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Old 01-15-2011, 05:16 PM
 
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Hello!
I was born and raised in the Thumb of Michigan and have since lived in various locations around the country. We currently live in Denver, CO but are moving back soon as my husband has accepted a new job in Detroit, and Michigan is where we want to call home. We are not too familiar with the Detroit area and need some recommendations as to where to look for housing. We will be renting for a couple of years (house or apartment) so house prices aren't too much of an issue yet...
We are a young family, my husband and I both 29 years old and have two small children ages 3 1/2 and 2. We like an "urban" feel, but are still looking for somewhere decent for kids. We like easy access to unique stores, and coffee shops, with a downtown feel.

My husbands new job will be in the New Center area downtown (near Fischers theater)... and we are ok with a commute of around 30 mins. or so. Can anyone give us some hip, family friendly communities to check out? Thanks so much for any help!
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:25 PM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,497 posts, read 3,473,843 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HodgePodge2011 View Post
Hello!
I was born and raised in the Thumb of Michigan and have since lived in various locations around the country. We currently live in Denver, CO but are moving back soon as my husband has accepted a new job in Detroit, and Michigan is where we want to call home. We are not too familiar with the Detroit area and need some recommendations as to where to look for housing. We will be renting for a couple of years (house or apartment) so house prices aren't too much of an issue yet...
We are a young family, my husband and I both 29 years old and have two small children ages 3 1/2 and 2. We like an "urban" feel, but are still looking for somewhere decent for kids. We like easy access to unique stores, and coffee shops, with a downtown feel.

My husbands new job will be in the New Center area downtown (near Fischers theater)... and we are ok with a commute of around 30 mins. or so. Can anyone give us some hip, family friendly communities to check out? Thanks so much for any help!
Okay, well everyone on here knows that I will almost always suggest you live in the city. Since your husband will be working in New Center, I think Midtown and Downtown are very cool, also Woodbridge with its great housing stock, but I have come to realize that being in the city isn't for everyone. So, to give you a balanced response... you might consider Royal Oak, which is very yuppie and trendy, but also family friendly or so I hear. It has a few blocks that are "walkable" with some shops and retail. Ferndale, which is between RO and Detroit has some similar streets that are somewhat walkable, not really what I would call a "downtown" but you can get that feeling if you stand on the right corner of town. Ferndale is also more affordable. Both cities will make for a relatively short commute for your husband as both are directly north of New Center along Woodward. There's also, Birmingham, which is very upscale. I say it's snobby, but hey, to each his/her own. Birmingham has a walkable downtown, but it's as pricey as it looks. Kind of like Metro Detroit's version of Beverly Hills, CA. Some might also suggest Rochester, which has a small downtown, but it's very much a typical modern suburb. Certainly not a place I find remotely interesting, and also kind of uppity. On the other hand, there's the Grosse Pointes, which for the most part are very upscale, still in Wayne County and a really short drive into the city. It's important to understand that Metro Detroit has a wide-variety of environments, including a variety of wealth. For instance, Grossee Pointe is what I would call classic "old money." For that reason, it has a certain charm but can also be clickey. Grosse Pointe also has a small downtown area known as the "Village." Google it for pictures. Birmingham is equally well-off, but has a more west coast attitude. For instance, you'll see alot of European sports cars, women who spend too much time at the tanning salon, and guys who only shop Armani. The westside suburbs tend to represent younger money. Lots of families but more detached from Detroit in my sincere opinion. If you're going west side suburb, I'd highly recommend West Dearborn, basically anything west of Telegraph. I don't know much about school districts, but a common rule of thumb is that if the city looks upscale, the schools are probably decent.

Overall, I'd suggest the Grosse Pointes. It's very beautiful and has never been more affordable. You will really feel like you are part of an elite community and the Pointes tend to be more engaged in city activies like the Opera, Orchestra, etc. Schools are also solid. The South is better than the North but also more expensive. Your husband will appreciate not being stuck in 45 minutes of traffic every morning. There's another poster here, I think HockeyWidow who always has good info about Pointes. If not the Pointes, look at West Dearborn.

EDIT: I almost forgot! Take a look at Detroit's Marina District, which is basically along the Detroit River off E. Jefferson. It's a nice new neighborhood that seems affordable and very well-maintained, and also near grocery stores, and very close to everything downtown Detroit has to offer. I know it's not exactly what you said you're looking for but there is another poster here who moved there recently, and can probably tell you more about it. There's also other nice neighborhoods in the city, but I won't bother making this post any longer unless you're interested. I think I covered more the small cities with semi-walkable downtowns.

Good Luck and Welcome to Metro Detroit!

Last edited by ForStarters; 01-15-2011 at 06:42 PM..
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Detroit
5 posts, read 13,781 times
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To add on to ForStarters comment try taking a look at Sherwood Forest, Green Acres and the University District. They are some of most overlooked neighborhoods in Detroit and guaranteed some of safest and most family friendly. The perks of those neighborhoods is that they are close to Ferndale, Royal Oak and not far from express ways.
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:38 AM
 
Location: Detroit's eastside, downtown Detroit in near future!
2,053 posts, read 4,368,853 times
Reputation: 699
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForStarters View Post
Okay, well everyone on here knows that I will almost always suggest you live in the city. Since your husband will be working in New Center, I think Midtown and Downtown are very cool, also Woodbridge with its great housing stock, but I have come to realize that being in the city isn't for everyone. So, to give you a balanced response... you might consider Royal Oak, which is very yuppie and trendy, but also family friendly or so I hear. It has a few blocks that are "walkable" with some shops and retail. Ferndale, which is between RO and Detroit has some similar streets that are somewhat walkable, not really what I would call a "downtown" but you can get that feeling if you stand on the right corner of town. Ferndale is also more affordable. Both cities will make for a relatively short commute for your husband as both are directly north of New Center along Woodward. There's also, Birmingham, which is very upscale. I say it's snobby, but hey, to each his/her own. Birmingham has a walkable downtown, but it's as pricey as it looks. Kind of like Metro Detroit's version of Beverly Hills, CA. Some might also suggest Rochester, which has a small downtown, but it's very much a typical modern suburb. Certainly not a place I find remotely interesting, and also kind of uppity. On the other hand, there's the Grosse Pointes, which for the most part are very upscale, still in Wayne County and a really short drive into the city. It's important to understand that Metro Detroit has a wide-variety of environments, including a variety of wealth. For instance, Grossee Pointe is what I would call classic "old money." For that reason, it has a certain charm but can also be clickey. Grosse Pointe also has a small downtown area known as the "Village." Google it for pictures. Birmingham is equally well-off, but has a more west coast attitude. For instance, you'll see alot of European sports cars, women who spend too much time at the tanning salon, and guys who only shop Armani. The westside suburbs tend to represent younger money. Lots of families but more detached from Detroit in my sincere opinion. If you're going west side suburb, I'd highly recommend West Dearborn, basically anything west of Telegraph. I don't know much about school districts, but a common rule of thumb is that if the city looks upscale, the schools are probably decent.

Overall, I'd suggest the Grosse Pointes. It's very beautiful and has never been more affordable. You will really feel like you are part of an elite community and the Pointes tend to be more engaged in city activies like the Opera, Orchestra, etc. Schools are also solid. The South is better than the North but also more expensive. Your husband will appreciate not being stuck in 45 minutes of traffic every morning. There's another poster here, I think HockeyWidow who always has good info about Pointes. If not the Pointes, look at West Dearborn.

EDIT: I almost forgot! Take a look at Detroit's Marina District, which is basically along the Detroit River off E. Jefferson. It's a nice new neighborhood that seems affordable and very well-maintained, and also near grocery stores, and very close to everything downtown Detroit has to offer. I know it's not exactly what you said you're looking for but there is another poster here who moved there recently, and can probably tell you more about it. There's also other nice neighborhoods in the city, but I won't bother making this post any longer unless you're interested. I think I covered more the small cities with semi-walkable downtowns.

Good Luck and Welcome to Metro Detroit!
I've heard a couple of people talk about the Marina District since you moved there. I really like that area but I have one question for you (that I keep forgetting to ask lol) In the summer are the fish flys really bad? lol I know I'm kind of off topic but I hope to be buying a home in a few years (next year hopefully) and I like the Marina District (and Jefferson-Chalmers) but I hate fish flys and since they are both close to the water I always wondered that. My brother lives in East English Village and his house is usually covered in them in the summer
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,497 posts, read 3,473,843 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by detroitlove View Post
I've heard a couple of people talk about the Marina District since you moved there. I really like that area but I have one question for you (that I keep forgetting to ask lol) In the summer are the fish flys really bad? lol I know I'm kind of off topic but I hope to be buying a home in a few years (next year hopefully) and I like the Marina District (and Jefferson-Chalmers) but I hate fish flys and since they are both close to the water I always wondered that. My brother lives in East English Village and his house is usually covered in them in the summer
Oh, I think it was Remisc who moved to Marina District, I'm still downtown at the moment. But I'm with you about the fish flies. Nasty suckers. It seems to me that they get worse as you head up-stream toward Lake St. Claire. I've seen Port Huron completely swarmed. Surprisingly, I haven't seen even one fish fly downtown, even near the river.
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
30,695 posts, read 79,286,539 times
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Renting is a good idea, take some time and explore as much as you can. Do not just go by what people say, get a good list of places to see and actually go to all of them. Many places will surprise you, especially after hearing what people say about them. There are so many fabulous places to live in the Metro Detroit area that you will have a very hard time deciding. Here are my suggestions, but this is just on person's opinions. I may have very different interests and priorities than you.

I would not live anywhere downtown with kids. Without kids, I would gladly live in several parts of downtown Detroit. However, the schools are below terrible. There are very few safe places for kids to play, ride bikes, go to a park, etcetera. It really is not very practical. With older kids it could work out if you are able to get them into Renaissance High School.

Although Royal Oak and Ferndale are both happening places for the 20-30 DINK crowd, they are generally not considered great family places. (In Royal Oak you may want to blindfold your kids when passing some of the store display windows) Berkley is a better family option in that area. They have better schools and more family/kid oriented atmosphere.

The Grosse Pointes are an excellent option. They have excellent schools, fabulous parks and a nice atmosphere for families. They are expensive and you are not going to get much space with your home, but definitely worth looking at. Very near Downtown Detroit. Not much shopping available, but you can find options.

Downriver communities are an excellent option, but they are not very "urban".

Grosse Ile is the nicest and has the best schools by far, but it is expensive. It is more quiet and pleasant than exciting. Lots of elbow room if you want it. Typical crammed in subdivisions available also. It is a small close knit community made up of a group of connected islands in the Detroit river and the mouth of Lake Erie. Baoting is very popular. Many waterfront homes. Very low crime and excellent police, fire and city services. Community facilities and opportunities are unparalleled. It is kind of like living at summer camp year round. Not much shopping or dining, but Trenton, Wyandotte and Woodhaven are nearby. Definitely come take a look. (37 minutes to downtown door to door, this is the longest commute from any of the mentioned downriver communities). One bridge goes to Wyandotte, the other to Trenton.

Trenton is a nice solidly middle class town. They have a quaint little downtown, a very nice park on the river, and some decent housing options. Schools are good. Neighbors Wyandotte.

Riverview, Southgate, Woodhaven, are all typical suburban living. Decent schools, decent housing, decent shopping, clean and pleasant, but nothing really exciting.

Wyandotte has a great and fun little downtown. Nice housing options are plentiful, including lots of water view homes. Two major employers (Henry Ford Hospital and BASF). Schools not so great. Wyandotte touches Ecorse, which in turn touches Detroit. A bad part of Detroit. Some of the rot oozes out. Schools and crime rates suffer as a result, but what a neat downtown.

Taylor - do not bother. Cross the road to Southgate if you want to be in that area.

Lincoln Park, Allen Park. If you cannot afford anyplace else, Allen Park and parts of Lincoln Park might be tolerable. Short distance to Downtown.


You might want to look around Dearborn. Parts of it are very nice. Much of it is heavily or entirely populated with middle eastern people. That could be a bad thing or a good thing, depends on you and your perspective. Dearborn is fine IMO, but nothing to get excited about, but some people absolutely love it.


Moving back up north in no particular order:

Birmingham is nice and pretty. It is expensive and as mentioned sometimes viewed as a bit snobby. It is the new money place to live. Excellent schools. Pleasant little downtown. If you can tolerate, or if you enjoy the snobbery, trophy wives and the like, it is a place that you will not want to leave.

Bloomfield Hills. Wealthy, mostly old money (generally less snobby and pretentious than the new money areas). Very nice, excellent schools, very expensive.

Rochester and Rochester Hills. Rochester has a really neat little downtown. Great schools. Rochester hills is generally upper echelon Yuppies. You may really love it there, especially downtown Rochester. It is not for me, but I understand the appeal. Lengthy commute.

Troy is a decent suburbia type place. Reasonably good schools. Lots of bland housing options. One of the nicest shopping malls to be found anywhere in the USA.

If you are willing to extend your commute, the towns of Northville, Plymouth, South Lyon, Novi, Milford, and the villages of Salem, Dixbourough, New Hudson, all offer good to great schools and absolutely fabulous housing options, safety community amenities, etc.

Northville, and Plymouth have great quaint old fashioned downtowns with lots to do. Both have top notch schools. Milford has a cute smaller old fashioned downtown and is very near the best park in the area (Kensington Metropark). Milford's schools are not up to par with the others though.


Novi is a vast land of shopping malls and subdivisions. Schools are great. Crime, is very low. Traffic is nasty. There are more malls here than anywhere I can think of. No appeal for me as I do not care for either shopping malls nor subdivisions.

South Lyon was once a quaint small town. It grew and growth did not improve it. Still it has some of the elements of the old quaint downtown left. Great schools, maybe just a tad below Northwille, Plymouth and Novi, but you would probably never notice the difference. Lots of good housing options from country living, to modern subdivisions, to small town homes. The little village of New Hudson is in the south Lyon school district as is all of Lyon Township. New Hudson is also very near Kensington Metropark.

Remember for each area there is usually an adjoining township which tend OT be a bit more rural and spread out, but usually in the same school district. All of the townships have some modern subdivisions, some old farm houses, lots of stuff in between.

Canton. More bland suburbia. Lots of subdivisions, big box stores with attached strip malls, snarly traffic in some areas. Still clean, nice, safe and good schools if you are in the Plymouth Canton school district. However, nearby Plymouth and Northville offer a lot more.

Oh I forgot Livonia. North Livonia is very nice. Schools are decent (you want to be in Stevenson High school not Franklin). It is older suburbia. No downtown and not much community, but still a decent place to live, affordable and quite popular. (Plus I was born there, so it will be a tourist attraction one day!).

IF you really want to commute, check out the Ann Arbor area including Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Tecumseh, Saline, Dexter. . . . great schools all around. Wonderful places to live, but you are getting into an hour plus on your commute.

You will have a lot of fun looking around and a tough time deciding.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Detroit's eastside, downtown Detroit in near future!
2,053 posts, read 4,368,853 times
Reputation: 699
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForStarters View Post
Oh, I think it was Remisc who moved to Marina District, I'm still downtown at the moment. But I'm with you about the fish flies. Nasty suckers. It seems to me that they get worse as you head up-stream toward Lake St. Claire. I've seen Port Huron completely swarmed. Surprisingly, I haven't seen even one fish fly downtown, even near the river.

Oh yea it was Remisc lol I don't know what I was thinking. But yes, the worst thing about living near water= fish flies ew! That is surprising. Even the BP on Harper gets invaded by those annoying bugs.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Detroit's eastside, downtown Detroit in near future!
2,053 posts, read 4,368,853 times
Reputation: 699
^^^I just wanted to say, people talk about the schools in Detroit a lot. There are more than just DPS in Detroit. There are actually a nice little list of "good" schools (private and public) in the city. The problem is getting your children in those schools. There is usually a waiting list for schools like Univ Prep for instance. Also every DPS is not bad, just collectively DPS has a lot of issues they need to address. I would also like to add that Cass is just as good as Rennaisance
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Old 01-18-2011, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,497 posts, read 3,473,843 times
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Originally Posted by detroitlove View Post
I would also like to add that Cass is just as good as Rennaisance
True. I have friends, both black and white who grew up in the city and went to Cass Tech. They are both highly-educated and successful by anyone's measure. Sometimes you have look beyond all the hype and talk to actual people.
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:28 PM
 
Location: Grosse Pointe Park, MI
90 posts, read 199,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Renting is a good idea, take some time and explore as much as you can. Do not just go by what people say, get a good list of places to see and actually go to all of them. Many places will surprise you, especially after hearing what people say about them. There are so many fabulous places to live in the Metro Detroit area that you will have a very hard time deciding. Here are my suggestions, but this is just on person's opinions. I may have very different interests and priorities than you.

The Grosse Pointes are an excellent option. They have excellent schools, fabulous parks and a nice atmosphere for families. They are expensive and you are not going to get much space with your home, but definitely worth looking at. Very near Downtown Detroit. Not much shopping available, but you can find options.
We moved to Grosse Pointe Park in August from Connecticut and are very happy here. Since neither my husband nor I had spent any time in Michigan before this relo, we opted to rent and I am so glad we did. I didn't want to feel rushed into a home. There isn't a ton of rental stock, but we found a nice house for the year, and there are many people looking to sell their house who might be willing to rent in the interim.

GPP is 10-15 minutes from downtown without getting on I-94. It's great, easy access. Public schools are great, lots fo private/parochial options as well. Lots of preschools and activities for families.

While housing prices have dropped significantly in the Pointes, public services have not. Police are everywhere, streets are clean, great schools, great parks, wonderful libraries...I can't say enough about how much we like it here. And the people we have met are very down to earth. We've met people who grew up here, people from other parts of the state, and lots of transplants like ourselves (from NYC area, many europeans).

The Pointes have a bit of an urban feel because you are so close to Detroit, and there's no suburban sprawl.

Best of luck in your search!

PS - to add to what ForStarters had said (& thanks for the compliment btw!), there's certainly an old money feel to the Pointes. But, it's old money in the not-so-flashy kinda way. There are some mega rich folks here (Bill Ford) and they just go about their merry business when you see them around. A friend of mine saw Anita Baker in a store in the Village a few weeks ago, and she was just buying a gift for someone, no biggie. I got the impression that Birmingham/Bloomfield, etc. was more new money, in-your-face-flashy. Been out to dinners there and to a charity event and there was alot of bling going on. Great for some people, not me.

PSS - I also joined Grosse Pointe Moms Club. It's a great way to meet other moms of young children and I've met some very cool people that way. Lots of events for moms & kids, lots for just moms.

Last edited by hockeywidow; 01-18-2011 at 07:43 PM..
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