"There is a resilience that rises from somewhere deep within your streets. You can't define it, but you can feel it. You can feel it overflowing from the people who call you home, from people who are always proud to declare, 'I'm from Detroit'." (Eminem - "Letter To Detroit").
Welcome to Motor City! Detroit is the hard-working city that put the automotive industry on the map—and the one currently struggling to keep it there.
Due to population transition in recent years, Detroit is undergoing a sort of accommodation renovation. Thus, apartment hunting in Detroit may feel daunting. Perhaps it’s a bit like thrift-store shopping in Bolshevik Russia. There are some splendid gems—but you’ll have to sort through the torn coats and empty vodka bottles to find them. Fear not: that’s why we’ve crafted this guide. Heed our counsel and you’ll be enjoying that International Skyline in style and comfort. First, however, here are some questions you may be too embarrassed to ask.
One of the most staggering figures from Detroit’s much-reported population decline was the following: from 2000 to 2010, one person left Detroit every 22 minutes. This figure is slightly misleading, however. The zone considered Detroit proper by the census bureau is far smaller than the metropolitan area. And most of those “leavers” actually just moved a little further out to one of Detroit’s many suburbs.
What does this mean for you, erstwhile apartment hunter? You guessed it! The housing industry is pulling out all the stops to get folks like you into their units. If you play your cards right, you can snag a dream apartment in the perfect location for a fraction of what your friends in New York and Los Angeles are paying.
Sure, Detroit’s statistics for murder are about five times the national average. But then again so is Atlanta’s; and Chicago’s is a little less than three times the national average. Saying there’s a “problem with crime” in Detroit is just another way of saying it’s a major post-industrial American city.
That said, be smart and perceptive about the neighborhoods you’re looking into. Suburban areas will naturally feel safer than inner-city districts, but this doesn’t mean you have to live in Ann Arbor if you want to save your life. Another good way to ensure you’ll feel secure in your new apartment is to ask neighbors about police response time, or choose a spot close to a school or other highly patrolled public institutions.
If all else fails, just remember to duck! (And bulletproof vests are so in this season..)
The Detroit River forms the boundary line between the U.S. and Canada. Windsor, Ontario, is the Canadian doppelganger to Detroit—though the two are less similar than their skylines might suggest. Because of its two universities and diversified economy, Windsor attracts many immigrants, making it the fourth most cosmopolitan Canadian city.
Easy access to Canada equates to not a few perks for Detroit residents, and they don’t all have to do with vice. (Although it’s important to know where you can take your underage brother out for a drink or secure a year’s supply of absinthe and Cuban cigars.) For one, Ontario boasts an extensive parks service. In fact, Windsor’s nicknamed the “Rose City” for its many parks and sunken gardens. So if brick and mortar get you down, take a short swim and trade the Motor for the Rose for a day.
Now that we’ve covered some of the big-picture questions one has when considering a move to Detroit, let’s zero in on the specifics. This car model/neighborhood breakdown is not comprehensive, but will give you a solid basis on which to build: the distinctive lifestyle and price range each section of Detroit has on offer.
2012 Cadillac XTS: Pure luxury. If you’re looking for the “I want you to feel uncomfortable about the level of comfort I enjoy” mode of Detroit lifestyle, look no further than Downtown. Live mere blocks from the Fox Theatre or Grand Circus Park. Public transport in Detroit is pretty slim; but living inside the Fisher Freeway affords serious walkability. Smaller single loft apartments in this highbrow’s heaven start at $700/month (add $100/month for waterfront units). Expect a 12-month lease.
1973 VW Beetle: Bohemian culture thrives in the margins. Between the luxury of Downtown and the (depending on your perspective) banality of the Northern Suburbs, Midtown looms not-so-largely as the alternative hipster haven. Like biking to the Majestic for late-night bowling, then to the Bronx Bar, Detroit’s original dive? Think that dilapidated house on the corner gives your street the benefit of authenticity? Then Midtown’s the district for you. There’s also a fabulous incentives program supported by a coalition of government authorities and private institutions. $500/month will get you an alcove studio on Woodward St.; for as little as $300/month, you can find a room in a student house near Wayne State University. Rental agreements are substantially less stringent in Midtown.
2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser: The east waterfront curves northward up around Grosse Pointe and Eastpointe, two highly attractive locations for commuters into Downtown Detroit. This area is known for its retirement community, so don’t be surprised if your neighbors frequently invite you to bingo or golf parties (at which they watch—not play—the Scottish sport). Commute times from the Pointes to the Renaissance Center is 15-20 minutes. $900/month for a two-bedroom condo near the Village shopping district in Grosse Pointe City is a steal—though check up on its renovation history, as this area catches a lot of inclement weather from Lake St. Clair.
2009 GM Minivan: Practical, spacious—the Northern Suburbs are white-collar bedroom communities. However, you don’t have to sacrifice decent food or nightlife to live here. Royal Oak is widely acknowledged to have one of the cutest Main Streets in the Midwest. $750/month will easily win you a two-bedroom duplex (add only $150/month more for another bedroom/office). Commute times from Oak Park and Ferndale range 20-25 minutes by car, 35-40 by bus. Birmingham, Southfield, and others further out will be longer and might not enjoy access to mass transit.
1990 Ford F150: Dearborn and the Eastern Burbs are typified as older, blue-collar communities. The general lack of full-time commuters into Detroit makes for stronger communities and great school systems in these towns. Indeed, this is practically rural Michigan. Single apartments are sparse, but who needs ‘em when you can rent an entire two-bedroom house in Dearborn Heights for $650/month? Be sure to bring two personal references, though: out here, the opinion of a human matters more than your bank statements.
Whichever model you decide to drive out of the lot in, consider your basic needs and lifestyle. The affordability of Detroit is impressive; but ensure that wherever you land you’ll be able to ingest the harsh winters and the ambiguous firearm use in stride. What makes a true Detroiter? The good news is it doesn’t cost a lot to find out!
Detroit is the largest city in Michigan. The city was founded in 1701 by the Frenchman Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. It was once the 4th largest city at its peak in 1950. But the population has shrunk by half since then with the exodus to the suburbs. There are around 900,000 people there now. It's a major port center on the Detroit River connecting Great Lakes. It's known for being the center of the auto industry and a major influence in the music industry. Henry Ford built his first car here and started the Ford Motor Company in 1904. The city grew and gained workers from the immigrant population and African Americans who moved there from the south. Racial tensions grew over the years. Labor disputes in the 1930's made Jimmy Hoffa a household name. As the automobile industry began to consolidate and freeways were built, people had to compete more for jobs. And people began to leave the city and live in the suburbs. As racial tensions got worse, and drugs became more of a problem in the 1960's and 70's, more people left the city, taking jobs with them, and crime got worse. However, despite the problems, the music industry flourished here. The DTE Energy Theatre and The Palace of Auburn Hills are prominent venues. Other venues included the Fox Theatre, Orchestra Hall, the Detroit Opera House, and Fisher Theatre. Duke Ellington, Count Basie,Aretha Fanklin, The Jackson 5, and Stevie Wonder are just a few of the musicians who came out of Detroit. Even though Motown Records moved to Los Angeles in the 1970's, Detroit is still a center for American music.
Pros: •Rich history in music and auto industry •Housing costs are low •Investments made to revitalize the Riverfront and other parts
Cons: •Crime has improved but is still a problem •Abandoned buildings all over the city •Unemployment is very high •No public rail system only buses
"Detroit has a rich history and an important place in American culture and business. In the 1890's, it was known as the Paris of the West because of the beautiful architecture and prosperity that came with the shipping industry. However, the homes of that time period have been seriously neglected. Their decay is a visual reminder of how this great city has deteriorated over the years. As people and jobs went out to the suburbs, the city descended into despair. It has bounced back with their professional sports teams, universities, and investments in downtown. There are trendy condos that people can actually afford as opposed to other cities. The crime rate is not nearly as bad as the horrible days of the 1980's. However, there are more than 22,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit. Housing values have dropped and unemployment is worse than most places in the country. There are signs of life with new restaurants in midtown and the energy of young people at Wayne State University. The music and arts scene is very much alive. Also, CNN Money Magazine voted Detroit as the best city for retirement because of the improvements and the inexpensive housing downtown. But there is much work to be done." - Debra M. Cole