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.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Milwaukee too.
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
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The 10 Worst Milwaukee Suburbs To Live For 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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%).
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.
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.
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.
- Fox Point
- Elm Grove
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Detailed List Of The Worst Milwaukee Suburbs