Michigan, the land of wolverines, lakes, and outdoor adventures, is often regarded as one of the prettiest states in the US. With its picturesque farms and friendly people, it’s hard not to fall in love with the state. However, just like every other state, Michigan has its fair share of good and bad areas.
In this article, we will take a tour of the 10 worst cities to live in Michigan, based on various factors such as crime rates, poverty levels, and overall quality of life. Some of these cities have been personally visited and experienced, while others have been suggested by viewers. Let’s dive into the list and explore these places further.
1. Inkster: Struggling with Crime and Poverty
Located in Wayne County, halfway between downtown Detroit and the airport, Inkster tops our list as one of the worst cities to live in Michigan. This small city is known for its high crime rates and poverty. In fact, Inkster holds the 11th spot for the most dangerous city in Michigan.
Once a home to hardworking Americans employed in Henry Ford’s Dearborn factories, Inkster has seen a decline in prosperity over the years. Today, you can purchase a home here for as low as $25,000, with a monthly mortgage payment as low as $162. However, the city is often described as “ghetto,” with a strong presence of gangs and an embrace of the “hood life.”
2. Battle Creek: Struggling with Crime and Education
Moving east on our tour, we arrive in Battle Creek, also known as “Battle Crack” among Michiganders. While Battle Creek may not rank terribly on many statistics, it’s infamous for its high crime rates and poor educational opportunities for children. In fact, one website even named Battle Creek the second-worst city in the US to raise kids.
Despite these challenges, Battle Creek remains a leading center for cereal manufacturers, with a long history of cereal production. However, many cereal jobs have relocated, leaving a significant impact on the local economy. It is hoped that Battle Creek can rebound and revitalize its community.
3. Jackson: Experience the Contrasting Sides
A short drive from Battle Creek brings us to Jackson, or “Little Detroit” as it is sometimes referred to. While certain parts of Jackson, especially near downtown, face issues like crime and drugs, the city still offers good auto-related job opportunities for those willing to pursue them.
Noteworthy people hailing from Jackson include the iconic actor James Earl Jones and a few notable athletes. Despite its challenges, Jackson shows potential for growth and improvement.
4. Lansing: The Capital with Mixed Reviews
Michigan’s capital city, Lansing, finds itself on our list, not because it is terrible, but due to mixed reviews from its residents. While Lansing may not have abysmal statistics on paper, it falls into the lower range in terms of crime rates, incomes, and poverty levels.
Lansing hides both good and bad parts, with nearby East Lansing being home to Michigan State University. Visitors may find it challenging to pinpoint any significant negatives about Lansing, but it still made the list due to viewer requests.
5. Muskegon Heights and Highland Park: Struggling Small Communities
Next on our tour are two small communities, Muskegon Heights and Highland Park. With populations of around 10,000 people each, these towns face unique challenges. Muskegon Heights contends with a high unemployment rate, chronic poverty, and an exceedingly high crime rate, making it the most violent place in the state statistically.
Meanwhile, Highland Park, located just outside of Detroit, boasts the title of the second most dangerous place per capita in Michigan, with about half of its population living in poverty. However, both locations are working towards revitalization with the construction of new facilities and community development initiatives.
6. Pontiac: A City Long Neglected
Pontiac, often overlooked and struggling with economic burdens, comes next on our tour. The city faces challenges such as high unemployment rates, low home values, and an alarming rate of violent crimes. Pontiac was greatly affected by the decline of the automobile industry, leading to significant job losses and the subsequent closures of various city departments, such as the police and fire departments.
Despite these setbacks, Pontiac shows signs of progress with discussions of financial stability and new business investments, offering hope for revitalization. Millennials are leading the way in the city’s transformation, creating a positive shift for the community.
7. Saginaw: A Tale of Two Cities
Making our way up north near Bay City, we arrive in Saginaw, or as it is colloquially known, “Sag Nasty.” Once a thriving city, Saginaw now faces high poverty rates and the loss of manufacturing and lumber jobs. The city struggles with blight and crime, with approximately 2,000 buildings requiring demolition.
Saginaw has differentiated areas, with New Saginaw being in better condition compared to the older parts of the city. However, the east side of Saginaw experiences the worst conditions overall. Efforts are underway to combat these issues and create a more prosperous future for Saginaw.
8. Benton Harbor: A Struggle for Employment and Safety
Next on our list is Benton Harbor, often referred to as “Benton Harlem” by residents. While the name may sound disrespectful, Benton Harbor faces significant difficulties such as high unemployment rates, high dropout rates, and a crime rate that ranks third highest in the state.
The unemployment rate in Benton Harbor is staggering, leading to a high dependence on welfare. Riots in 2003 further disrupted the community, and parts of the city still struggle to recover. However, recent developments such as the construction of a championship PGA course, trendy restaurants, breweries, shops, marinas, and hotels offer signs of hope for Benton Harbor.
9. Detroit: The Struggling Motor City
Known for its historical significance in the automobile industry, Detroit has faced numerous challenges and struggles. Demolished areas stand as a reminder of the city’s decline, with high crime rates and a significant poverty level. Detroit has even gained national attention for its murders, which account for half of all homicides in the state.
While efforts to revitalize Detroit have been made, the city continues to struggle with economic and social issues. The city’s past contributions to manufacturing and innovation, as well as its resilient residents, are commendable and vital to the nation’s growth.
10. Flint: A City in Crisis
Finally, we conclude our tour in Flint, the most infamous city on our list. Known for its devastating water crisis, Flint faces high levels of crime and poverty. The decline of the automobile industry played a significant role in the city’s struggles, leading to job losses and a mass exodus of residents.
Flint, like many other cities we’ve encountered, should explore new industries to attract further development and opportunities. Despite its challenges, efforts have been made to clean up downtown Flint and introduce new establishments and attractions. A championship PGA course has been built, boosting the city’s prospects for the future.
In describing these cities, it’s important not to dismiss the hard work and efforts of the residents who still strive for a better future in challenging circumstances. While this tour focused on the negatives, it’s crucial to recognize the pride and resilience that Michiganders possess.
Michigan truly is a beautiful state, but it’s essential to acknowledge and address the struggles that exist within its borders. By shining a light on these issues, we can gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by these communities and work towards a brighter future for all Michiganders.