The 10 Worst Milwaukee Suburbs For 2023

We used data and Friday Night Science to identify the worst suburbs of Milwaukee for 2023. The worst Milwaukee suburbs are Racine and West Milwaukee.

The suburbs of Milwaukee call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Milwaukee to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

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 Saturday Night Science to determine which Milwaukee ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Milwaukee area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Milwaukee proper, although Summit certainly tries.

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

We examined the 56 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.

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Milwaukee? Racine ranks as the worst suburb of Milwaukee for 2023 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

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.

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

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Milwaukee Suburbs To Live For 2023

Racine, WI

Source: Wikipedia User Racine2020 | CC BY-SA 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 77,705
Median Income: $48,238 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $125,600 (lowest)
More on Racine:

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 2nd worst in the Milwaukee 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 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,108
Median Income: $43,823 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $155,900 (3rd lowest)
More on West Milwaukee:

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

This city is 3.5 miles to Milwaukee. Income levels here are the lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $43,823 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.

Sturtevant, WI

Source: Wikipedia User Wasted Time R | CC BY 3.0
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Population: 6,970
Median Income: $74,688 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $188,100 (8th lowest)
More on Sturtevant:

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

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

West Allis, WI

Source: Wikipedia User Panoramio upload bot | CC BY 3.0
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Population: 60,220
Median Income: $58,738 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $155,700 (2nd lowest)
More on West Allis:

If you live in West Allis, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Milwaukee 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 Milwaukee. Remember, we looked at 56 cities for this study.

West Allis is about 5.0 miles to downtown.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,785
Median Income: $61,046 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (17th highest)
Median Home Value: $170,900 (6th lowest)
More on South Milwaukee:

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 6th lowest home values in the metro Milwaukee area, where the median price is $170,900. The median income is $150,189.

South Milwaukee has an unemployment rate of 3.48% which ranks 17th worst.

Hartford, WI

Source: Wikipedia User Shadowe | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,526
Median Income: $65,986 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (25th highest)
Median Home Value: $207,600 (11th lowest)
More on Hartford:

Hartford has 15,526 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 7.821627937167338%.

West Bend, WI

Source: Wikipedia User Mjrichter at English Wikipedia | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 31,639
Median Income: $66,980 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (16th highest)
Median Home Value: $191,300 (9th lowest)
More on West Bend:

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

It’s the place with the 16th most out of work residents in the Milwaukee metro area (3.62%).

St. Francis, WI

Source: Wikipedia User The original uploader was Sulfur at English Wikipedia | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,254
Median Income: $48,573 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.1% (39th highest)
Median Home Value: $169,600 (5th lowest)
More on St. Francis:

St. Francis is a city about 7.9 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. St. Francis has the 7th most uninsured people, 3rd worst incomes, and has the 39th highest unemployment rate (2.15%) in the entire Milwaukee metro area.

Homes only cost $169,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Milwaukee standards.

Greenfield, WI

Source: Wikipedia User The original uploader was Sulfur at English Wikipedia | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 37,623
Median Income: $62,806 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (19th highest)
Median Home Value: $196,400 (10th lowest)
More on Greenfield:

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

About 3.35% of residents are out of work.

Mount Pleasant, WI

Source: Wikipedia User | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 27,572
Median Income: $81,053 (27th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (32nd highest)
Median Home Value: $222,400 (18th lowest)
More on Mount Pleasant:

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 32nd highest unemployment rate (2.59%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Milwaukee for 2023

To figure out how bad a Milwaukee suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

It’s Saturday Night Science.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, 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 Milwaukee.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 1,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 56 suburbs to evaluate around Milwaukee.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 56 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 looking at you, Racine.

We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Milwaukee.

Summary: The areas around Milwaukee where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023

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. Summit takes the cake as the best place to live around Milwaukee.

  • Summit
  • Fox Point
  • Elm Grove

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Milwaukee Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Racine 77,705 $48,238 $125,600
2 West Milwaukee 4,108 $43,823 $155,900
3 Sturtevant 6,970 $74,688 $188,100
4 West Allis 60,220 $58,738 $155,700
5 South Milwaukee 20,785 $61,046 $170,900
6 Hartford 15,526 $65,986 $207,600
7 West Bend 31,639 $66,980 $191,300
8 St. Francis 9,254 $48,573 $169,600
9 Greenfield 37,623 $62,806 $196,400
10 Mount Pleasant 27,572 $81,053 $222,400
11 Waukesha 71,307 $71,733 $232,700
12 Fredonia 2,370 $84,063 $212,200
13 Cudahy 18,197 $63,419 $164,900
14 Jackson 7,131 $88,661 $227,800
15 Caledonia 25,288 $87,961 $226,900
16 Pewaukee 8,203 $59,569 $219,500
17 Pewaukee 8,203 $59,569 $219,500
18 Brown Deer 12,562 $75,536 $174,900
19 Glendale 13,313 $78,027 $230,100
20 Saukville 4,294 $67,206 $222,800
21 Mukwonago 8,255 $84,965 $262,400
22 Franklin 36,685 $89,927 $280,000
23 Dousman 2,476 $75,976 $306,900
24 Hartland 9,457 $88,382 $297,400
25 Port Washington 12,273 $70,333 $219,500
26 Oak Creek 36,266 $80,817 $248,800
27 Slinger 5,946 $84,955 $278,100
28 Union Grove 4,877 $95,952 $211,900
29 East Troy 4,683 $69,688 $209,600
30 Oconomowoc 17,969 $95,914 $290,500
31 Eagle 1,967 $102,250 $260,000
32 Greendale 14,735 $78,310 $240,000
33 Rochester 3,765 $91,667 $298,600
34 Waterford 5,541 $77,571 $240,000
35 Grafton 12,081 $77,518 $250,100
36 Menomonee Falls 38,219 $90,636 $275,300
37 Sussex 11,398 $96,837 $306,000
38 New Berlin 40,289 $87,248 $282,300
39 Muskego 24,991 $104,082 $324,100
40 Hales Corners 7,704 $84,643 $251,300
41 Wales 2,848 $106,618 $316,000
42 Thiensville 3,284 $78,250 $275,400
43 Delafield 7,172 $87,045 $383,100
44 Wauwatosa 48,072 $90,420 $260,700
45 Shorewood 13,734 $81,016 $357,000
46 Merton 3,445 $150,189 $447,600
47 Brookfield 41,020 $110,616 $346,000
48 Cedarburg 12,109 $79,935 $339,100
49 Bayside 4,579 $114,814 $349,000
50 Mequon 24,814 $135,425 $402,900
51 Whitefish Bay 14,818 $134,324 $410,300
52 Richfield 11,704 $119,445 $359,800
53 North Prairie 2,450 $132,043 $342,000
54 Elm Grove 6,456 $115,459 $412,800
55 Fox Point 6,886 $120,714 $344,600
56 Summit 4,860 $121,875 $424,200
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.

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