139
33 Sterling Heights 133,744 $75,381 $278,499
34 Wyandotte 24,857 $62,111 $174,297
35 Gibraltar 4,950 $80,392 $239,399
36 Romeo 3,727 $59,693 $368,712
37 Southgate 29,948 $62,792 $175,318
38 South Rockwood 2,032 $82,500 $272,968
39 Woodhaven 12,867 $77,725 $242,087
40 Riverview 12,390 $69,323 $219,074
41 Allen Park 28,395 $73,792 $190,218
42 Rockwood 3,232 $93,036 $202,659
43 Trenton 18,420 $74,267 $215,391
44 Wixom 17,007 $72,896 $348,240
45 St. Clair Shores 58,656 $71,481 $211,168
46 Walled Lake 7,262 $65,031 $229,099
47 Farmington Hills 83,562 $101,728 $348,161
48 Livonia 94,928 $92,458 $278,535
49 New Baltimore 12,104 $90,028 $325,237
50 Ferndale 19,264 $86,120 $236,307
51 Wolverine Lake 4,493 $85,195 $284,719
52 Troy 87,170 $115,639 $398,962
53 Keego Harbor 2,771 $67,841 $209,967
54 Novi 65,870 $110,588 $425,204
55 Clawson 11,388 $82,713 $261,691
56 Milford 6,483 $98,054 $425,893
57 Rochester Hills 76,041 $115,968 $414,974
58 Rochester 12,978 $102,838 $428,006
59 Lake Orion 2,915 $94,925 $366,451
60 South Lyon 11,788 $82,753 $434,616
61 Farmington 11,486 $92,128 $290,249
62 Grosse Pointe Woods 16,338 $125,712 $315,509
63 Bloomfield Hills 4,402 $200,054 $569,983
64 Royal Oak 58,053 $92,799 $302,682
65 Pleasant Ridge 2,609 $164,861 $432,482
66 Franklin 2,653 $178,167 $760,958
67 Northville 6,088 $134,330 $514,916
68 Berkley 15,150 $108,125 $285,101
69 Plymouth 9,300 $107,156 $417,416
70 Birmingham 21,738 $151,556 $600,237
71 Beverly Hills 10,550 $162,364 $498,630
72 Village Of Grosse Pointe Shores 2,610 $170,850 $745,997
73 Grosse Pointe Farms 10,018 $156,465 $446,876
74 Grosse Pointe 5,621 $136,094 $421,780
75 Grosse Pointe Park 11,513 $128,333 $451,199
76 Huntington Woods 6,365 $184,815 $459,699
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.

7 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs

  1. Detroit is a single CITY not an entire state. Quit calling us Detroit please. We are called MICHIGAN. I think you meant to say Michigan suburbs. Kindly stop associating ALL of Michigan with Detroit. I loathe Detroit!

    Also, Highland Park and Ecorse ARE NOT suburbs. If they were in the PAST they certainly ARE NOT NOW. They are part of the inner city. The info you reported about them being the worst is accurate. But I can assure you that those cities ARE NOT suburbs. It’s blasphemy to even call them that.

    I used to live in Highland Park up until the early 90’s and HAPPILY moved away to a REAL suburb at that time.

    And the only thing wrong with Romulus is that it’s riddled with racism and White supremacy. Other than that unacceptable fact of life it’s a decent, safe place to live. Just need to run all the fascists out.

    Taylor IS an AWESOME suburb and also does not deserve to be on that list. Unemployment is not THEIR fault. It has more to do with our Government than anything else. Dearborn and Dearborn Heights however are nothing to write home about. How did a wonderful city like Taylor make the list but you manged to leave out Dearborn? Dearborn is very poorly maintained and the people who live their deserve so much better like Southfield or Farmington Hills.

    1. I don’t think you understand the definition of a suburb. Just because a place like Ecorse or Highland Park are old & have similar issues as the inner city doesn’t change the fact that they still suburbs. By your relational a suburb isn’t “a smaller community adjacent to or within commuting distance of a larger city”, even though that is the actual definition. You seem to believe that the word suburb is more like a feeling, like it has to have a certain aesthetic & it’s people must behave by a certain set of principles that’s different from the neighborhoods within the city. As long as that holds true it’s a suburb but when the demographics change & the housing & infrastructure age than it’s no longer a suburb?? That makes absolutely no sense, just like the idea of calling Detroit suburbs “Michigan suburbs”, whether you like it or not the suburbs surrounding Detroit are interlinked & all part of the same metropolitan area that are all anchored around Detroit both culturally & financially. Why on earth would some say Taylor or Roseville are Michigan suburbs?? That doesn’t mean anything, there’s no such thing as a Michigan suburb because we are all part of the State, to be sub-urb(an) means to be outside of & surrounding an bigger area. A suburb can be rural all the way to urban as long as it fits the definition. If you go to cities in the south many of them look like Farmington Hills, Southfield & Sterling Heights, does that make them suburbs & if so what exactly are the a suburb of. Your hatred of Detroit has you blinded & it’s people like you who hold back progress of our area by trying to isolate & pit communities in our area again each other. When I’m somewhere out of state & someone asks where I’m from I say Detroit never Michigan, even though I haven’t lived in there since 2005 but I’m just 15 min outside of the city in an east side suburb, but no body from out of state will know or care about which suburb your from they are asking what metro area are you from.

  2. Oh, so you DID include Dearborn a Dearborn Heights. Southfield and Farmington Hills ARE NOT the worst suburbs in Michigan. Please get a clue. You most likely don’t even live in Michigan. I DO. Those are among THE BEST places in Michigan to live.

    Those two cities alone are beautiful clean SAFE suburbs. Seems you are ranking our BEST suburbs based on how many poor people are living there and casting them out as “the worst” based on your own personal prejudices.

    Well, for your general information those poor people happen to be very hard-working, decent, honest, law-abiding citizens who CONTRIBUTE to INCREASING the property value each year. We don’t harbor criminals, drug dealers, prostitutes and fugitives of justice. We are not The Bronx, New York.

    We don’t need some snob casting our best towns out as evil because you are used to living among the elite. Or are you also a White supremacist who can’t stand happy interracial suburbs where EVERYBODY gets along with EVERYBODY else regardless of race or social class? Certainly seems that way to me. I love Southfield and Farmington Hills. I lived in Southfield for over 20 years and it’s STILL just as great now as it was back then. I’d rather live in Southfield than ANY part of Detroit.

  3. Some of those suburbs are our worst. However, it seems you included MOST our BESTbsuburbs on your list because people of color reside there too? How is that fair or impartial? Birmingham is approximately 1% Black and 99% White. The non Black people who live there that I have encoutered are extremely elite and extremely racist and unaccepting of all people of color. I have witnessed and experienced this open discrimination first hand when frequenting Borders Book Store when it was still open for business. Birmingham definitely belongs on Michigan’s WORST suburb list. It is nothing more than a Nazi haven much like Twitter.

  4. Birmingham IS NOT one of the best suburbs to live in. Based on what? How many RACIST elites live there. Because that’s who that city is mostly composed of. I call it Birmingham “Alabama” Michigan. Birmingham is infamous for profiling ALL people of color. I know this first hand from personal experience and observation as I used to frequent Borders Book Store when it was still open in 2003. The population is approximately 99% White and 1% Black. There are no other minority groups living there whatsoever. The racist attitudes of the citizens of Birmingham which I have encountered up close are merely unacceptable. Birmingham IS NOT the best city in Michigan to live in just because a lot of rich Caucasian people live there. It’s beautiful on the outside and quite trashy on the inside. It’s actually one of THE WORST cities to live in.

  5. Very interesting list; glad you have the stones to pot it (lists like these are going to garner indignant reactions no matter how you rank them). That said…Corktown only #74?!? Yikes. It should be Top 20 easily, if not Top 10!

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