Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Detroit.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Detroit ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Detroit area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Detroit proper, although Huntington Woods certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Detroit are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 75 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.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Detroit for 2018:
- River Rouge (Photos)
- Highland Park (Photos)
- Pontiac (Photos)
- Ecorse (Photos)
- Hamtramck (Photos)
- Inkster (Photos)
- Romulus (Photos)
- Melvindale (Photos)
- Taylor (Photos)
- Wayne (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Detroit that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Detroit too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Detroit 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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data, 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 drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Detroit.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 75 suburbs to evaluate around Detroit.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 75 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 lookin’ at you, River Rouge.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
1. River Rouge
Population: 7,609Unemployment Rate: 23.3%
Median Home Price: $35,600
Median Income: $27,463
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 4th worst in the Detroit area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd 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.
2. Highland Park
Population: 10,978Unemployment Rate: 28.9%
Median Home Price: $32,600
Median Income: $17,455
Welcome to Highland Park. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 1.5 miles to Detroit. Income levels here are the 1st lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $17,455 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Population: 59,920Unemployment Rate: 16.1%
Median Home Price: $53,700
Median Income: $30,152
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Detroit suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Pontiac 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 drop out rate is poor compared to other Detroit suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
Population: 9,270Unemployment Rate: 21.4%
Median Home Price: $39,600
Median Income: $26,496
If you live in Ecorse, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 3rd lowest Detroit suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Detroit. Remember, we looked at 75 cities for this study.
Ecorse is about 9.4 miles to downtown.
Population: 21,985Unemployment Rate: 14.1%
Median Home Price: $47,300
Median Income: $23,609
Hamtramck has the distinction of being a Detroit suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Hamtramck has the 5th lowest home values in the metro Detroit area, where the median price is $47,300. To put that into perspective, in Huntington Woods, the median income is $169,265, which is the best in the area.
Hamtramck has an unemployment rate of 14.1% which ranks 6th worst.
Population: 24,738Unemployment Rate: 14.2%
Median Home Price: $45,000
Median Income: $31,285
Inkster has 24,738 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 33.6%.
Population: 23,457Unemployment Rate: 13.0%
Median Home Price: $72,800
Median Income: $44,727
Ah, Romulus. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Detroit.
It’s the place with the 8th most out of work residents in the Detroit metro area (13.0%).
Population: 10,437Unemployment Rate: 9.5%
Median Home Price: $57,600
Median Income: $36,870
Melvindale is a city about 8.3 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. Melvindale has the 25th most uninsured people, 10th worst incomes, and has the 18th highest unemployment rate (9.5%) in the entire Detroit metro area.
Homes only cost $57,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Detroit standards.
Population: 61,716Unemployment Rate: 11.6%
Median Home Price: $75,600
Median Income: $41,897
If you absolutely have to live near Detroit, then Taylor might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Detroit suburb.
About 11.6% of residents are out of work.
Population: 17,143Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
Median Home Price: $65,900
Median Income: $40,973
Rounding out the ten worst Detroit suburbs to call home is Wayne.
Located 16.3 miles outside the city, Waynes is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 34th highest unemployment rate (6.7%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Detroit where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Detroit with River Rouge casting itself ahead of the pack.
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.
For more Michigan reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Michigan
- These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Places in Michigan
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Michigan