These Are The 10 Worst Milwaukee Suburbs For 2018


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

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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 Milwaukee.

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 Milwaukee ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Milwaukee area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Milwaukee proper, although Fox Point certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Milwaukee are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…

We examined the 42 biggest suburbs of Milwaukee to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Wisconsin lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Milwaukee in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Milwaukee for 2018:

  1. Racine (Photos)
  2. Cudahy (Photos)
  3. West Allis (Photos)
  4. St. Francis (Photos)
  5. South Milwaukee
  6. Greenfield (Photos)
  7. Hartford (Photos)
  8. Sturtevant (Photos)
  9. West Bend (Photos)
  10. Mount Pleasant (Photos)

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

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

And remember, there are some good places to live around Milwaukee 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 Wisconsin reading, check out:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Milwaukee 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 Milwaukee.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 5,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 42 suburbs to evaluate around Milwaukee.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 42 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 Milwaukee.” We’re lookin’ at you, Racine.

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. Racine

Racine, Wisconsin

Population: 77,931
Unemployment Rate: 10.9%
Median Home Price: $106,400
Median Income: $41,178
More on Racine: Data | Jobs

We’ll get the ball rolling with Racine, the absolute worst place to live around Milwaukee according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Racine beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Milwaukee area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st 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 Racine.

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. Cudahy

Cudahy, Wisconsin

Population: 18,321
Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
Median Home Price: $150,400
Median Income: $46,973
More on Cudahy: Data | Jobs

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

This city is 9.6 miles to Milwaukee. Income levels here are the 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $46,973 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.

3. West Allis

West Allis, Wisconsin

Population: 60,543
Unemployment Rate: 5.8%
Median Home Price: $140,200
Median Income: $46,524
More on West Allis: Data | Jobs

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Milwaukee suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see West Allis 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 Milwaukee suburbs.

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

4. St. Francis

St. Francis, Wisconsin

Population: 9,516
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Median Home Price: $146,300
Median Income: $43,065
More on St. Francis: Data | Jobs

If you live in St. Francis, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest Milwaukee 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 Milwaukee. Remember, we looked at 42 cities for this study.

St. Francis is about 7.9 miles to downtown.

5. South Milwaukee


Population: 21,197
Unemployment Rate: 7.0%
Median Home Price: $154,300
Median Income: $52,418
More on South Milwaukee: Data | Jobs

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

All snarkiness aside, South Milwaukee has the 7th lowest home values in the metro Milwaukee area, where the median price is $154,300. To put that into perspective, in Fox Point, the median income is $119,512, which is the best in the area.

South Milwaukee has an unemployment rate of 7.0% which ranks 4th worst.

6. Greenfield

Greenfield, Wisconsin

Population: 37,070
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Median Home Price: $170,600
Median Income: $52,075
More on Greenfield: Data | Jobs

Greenfield has 37,070 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 8.9%.

7. Hartford

Hartford, Wisconsin

Population: 14,350
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Median Home Price: $174,400
Median Income: $55,169
More on Hartford: Data | Jobs

Ah, Hartford. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Milwaukee.

It’s the place with the 23rd most out of work residents in the Milwaukee metro area (3.8%).

8. Sturtevant

Sturtevant, Wisconsin

Population: 6,961
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Median Home Price: $132,100
Median Income: $63,196
More on Sturtevant: Data | Jobs

Sturtevant is a city about 25.3 miles from Milwaukee, but Milwaukee 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. Sturtevant has the 12th most uninsured people, 14th worst incomes, and has the 25th highest unemployment rate (3.7%) in the entire Milwaukee metro area.

Homes only cost $132,100 for a reason. That’s cheap for Milwaukee standards.

9. West Bend

West Bend, Wisconsin

Population: 31,661
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Median Home Price: $163,800
Median Income: $56,003
More on West Bend: Data | Jobs

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

About 4.5% of residents are out of work.

10. Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin

Population: 26,237
Unemployment Rate: 5.0%
Median Home Price: $180,100
Median Income: $63,799
More on Mount Pleasant: Data | Jobs

Rounding out the ten worst Milwaukee suburbs to call home is Mount Pleasant.

Located 24.8 miles outside the city, Mount Pleasants is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 11th highest unemployment rate (5.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Milwaukee where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Milwaukee with Racine casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Milwaukee aren’t all bad. Fox Point takes the cake as the best place to live around Milwaukee.

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Milwaukee Suburbs

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Median Home Price Median Income
1 Racine 77,931 10.9% $106,400 $41,178
2 Cudahy 18,321 7.2% $150,400 $46,973
3 West Allis 60,543 5.8% $140,200 $46,524
4 St. Francis 9,516 5.3% $146,300 $43,065
5 South Milwaukee 21,197 7.0% $154,300 $52,418
6 Greenfield 37,070 5.3% $170,600 $52,075
7 Hartford 14,350 3.8% $174,400 $55,169
8 Sturtevant 6,961 3.7% $132,100 $63,196
9 West Bend 31,661 4.5% $163,800 $56,003
10 Mount Pleasant 26,237 5.0% $180,100 $63,799
11 Waukesha 72,016 4.5% $192,400 $59,866
12 Caledonia 24,767 7.2% $191,200 $69,500
13 Jackson 6,839 4.9% $177,400 $56,444
14 Brown Deer 12,075 6.2% $145,700 $58,472
15 Slinger 5,190 4.4% $191,100 $73,302
16 Oak Creek 35,218 4.0% $209,800 $67,845
17 Port Washington 11,531 4.2% $182,800 $66,296
18 Greendale 14,303 5.4% $200,300 $64,338
19 Glendale 12,880 3.0% $207,200 $65,120
20 Mukwonago 7,549 2.5% $219,200 $64,011
21 Delafield 7,218 6.0% $346,200 $80,714
22 Pewaukee 8,225 3.5% $191,800 $57,321
23 Pewaukee 8,225 3.5% $191,800 $57,321
24 Hartland 9,195 3.2% $266,500 $68,364
25 Franklin 36,155 3.1% $224,800 $73,590
26 Oconomowoc 16,289 4.5% $239,400 $73,500
27 Shorewood 13,300 4.3% $308,600 $63,918
28 Waterford 5,344 3.6% $193,700 $71,895
29 Grafton 11,563 3.1% $201,100 $66,436
30 Cedarburg 11,516 4.3% $258,200 $79,266
31 Hales Corners 7,720 3.1% $218,700 $66,274
32 Menomonee Falls 36,118 3.3% $228,300 $74,266
33 Wauwatosa 47,388 3.8% $221,800 $70,632
34 New Berlin 39,807 2.8% $235,300 $77,795
35 Richfield 11,483 4.6% $295,600 $97,212
36 Sussex 10,716 2.7% $259,100 $81,160
37 Muskego 24,650 3.1% $271,400 $82,383
38 Brookfield 37,991 4.1% $287,500 $95,956
39 Mequon 23,663 2.9% $354,300 $104,691
40 Whitefish Bay 14,088 3.2% $350,700 $105,156
41 Elm Grove 6,085 2.5% $355,000 $119,512
42 Fox Point 6,695 1.5% $309,000 $113,854

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