Whats it like to live in Detroit? (Southfield, Oak Park: appointed, apartments)
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Depends on where you go. Some of it is hell on earth, some of it is not. There are better places to live and probably worse. I'm only here still because I'm entrenched in my union job and am underwater possibly 3x the value of my property at this point.
1. Relatively expensive to live in a NICE home in a NICE area.
2. NICE areas are usually small enclaves, which you will have to leave in order to go shopping, etc.
3. A violent incident can occur simply because someone else thought you gave them a funny look, or thought you 'disrespected' them. While this is true anywhere, the potential for it is high in Detroit.
4. Insurance costs are insanely high.
5. The best private school in Detroit is expensive, and only the equivalent (quality/safety-wise) of a public school in a decent suburb.
6. It is an utterly amazing place to live, if you're interested in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, or anthropology.
7. If you're unafraid, carrying a firearm, and have a dependable SUV with tinted windows & a GPS, it is a lot of fun to just drive around Detroit, exploring (from the relative safety of a moving vehicle) the different neighborhoods. Doing so can also be depressing, especially if you had relatives that grew-up in Detroit in the 1930s - 1950s. You'll drive by houses where you actually can't tell if they've been vacant for years, or still legally occupied.
8. You will understand what it's like to live in a 'black' city.
9. It may alter, or confirm, your personal opinion on race & racial politics and after a few years, you will probably come to understand exactly why Detroit is what it is, has been that way since the mid-1960s, and is unlikely to change much in the forseeable future.
10. At times, you'll cross an international border simply to get a Slurpee from 7-11 or go shopping at the nearest Costco.
11. When in Windsor, you'll be utterly amazed (& saddened) at how different (in a good way) it is from Detroit, despite just being a half mile away on the other side of the river.
12. You'll learn that if you call the police to report your car stolen, it can easily take over two hours before a patrol car is dispatched to take the report, and then, the officer probably won't even get out of their car.
13. You'll learn that while the majority of Detroiters may be culturally & morally bankrupt, it's hard to fault them for it, as that's been the environment they grew-up in.
14. You'll learn that some people -- a percentage minority -- actually chose to work for the city (usually public safety) because they want to make a difference, and they believe in the future of Detroit (until they're laid-off).
15. At times, you'll want to defend Detroit from its detractors, but when you find that doing-so causes you to start to lose grasp on the harsh realities of Detroit/Detroiters -- many of which you do not have to be a Detroiter to observe -- then it's time to save your integrity & get the hell out of the city.
16. You'll come to view most people living in Detroit's suburbs as being somewhat hostile to Detroit. You'll have to beg some to visit you. You'll then get indignant as most of Detroit's major festivals & events (International Freedom Festival, Downtown Detroit Hoedown, sports events...) are flocked-to by these 'outsiders,' but then when the somewhat inevitable incident of violence breaks-out at some of these events (the multiple-shootings at the 4th of July Freedom Festival), it's your fellow Detroiters, not the suburbanites, that are the culprits.
17. You'll be able to routinely visit stuff like the DIA, Greektown, Mexican Town, Hart Plaza, Eastern Market, et. during events an off-hours, whereas when your suburban friends visit those things, it's a big deal for them (like visiting a foreign country), and you'll be quite a tour-guide (& bodyguard) for your suburban friends.
18. You'll learn what a 'ghetto diamond' is.
Those should be enough for now. I moved-in to downtown Detroit by choice, with the financial ability to pay for a pretty nice home in a secured complex along the Detroit River. Had a lot of fun, some close-calls, no regrets, but I'm also glad I got the hell out of the city & back to a normal society, culture/mentality & community. Detroit is a world unto itself.
Last edited by Utahooligan; 07-13-2011 at 04:19 PM..
Reason: adding relevant data
It is tough in so many ways. There is great beauty in architecture and in spots like the DIA, Fox Theatre, Greektown, the river front and there is terrible blight and poverty. Detroit has a predominately black population and the city council reflects that along with the present Mayor - Dave Bing. Mayor Bing is doing his very best to turn things around for the betterment of all Detroiters and the metropolitan area. I give the man a ton of credit for his efforts. He well knows this is a long tough struggle and he keeps working at it every day. He is revamping the police and fire department / and the EMS system. Recently he took on the Library Director for wasteful spending. He is partnering with the Govenor to better Detroit. Just about the time you get fed up with the process you see glimmers of hope for a better Detroit like in midtown. There has been so much graft, corruption, nepotism, theft from former elected and appointed officials that it is considered normal and the Mayor and City Council are working to break that pattern and hold people accountable and/or fire them.
So, if your coming to Detroit you better be tough and you better be ready. This is not a place you can walk around with your head in the clouds wondering what day it is. It's going to take a long time but if Detroiters want it - it can be beautiful again. Pittsburgh did it. No, I don't work for the City of Detroit, nor am I a spokesman for anyone but me.
2) You can get to know a lot of people, really quickly, if you want to.
3) As harsh as it is, you find warmth in the strangest places. It often feels like living in a small town, albeit with some really cool big city amenities and no shortage of big city problems.
4) If you like being involved in the community, it's a great place to be, provided you don't come in thinking you can "fix" Detroit. (Greater men and women than you have failed miserably. Stay humble. That or accept that the city will humble you eventually, whether you like it or not. Sometimes over and over and over again.)
5) It can be sad (and sometimes scary) as hell, and anybody who says otherwise has lived around here for too long or is in denial. A couple of blocks from my place is a neighborhood I hate to even drive through anymore...it gets more depressing / effed up every year. Then again, in the opposite direction are some incredible amenities that I can safely access on foot during the day/evening, in an area that just keeps getting better. So, give and take....
6) The city is night and day different from its suburbs, which are often gorgeous and have some great stuff to offer, but as time goes on, you start to realize that they can be anonymous by comparison. The more I am in the city, the more I feel out of place in the suburbs. I never saw that coming, to be honest.
(Long time lurker coming out of hiding here...really like reading this board, have been doing so for ages.)
In most American cities many of the areas that are mostly african american are impoverished, blighted, and crime ridden. Not all, but in general. The south and west side of Chicago are certainly not much better than Detroit. (You might not have huge stretches of urban prairie like Detroit east side, but you still see abandoned houses/factories and vacant lots.
There are some very nice predominantly african american neighborhoods as well ranging from middle class to upscale.
But I can almost say that Detroit propers problems reflect many impoverished majority african american urban neighborhoods. (Detroit was never quite as "structurally urban" as most of the city was/is dominated by detached houses and some small apartments but you get the idea).
And I still have to say that I find the best areas of Detroit quite impressive. (IE: the cluster of neighborhoods that included Palmer Woods/Sherwood/Green Acres/University District). These neighborhoods are about 75-80% black and they look like upscale historic suburbs.
I guarantee there is NO NEIGHBORHOOD in Chicago and its suburbs that look that nice that are even 20-25% African American. Hyde Park-Kenwood, Beverly, Oak Park, and Flossmoor are around 25 black. Maybe wealthy black people are much more scattered throughout the Chicago area possibly I don't know, but there are I think fewer community that are middle class to upper middle class black areas. Also Southfield is a huge middle class majority black suburb ranging across all income levels. The only area in Chicagoland that I can compare that to is Bolingbrook (looks a little like Southfield) but Bolingbrook is only 25% black.
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