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Old 09-29-2020, 12:00 AM
 
4 posts, read 1,838 times
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Hello! My wife's family is from the Toledo, Ohio area and her parents are in declining health. We want to spend at least 6 months closer, helping get their affairs in order. We are also considering a bigger move but want to make sure we like it before relocating.

That being said, I don't think Toledo is the right spot so we are looking into the Detroit and Ann Arbor area to rent a house with the inclination to stay and buy if we like it. I would love any insight into areas and neighborhoods. We have had people recommend Royal Oak, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, Grosse Pointe and Ann Arbor. I have zero knowledge of the area, having only been to Detroit proper and Ann Arbor once.

We currently live in Los Angeles proper so are used to city living but we also have a yard, a garden, etc. We cannot do subdivisions or cookie cutter developments. Same with chain sprawl. What we love most about Los Angeles is the proximity to trails and outdoor amenities.

Our wish list: A place with character (no McMansions or starbucks on every corner), access to nature (a 10 minute drive is fine), a liberal bent, a place we can have a garden and no one is going to call a neighborhood council meeting, no HOA. We have a 3 year old so good schools will be a thing in the future but not right away. Some space. We'd prefer at least a 9000 sq ft lot. I dig some of the housing stock I've seen in Royal Oak but the lots are too small. We'd like a place that has a community type feel, as in, a Christmas parade down the main street. Must have good internet access as we will be working remotely (so commuting isn't a problem). House buying budget will be 600K though if we can go cheaper, we would prefer. We don't want to live on a lake but wouldn't mind having a creek in the backyard or a lake very nearby. In general, we like organic food, we raise bees, have dogs, like to hike and bike, don't really care about what's hip but want some restaurants we could enjoy and want a little space.

A long winded post but if anyone has any suggestions we would love to have them! Thank you!
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Old 09-29-2020, 12:59 AM
 
1,154 posts, read 1,313,617 times
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Ann Arbor area. If not Ann Arbor proper, maybe Saline, Dexter, or Chelsea. Start with all of these first.
The others are stand-alone towns, but more or less bedroom communities to Ann Arbor and thrive on the high-incomes provided by occupations related to the university, hospital, and businesses in Ann Arbor.

Closest of all of those to Toledo.
Probably one of the more transient, open-to-outsiders/out-of-stater/least insular areas of the region
Excellent schools
Not McMansion (in most area)

Royal Oak is super overrated, and nothing like you are coming from.
Birmingham / Bloomfield - expensive, flashy, not a lot of nature around
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Central Mass
2,933 posts, read 3,095,019 times
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Start looking in Milan. Not the best town - I prefer western Washtenaw county - but fine. In the 80s and 90s and 00s it had a reputation as being poorer than most of the other old SEC towns (Chelsea, Dexter, Saline, Pinckney, Milan, Tecumseh, Lincoln). It's more blue collar - manufacturing jobs and a prison (low security federal prison) in and around the town, and the dragstrip outside town. But lots of people commute into Ann Arbor. And the Saline river is dammed downtown to make a pretty big park.

BUT it's on 23 and cuts 15 minutes off the drive to Toledo from Ann Arbor of towns west.

By most measures, Saline, Ann Arbor, Dexter, Chelsea are all better towns, but if distance to Toledo is #1, check it out.

Dexter and Chelsea have much better outdoors access. Dexter has a large metropark almost in town. Chelsea is surrounded by Waterloo rec area. But it takes half an hour to get to Milan then another 30-45 minutes to Toledo from there.

Whitmore Lake might be worth looking at too. North of Ann Arbor on 23. Obviously it's a lake. It's on the edge of Dexter schools - Whitmore Lake has it's own district, but even their elementary school is literally on the border of Dexter and Whitmore Lake schools.
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Old 09-29-2020, 08:45 AM
 
35 posts, read 26,468 times
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Wouldn't recommend Whitmore Lake school district. South Lyon, Brighton, Pinckney, Dexter, and Chelsea have better schools and are close to Island Lake, Brighton, Pinckney, and Waterloo state rec areas and several Metroparks with lots of hiking and biking trails. Dexter is closest to Ann Arbor and has nice little downtown. Saline has good schools and nice downtown and close to Ann Arbor, but not as many nearby hiking trails. There are numerous paved bike trails in the area (along Lohr, Textile, and Platt roads) which would probably be better if you are biking with a little one.

Last edited by lbj42; 09-29-2020 at 09:02 AM..
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Old 09-29-2020, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
28,931 posts, read 68,969,681 times
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You are not going to hit all of the things on your wish-list.

Most of the suggested places in the OP are far from Toledo and trendy/crowded/chainey. Other posters already gave you some good ideas including Ann Arbor and surrounding towns.

Some additional places/things to consider:


Plymouth, Northville, Milford, Grosse Ile, Tecumseh.


Grosse Ile is sort of self-contained (islands) extremely safe, lots of very nice biking and walking trails but the hiking trails are not very long. There are about 680 acres of green-space, alpaca farm, a community owned farm/stable, kayak launce, marina, golf courses, yacht clubs. It is kind of like living in a summer camp.



Saline is outstanding by the way.



Brighton and Milford adjoin Kensington Metropark which is an amazing park. 5700 acres with a 2700 acre lake. Bikte trails, nature center, petting farm, boat rental, boat launches beaches, dozens of picnic areas, golf course. THey have great cross country skiing there in the winter.



Trenton. Nice little riverfront communitys,but not much there. Go to neighboring Wyandotte for a town. You can live right on the water or adjacent to a really nice park. Good schools. Close to Toldedo.



Wyandotte, if you use school of choice and get into Grosse Ile.



Monroe if your kids go to the Catholic school. Very close to Toledo, not a bad town.



Gibraltar. Right near Erie Metropark. Ok schools. Close to Toledo.



Dundee - sorry I do not know much about it but Canduigt does.



I do not know anything about the place but Liberty Center Ohio is a really cute little town we recently stumbled into.
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:41 AM
 
1,154 posts, read 1,313,617 times
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Ha, IDK but moving from LA to anything Monroe County would be complete culture shock.

Without turning this political and just stating what you see driving around with the flags and signs and banners, that area is quasi-rural and strong MAGA country. Liberal it is not.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:59 PM
 
2,990 posts, read 4,540,375 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DTWflyer View Post
Ha, IDK but moving from LA to anything Monroe County would be complete culture shock.

Without turning this political and just stating what you see driving around with the flags and signs and banners, that area is quasi-rural and strong MAGA country. Liberal it is not.
Yeah you almost have to start thinking about region before you start thinking about towns. LA > metro Detroit is pretty extreme.

Outside of Ann Arbor proper you are not likely to find the kind of conspicuous liberalism of trendy big cities, and even that is probably a bit overblown these days...U of M is/feels to me more a great school for smart MI kids and a ton of rich kids from out of state, IMO, than a bastion of leftism. Although, of course, it’s a very progressive place.

Most other places are just kind of quiet, but certainly no one would care what you do.

If you follow what MOST people would do in your situation, you are looking at the Woodward corridor from Royal Oak to Birmingham. There are a lot of little towns but it’s essentially one region and kind of the heart of the region.

Or you can go to the West Side, and CJ’s list is good.

I don’t know much about the “suburbs” of Ann Arbor. They are likely to be very small communities.

But there are some good suburbs between Detroit and Ann Arbor, which might fit the bill.

Obviously SW Detroit would put you closer, I know nothing of that area, really.

LOL...no one in the entire state of Michigan would care if you gardened.

It’s pretty live and let live.

PS

I’ve noticed some posters here will often mischarscterize areas as being filled with McMansions. That is true of a few areas. But I would say they are probably hard to get away from entirely anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you have to live near them. A lot of times they are just clustered in their own subdivisions off some road and are not even visible to anyone.Who cares.
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Old 09-30-2020, 12:06 AM
 
4 posts, read 1,838 times
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Thank you for all the responses. I should have prefaced with originally I grew up on a farm in a tiny western PA town so I'm definitely familiar with conservative and/or smaller town living but we have lived in LA for 20+ years so I may not have the tolerance I once did for certain values. The place can't be overwhelmingly conservative.

I originally was leaning more towards Ann Arbor because I like the idea of a college town and culture in a smaller area but didn't want to discount the areas I previously mentioned (again, knowing nothing about them but word of mouth). I will definitely check out the areas surrounding Ann Arbor mentioned. Coming from LA, an hour commute is nothing so it doesn't seem like a big deal to get to Toledo. That being said, if we chose Ann Arbor, any suggestions on neighborhoods for that area? Same general ideals: some space, we have dogs, raise bees, have a kid, want a house with character, garden (I figured most areas wouldn't care about a garden but know that some subdivisions have HOA rules and we definitely don't want that).
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Old 09-30-2020, 07:53 AM
 
Location: Central Mass
2,933 posts, read 3,095,019 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olliebronco View Post
That being said, if we chose Ann Arbor, any suggestions on neighborhoods for that area? Same general ideals: some space, we have dogs, raise bees, have a kid, want a house with character, garden (I figured most areas wouldn't care about a garden but know that some subdivisions have HOA rules and we definitely don't want that).
All the towns surrounding Ann Arbor (except Ypsi) are full of farm land. If you stay out of planned subdivisions, you get lots of land. I grew up in a small house on a small plot, we only had 3 acres.

Most places inside Ann Arbor had smaller lots, most in the 5000-9000 sf zone. Once you cross 94/23/m-14 (basically the city limits), lots get big. IMHO, from first hand knowledge, Dexter and Saline have better schools than Ann Arbor, but all 3 are tops in the state so picking a larger lot south or west of the city limits, don't worry too much about schools.

Bees are legal within the city limits BUT only 2 hives at most.

All of Ann Arbor is pretty nice. The worst parts are either next to campus (noise and drunk kids) or along Maple between Stadium and Pauline (typically the most property crime in that area).
The "best" part is either Burns Park and surrounding - north of Stadium, East of State, South of Geddes, east of Huron Parkway - OR Barton Hills, technically a village of 300 people outside Ann Arbor and one of the richest places in the state, if it had it's own ZIP code, it would be the 9th richest area in the country.
North and NW Ann Arbor (north of Jackson/Huron to North Campus) is pretty similar, smaller post war houses on smallish lots.
The SW part (north of Stadium, west of main, south of Huron) has a lot of nice little homes, some post war some turn of the century. I loved Allmendinger Park when I was little.
South and West of Stadium are bigger, newer houses on the same size lots.
NE is dominated by North Campus and business parks.
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Old 09-30-2020, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Brownsburg, IN
127 posts, read 89,177 times
Reputation: 257
Based on your wish list I was going to suggest Grosse Ile as well. Definitely no vinyl villages or the sprawl. Definitely doesn't feel like you are as close to Detroit as you are because life feels slower there. Definitely bigger lots than most of the surrounding areas. However based on that you are now looking more Ann Arbor area you can rule it out.

Chelsea and Dexter would be my next one where as mentioned you have many stand alone properties on several acres so no HOA and enough space for gardening and such. Great schools from what I've heard.

As for Ann Arbor I'd shoot for North and West portions even just outside city limits. If nothing else that gives you easier access to the many parks/metroparks in those areas, but still easy access to Detroit, Toledo or other places. My cousin lives in Ypsi and says Ann Arbor on the eastern side tends to merge with Yipsi. I asked her and she said the more in Ann Arbor you are the better versus being closer to the border. Ypsi has more crime and other issues in comparison to Ann Arbor. You also get Eastern Michigan University students in some of those areas. closer to East Ann Arbor so similar to being closer to U of M lots of noisy, drunk college students.
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