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Old 07-09-2017, 04:59 PM
 
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Hello everyone, I usually lurk here but I had a few questions that I was hoping you could help me answer. I'm looking for a house very close to Southfield (within 10 minutes of it, 15 at the very most) and I'm considering Farmington Hills, Lathrup Village, and Berkley right now. Now for my questions:

-How safe are Lathrup Village, Berkley, and Farmington Hills? I don't know much about Lathrup Village's safety and I hear the southern part of Farmington Hills is less safe than the northern part, so I'd like to know more. I'm less "street smart" than average so safety is important to me.
-Are these quiet communities? I am a person who values quiet and calm, so I don't want a party environment.
-In the event of an economic downturn, how stable will these communities be? I don't want to buy a place and then see a drastic decline in the quality of life there. I guess this is asking to predict the future, but I'm curious about your insights.
-How much demand is there for housing in these areas? I understand that Berkley is very in-demand right now, but I know less about Farmington Hills and Lathrup Village.

Thank you for any assistance you might be able to provide. Have a great day!
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Metro Detroit
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Interestingly my understanding is that Lathrup Village is one of the hottest housing market in the state. It's just an upscale enclave of Southfield, but for the price you certainly get a lot. It's safe, the schools are not very good (holding values down), it's pretty central to a lot of things, and you get prestige points as it's generally considered to be exclusive, like Huntington Woods or Pleasant Ridge. Overall, not a bad choice, but wasn't really on my list of places to move. Lathrup Village is a great deal and that's why it's so hot. Large homes, large lots, proximity to 696, but depressed prices because Southfield is seen by some as less-desirable. I don't know how LV would perform in a recession, on one hand it's exclusive, but on the other it didn't do well during the last one which is why prices are so depressed right now compared to similar enclaves.

Berkley is another one of those really hot markets at the moment, largely due to its location, schools, and quaint "Main Street". It's also where I bought a house only a few months ago. Its location allows you to be to Southfield, Troy, Warren, Dearborn, or Detroit in 20 minutes or less (much less for a Southfield commute). You get the walkable Downtown Berkley restaurants/stores (which I take advantage of all the time, and can't remember the last time I drove to dinner, we always walk) and you're 1-2 miles from the Royal Oak nightlife and maybe 4-5 miles from Ferndale. Oh, and Westborn Market (locally owned Whole Foods competitor) and Trader Joe's are right there on Woodward. It's also very safe, has some of the better schools in the metro, and tends to be a really tight community where people stay a while and everyone knows you. The biggest drawback in Berkley is the old housing stock. The affordable (200-250k) homes are all 70-90 years old, while the new homes all cost half a million. Being a higher-income area the old homes are mostly updated and in good shape, but layouts are tough to update. There are a handful of new townhomes going in, but even these are in the 300-350k range. I love Berkley, but you either have to be wealthy or have a soft spot in your heart for 75 year old bungalows. Due to this desirability you get a perceived lower risk to property values during recession years, but you pay more per square foot.

Farmington Hills is newer, and probably a little less hot than the other two communities, but still overall I would say it is desirable. Some people say it gets rough toward 8 Mile, I've personally not seen this. The incomes are definitely higher as you get up toward West Bloomfield, but I don't believe any parts of Farmington Hills are truly bad and should be avoided. Especially considering the Wayne Couunty neighborhoods it borders are mostly stable and decent neighborhoods (Livonia/Redford). Most homes in FH are 60s-70s build ramblers. It's plenty safe (really all suburbs here are except some of the bad ones like Inkster or Pontiac). It will definitely be more quiet and it'll be more wooded as the lots are larger, but you'll have a much more diverse mix of people ranging from poor to wealthy and many cultural backgrounds. It's definitely suburban sprawl, which isn't for me, but is popular for many. You'll drive everywhere, but you get that extra privacy that you miss out on in communities with more walkability. There is a small "downtown" area in the City of Farmington, but unless you live very close to it you'd probably drive there. Schools are good, but not great, and due to the size of the community and dated feel to the urban planning it does carry some risk to recessions.

Another area I'd consider is Northern Oak Park. You get almost all the same advantages/disadvantages of Berkley, but for $50-75k less. Oak Park north of 696 is more like Berkley than it is like Oak Park south of 696, but you do get the stigma of living in Oak Park, which many people see as a working class community full of strip malls and old homes, which it is, but when you get north of 696 it's less that, and more .. gentrifying.

Last edited by Geo-Aggie; 07-09-2017 at 09:41 PM..
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:46 PM
 
816 posts, read 878,620 times
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Congrats on the house search. I'll put in my two cents here. We do have a good poster who is a current resident of Berkley, who speaks very highly of his experience there currently. I previously lived in Royal Oak adjacent to Berkley for several years and have several friends that currently live there as well.

Regarding your questions:

Safety: All are perfectly safe for the average resident who goes about their normal daily life.
In relative order of safety: Berkley, Farmington Hills, Lathrup Village.
Berkley is extremely safe area and regularly ranked as on of the best areas for young families/starter homes to raise young children. Some of the rumors of higher crime areas in Farmington Hills are primarily driven by a handful of trailer parks, apartment complexes, and highly transient areas on the extreme southern portion of Farmington Hills. The other 85% of Farmington Hills is extremely safe, quiet suburban living. Lathrup Village, I don't know very much about but some of it is driven by the fact that is located amongst some major throughfares - I-696 & Southfield Road. Its a small community so shoplifting from retail stores on Southfield Rd, DUIs from drivers going through the community, and people busted driving through with outstanding warrents aren't really relevant types of crimes to be worried about for the average resident.

Quiet: Berkley is generally very quiet and calm. The worst you might have is a neighbor throwing a summer bbq and some of their friends coming over attempting to relive their glory/party days once or twice a summer. Farmington Hills is extremely quiet. Experiences will highly vary, all dependent on your neighbor. I had an idiot neighbor in Royal Oak on an otherwise quiet street that thought it was cool to built huge bonfires, light off fireworks, speed around in their tricked out pick-up trucks, and get super drunk every Saturday night until 3-4am (married couple with 3 young kids btw). They needed about 10 acres of land out in the middle of nowhere, not in the middle of residential Royal Oak. Lathrup Village, proximity to major roads and highways will have ambient traffic noise. Berkley and Lathrup do also tend to get a bit of noise from approaching aircraft into DTW throughout the day depending on the arrival patterns. They are still at 3000-5000 ft at this point but something to consider if it may bother you.

Stability: In order of ranking: Berkley, Farmington Hills, Lathrup. Berkley is having a bit of a renaisannce these days and is getting a lot more interest from younger people, the spillover effect of Birmingham and even parts of Royal Oak being too pricey for many people, and the resurrance and more jobs moving back to downtown Detroit. Berkley benefits from a highly centeral and commutable location to most major business/job centers in Metro Detroit. Lathrup is as well, but just not all that popular for the young professional/starter home crowd. Part of the issue with Lathrup is the school system. Most of Lathrup Village goes to Southfield Public Schools which are not exactly known for being on of the better districts in the region. Berkley and Farmington schools are much better performing districts, which drives real estate values, which drives stability. Something to consider whether or not schools are a concern for you now or in the future.

Demand: Berkley highly in demand, and even now seeing tear-down and reconstruction. Farmington is highly dependent on the area, neighborhood, and age/size/price of the housing stock.

Honestly, Lathrup Village is pretty small and I know very little about it or anyone who has lived there recently. It has an interesting history of formerly being one of the bigger Jewish communities in Metro Detroit back in the 1960s-1980s. There is some interesting housing in there including a handful of old historics, a lot of mid-century modern, and a whole lot of sprawling ranches and colonials. The downside that depresses demand and values in again the school district.
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Old 07-10-2017, 06:50 AM
 
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Lathrup Village - a small enclave in the Southfield School district that was originally planned as a tightly controlled community. Louis Lathrup Kelley, who created Lathrup Village, was a control freak. While she put racial restrictions into the property deeds of every plot of land sold in "her" village (unenforceable since the 1960's), she also required only brick or masonry homes to be built, and that homes be of high quality. Louise Lathrup Kelley actually built a mansion for herself in the village, which burned down in 2009. I remember seeing it in the 1970's - a decayed manor house surrounded by wildly overgrown grounds, inhabited by the daughter and granddaughter of Lathrup Kelley and by that time the descendents were too poor to properly maintain the property.
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Old 07-10-2017, 07:46 AM
 
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Interesting. Lathrup Village always reminded me kind of a down-scale version of Beverly Hills. Basically similar housing stock and street layouts other than Beverly Hills is in Birmingham School District and Lathrup Village is in Southfield Public Schools.

When I-696 was punched through in the 1980s, it really didn't do them any favors.
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Old 07-10-2017, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Detroit
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I don't know about demand for houses but all 3 of them are very safe. Lathrup Village is the closest to anywhere in Southfield though.
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Old 07-10-2017, 12:11 PM
 
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Farmington and Farmington Hills are definitely safe, stable communities. I live in Farmington Hills, and have lived in several locations in the area over the past 22 years. There have been occasional break-ins in the far southeast area near Botsford Hospital, but very few residents have been affected. The city of Farmington is host to many community activities as well as musical performances, restaurants (on the increase), shops, supermarket, movie theater and other coming developments. It's really getting nice out there! I have raised four children here and have found the schools and teachers on the whole to be excellent. The parks here are truly gorgeous, with many activities and walking paths, especially in Heritage Park (near 11 mi and Farmington Rd). Shiawassee Pk. in Farmington is very beautiful, too. Come and see for yourself. Welcome to the area!
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Old 07-10-2017, 12:13 PM
 
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Farmington Hills is directly adjacent to Southfield.
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Old 07-11-2017, 08:23 PM
 
21 posts, read 23,580 times
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Thanks for your replies everyone. I'll try to address as much as I can, but I'll probably miss some things, so I apologize if I look like I'm ignoring you.

I'm glad all of them are safe. I was wondering if the fact that Lathrup Village borders Southfield (which I hear isn't the safest area) impacted it negatively in that regard, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the case. Thanks for bringing up school districts because that prompted me to check the property taxes for the three communities I'm interested in. For a SEV of $100,000 Berkley's is $4,156-$4,191, Farmington Hills is $3,786-$4,566, and Lathrup Village is $5,976. I wasn't expecting them all to be the same, but Lathrup Village is much more expensive than the other two are! Is there something in the village that makes the taxes higher or is it the school district?

I don't mind older housing as long as it's structurally sound and if the layout is functional for my purposes, I wouldn't care about updating it. Are there any risks from things like asbestos or lead paint from the older housing? I'd imaging that would be found in an appraisal in any case, but I'd rather ask and look silly now than have to deal with something like that later.

DTWflyer, you say 85% of Farmington Hills is safe. What 15% of it isn't? Road boundaries would be helpful so I can know what parts of Farmington Hills to avoid.

I looked into northern Oak Park (north of 696), but it seems like the houses on the market are just as expensive or more expensive than Lathrup Village and Berkley with an overall less convenient location and a higher risk of property value loss in the vent of a recession, so I probably won't buy there.

I don't think any of the three places I listed are bad places to live, but buying a house is a big decision so I want to weigh my options as best as I can. Thanks again for your help!
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:37 PM
 
Location: Detroit
3,626 posts, read 4,303,792 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michigan1837 View Post
Thanks for your replies everyone. I'll try to address as much as I can, but I'll probably miss some things, so I apologize if I look like I'm ignoring you.

I'm glad all of them are safe. I was wondering if the fact that Lathrup Village borders Southfield (which I hear isn't the safest area) impacted it negatively in that regard, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the case. Thanks for bringing up school districts because that prompted me to check the property taxes for the three communities I'm interested in. For a SEV of $100,000 Berkley's is $4,156-$4,191, Farmington Hills is $3,786-$4,566, and Lathrup Village is $5,976. I wasn't expecting them all to be the same, but Lathrup Village is much more expensive than the other two are! Is there something in the village that makes the taxes higher or is it the school district?

I don't mind older housing as long as it's structurally sound and if the layout is functional for my purposes, I wouldn't care about updating it. Are there any risks from things like asbestos or lead paint from the older housing? I'd imaging that would be found in an appraisal in any case, but I'd rather ask and look silly now than have to deal with something like that later.

DTWflyer, you say 85% of Farmington Hills is safe. What 15% of it isn't? Road boundaries would be helpful so I can know what parts of Farmington Hills to avoid.

I looked into northern Oak Park (north of 696), but it seems like the houses on the market are just as expensive or more expensive than Lathrup Village and Berkley with an overall less convenient location and a higher risk of property value loss in the vent of a recession, so I probably won't buy there.

I don't think any of the three places I listed are bad places to live, but buying a house is a big decision so I want to weigh my options as best as I can. Thanks again for your help!
Yes Lathrup Village borders Southfield. Is Southfield the safest area? no, is Southfield a high crime dangerous city? absolutely not. Look at the crime rates for Southfield if your concerned, you will see that it's at or slightly below the national average. Some people just talk that bull ***** because Southfield has alot of (middle class) blacks and it makes some people feel uncomfortable. I know some females in Southfield that go out walking or jogging by themselves at night. The chances of something happening to you if you happen to wonder into Southfield is slim to none.
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