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Old 01-27-2011, 12:19 PM
 
11 posts, read 26,998 times
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Hi everyone,

As original natives of WI/IL for 26 years, but most recently 15 years in Southern California, I'm looking at some potential career opportunities in the suburbs of Detroit and the Western part of Toledo that would require a relocation to a nice suburb of the two. In fact, let's narrow the geography down to Birmingham/WestBloomfield (Detroit) versus Sylvania/Perrysburg (Toledo).

I don't have any job offer yet, but in the event I had a choice between the two places, please help me compare in terms of a place to raise two young girls age 5 and 9. We're catholic, but not hard core religious people. Both of these suburban areas offer great school systems, so let's focus on the weather, people (integration, how easy to meet people?), arts & culture, regional economy, convenient lake recreation, etc.

A couple of interesting viewpoints are Toledo appears to offer more convenient arts/culture and sports with the two Division I schools within 15-20 miles (UT and Bowling Green), whereas Detroit offers a notch more sophisticated arts/culture and professional sports, yet they are 25 miles away (and Div I sports 1-2 hours away) and in a very rough downtown environment. Toledo is closer to a big lake (Erie) and has a nice river, yet the Detroit northern burbs offer the numerous small lakes.

My wife grew up in Joliet, IL (an U of Illinois grad) and I grew up in Green Bay, WI, (a Wisc Badger alum) both about half the size of Toledo. We have relatives in Ft. Wayne, IN and Chicago, which are marginally closer to Toledo by 45 minutes.

Thanks for sharing your opinion!
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Old 01-27-2011, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Huntington Woods, MI
1,742 posts, read 3,202,570 times
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Not sure what you mean by "rough" downtown environment but downtown Detroit is pretty safe. It's really only 20 minutes away because Birmingham and Bloomfield are close to 75. Also Ann Arbor really isn't two hours away. The University of Michigan trumps Bowling Green and Toledo in terms of sports. The Big House is a great place to watch a game. To get something similar in Ohio you'd have to go to Columbus. Ann Arbor is also a great town to hang out in before and after a game as well.

Detroit is also on Lake St Clair which is a big lake. It's plenty big for any watersport. To put it in perspective Lake St Clair is about the same size as Tampa Bay, it just looks small on a map because of the great lakes but it's over 400 square miles.

The Detroit Institute of Arts doesn't get national recognition because it's in Detroit, but it's one of the larger art galleries in the country. There's also the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village which is one the largest industry museums in the country. Detroit also has a lot of small local art galleries.

Birmingham and Bloomfield are great places to live. Birmingham has a nice little downtown and if you keep going down Woodward you have Royal Oak and Ferndale which have nice little downtown areas. Bloomfield is also close to a lot of small lakes in Oakland county. Bloomfield and Birmingham are upper class neighborhoods so it maybe harder to break in the cliques than in more middle class neighborhoods. Housing is expensive for Michigan standards, but compared to the rest of the country you get a lot of house for the money. You also have good shopping options in Bloomfield/Birmingham. Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills is a nice little outlet mall and Somerset Mall in Troy is the main upscale shopping center in the area.
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Old 01-27-2011, 03:37 PM
 
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Birmingham/Bloomfield is MUCH more upscale than Sylvania/Perrysburg.

If you're from Southern California, it's like comparing Beverly Hills or Newport Beach to Ontario or Riverside.

Bloomfield Hills is the 4th wealthiest city in the country, and Birmingham is basically the upscale downtown for Oakland County. Very roughly, Bloomfield consists of huge homes on wooded lots, and Birmingham has smaller, more historic homes on walkable, city lots.

Bloomfield and Birmingham also probably have the best schools in Michigan.

Sylvania/Perrysburg are mid-tier suburbs of Toledo. Not remotely comparable. Much cheaper, with decent, but not top-tier schools. Metro Toledo is obviously a fraction the size of Metro Detroit, and is generally much more blue-collar and working class in feel.

In terms of "roughness" Toledo and Detroit are about the same, but Detroit generally has more upscale suburbs.

Why would relative proximity to Bowling Green sports (or really any college sports) have an impact on where you buy a home? All these schools are close together, and you can easily drive to any of these campuses. Seems to me that amateur sports wouldn't be too high up the priority chain for buying a house, even if you're absolutely sports-crazed. I would think things like schools, taxes, quality of life matter.

BTW, Ann Arbor is, at most, one hour from Bloomfield/Birmingham.
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Old 01-27-2011, 09:28 PM
 
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You might look into Ottawa Hills, OH. It is an upscale suburb (though not in a rural area), very close to UT, and not that far from Downtown Toledo. Ottawa Hills, AFAIK, is a "bedroom" suburb, I don't recall if it has a "downtown" with nightlife and/or theaters.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:16 AM
 
Location: Kansas City
89 posts, read 211,078 times
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Ottawa Hills is the only nice suburb in the greater Toledo area, and it does not have any type of downtown with nightlife.

I have many friends who work in Toledo, and most live in Ann Arbor. If I had the choice between the two areas (Toledo/Sylvania or West Bloomfield/Birmingham), I'd pick the latter. The latter is also more expensive, but you can find other very nice suburbs with reasonable prices, such as Farmington Hills, Livonia, Plymouth, and Novi.

Downtown Detroit is actually quite safe. While some people on this board don't realize it, we're not still in 1967.
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:57 AM
 
Location: north of Windsor, ON
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Ottawa Hills is gorgeous, true, and Sylvania and Perrysburg are more middle class, true, but there are large McMansions in both (not sure about the city limits but definitely in the townships), and Perrysburg has River Road which is very upscale (by NW OH standards) as well. Ottawa Hills is older (but aging well) and a closer in location. Another good part of Sylvania (city of) is Corey Road. Some of that is actually in the city of Toledo, though, but still a good area. OH and Corey are also closer to the main mall (Franklin Park) and big box shopping.

Another major difference between the two states is taxation. Ohio's income tax is about a percent and a half higher, plus most every municipality I know of has a city (or township!) income tax, which is rare in Michigan (in SE MI, only Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Pontiac, Port Huron, Flint, and Jackson have one, but they get to sock it to those working in the city as well). Property taxes are supposedly a bit less in Ohio, though, but I've heard some of the suburban areas around Toledo have high property taxes, although you'll probably get what you paid for. Lucas County's sales tax is a bit higher than Michigan's, but not nearly as high as other Ohio counties'.

I'd pick Toledo but only by a nose. I like Toledo's more manageable size, and don't forget that the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is only forty miles from Sylvania too.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:18 PM
 
759 posts, read 1,535,624 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by us66 View Post
I'd pick Toledo but only by a nose. I like Toledo's more manageable size, and don't forget that the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is only forty miles from Sylvania too.
UofM is just as close to Birmingham-Bloomfield.

In fact, Metro Detroit is generally closer to Ann Arbor.

I'm surprised that it's a major factor, though. Folks really choose where to live based on proximity to local amateur sports venues?
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:49 PM
 
Location: MichOhioigan
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Wow! This is a little eerie. I work in Sylvania and used to live in West Bloomfield! We moved to the Ann Arbor area a couple of years ago when I started the Sylvania job (it is roughly equal distance between WB and Sylv.)

I think it boils down to a big city vs medium-sized city. Which do you prefer? Living in Metro Detroit is probably going to cost more but you will have more, and better, amenities around you. The traffic congestion will be worse in Detroit but the natural areas (lakes, trees, parks) are, in my opinion, better.

Ann Arbor (U of M) is the same distance from either so that is not really a factor. Sylvania is a little closer to Chicago but how often would you be going there? Is saving a few miles each way that important?

For me it is a no-brainer. If I could get a job closer to metro Detroit I would. Toledo is okay but rather slow and dull by comparison. But it all depends on your comfort level regading the size and pace of the community in which you live.
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:40 PM
 
Location: north of Windsor, ON
1,903 posts, read 4,464,743 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio248 View Post
UofM is just as close to Birmingham-Bloomfield.

In fact, Metro Detroit is generally closer to Ann Arbor.

I'm surprised that it's a major factor, though. Folks really choose where to live based on proximity to local amateur sports venues?
It's not so much amateur sports venues, I think, it's the "college town" atmosphere and all that entails. I went to the Big House once (when I was in high school) to see them play Miami of Ohio and was so bored we left at halftime. However, the university area is quite interesting.
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Old 01-31-2011, 01:13 AM
 
Location: Kansas City
89 posts, read 211,078 times
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Quote:
let's focus on the weather, people (integration, how easy to meet people?), arts & culture, regional economy, convenient lake recreation, etc
Weather: about the same. I often work in Toledo, and I've unofficially observed that Toledo and just north of it into Michigan (south of Monroe) does have a weird pocket of sometimes getting more ice and a lot more fog than the metro Detroit area.

People: seem friendly in both places. I can't speak for Toledo/Sylvania as well, but West Bloomfield is rather integrated, particularly in the schools. You'll find people from many races, ethnic backgrounds, and religions. Contrary to popular belief, you'll also find a mix of family incomes - these towns are not just the rich people, but also include middle-class and some lower income families as well. Birmingham tends to be more upper-middle and upper class, and I believe is a little less integrated. (I don't know the stats specifically, but I see this in the schools I've worked at.)

Arts & Culture: you will find much more variety and higher quality in the greater Detroit area. While Toledo has a very good regional orchestra, an opera company (music provided by Toledo Symphony), and a nice art museum where the orchestra also is housed, you will find much greater variety of music, arts, and entertainment options in metro Detroit. This is what I do for a living, and many people like me in this biz live in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and commute down to Toledo to do some work. Detroit is a far bigger city, with one of the best symphony orchestras in the country (currently in a nasty contract dispute, hopefully will be resolved), a stand-alone opera company, many great art galleries (DIA, MOCAD, and more), and many great venues for a variety of music and entertainment. And I haven't even mentioned Ann Arbor, which adds to the variety you can find in s.e. Michigan.

As for convenient lake recreation, the West Bloomfield & Birmingham and neighboring towns have a LOT of small lakes. There is a lot of lakefront property. I don't know as much about lakes in the Toledo area. Of course, both cities are awfully close to one of the Great Lakes

My take on this is that the West Bloomfield/Birmingham area is suburban and closely connected to a major American city, whereas Toledo/Sylvania is a small city not far from that same major American city. You will have much more variety of restaurants, cultural events, and mix of people in the Detroit suburbs than you'll likely find in Toledo and its suburbs.
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