Trying to figure out Detroit suburbs... (Livonia, Dearborn: low income, cliquey, crime)
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As explained in the title we are trying to figure out the Detroit suburbs. We've been researching for an upcoming move to the Detroit Metro. Canton, Plymouth, Grosse Point, Harrison Township, Grosse Ile, Birmingham, and Rochester etc etc. We can't seem to figure out which suburb best suits us so I'm throwing it out here so we can get your opinions.
We're originally from Central Ohio and will be making monthly trips there or have family from there visiting us. So distance to Central Ohio plays into it but it isn't our number one.
We have children. One is in elementary the other is in middle school. Schools are important. They don't have to be the best of the best, but obviously we want a good education for our children. We'd rather have a small school district with average score then a huge school district with great scores.
We're small town people. We've always lived 20+ miles away from work and the city out in the country side or in a small town about that distance from work. Work will be either one of two places. Near the airport or in downtown. Need to be within 50 miles of the office prefer to keep the drive to under 30 miles.
We like the outdoors. We like to hunt, fish, boat, camp etc. We are also interested in children activities, community activities for kids, we like to exercise, so access to a gym, restaurants etc. is important.
We make plenty of money but don't act like or spend like it. We are to "upp-ity" "yuppy" types. We are very down to earthy and don't see life as any sort of race or competition between us and our neighbors. We don't really want neighbors that act or feel that way either. Basically, we're not snobs and don't want snobs for neighbors. We were raised blue collar but have white collar jobs. We're not "The Jones" nor are we trying to be. We prefer to be debt free which is why there is big difference between what we can afford and what we want to spend. We don't want to be the poorest people in a rich area or the richest people in a poor area. We can afford $375-$400k easily but prefer to be down in the $250-$300k range for a home.
Obviously safety is a an issue for us. We always hear about Detroit being dangerous. I've read plenty to know the suburbs are safe but figure I should throw that out there.
So far these are the areas we are looking at the most.
So please provide any an all guidance and insight you have for us. We greatly appreciate your help and input.
Harrison Township is a popular area for boating as many streets and subdivisions along the waterfront have a dock behind the homes as well a a number of marinas in nearby in the vicinity. I don't know anything about the schools though. Housing tends to be pretty affordable even for a newer house directly on the water.
Flat Rock has a small rural town vibe although there's a number of new subdivisions and lots of industrial developments in the area. It's a decent town (pretty blue collar even), but I don't think it'll have much of what you're looking for. Grosse Ile is better in the outdoors aspect being an island suburb with many protected forested areas. Still, I don't know how extensive any park areas are on the island, and retail options are somewhat limited. You'd have to travel off island for any gyms or greater variety of restaurants.
Canton-Plymouth is more or less your typical contemporary suburb. You'll find any number of gyms in any given strip mall and restaurants clustered around freeway exits and major intersections. Plymouth has a nice little downtown for a small town feel, however. For more outdoorsy stuff, you'll have to travel a bit more northwest specially up around the I-96 corridor as those suburbs tend to have large forested parkland and lakes. I've heard schools are pretty average, and especially the way the high schools are set up (all 3 are on one campus) makes it seem like it has a very large student population.
West Bloomfield is like a more affluent Canton except with more overall narrow roads and distant freeway access. The lakes in this area are often dotted with million-dollar homes or at least often are custom made. There's also not really a whole lot of parkland unless you count the golf courses and restaurants, gym, and shopping in general seems to be pretty scarce except for along Orchard Lake Road. Good area if you want a home with a scenic view of a lake, but not much else, imo.
Rochester/Rochester Hills is kind of the staple of what you'd consider a 'keeping up with the jones' suburb. Each subdivision has a house bigger than the last one and there's many high-end cars driving around. By no means is it a snobbish area, but you may or may not be more likely to come across those in this area. On the plus side, the schools are top-rated, there's good freeway access, and there's a number of decent parks to the east and north of the area. There's also a nice little historic downtown as well as a number of strip malls with all your typical amenities.
Based on what you described, you will likely want to cross West Bloomfield and Rochester/Hills off your list. For the most part, southern Oakland County doesn't sound like a good fit.
In your case, I'd stick with downriver suburbs (basically south of Detroit). Easier access to the airport and a more rural feel.
In your case, I'd stick with downriver suburbs (basically south of Detroit). Easier access to the airport and a more rural feel.
I tend to agree. Given your "wants" there will be no perfect fit. So you will have to sort of pick which are more important.
Which "the airport" are you talking about? I assume DTW, not YIP or DET? If you end up at DTW (or YIP) then other possibilities could include Saline or Milan.
HPY1, you've identified the following cities/townships that you're interest in:
You will not want to live in Canton-Plymouth, Flat Rock, or Grosse Ile if you work in Troy. Likewise, you will not want to live in Rochester or Harrison Township if you work in Dearborn. The commutes can get quite bad during the winter months. Narrow down your list to where you will be working.
Additionally, let us know whether you require newer construction or not. That seems to be a deal breaker for a lot of people who come onto the Detroit forum asking about housing.
Based off your criteria - Flat Rock, Brownstown, Woodhaven or Wyandotte would be my choices.
The area of 75/West Road will have everything you will need from daily life. Most of the suburbs south of West Rd are newer than the "inner ring" downriver suburbs (e.g. Lincoln Park/Southgate etc). The commute to downtown is very easy and close the airport. Schools are good and you'll be close to Lake Erie Metropark and Oakwoods Metropark.
While distinct from downriver, the other one I'd recommend is Grosse Pointe. You'll have great schools - and can easily afford most homes in the 250-300K ranges and have all the nice "frills" of a well to do suburb (e.g. quaint walkable downtowns full of Panera/Einsteins/Kroger) and mom/pop shops/Trader Joes etc. Personally, I'd rather have that as kids age then proximity to 20 strip malls which is most of the other towns you're looking at. 15 minute commute to downtown and 30 minutes to the airport.
I am not sure why someone indicated you will work in Troy? Maybe I missed something the OP looks like it says Detroit or near DTW.
I will assume you are still looking at down river. That is my home area (Grosse Ile), so I am pretyt familiar with most of the towns.
Grosse Ile is the crown jewel of the downriver area. It is very unique and special. The rest of Downriver is more typical suburbia and small towns.
Grosse Ile is like living at summer camp year round. Yes, it is a pretty wealthy area. Most of the residents are small business owners, high level engineers, business management or lawyers/doctors. There is a mix of other people and a lot of retired people. Only a few are into showing off their wealth. Mostly that is looked down upon, although the show offy people do not seem to realize that.
If you search through CD for “Grosse” you will find a lot of threads where Grosse Ile and other downriver communities are discussed in considerable detail. Do not mix it up with Grosse Point(s), they are not similar and not really near each other.
Grosse Ile is not for everyone. It is quiet, and pleasant; not exciting, not modern, not trendy. There is very little shopping or dining in the community and the only chains are Kroger, Sav-on, a gas station and a bunch of banks and realtors. The basics are available – a hardware store, grocery (Kroger) bakery, pizza, and a few nice little restaurants scattered about. There is nothing in Grosse Ile that people from off the island would come for except maybe the Sushi place and possibly Smokies. Most of the shopping is pretty much arts and craft type stuff.
Grosse Ile is mostly slightly above the middle class with a few uber rich people thrown in. There are some low income households, most of which are retired people. I know one guy who bought a house for $12,000 during the recession, but do not expect that. Mostly you are looking at the range of $250,000 - $350,000 for inland subdivisions or neighborhoods; or $450,000 – multiple millions on the waterfront (which has been zoned 1 house per acre for a decade or two). Some of the inland homes border on canals where you can keep a small boat and access the big water. You can find cheaper places, but they are not common.
You add about 10 minutes to your drive time to places like DTW or Detroit compared to places like Wyandotte, Woodhaven, (maybe 5 minutes compared to Flat Rock which is a bit further down.
Here is what Grosse Ile is really about:
A guess of 50 or so miles of shoreline, plus canal access.
20 plus miles of bike trails.
680 or so acres of township open space (mostly just woods that are held to be preserved as woods).
Low speed limits. Tons of people and wild animals in the roads (Drive carefully).
Back Yard bonfires (that is our nightlife)
Small schools offering strong academics in the basics. Not a lot of fancy options.
Golf clubs, boat clubs, tennis club, equestrian center, and an Alpaca farm.
A small but exemplary police force, and one of the best volunteer fire departments in the country.
What we do not have:
Extensive shopping or nightlife (shopping is decent a few miles away in Woodhaven, a bit of nightlife in Wyandotte, just across the bridge).
A downtown. We do have one street of businesses, many are in old houses.
People who measure the length of the grass on your lawn or the number of chickens in your back yard.
Low property taxes.
Some of the other downriver areas:
Wyandotte – the only real downtown in downriver. Pretty neat. Schools not as good as other downriver communities and slightly higher crime issues. More traffic. Some neat street festivals downtown.
Trenton – Cute small town but not much in it. Schools are probably second best after Grosse Ile. Good band program. Some nice waterfront homes. Much cheaper. Reasonably clean safe small town. A great park on the water.
Woodhaven – basically suburban sprawl. Reasonably nice. Decent schools. Lots of big box/chain shopping and dining. Great freeway access.
Riverview – Not much different than Woodhaven.
Brownstown township. Odd layout scattered bits of leftover township pieces after various cities incorporated. Not much different than Woodhaven and the others. School district depends on where you are.
Flat Rock – tiny, kind of set off from everything else. A wonderful community athletic center (shared with Grosse Ile and other communities). Schools are decent. Not really a town, more of a crossroads.
Based on your criteria, I would take a look at Livonia. It's very much the "white collar meets blue collar" suburb you describe. The schools used to be one of the best in the state and have fallen off a bit, but are still very solid (just make sure you look in Livonia Public Schools and NOT the Clarenceville district). You would find a nice home in your price range but not feel like you're in an ostenatious community. It would be within 30-40 minutes of both downtown and the airport, depending on traffic.
The city itself is nothing special as it came up as a bedroom community to Detroit. But you would be in close proximity to all of the activities you described.
If you want to avoid snobbiness, stay far FAR away from the Grosse Pointes. I have been told by many that living there is like high school for adults. Very, very cliquey and phony.
Unless you're working in oakland county I would avoid the area at all cost. IMO, 80% of county is overcrowded. My picks would be West-Southwest of the city of Detroit.
West burbs: Canton, Plymouth, Belleville, Livonia
South burbs: Flat Rock, Woodhaven, New Boston (Huron Township), Grosse Ile, Wyandotte
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