AA's got all of this and more. Ann Arbor offers one of the highest per capita ratios of both churches and bookstores in the country, and contains an above-average percentage of minority and foreign-born residents for the state of Michigan. The University and many other large companies bring a whole variety of employment options, and many folks are able to live and work locally, with an average commute of only 18.8 minutes. Gentrification is admittedly an issue, and you'll find hipsters, students and well-off professionals living in neighborhoods that were formerly more affordable. However, if you search farther away from the campus in less trendy areas (yes, you can handle the extra mile on your bike to get to the coffeeshop!) you can certainly find a place that's within the average Ann Arborite's price range.
Think of Ann Arbor like a selection of coffee or beer microbrews at an upscale place: lots of variety and you can most likely find something you'll like that's right for you...but you do have to carefully choose your 'hood. That's where we come in...
Thanks to Big Blue, Downtown is very lively, all right, but much of the rental housing is gobbled up by students. Young, loud, hard-partying students. If you enjoy a good night's sleep now and then, the further you go from campus, the better. The rehabbed homes, condos and loft conversions of the Old Fourth Ward Historic District are a current hot spot - luring a wide array of renters. Expect competition to be fierce, and start your search plenty early. $$ - $$$$
The diverse population of this area is reflected in its equally diverse housing: condos, semi-detached one- and two-story units, townhouses, and apartment complexes all combine to make up the area known as Lower Town. The buildings of UM’s North Campus draw students to live in this area as well, but the quiet sort that everybody likes - mostly grad students and medical residents. $$ - $$$
Rental opps abound in Southwest AA, ranging from low-income to luxury. One caveat - proximity of the area to I-94 means easy freeway access, but can also mean noise. Note to those with road rage: on game days, driving within this area may be simply too much for you to handle. If you must live in this area, stay indoors on Saturday afternoons and medicate. $$$
Tips and Tricks
Pay Up or Shut Up: Rents in Ann Arbor tend to be fairly high. If you're looking for new construction with a laundry list of amenities, brace yourself for sticker shock. If you stumble across a deal, it'll most likely be a dated duplex or apartment featuring a kitchen circa 1980's and an even older bathroom. One way or another, it definitely won't last long in this college town. However, while the economic slowdown has affected Ann Arbor along with the rest of the country, unemployment's lower in this city than in the rest of the state of Michigan, so if you can line up a good local job before moving here, you should be able to make it.
"Chillin'" Takes On a Whole New Meaning: Another important thing to keep in mind for your move to Ann Arbor are utility costs. Ann Arbor isn't exactly known for its mild winters, and heating expenses are nothing to sneeze at, especially in older buildings where windows and insulation may not be top notch. What seems like a "deal" might not be after a long, cold winter spent shoveling cash into your furnace.
To put it bluntly, parking in Ann Arbor sucks - especially downtown and anywhere near the university - if your commute doesn't require a car, take advantage of AA's walkable nature and sell the dang thing.
That's A-Squared in a nutshell. With a little bit of cash and a whole lotta perseverance, you'll be an Ann Arborite in no time . . . strolling the safe streets, smelling the fresh, midwestern air and, quite possibly, threatening to call the cops on the raging frat party next door. All that's left to do is brush up on your Buckeye jokes. This one's on us:
What's the only sign of intelligent life in Columbus?
"Ann Arbor: 187 miles"
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM RENT ADVISOR:
Ann Arbor, MI is a about 35 miles west of Detroit on the Huron River. About 114,00 people live there with a median income around $54,000. It is the home of the University of Michigan. President Gerald Ford graduated here, and thus it the location of his Presidential Library. The city is also called "Tree Town" because of the dense forestation in the parks and neighborhoods. There are 157 parks that range from small neighborhood green spaces to enormous patches of recreational territory for bikes and hiking. Ann Arbor was founded in 1824. The city grew throughout the 19th century. It slowed down during the Great Depression. It became a hub for left-wing politics in the 1960s and 70s with anti-war and civil rights movements. In the last 15 years, Ann Arbor has struggled with growth and urban sprawl. It set up a greenbelt to preserve land from development.
•Unemployment rate lower than national avg and low for the state.
•Numerous awards as a city
•Great downtown and business district
•Public Bus Service with some hybrid busses
•64% registered Democrats-good for Liberals
•Crime rate isn't the worst but still higher than national average
•brrrrr! Chilly Winter
•64% registered Democrat so Conservatives may not dig it.
"Ann Arbor is a well educated city with 95% holding high school diplomas, 69% with college degrees, and 39% with graduate or professional degrees. And many Magazines and organizations sing its praises. Business Week put it on the 2009 list for Best Places to raise your kids. U.S. News and World Report named it one of the best cities for commuters. The Daily Beast listed in number 2 as smartest college towns. American Styles listed it in top 25 for Fine Arts. In 2008 AARP listed it as one of the healthiest cities. And there are many more. The city is also great for cycling and other activities with their well-maintained parks. Living near the University of Michigan has lots of advantages. There's the high energy that comes from college students. But the school also employs nearly 40,000 people and thus it's a huge player in the town's economy. Lotus Engineering, Border's Books, JSTOR, are some of the companies and headquarters located here. So Ann Arbor is one of the few cities in Michigan that is attracting business and offers lots of opportunities. If you like the winter, this is a great city for many people, single, families, and college students. It's attractive, clean, and seems progressive." - Debra M. Cole