The 10 Worst Milwaukee Suburbs For 2021


We used science and data to determine which Milwaukee 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 Milwaukee.

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..

We examined the 58 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.

What's the worst suburb of Milwaukee? West Milwaukee ranks as the worst suburb of Milwaukee for 2021 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.

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:

The 10 Worst Milwaukee Suburbs To Live For 2021

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,146
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,591 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (highest)
Median Home Value: $137,500 (2nd lowest)
More on West Milwaukee:  Data

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

And in the world of worst rankings, West Milwaukee beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the worst in the Milwaukee 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 West Milwaukee.

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.

Racine, WI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 77,081
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $44,056 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $108,700 (lowest)
More on Racine:  Data | Photos

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

This city is 24.5 miles to Milwaukee. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $44,056 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.

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 20,957
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $52,678 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $162,000 (7th lowest)
More on South Milwaukee:  Data

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

Sturtevant, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 6,606
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $65,718 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $160,200 (6th lowest)
More on Sturtevant:  Data | Photos

If you live in Sturtevant, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 15th lowest Milwaukee suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 13th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Milwaukee. Remember, we looked at 58 cities for this study.

Sturtevant is about 25.3 miles to downtown.

West Allis, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 60,025
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $52,325 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $146,100 (3rd lowest)
More on West Allis:  Data | Photos

West Allis has the distinction of being a Milwaukee suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, West Allis has the 3rd lowest home values in the metro Milwaukee area, where the median price is $146,100. To put that into perspective, in Fox Point, the median income is $154,464, which is the best in the area.

West Allis has an unemployment rate of 3.73% which ranks 12th worst.

Hartford, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,977
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Income: $56,784 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $188,000 (12th lowest)
More on Hartford:  Data | Photos

Hartford has 14,977 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 8.927003849010736%.

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 4,442
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $52,329 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (28th highest)
Median Home Value: $188,300 (13th lowest)
More on Saukville:  Data

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

It's the place with the 28th most out of work residents in the Milwaukee metro area (2.69%).

Mount Pleasant, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 26,928
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 6)
Median Income: $69,485 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (17th highest)
Median Home Value: $190,800 (14th lowest)
More on Mount Pleasant:  Data | Photos

Mount Pleasant is a city about 24.8 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. Mount Pleasant has the 18th most uninsured people, 19th worst incomes, and has the 17th highest unemployment rate (3.15%) in the entire Milwaukee metro area.

Homes only cost $190,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Milwaukee standards.

St. Francis, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 9,549
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Income: $44,426 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (45th highest)
Median Home Value: $152,000 (4th lowest)
More on St. Francis:  Data | Photos

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

About 1.78% of residents are out of work.

Waukesha, WI

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 72,412
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Median Income: $65,260 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (20th highest)
Median Home Value: $212,700 (23rd lowest)
More on Waukesha:  Data | Photos

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

Located 14.6 miles outside the city, Waukeshas is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 20th highest unemployment rate (3.05%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Milwaukee 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 Milwaukee.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 58 suburbs to evaluate around Milwaukee.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 58 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, West Milwaukee. 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 Milwaukee where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Milwaukee with West Milwaukee 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.

  • Fox Point
  • Elm Grove
  • Whitefish Bay

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Milwaukee Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 West Milwaukee 4,146 $41,591 $137,500
2 Racine 77,081 $44,056 $108,700
3 South Milwaukee 20,957 $52,678 $162,000
4 Sturtevant 6,606 $65,718 $160,200
5 West Allis 60,025 $52,325 $146,100
6 Hartford 14,977 $56,784 $188,000
7 Saukville 4,442 $52,329 $188,300
8 Mount Pleasant 26,928 $69,485 $190,800
9 St. Francis 9,549 $44,426 $152,000
10 Waukesha 72,412 $65,260 $212,700
11 Greenfield 37,099 $60,788 $177,800
12 Jackson 7,081 $70,974 $209,800
13 Cudahy 18,271 $56,795 $152,900
14 Union Grove 4,963 $67,405 $174,100
15 Eagle 2,063 $80,417 $221,600
16 Caledonia 25,120 $80,659 $208,600
17 East Troy 4,316 $70,389 $191,700
18 West Bend 31,596 $60,910 $174,500
19 Oak Creek 36,066 $74,840 $231,200
20 Port Washington 11,761 $68,167 $197,900
21 Dousman 2,368 $66,792 $273,500
22 Brown Deer 11,965 $63,884 $167,100
23 Rochester 3,811 $90,377 $243,200
24 Pewaukee 8,164 $60,909 $211,100
25 Pewaukee 8,164 $60,909 $211,100
26 Pewaukee 8,164 $60,909 $211,100
27 Pewaukee 8,164 $60,909 $211,100
28 Franklin 36,064 $82,569 $251,400
29 Fredonia 2,459 $76,532 $198,800
30 Delafield 7,457 $86,897 $387,200
31 Wales 2,581 $98,125 $292,800
32 Grafton 11,646 $75,963 $234,800
33 Slinger 5,389 $78,387 $257,100
34 Glendale 12,943 $77,584 $220,900
35 Greendale 14,176 $71,786 $216,800
36 Muskego 24,946 $95,242 $291,700
37 Hales Corners 7,646 $77,041 $226,000
38 Oconomowoc 16,698 $88,662 $259,200
39 Mukwonago 8,035 $78,692 $239,400
40 Shorewood 13,290 $74,745 $338,400
41 Menomonee Falls 37,160 $82,396 $247,300
42 Thiensville 3,157 $73,007 $253,600
43 Wauwatosa 47,971 $82,392 $242,800
44 Sussex 10,833 $91,387 $286,300
45 Waterford 5,452 $87,929 $211,500
46 New Berlin 39,718 $83,488 $259,800
47 Cedarburg 11,527 $88,487 $303,500
48 Hartland 9,268 $90,968 $292,500
49 Brookfield 38,358 $108,198 $318,800
50 Mequon 24,144 $116,486 $407,000
51 Richfield 11,690 $105,441 $323,700
52 Merton 3,672 $154,464 $448,600
53 North Prairie 2,352 $106,688 $272,600
54 Bayside 4,558 $101,231 $341,300
55 Summit 4,917 $113,854 $403,000
56 Whitefish Bay 13,972 $124,397 $387,000
57 Elm Grove 6,153 $106,058 $370,500
58 Fox Point 6,650 $117,903 $325,700

How Is Your Town In ?