The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs For 2021

We used science and data to determine which Detroit suburbs are the real pits.

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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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Detroit.

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 Grosse Pointe certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Detroit are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

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 2021:

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

What's the worst suburb of Detroit? River Rouge ranks as the worst suburb of Detroit for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Detroit that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

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.

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.

For more Michigan reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs To Live For 2021

River Rouge, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,502
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $25,517 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 24.0% (highest)
Median Home Value: $36,300 (lowest)
More on River Rouge:  Data | Photos

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 2nd 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

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 59,955
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $33,568 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.9% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $67,100 (6th lowest)
More on Pontiac:  Data | Photos

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 $33,568 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.

Highland Park, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,867
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $18,474 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 22.6% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $45,700 (3rd lowest)
More on Highland Park:  Data | Photos

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 drop out rate is poor compared to other Detroit suburbs.

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

Ecorse, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,432
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $28,991 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $42,100 (2nd lowest)
More on Ecorse:  Data | Photos

If you live in Ecorse, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Detroit suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 9th 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.

Inkster, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 24,520
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $32,014 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $48,700 (4th lowest)
More on Inkster:  Data | Photos

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 $48,700. To put that into perspective, in Grosse Pointe, the median income is $178,894, which is the best in the area.

Inkster has an unemployment rate of 11.42% which ranks 5th worst.

Romulus, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 23,527
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Income: $51,504 (22nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $97,300 (16th lowest)
More on Romulus:  Data | Photos

Romulus has 23,527 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 17.15048669136015%.

Hamtramck, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,822
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $27,166 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $69,700 (7th lowest)
More on Hamtramck:  Data | Photos

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

It's the place with the 10th most out of work residents in the Detroit metro area (9.58%).

Melvindale, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,348
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $41,629 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.6% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $64,300 (5th lowest)
More on Melvindale:  Data | Photos

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 3most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 3rd highest unemployment rate (12.58%) in the entire Detroit metro area.

Homes only cost $64,300 for a reason. That's cheap for Detroit standards.

Wayne, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 16,976
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,875 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (26th highest)
Median Home Value: $85,100 (12th lowest)
More on Wayne:  Data | Photos

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

About 6.6% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,785
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Income: $60,924 (39th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $120,800 (22nd lowest)
More on New Haven:  Data

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

Located 28.5 miles outside the city, New Havens is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 8th highest unemployment rate (10.14%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Detroit for 2021

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 from 2015-2019, 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. You can download the data here.

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.

The areas around Detroit where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

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. Grosse Pointe takes the cake as the best place to live around Detroit.

  • Grosse Pointe
  • Birmingham
  • Huntington Woods

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Detroit Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 River Rouge 7,502 $25,517 $36,300
2 Pontiac 59,955 $33,568 $67,100
3 Highland Park 10,867 $18,474 $45,700
4 Ecorse 9,432 $28,991 $42,100
5 Inkster 24,520 $32,014 $48,700
6 Romulus 23,527 $51,504 $97,300
7 Hamtramck 21,822 $27,166 $69,700
8 Melvindale 10,348 $41,629 $64,300
9 Wayne 16,976 $46,875 $85,100
10 New Haven 4,785 $60,924 $120,800
11 Taylor 61,379 $50,053 $96,300
12 Hazel Park 16,525 $38,903 $73,600
13 Mount Clemens 16,315 $43,018 $103,100
14 Lincoln Park 36,697 $44,554 $73,700
15 Warren 134,797 $49,619 $122,300
16 Harper Woods 13,895 $48,418 $83,600
17 Roseville 47,400 $47,648 $86,400
18 Ypsilanti 20,828 $39,332 $151,300
19 Dearborn 94,701 $53,670 $143,000
20 Eastpointe 32,443 $49,849 $77,200
21 Dearborn Heights 55,857 $49,750 $113,800
22 Center Line 8,260 $45,242 $87,700
23 Carleton 2,432 $56,250 $136,400
24 Romeo 3,836 $58,668 $189,000
25 Westland 81,938 $50,710 $121,100
26 Utica 5,006 $56,033 $156,800
27 Auburn Hills 23,572 $64,186 $158,600
28 Walled Lake 7,173 $52,313 $146,900
29 Madison Heights 30,120 $53,439 $124,000
30 Flat Rock 9,967 $57,080 $150,800
31 Southfield 73,174 $55,705 $155,700
32 Keego Harbor 3,252 $47,301 $153,900
33 Riverview 12,137 $58,246 $149,400
34 Sterling Heights 132,476 $64,833 $187,600
35 Wyandotte 25,044 $54,462 $109,300
36 Oak Park 29,726 $52,584 $117,700
37 Southgate 29,165 $57,133 $112,300
38 Gibraltar 4,535 $70,078 $158,100
39 Fraser 14,580 $59,089 $149,100
40 Belleville 3,889 $52,924 $148,100
41 Woodhaven 12,518 $64,501 $159,800
42 Trenton 18,295 $67,294 $150,800
43 Rockwood 3,186 $76,313 $142,300
44 Wixom 13,902 $53,259 $249,300
45 Allen Park 27,216 $67,130 $123,800
46 St. Clair Shores 59,528 $60,805 $135,800
47 South Lyon 11,788 $73,200 $192,100
48 Farmington Hills 81,214 $83,268 $257,300
49 Livonia 94,249 $80,149 $191,500
50 Ferndale 20,137 $71,807 $162,000
51 New Baltimore 12,358 $77,730 $225,400
52 Milford 6,499 $78,446 $256,700
53 Rochester 13,162 $89,904 $366,100
54 Wolverine Lake 4,648 $85,019 $197,000
55 Clawson 11,971 $67,717 $177,500
56 Troy 83,989 $101,882 $301,500
57 Novi 60,014 $98,020 $322,100
58 Rochester Hills 74,206 $93,953 $295,000
59 Farmington 10,563 $76,102 $210,000
60 Plymouth 9,124 $83,073 $309,300
61 Royal Oak 59,195 $81,665 $224,600
62 Lake Orion 3,141 $90,099 $269,900
63 Franklin 3,310 $161,607 $611,900
64 Bloomfield Hills 4,004 $178,894 $860,800
65 Northville 6,007 $114,346 $331,400
66 Beverly Hills 10,387 $127,419 $387,400
67 Berkley 15,372 $86,905 $199,200
68 Grosse Pointe Woods 15,498 $104,848 $244,500
69 Grosse Pointe Farms 9,168 $143,711 $355,400
70 Grosse Pointe Park 11,153 $115,341 $358,400
71 Pleasant Ridge 2,431 $122,813 $346,100
72 Village Of Grosse Pointe Shores 2,767 $161,944 $523,100
73 Huntington Woods 6,322 $136,331 $362,900
74 Birmingham 21,201 $122,804 $541,500
75 Grosse Pointe 5,206 $106,932 $349,800

How Is Your Town In ?

7 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs For 2021

  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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