Michigan’s Tiny Troublemakers: Top 10 Worst Small Towns


Michigan is home to some of the most stunning scenic routes, popular tourist attractions, and lively small towns in the United States. However, behind the picturesque exterior, some of Michigan’s small towns pack a punch when it comes to being the worst. We have compiled a list of the top 10 worst small towns in Michigan that are sure to make you cringe. Brace yourself, this is not for the faint-hearted!

H2: The Criteria for selecting the worst small towns in Michigan

High Crime Rates**

An alarming crime rate is a major reason why a town makes it to our list of the worst small towns. We have analyzed the crime rate data of different towns to come up with a comprehensive list.

Poor Governance

Bad governance and administration can lead to a decline in the quality of life in a town. Our list takes a hard look at the governance of the small towns included.

Lack of Opportunities**

Towns that have fewer opportunities for job seekers, entrepreneurs, or budding artists are less likely to be appealing to people. A significant consideration in compiling this list was the opportunities available in a town.

Limited access to amenities and public services

Access to affordable medical facilities, quality education, and public transportation are crucial factors to consider before calling a town the worst.

General Discomfort

The discomfort quotient is also a major factor in determining the worst small town in Michigan. Factors such as extreme weather, underdeveloped infrastructure, and lack of social cohesion can make a town a hangout spot for misery lovers.

H2: The Top 10 Worst Small Towns in Michigan


Located in northern Michigan, Hesperia makes it to the top of our list. With a population of fewer than 1,000 residents, the town is notorious for its high crime rates, especially during the summer months.

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The quaint town of Onaway is undoubtedly beautiful, but it has been included in our top ten for several reasons, such as the lack of job opportunities, poor infrastructure, and a higher than average rate of drug abuse.


Vassar is a small town that is seen by many as a living representative of the negativities we have come to associate with small-town living. The town is infamous for reasons such as poor living conditions, lack of amenities, and deteriorating infrastructure.

Rose City

This idyllic town in northeast Michigan is not as beautiful as it seems. It has experienced a decrease in population over the years due to limited career opportunities, poor living conditions, and a high crime rate.


Hillman is another beautiful small town in Michigan that has made it to our list of the worst small towns. With a population of just over 700 people, the town suffers from a lack of adequate healthcare facilities, uninviting winter weather, and a dwindling main street.


Morley is a small town in Mecosta County that has been described as a “poverty pocket.” Morley has a fewer opportunities, and the challenges of drug abuse, poverty, and lack of basic amenities make it a hard place to live.


Hart has all the right ingredients to be a pleasant town, but the lack of job opportunities and political instability make it a less attractive place. Additionally, the persistent nature of odors from the nearby dairy farm cannot be ignored.

Au Train

Au Train is located in the north-central upper peninsula of Michigan. As much as the town has a picturesque beauty, it ranks poorly in access to adequate medical care, job opportunities, and public transportation.


Newberry made our list because of its high poverty rate, uninspiring job market, a general lack of amenities, and limited entertainment opportunities.

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Ontonagon is small with only about 1,300 residents. Still, it ranks highly on the list of worst small towns due to the lack of diversity, limited opportunities for growth, and poor healthcare.

H2: A Helpful Table

Town Population Average Property Value Median Household Income Crime Rate Rank
Hesperia 938 $64,000 $38,410 High 1
Onaway 880 $75,000 $30,795 Average 2
Vassar 2,624 $62,000 $33,734 High 3
Rose City 649 $59,000 $28,438 High 4
Hillman 707 $52,000 $37,500 Average 5
Morley 496 $70,000 $26,964 High 6
Hart 1,906 $75,000 $36,811 Low 7
Au Train 1,140 $140,000 $48,688 Low 8
Newberry 1,519 $61,000 $32,981 Average 9
Ontonagon 1,327 $51,000 $33,988 High 10

H2: The Stories

The Nefarious Vassar

Vassar’s reputation precedes it. It is not a place anyone would describe as attractive, and the general feeling you get when you visit is one of discomfort. Vassar is known for poverty, and the town will remind you of it on many occasions. In the past, the town’s police force was notorious for taking advantage of the town’s residents. The change of administration did more harm than good, leading to a dilapidated town with no hope in sight.

Hillman’s Winter Weather

For those who are not fans of winter weather, Hillman is the last place you would want to visit or live. The winters in Hillman are known to be extreme, with the area recording some of the lowest temperatures in the state. It’s not uncommon to feel the chill of frostbite, and it seems like the cold never fades away. Life in Hillman, especially during the winter months, is a tally of one misery-inspired moment after another.

The Dramatic Hart Dairy Farms

Apart from its idyllic shoreline of Lake Michigan, Hart also has a thriving farming community. The Hart Dairy Farms is one of the largest in the state, and its impact on the town is hard to ignore. The persistent nature of the odors from the farm is a source of discomfort to the residents of Hart, and it is something they have learned to live with over the years. Hart’s political instability may also be traceable to the influence that the dairy farm wields in the area.

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H2: Lists

3 Reasons to Avoid Ontonagon

  1. Limited Job Opportunities
  2. Lack of Diversity
  3. Poor Healthcare Services

4 Things You Can Skip When Visiting Rose City

  1. The local Motel
  2. The Community Center
  3. The Walk-In Clinic
  4. The local BBQ Joint

H2: Conclusion

Michigan’s small townscapes and the state’s unique culture may be fascinating, but the truth is that not all small towns are worth visiting or living in. Our list highlights the top 10 worst small towns in Michigan. The reasons are based on criteria such as high crime rates, poor governance, lack of opportunities, substandard public services, and general discomfort. Avoiding these towns may save you trouble and disappointment, and that too without missing out on anything.


  1. Smith-Hoffman, S. (2018). What Are the Worst Small Towns in Michigan? | Reference.com.
  2. Maciejewski, J. (2022). The 10 Worst Places To Live In Michigan For 2022. The Detroit Cyclopedia.
  3. Gerhart, A. (2021). The Worst Places to Live in Michigan. Culture Trip.
  4. Michigan.gov (2022). Michigan Labor Market Information.
  5. www.everycrsreport.com (2015). Crime Data Sources in the United States.