Review of Detroit, Michigan

Nice city but not a lot of jobs.
Star Rating - 9/29/2020
I lived in Detroit for nine years – left in 2018, (also spent many childhood summers and weekends there).

The city is on the rebound:
That's a huge overstatement. The city isn't "coming back". Or if it is, it is coming back at a snail's pace. Most of the locals are getting pushed out of their neighborhoods because of gentrification. Downtown real estate is getting bought up quickly and a small studio apartment costs around $1200/month. I rented an 750 square foot house just off 8 Mile for $800/month in a poor neighborhood. So basically, you either have to live in the poor suburbs or poor inner city areas unless you come from wealth and can afford something better.

With a college degree: Good, full-time jobs are extremely hard to find. I have a BFA in graphic design and could never find a full-time position. All I was ever able to get were freelance gigs, contract jobs, and staffing agency work in the range of $14-$18 per hour. So I ended up having to wait tables as a side hustle and usually made more money as a waitress than with my degree. Difficulty finding a fair paying full-time job was one of the main reasons I left Michigan.

No college degree: There are factory jobs, they pay in the range of $14-$25 per hour. There are also service industry jobs, retail, hospitality jobs. But these don't pay a whole lot. Many of the restaurants in and around Detroit are pretty sketchy where the culture involves regular cocaine and/or alcohol use. Beware, I worked at a few restaurants in Ferndale/Royal Oak and a lot of people in these industries like to party on a steady basis.

Like I said, most are on the poor side. I lived at 8 Mile and Dequidre/John R area and honestly never felt threatened in any way. I would ride my bike to work most evening/nights and weekends from where I lived to 9 mile/Woodward and generally never had any issues with anyone. Yes there are vagrants, homeless folks, and sometimes the occasional drug addict on the corner. But if you don't bother them, they typically don't bother you. However I don't recommend walking or riding your bike alone through the city at night unless it is a very well lit area with people and business nearby. Some of the inner city streets can be risky.

Detroit's reputation for not being safe:
I think this is an overly-exaggerated reputation. Like I said, I lived right on the outskirts of the city at Eight Mile and Dequidre/John R (in Hazel Park). But I never encountered any violent crime. Sure, I would occasionally hear about shootings in the city, but nothing that made its way into Oakland County. The only thing that did happen was in 2017 after living there for around several years my bike was stolen. I left it unchained laying in my front yard over night.

Car insurance:
This could affect you. Michigan car insurance in the highest in the nation. I had a clean driving record and for basic non liability plpd auto insurance my rate was $200/month. Car insurance price was another one of the main reasons why I left Michigan.

People here are pretty down to earth , friendly, and easy going. I liked that it was a diverse culture. There is a Mexican district, Polish District, large Middle Eastern district, Black and White areas as well as mixed neighborhoods.

There are plenty of things to do here. Music is a big part of Detroit culture. From Motown to Techno. There are several great music venues and amphitheaters. There are some malls – a really nice one in Troy called Somerset. There are theaters, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Museums, shops, etc in the Detroit downtown and surrounding suburbs. Detroit is a DIY kinda city.

If you're into sporting events, midtown and downtown is home to the Lions, Redwings and Tigers. It's actually pretty pop'n down there during the on seasons.

There are many historic buildings that are beautiful to visit. Some Art Deco and Gothic style architecture worth checking out.

The Detroit Public Library near midtown, along Woodward is second largest in the state.

Art Museums:
Detroit has one of the best art museums in the world, the DIA. It's across from the Library.

Food could be better. But if you are willing to drive around you can find good Polish, Middle Eastern, and Mexican places. There are also some hipster and BBQ style joints but those aren't very good, imo.

There are festivals. There's the big Techno festival every spring (Movement, aka DEMF), Dally in the Alley, arts and craft festivals, and there is the Woodward Dream Cruise with all the classic cars in August. I hate the Dream Cruise but a lot of Boomers love it.

I can't comment on the school system since I don't have kids. But I did go to college in Detroit and there are several options for colleges and universities and trade schools.

Pretty mild. The winters can get chilly and sometimes you get some snow fall but it's not bad and the summers are always pleasant.

Very urban, obviously. There aren't many parks. There is Belle Isle which is a big area for relaxing, kayaking, view of Canada, etc.

Most likely if you live in or around Detroit your average commute time will be around 30-40 minutes. Detroit's sprawl is large and vast. But the grid-like road structure makes getting around easy and intuitive.

Cost of Living:
Reasonably affordable. But without steady full-time work it can be challenging.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff, but hopefully this helps.

I left Detroit and the state of Michigan due to lack of job opportunities and good pay. But not everyone's journey is going to look like mine, so if you decide to move here, just make sure you have a solid job lined up ahead of time. Detroit has a lot of history and can be a lot of fun. And remember to be kind and keep an open mind.
kelly | Rochester, NY
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