Ann Arbor Vs. Detroit – Which Michigan City Should You Move To?

Michigan is synonymous with a low cost of living, natural beauty, and plenty of opportunities for professional growth. Detroit, the largest city in the state, is going through a renaissance, attracting home builders and ambitious young entrepreneurs once again. Meanwhile, the quirky college town of Ann Arbor has a cool factor rivaling the one of Portland or Brooklyn. If you are considering moving to Michigan, you may be having a hard time deciding between living in Ann Arbor or Detroit.


Both cities could not be any more different. They each have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the lifestyle you are looking for. On the plus side, the distance from Ann Arbor to Detroit is a mere 40 miles, so you can easily sample the pleasures of both cities no matter where you decide to live. Here are some comparisons to help you choose your new hometown.



Cost of Living in Ann Arbor vs. Detroit

There is no denying it: the cost of living in Detroit is significantly lower than the cost of living in Ann Arbor. The later is 34.1 percent more expensive than its larger neighbor. The main factor in this difference is the cost of housing.


Detroit has a well-deserved reputation for being a cheap place to live. With a median home cost of $53,700, it is one of the most affordable big cities to live in. In comparison, the median home cost nationwide is $231,200. The low real estate prices are among the main reasons why home builders are returning to Detroit, eager to take part in the unprecedented revitalization of the city.


Meanwhile, the prices of real estate in Ann Arbor are significantly higher, with median home prices reaching $379,600. If your priority is to find an affordable place to live, then Detroit is undeniably the winner.



Attractions in Ann Arbor vs Detroit

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, which fuels a vibrant artistic and cultural scene. Living in Ann Arbor will give you access to multiple museums – including the University of Michigan Museum of Arts, the Museum of Natural History, and the family-friendly Hands On Museum. Several venues showcase a wide range of performing arts. The Michigan Stadium, a.k.a. The "Big House," is the largest stadium in the United States and the second-largest in the world. Finally, Ann Arbor is also at the center of a foodie revolution with countless restaurants, farmers’ markets, breweries, etc. leading the farm-to-table movement in the region.


Meanwhile, Detroit has the advantage of being a significantly bigger city, with a rich history and culture. "Motor Town" is, of course, a piece of heaven for car enthusiasts, but it is so much more. The city's affordability attracted artists from around the country, contributing to turning Detroit into a thriving center for the arts. Besides the impressive Detroit Institute of Art, you can explore more avant-garde installation at the Heidelberg Project and throughout the city's streets. With its long musical history, Detroit all offers dozens of live venues and music festivals for all tastes. Finally, the multiculturality of the city shines in its restaurants.



Safety in Ann Arbor vs. Detroit

Detroit has a bad reputation when it comes to safety. As it stands, Detroit is one of the most dangerous cities in America, with a crime rate which is 145 percent higher than the national average. However, like any big city, some neighborhoods are larger offenders then others, with most of the violent crimes being concentrated in a few spots. That said, other, safer neighborhoods in Detroit can still have issues with crimes that are common in larger cities.  


On the other hand, living in Ann Arbor is relatively safe. The crime rates in Ann Arbor are 30 percent lower than the national average, with violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, and assault) 42 percent below the national average.



Schools in Ann Arbor vs. Detroit

As is often the case in university towns, the schools in Ann Arbor are well rated. The average test score is 59 percent, which is 20 percent higher than the national average. Because of the demographics, Ann Arbor residents are generally highly educated, with 74.2 percent of the population over 25 holding a 4-year college degree.


Meanwhile, Detroit is lagging as far as the quality of public schools is concerned. The average test scores are low at 17 percent, 65 percent lower than the national average. Parents with financial means often prefer to send their children to one of the multiple high-quality private establishments present in the area whenever possible.


So, ultimately, which city—Ann Arbor or Detroit offers the best new homes in Michigan? Ultimately, it is up to you, and how you want to live. Young families may appreciate the safety and quality public schools that a new home in Ann Arbor may offer, while those looking for a rich and diverse scene, unbeatable cost of living, and the energy of big city living may flock to a new home in Detroit. Either city has a lot to offer and can provide you with a great place to enjoy Michigan living.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Alix Barnaud

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Published 12.29.20

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