Moving to Detroit

Detroit is a city that appeals to almost everyone. Filled with culture and diversity, steeped in history, and extremely focused on community, this city is becoming an increasingly popular location for new residents. Considering it’s a large metro area, Detroit is looking toward the future by expanding its 50 miles of bike lanes to 400 miles, and the Detroit Greenways Coalition promotes the development of urban trails and expanded green spaces. 

Historic urban neighborhoods draw new residents to the excitement of cool renovated lofts, restored buildings, and hip boutiques. The city’s amazing food scene offers everything from farm to table cuisine, ethnic fusion, food trucks, hipster hangouts, and inviting sidewalk cafes.

While Detroit is most commonly known as The Motor City and the home of Motown music, it has so much more to offer. From museums to festivals, the area is full of educational opportunities and fun. Residents value a strong sense of kinship and giving back to their community. You can immediately get involved by volunteering at any one of the many and varied non-profits. The Motor City dreams big, gives back, and desires to rebuild a strong economy.

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Living in Detroit, MI: What to Know Before Moving to Detroit

The low cost of living makes Detroit a very affordable place to work and play. Homes with unique architecture and warm, welcoming neighbors help new residents adjust and plant roots. Even though the city is still rebuilding its economy, most of the 673,104 residents see that as an opportunity to boost prosperity while being able to make a positive difference in their community. 

Pros and Cons of Living in Detroit, Michigan

While there are several yeas and nays that you should consider before moving to a new location. These are a few of Detroit’s most common:

Pros:

  • Amazing arts/culture environment: Detroit isn’t commonly known for its devotion to arts and culture, but the recognition is starting to grow. US News & World Report ranks Detroit as one of the top ten underrated cities for art lovers. 
  • Perfect for music lovers: Yes, Detroit is the home of Motown, but the range of music found in the city is vast and diverse. It’s also the birthplace of electronic music. You can enjoy a wide variety of musical events, including The Detroit Jazz Festival, Downtown Hoedown, and The Movement Electronic Music Festival, throughout the year.
  • Rich in history: The city offers numerous museums that not only relate to the history of Michigan but the United States as well.  Some of these include The Ford Piquet Avenue Plant, where Ford once produced its famous Model T trucks, and The Charles H Wright Museum of African-American History.
  • Diversity: Detroit is made up of an eclectic mix of residents, each with their own history, culture, and traditions. There are thriving Irish, English, African American, Hispanic, and other ethnic neighborhoods. 

Cons:

  • Long, unpredictable winter season: Winter normally ranges from the middle of December to the middle of March. However, in past years, Detroit has seen the cold, wintery season that lasts from October to April. The weather can switch from sunny and mild to snow within 24 hours. 
  • Crime rates: Detroit is commonly ranked as the most dangerous city in Michigan, with crime rates higher than the national average. Crimes tend to happen in low-income areas where there are fewer job opportunities.
  • Prepare to winterize your home: Winters in the city are severely cold, and you must prepare. You’ll need to adequately winterize your home or apartment to keep yourself comfortable and save money on your heating bill.
  • The public school system ranks low overall: The public-school system is only in fair shape, with much-needed improvements and an overall poor ranking. However, private schools in the area have high reviews and are very popular among those looking for the best education. 

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: Detroit is in Wayne County, where the property tax rate is 2.815%. This rate is higher than the state rate of 1.833% and the national rate of 1.211%.
  • Sales Tax: The state of Michigan has a 6.0% sales tax. Neither Detroit nor the county has specific, additional sales tax, so Detroit residents pay 6.0% sales tax.
  • State Income Tax: Michigan’s income tax is a moderate 4.25%. This rate is significantly lower than its neighbors Wisconsin (7.65%) and Ohio (5.00%).

Housing Market

Purchasing a home is normally the largest, single purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. Choosing the perfect home is contingent upon location, price, and several other factors. Detroit has a very affordable housing market, with a median home value in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metro Area of $163,200. However, as of October 2019, the median list price of homes for sale is $201,028. Home appreciation rose 3.8% in 2019, and according to Zillow.com, the market is “hot.” The majority of residents are homeowners, and 34.5% of residents are renters who pay an average rent in the metro area of $1,200. 

Homesnacks.net gives a comprehensive list of the cheapest neighborhoods in Detroit. The most inexpensive community is Eliza Howell. Other affordable areas include Grixdale, Belmont, Ravendale, and Chandler Park.

Cost of Living

Bestplaces.net calculates an average cost of living index rating for the US of 100; any rating lower than 100 means the expense is lower than average, and a higher number means it is more expensive. Overall, Detroit has a cost of living index rating of 94.4. Lower than average expenses are groceries at 90.7, health at 84.9, utilities at 89.7, housing at an astonishing 24, and miscellaneous costs at 96.9. Transportation is the highest cost at 209. 

The family budget calculator reports that a family of four needs $6,609 monthly to live a moderate lifestyle in Detroit. This amount means a household may need two incomes to maintain financial stability. 

Weather and Natural Disasters

The Motor City enjoys four seasons, but winter can be a bit unpredictable. The two coldest months of the year are typically January and February. These months see highs in the 30s with lows reaching down into the frigid teens. The warmest months are July and August with highs that reach into the lower 80s and lows in the 60s. 

Detroit’s average rainfall is 34 inches, which is only slightly lower than the national average of 38 inches. This precipitation falls mostly in April and May. Snowfall averages 33 inches annually with January and February getting the heaviest blankets of snow.

Residents will be happy to know that Detroit is at very low risk for natural disasters and that Michigan is considered one of the safest states in which to live. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fires can occur, but with less frequency than other areas of the country. Michigan Prepares gives residents information on emergencies, natural disasters, and other up-to-date alerts. 

Economy and Job Market

The city is still suffering the consequences of filing bankruptcy several years ago. While the economy is bouncing back and the job market is slowly improving, the unemployment rate is 8.9%, over double the US rate of 3.9%. The job market has sluggishly increased by 0.7% over the last year but is expected to grow almost 30% over the next decade. The best sectors for those seeking employment are healthcare, education, production, manufacturing, architecture, and engineering. 

Major employers include Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Detroit Public School System, and The University of Michigan. The US Postal Service also employs over 15,000 people in the city. Individuals who are seeking employment should polish up their resumes, use extensive online job boards, and executive recruiters to locate job opportunities.

Traffic and Transportation

Public transportation options in Detroit range from buses to light rail. The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) provides bus service throughout the metro area. The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) serves both the city and its suburbs. FAST, a new SMART service, offers stops along major thoroughfares and connects downtown with the suburbs. The Detroit People Mover is an elevated light-rail system that gets residents around the downtown area while the Q-line is a 3.3-mile circulating streetcar that serves 12 locations and connects to the Amtrak station. The SEMCOG, currently under construction, will be a commuter rail line connecting suburbs with major stops. 

I-94, built by Henry Ford, connects west to Ann Arbor then on to Chicago, and east to Port Huron. I-96 runs northwest-southeast, ending in downtown Detroit. I-275 runs through Detroit’s western suburbs north to I-696 and south to I-375. I-75 runs north-south and through downtown. As in most metro areas, morning and evening rush hours are a challenge for commuters. 

Walkscore.com states that the city is moderately walkable with a walk score of 55/100. With a bike score of 52, bikers can enjoy multiple trails and specific bike lanes. The transit score is fairly low at 39 but is bound to improve with public transit plans under construction.

What to Do

Detroit is a buzzing hub of activity and excitement. From thrilling outdoor activities to exciting indoor events, residents of all ages can enjoy a day of fun, learning, challenge, or relaxation in The Motor City. 

Several local parks allow individuals to play, relax, and enjoy the beauty of nature’s backdrop. Belle Isle Park, a 982-acre island in the Detroit River, is among the most popular with an arboretum, ponds, lakes, hiking and bike trails, fountains, and playgrounds. Campus Martius Park includes gardens, picnic areas, shops, food trucks, ice skating, and waterfalls. As a local, now and then you’ll want to stroll the Detroit Waterfront and marvel at the beautiful Detroit skyline.

Residents also love to visit the many markets, museums, and historical sites in the area. Eastern Market takes place each Saturday and Sunday. Here, you can purchase food, produce, clothing, and arts and crafts from over 225 vendors. Entertainment and music top off the friendly Eastern Market atmosphere. If you’re a fan of museums, you won’t be disappointed in the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Henry Ford Museum, Motown Museum, The Detroit Historical Museum, and Greenfield Village, a living museum that recreates an early American town. And if cultural history is your thing, visit Cliff Bell’s Jazz Club, an energetic, lively club that was established in the 30s and still offers cocktails and nightly performances.

Some extraordinary buildings such as The Guardian Building and the Fisher Building feature breathtaking Art Deco design on a huge scale. The Fox Theater, opened in 1928, still puts on live performances. Creativity abounds in The Belt, an alley of sculpture, murals, hip cafes, cool bars – a piece of art in itself!

Sports enthusiasts will love living in Detroit as it’s home to four major league sports teams. The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team while the Detroit Lions are part of the National Football league, playing at Ford Field. Little Caesars Arena is home to the Detroit Redwings hockey team as well as the Detroit Pistons, an NBA team. 

Schools and Universities

Of the 33 school districts that serve Wayne County, the Detroit Public School System is the largest, and also the biggest district in the state of Michigan. The highest-ranking schools, according to greatschools.org, are charter schools and include New Paradigm College Prep (8/10), Edison Public School Academy (8/10), and Martin Luther King Jr Education Center Academy (8/10). 

There are 14, four-year universities in or near Detroit. The two most recognizable are the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. The University of Detroit Mercy is another popular four-year choice. Thirty-four community college/tech schools sit within 25 miles of the city. Wayne County Community College is one of the largest and offers programs ranging from HVAC and welding to nursing and landscape management. 

Crime

High crime rates are one of the biggest concerns if you’re thinking about moving to Detroit. The city has a property crime rate index of 66.7, almost double the national rate of 35.4. The violent crime rate is extremely concerning at 94.3, over four times more than the 22.7 rate for the United States. Areas that seem to experience the most incidents include Downtown, Highland Park, Inkster, and East Pointe. 

Utility Providers

Researching and contacting local utility providers can be a time-consuming task. For your convenience, here’s a list of local providers with links to start service. 

  • Gas: Direct Energy serves over four million, making it one of the largest providers for natural gas. Visit their home page to begin service. 
  • Electricity: DTE Energy is a Detroit-based, diversified energy company that serves multiple states. You can become a new customer by visiting the website
  • Water: New accounts for water service can be set up with The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which serves over 200,000 residents and businesses. 
  • Trash Pickup/Recycling: The Detroit Department of Public Works provides trash pick-up and various recycling services for residents of the city. Visit their page to find out more and begin service. 
  • Internet/Cable Service: There are several options for internet and cable providers, based on location, budget, and speed. Some of these include Xfinity, AT&T, and Spectrum

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Best Neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan

Here are some of the top neighborhoods to consider moving to in The Motor City.

Corktown

According to niche.com, Corktown has earned two top rankings: the #1 ‘Best Neighborhoods to Live in Detroit’ and #1 ‘Most Diverse Neighborhoods in Detroit.’ With I-75 on its northern border, Bagley St and Rosa Parks Blvd on the west, Fort St W on the southern side, and I-12 on the east, hip Corktown is directly west of Downtown.

Rentals and purchases in this highly urban neighborhood are available mainly in condo highrises, attractive three- and four-story brick condos and townhomes, luxury apartments, and vintage single-family homes. Some 67% of residents rent their homes, and the median household income is $55,309, right on par with the national average of $55,322. Corktown residents are an educated bunch, with 61% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only 10% of families have children, so this is an area that attracts mainly single young professionals and couples who enjoy the excitement of urban life.

With Roosevelt Park, Muliet Park, and Macomb Park in the west of the neighborhood, The Corner Ballpark in the northeast section, Dean Savage Memorial Park in the southeast, and the south boundary directly across from Ralph C Wilson Jr Centennial Park on the Detroit River, Corktown has a lot of attractive green spaces that residents enjoy.

Corktown locals like to brunch at Folk, where the kitchen whips up comfort food from scratch. Brooklyn Street Local features scrumptious creative cuisine, and you can sip a delicious Mimosa or spicy Bloody Mary at Bobcat Bonnie’s. Friends like to meet up for a macchiato at Lucky Detroit Coffee & Espresso. When you’re up by The Corner Ballpark, the site of the old Tiger Stadium, sit down to some handcrafted cocktails at Two James Spirits.

  • Population: 2,922
  • Median Home Price: $442,000
  • Median Rent Price: $1,132
  • Schools: Burton International School K-8, Cass Technical High School

Brush Park

Located directly north of Downtown, Brush Park is a historic district ranked the #2 ‘Best Neighborhoods to Live in Detroit,’ and #1 ‘Best Neighborhoods for Young Professionals in Detroit,’ according to niche.com. Brush Park bounds Mack Ave on the northern boundary; Beaubien St on the eastern; I-75, AKA the Fisher Freeway, on the south; and Woodward Ave on the west.

If you’re commuting from Brush Park, accessing the freeways couldn’t be more convenient. John R St bisects the neighborhood, and from here, it’s just a few blocks to I-75 and a quarter-mile from I-375.

Residents are attracted to Brush Park for its upbeat urban vibe, elegant architecture, and accessibility to a variety of bars, cafes, cool coffee houses, restaurants, boutiques, and parks. Here, 64% of residents rent their homes, which vary between amazing loft condos in beautifully renovated period buildings, three and four-story luxury apartment buildings, and gorgeous renovated homes built in the late 1800s. 

The neighborhood went through a serious decline in the 1990s but is now experiencing an exciting renaissance. As grand mansions and significant historical buildings undergo renovations, young professionals, singles, and couples who are looking for urban charm find themselves attracted to Brush Park. 

Locals favor Empire Kitchen & Cocktails for bistro fare, Bakersfield DET is a late-night comfort food hangout, and Chili Mustard Onions – no surprise – features Coney Island Vegan Dogs. For the Love of Sugar is a new patisserie on Erskine St, where you can custom order the cake of your dreams. Head over to Adelaide Park or Park for Kids when it’s time to burn off some of your cake. The Bonstelle Theatre, a former synagogue, is where Lily Tomlin got her start. Today the Bonstelle is a Broadway-style theater that seats 1,200, and as WSU’s undergraduate company home, they produce four shows a year. Unfortunately, the Bonstelle may soon be decommissioned so, stay tuned!

  • Population: 1,154
  • Median Home Listing Price: $432,500
  • Median Rent Price: $1,448
  • Schools: University Preparatory Academy Elementary, University Preparatory Academy Middle, Cass Technical High School

Sherwood Forest

Named after Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England, this neighborhood was developed to resemble a true English village. Seven Mile Road, Livernois, Pembroke Ave, and Parkside, outline this community, which is one of the most attractive in the metro area. 

Sherwood Forest was developed in 1917 and still maintains 435 architecturally unique homes. Since 2002, the neighborhood has been distinguished as a Detroit Historic District. A true sense of community is found here through special events organized by the community, including the Children’s Spring Fling, Centennial Picnic, and Sherwood 100. Locals also organize book discussions, craft shows, and holiday caroling.

The community has developed a Sherwood Forest Patrol to keep families safe, and neighborhood association participates with other neighborhoods to promote friendliness and neighborliness. Residents in Sherwood Forest are proud of their neighborhood and sincerely care about their neighbors. Dining options along Seven Mile Rd and Outer Drive W include Bucharest Grill, Noni’s Sherwood Grille, and Good Times on the Avenue. Many retirees call this neighborhood home, and 97% of residents own their property. 

  • Population: 2,054
  • Median Home Price: $271,255
  • Median Rental Price: $999
  • Schools: Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, Mumford High School, Cass Tech High School

Indian Village

Indian Village is a historic district located on the eastern side of Detroit. Sitting three miles from downtown, the neighborhood is bounded by Mack Avenue on the north and East Jefferson Ave on the south. In 1972, the National Register of Historic Places added Indian Village to its list. The community is over 100 years old and is composed of old homes with gorgeous architecture. 

While Indian Village is a smaller neighborhood, it has a strong, close-knit feel among the residents. A highlight of the area is the annual Home and Garden Tour, which is the second oldest tour of this type in the state. Living here puts you near a variety of dining and shopping options, such as Indian Village Market; the Detroit River; marinas; Belle Isle Aquarium; and the Heidelberg Project, a truly unique outdoor art project that displays creative modern artwork.  

  • Population: 1,631
  • Median Home Price: $258,377
  • Median Rental Price: $1,112
  • Schools: Nichols Elementary, Marcus Garvey African Centered Academy K-8, Southeastern High (Detroit Public Schools), Detroit Waldorf School and Benjamin E Mays Male Academy (private schools)

Palmer Woods

Palmer Woods is an extremely affluent, upscale historic neighborhood that has boundaries of Seven Mile Road, Woodward Avenue, and Strathcona Drive. This neighborhood is directly east of Sherwood Forest and north of Palmer Park.

The area is wooded with quaint, tree-lined streets winding around the houses. An astounding 97% of the diverse population owns their homes. Residents enjoy throwing block parties and partaking in a little retail therapy on Livernois Avenue, which provides locals with unique boutiques and various dining venues. Extensive Palmer Park is a premier tree-filled greenspace and recreation area that features trails, an urban education garden, a golf course, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a splash pad.

  • Population: 960
  • Median Home Price: $366,700
  • Median Rental Price: $1,250
  • Schools: Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, Mumford High School, Bates Academy

Downtown

Downtown Detroit is not only the central district for businesses, but it offers an exciting, welcoming, residential area as well. Defined by I-75 on the north, I-375 circling from the east to the south where it parallels the Detroit River, and Hwy 10 on the west, Downtown buzzes with activity. You’ll find a wide variety of home choices, including high rise condos, apartment buildings, renovated townhomes in old brick buildings, and vintage single-family homes. 

Depending on your tastes, you can enjoy the three casinos, Fox Theatre, Campus Martius Park, Detroit One Coney Island, Ford Field, or the Detroit Opera House. High-end restaurants, hip cocktail lounges, dive bars, and cool ethnic cafes provide every kind of menu you could want. Unique shopping opportunities are available too. Businesses like The London Luggage Shop and Little Asia Market allow individuals to make purchases that aren’t as common as those found in chain stores. Downtown also offers the opportunity to walk the riverfront, utilize the bike lanes, or enjoy the social parks. 

  • Population: 6,475
  • Median Home Price: $192,500
  • Median Rental Price: $1,091
  • Schools: Cass Tech High School, Bates Academy

Rosedale Park

Founded in 1916, Rosedale Park is a beautiful historic neighborhood that’s bounded by Lyndon Street, Westwood Drive, Southfield Freeway, and Grand River Avenue. This community has a lovely, residential feel with beautiful, well-maintained old homes. From 1917 to 1955, developers build primarily brick homes in a wide variety of styles, including Arts and Crafts, Bungalow, Dutch Colonial, Tudor Revival, American Foursquare, Prairie, Ranch, Cape Cod, and French Renaissance. Rosedale Park is distinguished by having the most identified properties – 1533 – of any district in the National Register of Historic Places in Michigan. 

The boulevards are meticulously landscaped and feature old maple and oak trees, some of which date back to the 1920s. The two public parks, Rosemont-Acacia Park and Stoepel Park, provide an opportunity for fun and relaxation. The Grand River Commercial Corridor offers local dining and shopping opportunities. A strong sense of community helps new residents feel comfortable and at ease. 

  • Population: 5,933
  • Median Home Price: $152,000
  • Median Rental Price: $902
  • Schools: Brightmoor, Cooke Elementary, Gompers K-8, Frank Cody High School

Beverly Hills

It’s not the famous Beverly Hills, California, but it’s a friendly, wooded Detroit suburb established in 1958. Northeast of Downtown, the beautiful suburb is bound by W 14 Mile Rd on the north, Greenfield Rd on the east, 13 Mile Rd on the south, and roughly Bingham Rd on the west.

The graceful curving streets provide a lovely backdrop to well-maintained homes that range from million-dollar large rambling estates to more modest two-story three-bedroom colonial styles.

Beverly Hills is a great suburb for families. Schools here rank higher than in most other Detroit areas, and Beverly Hills Village Park offers over 30 acres of hiking, sledding, skating, and fun outdoor recreation for every member of the family. Several athletic clubs offer tennis courts, swimming, and access to fitness programs. 

  • Population: 10,424
  • Median Home Price: $419,000
  • Median Rental Price: $1,323
  • Schools: Greenfield Elementary School, Beverly Elementary School, Berkshire Middle School, Wylie E Groves High School 

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