Worst Small Towns In Wisconsin For 2020


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in WI are the 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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in Wisconsin.

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Most Americans have never been to Wisconsin. However, as the people who live there know, Wisconsin is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Wisconsin has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Badger State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 227 of Wisconsin's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Wisconsin where you'd never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in Wisconsin for 2020:

  1. Little Round Lake
  2. Lac du Flambeau
  3. Hurley
  4. Crandon
  5. Wautoma (Photos)
  6. Frederic
  7. Adams
  8. Ladysmith
  9. Cornell
  10. Eagle River

So what is the worst small town to call home in wisconsin for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Little Round Lake is the worst small town to live in Wisconsin.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Wisconsin has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in Wisconsin or the worst places to live in Wisconsin.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Wisconsin For 2020

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,190
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $80,300 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.3% (1st worst)
More on Little Round Lake:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,537
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $108,100 (54th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (2nd worst)
More on Lac Du Flambeau:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,533
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $61,500 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (4th worst)
More on Hurley:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,994
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $100,700 (41st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (19th worst)
More on Crandon:  Data

Wautoma, WI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,122
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $79,200 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (84th worst)
More on Wautoma:  Data | Photos

6. Frederic

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,037
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $100,200 (40th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (5th worst)
More on Frederic:

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,996
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $82,700 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (3rd worst)
More on Adams:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,188
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 12)
Median Home Value: $83,400 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (93rd worst)
More on Ladysmith:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,733
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $93,500 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (95th worst)
More on Cornell:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,550
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $123,300 (86th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (60th worst)
More on Eagle River:  Data

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Wisconsin, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in Wisconsin for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 227 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In Wisconsin

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Badger State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in Wisconsin, according to science:

  1. Cross Plains (Pop. 4,106)
  2. Shorewood Hills (Pop. 2,214)
  3. Okauchee Lake (Pop. 4,409)

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Wisconsin

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Little Round Lake 1,190 20.3% $80,300
2 Lac Du Flambeau 1,537 16.1% $108,100
3 Hurley 1,533 12.0% $61,500
4 Crandon 1,994 7.0% $100,700
5 Wautoma 2,122 4.1% $79,200
6 Frederic 1,037 10.0% $100,200
7 Adams 1,996 12.3% $82,700
8 Ladysmith 3,188 3.8% $83,400
9 Cornell 1,733 3.7% $93,500
10 Eagle River 1,550 4.8% $123,300
11 Grantsburg 1,343 5.6% $89,900
12 Wittenberg 1,074 4.3% $88,900
13 Park Falls 2,367 3.0% $73,400
14 Mil 1,115 3.2% $95,800
15 Keshena 1,377 8.4% $114,800
16 Princeton 1,233 6.9% $87,700
17 New Lisbon 2,502 6.5% $87,500
18 Cumberland 2,458 5.3% $116,100
19 Redgranite 1,991 5.7% $88,400
20 Hayward 2,533 7.8% $125,000
21 Phillips 1,437 2.1% $80,400
22 Montello 1,434 6.0% $109,300
23 Niagara 1,536 3.3% $67,100
24 Sharon 1,748 5.6% $137,400
25 Greenwood 1,009 4.6% $80,000
26 Gillett 1,104 5.2% $82,500
27 Hillsboro 1,318 5.5% $100,000
28 Stanley 3,660 2.9% $89,000
29 Glenwood City 1,295 7.5% $118,800
30 Shell Lake 1,348 9.2% $124,100
31 Muscoda 1,443 4.4% $88,300
32 Fox Lake 1,647 8.1% $121,100
33 Colby 1,989 5.4% $111,800
34 Oconto 4,469 8.0% $92,700
35 Spooner 2,591 5.2% $104,800
36 Augusta 1,566 4.7% $103,500
37 Independence 1,579 8.7% $123,500
38 Iola 1,179 6.2% $97,600
39 West Milwaukee 4,173 6.4% $134,900
40 Elroy 1,361 4.7% $83,500
41 Neillsville 2,373 4.7% $88,200
42 Lake Delton 2,984 0.0% $120,500
43 Nekoosa 2,494 4.0% $78,700
44 Cadott 1,423 3.2% $113,400
45 Wisconsin Dells 2,752 5.1% $161,900
46 Tomahawk 3,201 5.2% $136,500
47 Schofield 2,209 6.2% $103,900
48 Arcadia 3,013 3.9% $117,900
49 Mauston 4,375 3.1% $98,300
50 Marion 1,138 2.4% $90,900
51 Black River Falls 3,512 6.5% $111,800
52 Barron 3,334 1.7% $86,100
53 Peshtigo 3,383 7.2% $103,600
54 Abbotsford 2,175 1.6% $105,400
55 Loyal 1,265 4.4% $94,200
56 Colfax 1,106 4.2% $107,800
57 Thorp 1,502 3.2% $90,000
58 Medford 4,312 5.5% $108,000
59 West Baraboo 1,665 5.2% $157,100
60 Algoma 3,069 7.0% $96,900
61 Clintonville 4,384 1.3% $89,300
62 Durand 1,787 2.0% $112,200
63 Dresser 1,019 3.7% $127,500
64 Chetek 2,166 3.5% $116,000
65 Albany 1,207 5.3% $123,000
66 Blair 1,334 5.5% $94,700
67 Osceola 2,496 4.5% $140,400
68 Cameron 1,903 4.4% $113,100
69 Osseo 1,694 4.9% $121,300
70 Woodville 1,329 3.5% $123,300
71 St. Croix Falls 1,922 4.8% $158,900
72 Weyauwega 1,805 3.0% $102,800
73 Port Edwards 1,688 8.8% $99,000
74 Luck 1,165 1.6% $104,600
75 Juneau 2,686 8.9% $131,300
76 Markesan 1,260 3.4% $111,500
77 Galesville 1,794 3.7% $134,900
78 Marshall 3,965 6.6% $172,500
79 Oconto Falls 2,826 2.8% $103,700
80 Amherst 1,028 2.9% $131,500
81 Washburn 2,014 3.2% $134,900
82 Manawa 1,428 3.7% $99,200
83 Westfield 1,327 2.9% $95,400
84 Darien 1,795 6.6% $148,000
85 Westby 2,461 1.4% $113,500
86 Spring Valley 1,565 2.4% $122,500
87 Whiting 1,637 5.1% $149,800
88 Walworth 2,822 3.0% $176,600
89 Bonduel 1,378 3.9% $126,200
90 Bloomer 3,503 3.2% $133,700
91 Viroqua 4,371 0.8% $124,400
92 King 1,804 6.3% $116,000
93 Amery 2,825 4.3% $131,100
94 Stratford 1,640 2.1% $132,600
95 Mondovi 2,626 2.1% $117,000
96 Elk Mound 1,085 3.4% $120,600
97 Kewaunee 2,859 3.5% $101,700
98 Boscobel 3,150 1.6% $98,400
99 Horicon 3,623 6.4% $131,300
100 Spencer 1,808 2.6% $111,100

How Is The Area In ?

19 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Wisconsin, 2020

  1. What a bunch of idiots! Steuben has THE best prime rib you will ever have! And when a neighbor needs help, we all help out! As for crime? What a joke….we don’t HAVE any crime. Assholes!!

  2. I guess that if having a great meal at an affordable price, served by people who actually are interested in who you are and where your from, is a measure for a “small town where you’d never want to live” then I guess these towns are just that. These small communities in Wisconsin are great places to live if you like talking with your neighbors and having people wave at you when you travel thru town. These people are mostly kind, gentle, loving people who would watch each other’s kids in their yard or take a disabled person to the store EVERY week because they couldn’t go themselves. I miss living in my small home town, the one that’s 10th on your list, and would love to move back when I can. So go ahead and make your assumptions of our small little towns based on your statistics like Steuben being the 7th highest crime rate for small towns. It’s a village so it doesn’t qualify as a “town” in the first place, second there hasn’t been a serious crime there that I can remember (I lived ther from 1971 to 2013). If you want to live your life in a peaceful place check them out, if you like the big city then stay away. We like it just the way it is!

    1. Well said. The author has built a “straw man” argument, but likely wouldn’t be able to identify a real one.

  3. Wow! Been in a number of these towns and here my life. This site, who did this data, is so full of BS! From the crime rates, per capita not being correct and the unemployment rates?? Farming is a job!! Not employer paid, but ALL Farming areas. How misleading of our towns!!!

  4. Montello should be added, horrible Schools, and other reasons I do not feel comfortable posting just because I have to live here, For Now…

  5. I can not believe that Sheldon is on that list! They have the best burgers in the world and don’t forget the North Star! The families are farm families and great folks. The county fair and the park are top notch.

  6. 1st off , dangerous and ashley madison as topics in the header of this website shows it is nothing but click bait bullshit, at the expense of a few small towns who actually take care of their own. Sharing these websites only defers tourism and commerce that real positive websites info provides. Whoever is the author(cant be searched) go back to your hole and take your online degree and crappy ass stats and take some real college classes with a real professor in journalism. Pathetic.

  7. These small towns may have issues time to time but the majority of the time they are very safe and almost everyone knows each other. Most of the major cities under report many crimes and people do not seem to have the time or care to get to know this neighbor. I must admit I have not lived in Wisconsin for almost 17 years and do not care much for the winters.

  8. There’s nothing like the charm of a small town, probably including most of the towns on this list. The town I’m connected with, Almond, used to be so much more than it is now. For Almond I think it was a gathering place for farmers to come to town on Friday to go to market, drink at the tavern, do your banking, pick up your mail, etc. But big corporate farms came in, most of the farmers are now in area cemeteries, and the whole village has changed character. Stevens Point is up the road, but I was there last October and I’d have to say that’s not even the town it once was! Just my take, though. The residents love these places, I’m sure.

  9. I lived in Hatley WI for 44 years never locked my house left my keys in the car not one time in 44 years did my car or anything from my house go missing. I moved to Cleveland Ohio my first year here my truck was stolen and my windows were broken out of my van. Last weekend 5 kids were shot playing out side . I can’t wait to get back to my home town and live in peace and quiet. I Love small town living

  10. I grew up in Medford , which had a population of 2,799 back then. I had no fear of crime and feel that I got a decent 12 years of education. People knew each other and were friendly. I didn’t really know anyone who didn’t have a job. The evaluation of “small towns in Wisconsin” doesn’t include My home town due to the higher population. However, I think Wisconsin, in general, was a great place to grow up. I never lacked anything and feel about Medford as I would think that those people in the “small towns” also feel. Home is where the heart is, whether it be in a small town in Wisconsin or a crime laden city like Chicago. Personally, I’ll take the small, friendly town.

  11. i felt myself shrinking painfully a bit under the satistics and references to people based on money earned and education. you are talking about me. i understand that is used in statistics, but as i have had mensa people in my family ,and have lived among university types for years, i must say i find them no better at all , in any way, including kindness , faith , happiness ,and generosity, than the less educated and less wealthy. this is not just reverse snobbishness. i live in one of the ‘larger small towns’,certainly not on this list, and to me it is not so small. i have actually had things stolen, have had people try to break into my home while i was at home, and there is meth and other drugs here ,and just houses down from me there are plenty of users. a workman at my home, newly arrived from one of the bigger cities in the state, was surprised to see a cocaine deal made on the table of a bar/restaurant downtown at noon. I do not know what the crimes are that are used here in the statistics. it might have been helpful to break them down. as for ‘things to do’, are we spoiled children? people who live in big cities with so many things to do, often head out to remote areas for thier vacations. there is always something to do no matter where you are. and yes, farming is a job!

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