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Milwaukee's neighborhoods conjure up too many stereotypes to count. You've got hipster areas, preppy places, neighborhoods where college kids thrive, and of course, ghettos.
It seems as if there's a neighborhood for everyone in Milwaukee.
And while the city consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the country thanks in part to a strong economy and tons of entertainment, it's not all rainbows and sunshine in Milwaukee. Some neighborhoods aren't as great as others.
So the question arises, which Milwaukee neighborhoods are the worst, and which are the best?
Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Milwaukee hoods need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Milwaukee area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the neighborhoods to be amazing, although Downer Woods ranks way above the rest.
We examined 179 of Milwaukee's neighborhoods to find out the worst places to live. These places don't quite measure up to Milwaukee's reputation.
So what's the worst neighborhood to live in Milwaukee for 2022? According to the most recent census data, Metcalfe Park looks to be the worst neighborhood in Milwaukee.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Milwaukee that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
Once you're done, you can look at the bottom of the story for a complete chart of every neighborhood we looked at from worst to best. Looking for places to avoid outside of the city? You can also check out the worst suburbs of Milwaukee.
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Wisconsin
- Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin
- Most Dangerous Cities In Wisconsin
The 10 Worst Neighborhoods In Milwaukee For 2022
Sitting northwest of downtown, Metcalfe Park is a small, square area. Despite its name, it doesn't have that much in the way of green space. You'll find the namesake park and Butterfly Park in the southwest corner of the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, there's a string of shops and restaurants along North Ave. Otherwise, the rest of the section is largely residential.
The strike against Metcalfe Park comes down to economics. Finding a job is extremely difficult, with an unemployment rate hitting 12.8%. At the same time, the available jobs don't pay very well. The median income stands at $22,064.
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $53,175 (11th worst)
Median Income: $22,064 (9th worst)
More on Metcalfe Park: Data
Yes, Triangle North is shaped like a triangle. And, yes, it's located north of downtown. No surprises there.
Specifically, the neighborhood is bounded on the east by I-43, on the west by Fond Du Lac Ave., and on the north by, well...North Ave. In terms of amenities, you have a concentrated commercial strip along North Ave., plus a bunch of surrounding parks, including Lloyd Park toward the southern end of the area.
Otherwise, the residents of Triangle North face a dumpster-fire economy. This includes double-digit unemployment rates and a median income that hovers around the $25,000 mark.
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $72,660 (34th worst)
Median Income: $24,584 (14th worst)
More on Triangle North: Data
Halyard Park is part of a cluster of areas on the north side that make this list. Like its sister neighborhoods, it ends up as the number 3 worst spot in Milwaukee for 2022 because of a stifling economic environment.
Specifically, Halyard Park faces crippling unemployment and a dearth of livable wages. The jobless rate stands at 11.9%. At the same time, the median income equals just $24,730.
Still, despite these challenges, Halyard Park shows a ton of neighborhood pride and a persistent sense of history. You can see it in places like St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church and at America's Black Holocaust Museum, located in the region.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $70,650 (30th worst)
Median Income: $24,730 (15th worst)
More on Halyard Park: Data
Predictably, North Division stands north of downtown. So north, in fact, that North Ave. represents its southern border. The square neighborhood is otherwise bounded by 20th St. on the west, I-43 on the east and Burleigh St. on the north.
Part of the northern boundary is also taken up by Union Cemetery. It features "residents" going back to the 1850s, as well as at least one U.S. Congressman, who died in the early 20th century.
Besides hundred-year-old corpses, what can you find in the North Division? Well, not good-paying jobs, that's for sure. In fact, the median income comes in at a paltry $22,031.
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $45,575 (4th worst)
Median Income: $22,031 (8th worst)
More on North Division: Data
Ah, Hillside. Sounds like an ideal spot. Visions come to mind of a Saturday picnic on the slope of a picturesque knoll, surrounded by fragrant grass and dotted with brightly colored wildflowers.
Well, there's a couple parks in Hillside, like James W. Beckum Park and Carver Park, but nothing like that idyllic scene we described. In fact, this neighborhood is probably better called "Highwayside"...after all, the area is bounded on two sides by major traffic arteries.
Proximity to an interstate is either good or bad, depending on your point of view. However, there's nothing ambiguous about the economic situation. All bad. In fact, it's tough to find jobs that even pay more than $20,000 in Hillside.
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $23,633 (2nd worst)
Median Income: $18,505 (worst)
More on Hillside: Data
You've got the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. You've also got Williamsburg, Virginia, a place where people dress like it's the 18th century and give demonstrations of old-timey technology, like how to shoe a horse or how to make candles.
Now we've got the Milwaukee version. How does it hold up? Well, no people in hoop skirts or knee britches. Also, there isn't even that much cause to demonstrate modern technology. Work in general is hard to find. And you don't just have to be a candle maker or horse-shoer to find yourself without a gig.
The overall unemployment rate comes in at 10.1%. At the same time, wages are low. The median income sits at $24,766.
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $71,980 (33rd worst)
Median Income: $24,766 (16th worst)
More on Williamsburg: Data
You have to keep your guard up when dealing with real estate agents. Their job is to sell houses. So neighborhoods get names like Garden Homes. Sounds like an estate in the English countryside, surrounded by rose bushes and a riding track for your pony.
Well, you won't find that kind of garden home here. Instead, you've got an urban neighborhood on the north side of the city...one that also counts as the number 7 worst area of Milwaukee for 2022.
As has become the habit on this list so far, you can blame financial stress for diminished state of the neighborhood. Once again, here's a location plagued by high unemployment and low median incomes.
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $35,140 (3rd worst)
Median Income: $27,673 (30th worst)
More on Garden Homes: Data
There are a lot of cultural associations related to clock towers. In 1966, a guy named Charles Whitman went up a tower in Texas and shot a bunch of people with a rifle. So there's that image to contend with. Meanwhile, you've got the clock tower in Back to the Future, which gets struck by lightning as part of the movie's climax. Another less-than-stellar mental connection that jumps to mind when you hear the term "clock tower."
Well, Clock Tower Acres isn't likely to erase those memories. In fact, it will probably add to those negative affiliations. Located in the southern part of the city, along I-94, it struggles to provide enough jobs for its residents. As a result, the area ends up with a median income of $26,556 and an unemployment rate of 8.8%.
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $50,467 (8th worst)
Median Income: $26,556 (23rd worst)
More on Clock Tower Acres: Data
Want to buy an apartment in New York City's Central Park West? It might cost you a few million dollars. Want a house in Milwaukee's Park West? A little more affordable. The median home value equals $51,536.
So that's one for Park West vs. one of the nicest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Anything else in its favor? Um...well...honestly, it gets a little hard from there. This neighborhood in the northwest part of Milwaukee gets ground down by a jagged economic situation. It only supports a median income of $21,585, while the unemployment rate comes in at 12.2%.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $51,536 (9th worst)
Median Income: $21,585 (7th worst)
More on Park West: Data
You're not going to live like a king in King Park. Quite the opposite. After all, this counts as number 10 on a list of the worst neighborhoods in Milwaukee for 2022.
But how bad is it? Well, let's start with the median income of $20,025. Hardly a king's ransom. But at least the people earning their $20K can claim a job. That's a lot in a neighborhood where the unemployment rate reaches 9.2%.
Still, there are points of pride in the area. Residents can take a royal stroll through the actual King Park, located in the middle of the neighborhood.
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $45,840 (5th worst)
Median Income: $20,025 (4th worst)
More on King Park: Data
Methodology: How we determined the worst Milwaukee neighborhoods in 2022
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 places have the least amount of those things. We threw the following criteria into this analysis in order to get the best, most complete results possible. We used this set of criteria for each neighborhood in Milwaukee:
- High unemployment (Less jobs)
- Low median income (Less pay)
- Low population density (No things to do)
- Low home values (No one's willing to pay to live here)
- High crime (Estimated)
Then, we ranked each neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for each of these criteria from worst to best.
Next, we averaged the individual rankings for each criteria into a "Worst Score".
The neighborhood with the lowest "Worst Score" ranks as the worst neighborhood of Milwaukee.
Read on below to learn more about these terrible places around Milwaukee to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 179 neighborhoods ranked from worst to best.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Hold on to your pants.
Summary: The Worst Neighborhoods Around Milwaukee
Well there you have it -- the worst of the neighborhoods in Milwaukee with Metcalfe Park landing at the bottom of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the neighborhoods in Milwaukee aren't all bad. Downer Woods takes the cake as the best place to live in Milwaukee.
We ranked the neighborhoods from worst to best in the chart below.
For more Wisconsin reading, check out: