Special Report

30 American Ghost Towns

Source: Thinkstock

15. ZIP 48206 (Detroit, Michigan)
> Vacant homes: 1,051 (18.4%)
> 5 yr. population change: -21.7%
> Population: 18,049
> Median home value: $43,200

The 48206 ZIP code is one of two in Detroit to have some of the highest vacancy rates in the nation. Of the 5,715 homes in the neighborhood, 1,051 are unoccupied — an 18.4% vacancy rate. The area is contained almost entirely by I-94 and I-96 on the south and west and route 10 and route 8 on the east and north.

The area’s high vacancy rate is likely due in large part to a shrinking population and a depressed economy. In the last five years, the ZIP code’s population fell by 21.7%. Additionally, over half of all area households earn less than $22,500 a year, and 43.8% of households rely on SNAP benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps.

Source: noaa_glerl / Flickr

14. ZIP 49253 (Manitou Beach, Michigan)
> Vacant homes: 481 (19.2%)
> 5 yr. population change: -5.8%
> Population: 2,962
> Median home value: $167,100

Though it is one of five ZIP codes in Michigan to rank among the nation’s ghost towns, 49253 has little in common with the other Michigan neighborhoods on this list. Unlike the parts of Detroit and Flint with high vacancy rates where home values are depressed to a fraction of what the typical American home is worth, in the 49253 ZIP code, the typical home is worth $167,100, only slightly below the $184,700 national median. Also, unlike pockets of Detroit and Flint where more than one in three residents live in poverty, the poverty rate in the 49253 ZIP code is 8.8%, significantly lower than the national poverty rate of 15.1%.

Michigan’s 49253 ZIP code is not in a city and encompases Devils Lake and Round Lake and boasts outdoor recreation opportunities like boating and golfing. Marketed as an alternative to resort communities further north in the state, many of the area’s vacant homes — 19.2% of single family houses — are currently unoccupied because they are likely seasonal second homes.

Source: Al / Flickr

13. ZIP 54830 (Danbury, Wisconsin)
> Vacant homes: 870 (19.9%)
> 5 yr. population change: -1.5%
> Population: 2,932
> Median home value: $163,800

Nearly one in every five homes in the 54830 ZIP code in Wisconsin are unoccupied. The ZIP code is located in Northern Wisconsin along the Minnesota border, with the town of Danbury in the south and Dairyland in the north.

The southern half of the ZIP code is peppered with lakes, and many unoccupied homes are likely lake homes used only on a seasonal basis. Currently, 870 homes in the area are unoccupied. Population decline may also partially explain the area’s high vacancy rate. In the last five years, the number of people living in the area fell 1.5%.

Source: Thinkstock

12. ZIP 48504 (Flint, Michigan)
> Vacant homes: 2,339 (20.5%)
> 5 yr. population change: -10.4%
> Population: 28,303
> Median home value: $35,200

Flint’s 48504 ZIP code has one of the highest vacancy rates in both Michigan and the United States. A Rust Belt city, Flint’s decline has paralleled that of the American auto industry as its population was nearly cut in half over the 40 years from 1970 to 2010. In the last five years alone, the city’s 48504 ZIP code, which comprises the northwestern section of the city and beyond, has lost 10.4% of its residents. Partially as a result, 20.5% of all area homes are currently unoccupied.

Some recent departures from Flint are attributable to the public health crisis caused by lead contamination in the city’s water supply. Since the Environmental Protection Agency detected dangerous lead levels in the city’s water supply in early 2015, many homeowners have wanted to leave the city but not all have been lucky enough to find a buyer for their homes.

Source: daveynin / Flickr

11. ZIP 95321 (Groveland, California)
> Vacant homes: 635 (20.8%)
> 5 yr. population change: -4.7%
> Population: 3,263
> Median home value: $261,100

The ZIP code enconpasses Groveland, California, and extends west into parts of Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.

Due to its close proximity to one of the most famous national parks in the country, the 95321 ZIP code is a popular tourist destination with plenty of home rentals and bed and breakfast options. The large amount of vacation homes and rental properties partially explains the high vacancy rate in the area. Currently, an estimated 635 area homes out of 3,059 are unoccupied. That number likey fluctuates throughout the year, declining in peak tourist season.