These Are The 10 Worst Detroit Suburbs For 2019


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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the worst suburbs around Detroit.

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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 2019:

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

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:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Detroit for 2019

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 2013-2017, 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.

River Rouge, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,559
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,671 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 21.6% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $34,800 (2nd 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 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.

Highland Park, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,955
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $15,699 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 29.4% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $33,500 (1st lowest)
More on Highland Park:  Data | Photos

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 $15,699 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.

Pontiac, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 60,039
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,401 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $56,300 (7th lowest)
More on Pontiac:  Data | Photos

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.

Ecorse, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 9,321
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $23,556 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.8% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $37,900 (3rd 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 2nd 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.

Inkster, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 24,670
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $32,379 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $44,300 (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 $44,300. To put that into perspective, in Huntington Woods, the median income is $186,563, which is the best in the area.

Inkster has an unemployment rate of 13.1% which ranks 5th worst.

Hamtramck, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 21,959
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $24,369 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.9% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $53,900 (5th lowest)
More on Hamtramck:  Data | Photos

Hamtramck has 21,959 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 50.9%.

Melvindale, MI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 10,432
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $39,056 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $60,100 (8th lowest)
More on Melvindale:  Data | Photos

Ah, Melvindale. 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 (10.0%).

Romulus, MI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 23,479
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $46,724 (22nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $77,900 (15th lowest)
More on Romulus:  Data | Photos

Romulus is a city about 17.4 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. Romulus has the 29th most uninsured people, 22nd worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (11.1%) in the entire Detroit metro area.

Homes only cost $77,900 for a reason. That’s cheap for Detroit standards.

Wayne, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 17,090
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $42,055 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $68,700 (13th 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 7.8% of residents are out of work.

Taylor, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 61,648
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $44,435 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $81,200 (16th lowest)
More on Taylor:  Data | Photos

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 13th highest unemployment rate (9.6%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Detroit where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019

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.

  • Huntington Woods
  • Birmingham
  • Pleasant Ridge

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Detroit Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 River Rouge 7,559 $29,671 $34,800
2 Highland Park 10,955 $15,699 $33,500
3 Pontiac 60,039 $31,401 $56,300
4 Ecorse 9,321 $23,556 $37,900
5 Inkster 24,670 $32,379 $44,300
6 Hamtramck 21,959 $24,369 $53,900
7 Melvindale 10,432 $39,056 $60,100
8 Romulus 23,479 $46,724 $77,900
9 Wayne 17,090 $42,055 $68,700
10 Taylor 61,648 $44,435 $81,200
11 Mount Clemens 16,383 $39,537 $87,000
12 Center Line 8,299 $37,958 $63,700
13 Hazel Park 16,587 $35,148 $55,500
14 Lincoln Park 37,028 $42,119 $64,700
15 Warren 135,147 $45,611 $102,100
16 Dearborn 95,295 $50,329 $124,200
17 Harper Woods 13,890 $46,853 $67,800
18 Roseville 47,617 $43,341 $71,600
19 Romeo 4,016 $55,208 $167,800
20 Ypsilanti 20,804 $35,896 $136,700
21 Dearborn Heights 56,201 $47,794 $93,600
22 Madison Heights 30,173 $46,687 $91,300
23 Eastpointe 32,601 $46,512 $64,700
24 New Haven 4,714 $55,972 $115,400
25 Westland 82,172 $46,230 $105,400
26 Utica 4,873 $55,221 $136,100
27 Southfield 73,228 $52,470 $124,300
28 Belleville 3,880 $45,223 $127,700
29 Auburn Hills 22,644 $58,438 $134,600
30 Carleton 2,364 $57,500 $110,100
31 Oak Park 29,824 $51,498 $90,600
32 Keego Harbor 3,124 $44,080 $114,500
33 Walled Lake 7,174 $49,811 $129,100
34 Riverview 12,192 $53,936 $132,500
35 Southgate 29,291 $51,808 $95,400
36 Sterling Heights 131,996 $62,344 $164,700
37 Wyandotte 25,175 $54,709 $89,700
38 Gibraltar 4,536 $62,167 $132,900
39 Fraser 14,616 $53,328 $128,000
40 Flat Rock 9,889 $63,375 $131,900
41 Ferndale 20,159 $61,060 $131,100
42 Wixom 13,777 $49,682 $227,600
43 Woodhaven 12,565 $60,099 $144,000
44 St. Clair Shores 59,865 $56,674 $114,200
45 Trenton 18,392 $59,943 $132,100
46 South Lyon 11,695 $63,876 $171,100
47 New Baltimore 12,315 $76,655 $206,700
48 Allen Park 27,406 $69,134 $108,900
49 Wolverine Lake 4,483 $82,893 $174,100
50 Livonia 94,708 $74,882 $170,500
51 Farmington Hills 81,235 $76,637 $230,000
52 Rockwood 3,197 $64,904 $120,300
53 Clawson 12,006 $62,969 $155,900
54 Troy 83,336 $93,017 $269,800
55 Novi 58,835 $88,667 $290,600
56 Rochester Hills 73,458 $87,475 $264,400
57 Milford 6,449 $74,779 $215,300
58 Farmington 10,560 $66,453 $177,100
59 Rochester 12,987 $81,650 $333,000
60 Franklin 3,218 $149,491 $539,400
61 Royal Oak 58,973 $74,140 $191,700
62 Plymouth 9,005 $80,104 $267,400
63 Grosse Pointe Woods 15,678 $95,697 $205,000
64 Lake Orion 3,116 $85,301 $266,100
65 Northville 5,998 $107,500 $320,700
66 Bloomfield Hills 3,981 $186,563 $840,300
67 Berkley 15,269 $77,772 $172,800
68 Grosse Pointe Park 11,240 $105,161 $332,000
69 Village Of Grosse Pointe Shores 2,910 $156,842 $452,400
70 Grosse Pointe 5,241 $95,887 $325,500
71 Grosse Pointe Farms 9,238 $132,390 $298,400
72 Beverly Hills 10,424 $111,765 $341,500
73 Pleasant Ridge 2,365 $102,287 $295,900
74 Birmingham 20,836 $114,537 $467,700
75 Huntington Woods 6,347 $125,873 $321,400

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