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Old 04-27-2011, 12:54 PM
 
17 posts, read 32,992 times
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My husband and I are in our early 30s with a baby and currently live in Chicago. We are considering a job offer for my husband in Dearborn. I am an attorney, practicing around five years. Some considerations we'd appreciate input on include:

1) Where to live? Good public schools are important to us. Living near relatively open-minded people is important to us. Most of our friends have ended up being lawyers since I went to law school here, and I'm used to socializing with female lawyers/breadwinners (i.e. not interested in the soccer/stay-at-home mom club). Yet like family-oriented folks. Where can I find a community of like kind that has a reasonable commute to Dearborn AND Detroit, given that I'll probably have best luck at finding a job in Detroit (see question 2 below)? We'd like to own a home and would ideally spend between $200-$300k. If anyone knows the Oak Park suburb in Chicago, we'd be looking for a similar feel. Is there one (with a good commute to Dearborn/Detroit)?

2) Will I be able to find a job? From what I understand, the economy is particularly dismal in SE Michigan. Will finding a job as a lawyer (or even in the legal field) be impossible? I am somewhat concerned that this potential move furthering my husbands career will end mine...realistic worry?

3) What is traffic/commuting like?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or guidance.
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:58 PM
 
5,845 posts, read 11,284,096 times
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Originally Posted by jenie25 View Post
My husband and I are in our early 30s with a baby and currently live in Chicago. We are considering a job offer for my husband in Dearborn. I am an attorney, practicing around five years. Some considerations we'd appreciate input on include:

1) Where to live? Good public schools are important to us. Living near relatively open-minded people is important to us. Most of our friends have ended up being lawyers since I went to law school here, and I'm used to socializing with female lawyers/breadwinners (i.e. not interested in the soccer/stay-at-home mom club). Yet like family-oriented folks. Where can I find a community of like kind that has a reasonable commute to Dearborn AND Detroit, given that I'll probably have best luck at finding a job in Detroit (see question 2 below)? We'd like to own a home and would ideally spend between $200-$300k. If anyone knows the Oak Park suburb in Chicago, we'd be looking for a similar feel. Is there one (with a good commute to Dearborn/Detroit)?

2) Will I be able to find a job? From what I understand, the economy is particularly dismal in SE Michigan. Will finding a job as a lawyer (or even in the legal field) be impossible? I am somewhat concerned that this potential move furthering my husbands career will end mine...realistic worry?

3) What is traffic/commuting like?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or guidance.
First thing to understand about the metro Detroit area, is that a lot of the employment is actually in the suburbs. Downtown Detroit has grown with areas corporations relocating to downtown Detroit, such as Quicken Loans, but keep in mind that at one point, Southfield, MI, a suburb that has some of the tallest suburban office buildings in the metro area, had more office space than downtown Detroit. Even Detroit at its best, was always "decentralized." So think of it as being a bit more like LA than Chicago, where the downtown is not necessarily the center of it all.

The Detroit suburbs are generally very similar to the Chicago suburbs, even though the core of the cities are very different.

I actually live in Oak Park. If you like Oak Park, you would probably like Royal Oak. Downtown Royal has a large, lively, progressive downtown that is like a combination of downtown Oak Park, and Madison St. in Forest Park combined. It really is a lot of fun. The surrounding residential areas are not that :"charming" although adjacent Huntington Woods might have more of the housing stock that Oak Park is known for.

To the south Ferndale is also a little like Forest Park, IL with a large gay community.

Both would be about a half-hour commute to Dearborn, however, from what I understand the school districts are not considered the best. To the north of Royal Oak is Birmingham, but it is considered a bit more "hoity-hoity" than Royal Oak. Great walkable downtown, charming old neighborhoods, but a little more "soccer mom"

Ann Arbor itself is an amazing college town that I think you would love if you love Oak Park, but would be a bit far of a commute to Dearborn. Give yourself 45 minutes for that.

The traffic in the middle to outlying suburbs of Chicago are similar to Detroit suburbs, but the city of Detroit itself can feel somewhat abandoned outside work hours. There is generally more traffic in the suburbs of Detroit than there is in the actual city.

I don't know what the legal field/lawyers would be like in the economic state of the area. But I would imagine, that demand for lawyers might be a little more recession resistant than other jobs, because people will always need legal protection, or the opposite. I really don't know though.
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Old 04-29-2011, 11:47 PM
 
Location: Michissippi
3,119 posts, read 7,367,527 times
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I would imagine that as a general rule, finding an attorney job is always difficult since the field is heavily glutted unless you have a couple years of solid experience (and have thus separated yourself from the hordes of unemployed and underemployed JDs). Given 5 years of experience your particular job market is probably so individualized that it would be difficult to make any generalities. What is your practice area and what kinds of firms have you worked for? At the top of the pecking order, the Detroit area has a couple medium-sized local firms, numerous small firms, and a few branch offices of large national firms.

I think most of the upper middle class white collar professionals live in the northern suburbs (Novi, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Commerce Township, Troy, Rochester, etc.) but they are a good distance from Dearborn. You might consider some of the middle class Wayne County suburbs such as Plymouth and Canton.
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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The legal market is, like everywhere, pretty tight.

Do you have a book of business? I not than it will be more difficult to find work. Some of the bigger firms have laid off dozens of partners and associates. There si some hiring going on, but it is limited. Not many firms are looking for someone who has at least a partial book. Few firms are so loaded with extra work that they would prefer someone with some clients over somone with none.

On the Postive side Butzel Long, one of our largest law firms seems to have pulled out of its tailspin and is now bringing back some of their people and hireing a few new people. It is nto as bad as Southern Califronia where newly graduated lawyers are taking volunteer positions in order to get some experience and in hopes of getting an in. However it is not a booming market.

There are a lot of nice cities within half an hour of Dearborn. However it depends on where in Dearborn. Some parts are hard to get to. My daughters both work at the Henry Ford/Greenfield villiage and it takes them longer to get to work than it takes me to get to Downtown Detroit. (We live Downriver).

If you want to hang out with like kind of people, you just have to find them. You will find people that you describe in every upper middle class or weathy suburb. Close to Dearborn with good schools and an upper middle class population include:

Plymouth (great little old fashioned downtown), Canton (Plymouth/Canton School district only) - subdivisions and strip malls, Livonia (decent schools, not great) - mid century suburbia. North livonia is nicer. Grosse Ile (Unique Island Community downriver - excellent schools an odd mix of middle, upper middle class and a few blue collar families al the way to to uber wealthy folk all thrown in together and surrounded by water.), Northville and Novi both have great schools, they are very different communities. Nothville has a quaint olf fashioned downtown and is just a really neat city. Novi is just nice subdivisions, malls and strip malls (lots and lots and lots of malls/strip malls).

I am not sure of the distance to Dearborn but you can get to some part of Dearborn in half an hour from most of these places.

Detroit has a few excellent schools and the rest are terrible. No one is going to recommend Detroit for most families however.

As you get into the northern Suburbs am less certain of the time to Dearborn as I try to avoid those areas during rush hour if possible. That is the only place that we have much traffic to speak of.

Royal Oak is the trendy 20 to 30 something hang out. Their schools are sliding. It is not a real fmaily oriented place (loads of adult stores, bars and pubs, not a Chuck e Cheese kind of a town, although the Zoo is located in Royal Oak.) Ferndale is also not really a fmaily place given other options. Berkely has decent schools.

Give Grosse Pointe a serious look. It is a neat community (5 different cities) and has some outstanding schools. Without traffic and with a radar detector you could easily make Dearborn in half an hour.

If you look into more middle middle class areas, then Southgate, Woodhaven, Riverview and maybe Wyandotte could be considered. All have decent schools, except maybe Wyandotte. Southgate and Wyandotte are both very close to parts of Dearborn. Woodhaven and Riverview are farily close. Trenton is no much further (depending on where in Trenton you look).


If you really expand your commute, Brimginham (ritzy), Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Hills (old money) are nice and have great schools. At that distance you could add in South Lyon.

Finally parts of Dearborn are reasoanbly nice. I am not aware of any schools of particular merit, but they have some decent schools. People often shop for homes based on "good schools" I used to, but I am not sure how "good" a school needs to be to be acceptable. A good student will do well in most schools, and may even perform better in a less competitive atmosphere.

My gut reaction is that you may well like the Grosse Pointe cities the best. Unless you are into nature and outdoorsey things and water, then maybe Grosse Ile. I suspect that you will find the nightlife issue less and less important as your family grows. Pretty much everyone does, even though we all say "Not Me, I am different. I am going to stay lively and have a life outside of my family"

Anyway, Good luck. If you do move, send me a PM with your experience and background and I will let you know if we, or anyone that i know of is looking for someone in your field.
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:59 PM
 
615 posts, read 1,184,709 times
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I've been to Chicago's suburbs, and did not get the impression that they are like Detroit's. More like Detroit's neighborhoods (at least we tore Downtown Hudson's down to help make room for Compuware - last I knew, Dixie Square - closed four years earlier then Hudson's, was still half-standing).

If you've been living in Chicago, you will need to make an adjustment. The layout is quite different. If you like North Lakeview, the Gold Coast, of the Loop - you will not find a anything near Detroit to replace it.

You will almost certainly be looking at suburbs, most of which are quite nice (think North side Chicago, only with a lot less traffic and much bigger yards).

I would advise against choosing a community in Michigan based on its public schools - all of the districts in the state are in serious economic peril, and it seems that the state government is bent on making Michigan the first state to undo compulsory education and make all schooling private. Choose a neighborhood by how close it is to private schools you can afford.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:53 AM
 
5,845 posts, read 11,284,096 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 313 TUxedo View Post
I've been to Chicago's suburbs, and did not get the impression that they are like Detroit's. More like Detroit's neighborhoods (at least we tore Downtown Hudson's down to help make room for Compuware - last I knew, Dixie Square - closed four years earlier then Hudson's, was still half-standing).

If you've been living in Chicago, you will need to make an adjustment. The layout is quite different. If you like North Lakeview, the Gold Coast, of the Loop - you will not find a anything near Detroit to replace it.

You will almost certainly be looking at suburbs, most of which are quite nice (think North side Chicago, only with a lot less traffic and much bigger yards).

I would advise against choosing a community in Michigan based on its public schools - all of the districts in the state are in serious economic peril, and it seems that the state government is bent on making Michigan the first state to undo compulsory education and make all schooling private. Choose a neighborhood by how close it is to private schools you can afford.
You mentioned Dixie Square Mall. If those south suburbs are the ones that you have been to, and those are the ones that you have an impression of - then yes, places like Harvey definitely feel like Detroit neighborhoods.

However the middle to outer ring suburbs of the southwest, west, northwest, and north suburbs defenitely are VERY much like Detroit suburbs. But if your experience of Chicago suburbs were formed by Harvey, etc. then I totally understand you answer.

The OP mentioned Oak Park. If she liked Oak Park, then its possible Royal Oak, Ferndale, or even the nice neighborhoods of Detroit that lie bounded between 7 mile, Livernois, and Woodward might work.

Lakeview, Gold Coast, and Lincoln Park, are actually a very small part of Chicagoland, and most Chicagolanders have little interaction with those places. The north side of the city itself is almost a bubble within greater Chicagoland.

I have spent quite a bit of time in both metro areas. And I totally understand that if people spent time primarily in the dense, gentrified north side of the city and the south suburbs of Harvey, etc. why one might think that Chicagoland is nothing like metro Detroit.
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:52 PM
 
17 posts, read 32,992 times
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Thanks, all, for the helpful suggestions.
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