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Old 03-10-2017, 07:00 AM
 
Location: Germany
9 posts, read 7,807 times
Reputation: 15

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Hi All


I have been reading a lot here in the last couple of weeks and this has been very helpful, so THANKS to all of you contributing facts and opinion here.


If things go as planned we'll move from Germany to the Detroit area (working in Troy) as family this summer. Having read a lot in here about what to consider when moving there we will be looking for a place to live that offers good schools and a bearable commute during rush hour.


Nevertheless I still have some questions that you hopefully can help me find answers to:




Is there an insurance offering Expat- conditions? Otherwise, what I have heard car insurance is really expensive without an US insurance history. What insurance company offering fair contracts would you suggest from your own experience?


If not: is it possible / legal to drive a friends' or relatives' car registered in another state (Virginia for example)? Or is there a possibility to have your own car registered to someone with a US insurance history? This is not about cheating but finding out about restrictions in place!


How would you describe the difference between living in Sterling Heights and Troy / Rochester / West Bloomfield / Clarkston (which we consider moving to if we find the right place to live) in regard of prices and quality of living?


Do commute times Google maps shows make sense at work hours?
Example: Mary Ln., Washington Twp --> FCA HQ 21 miles / 25 minutes or do you have to add a lot to that?


What schools (public or private) would you recommend from your own experience? Especially since our kids will have to get used to understand and speak English, the younger one (7 yrs) having to learn the language completely.


Do you know of places where 'horse sharing' is possible? (Don't know if there's a word for it --> someone who owns a horse lets somebody else help with the work and lets them ride in return.)


There'll probably be many more questions in the weeks to come but for now it would be great to get some feedback from locals.


Thanks a lot in advance and have a great weekend!
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:33 AM
 
124 posts, read 108,160 times
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There is no difference, you'll be living in car-dependent suburban sprawl anywhere outside of downtown Detroit.
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Old 03-10-2017, 09:24 AM
 
4,020 posts, read 2,923,401 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valium97 View Post
Is there an insurance offering Expat- conditions? Otherwise, what I have heard car insurance is really expensive without an US insurance history. What insurance company offering fair contracts would you suggest from your own experience?
I have used AAA in the years that I actually paid for auto insurance (company lease now). Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. Be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars a month without insurance history. I don't think insurance companies that specialize in expat insurance exist (not a large enough market) or if they do, I doubt they'd get you that great of a deal as their overhead would be quite significant in having to acquire and adapt your overseas driving records to U.S. standards.
Quote:
If not: is it possible / legal to drive a friends' or relatives' car registered in another state (Virginia for example)? Or is there a possibility to have your own car registered to someone with a US insurance history? This is not about cheating but finding out about restrictions in place!
You're playing with fire with this idea. Say you have an accident in a Virginia-plated car in Michigan. You'll have to prove that you don't actually live in Michigan but are just visiting, otherwise the insurance company may deny the claim. Comprehensive and collision insurance follows the car but liability follows the driver, so you will still need insurance of your own even if the vehicle is registered elsewhere. You also cannot have an out-of-state vehicle in Michigan longer than a year (iirc).
Quote:
How would you describe the difference between living in Sterling Heights and Troy / Rochester / West Bloomfield / Clarkston (which we consider moving to if we find the right place to live) in regard of prices and quality of living?
I wouldn't say there is much by way of difference. They are all decent, upper-middle-class suburbs with a bunch of traditional box stores and chain restaurants.
Quote:
Do commute times Google maps shows make sense at work hours?
Example: Mary Ln., Washington Twp --> FCA HQ 21 miles / 25 minutes or do you have to add a lot to that?
Google Maps do a fairly decent job of showing real live traffic. So just search at the time during which you'd normally be commuting and you'll get the picture.
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Old 03-10-2017, 11:34 AM
 
915 posts, read 1,158,418 times
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Sterling Heights and Troy don't have "downtown" areas. Troy is more pretentious than Sterling Heights.

We lived in Rochester Hills for about 5 years and loved it. I would highly recommend the school district. They are really good with kids who need special services and a lot of the kids don't have English as a first language these days - so, they really won't be as out of place as you think.

West Bloomfield is nice, but I haven't spent a lot of time there to be able to give you good advice about living or not living there.

Clarkston is really far away from everything that you'd want to do if you are working in Troy. It's a cute town, but it's a lot more rural than any of the other suburbs you've mentioned.

Going west into FCA will be a drag from Macomb County because the most direct route tends to be M-59 and it gets packed during peak times. And a lot of the east - west roads are just two lanes as you move north from there. Sometimes, they will be four lane roads, but for the most part, it's still pretty rural and not very built up.

I'd choose Troy, Auburn Hills, or Rochester if I worked at FCA. Maybe Sterling Heights. Sterling Heights is nice, but it's just a lot more bland than I prefer.

Rochester and Auburn Hills have great summer programming for the kids also.

The only problem with Rochester is that a some of people get into a "keeping up with the Jones' mentality" and like to "show off" with new cars and the like. However, I never really had a problem with that, mostly because I just ignored it and got on with my life. It's kind of how you respond to it that makes the difference.

I like that there are more independent markets in the area for fruits/veggies and meat. (I miss going to Papa Joe's and Nino's - and they were just building a Fresh Thyme when we left the area. There just aren't those kinds of choices in my immediate area. And, yes, I know I chose to move - it doesn't mean that I can't miss some of the things that I liked!)

The thing about going North of Troy that nobody tells you is that it starts getting to be a drag to get to the freeways if you want to access the freeways to get to other areas of town. That's one of the big reasons why Rochester Hills/Rochester was kind of our limit because M-59 and 75 were still easily accessible and it wasn't ridiculous to get to the highway.
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:48 AM
 
Location: Germany
9 posts, read 7,807 times
Reputation: 15
Thank you so much 'highlanderfil' and 'snoopygirlmi', your replies are very helpful!
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Old 03-14-2017, 07:44 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,752 posts, read 65,567,547 times
Reputation: 32915
If things go as planned we'll move from Germany to the Detroit area (working in Troy) as family this summer. Having read a lot in here about what to consider when moving there we will be looking for a place to live that offers good schools and a bearable commute during rush hour.


That would be Troy. Unless you cannot afford Troy.




Is there an insurance offering Expat- conditions? Otherwise, what I have heard car insurance is really expensive without an US insurance history. What insurance company offering fair contracts would you suggest from your own experience?


No. But not driving history does not make a huge difference if you are over 26 years old. It makes a little difference, but not huge. Insurance costs depends on how much coverage you get. Minimum liability is $15,000/$30,000. That is all that is required by law. That is puny liability and covers almost nothing. I suggest you get $100,000/$300,000 liability coverage and then get an umbrella policy covering both your cars and you renters/homeowners with $1 million limits. that protects you well form liability and does not cost that much more. If you are broke, then get the minimum and use bankruptcy as your protection. If you lease or buy a car, you will also need comprehensive and collision coverage. If you have a nice car that you own, you will also want comp. and collision. If you have a junker, then you will likely not bother.


If not: is it possible / legal to drive a friends' or relatives' car registered in another state (Virginia for example)? Or is there a possibility to have your own car registered to someone with a US insurance history? This is not about cheating but finding out about restrictions in place!


Possible - yes. Legal? Technically no. However there is really no penalty for doing this. If you drive a Virginia registered car for several months and a policeman sees it, or if you get pulled over for something else and they see a Michigan license with a Virginia car, they might issue a ticket telling you to register in Michigan. Probably not though. Michigan is home to thousands of what we call snow birds - people who live in Michigan part time and Florida part time (during winter) many of them drive Florida registered cars because insurance is cheaper. The insurance will have to be through whomever owns the car. You could put the title and registration in their name have them insure it and you drive it as a guest driver.


How would you describe the difference between living in Sterling Heights and Troy / Rochester / West Bloomfield / Clarkston (which we consider moving to if we find the right place to live) in regard of prices and quality of living?



Not a lot of difference. Sterling heights is not as nice. Troy West Bloomfield are similar. Both have very good schools. Rochester Hills is also similar, but a little more modern. Rochester City has a bit of a neat tiny downtown area and some of the surrounding area is more rural. I do not know a lot about Clarkston. It is a cute small town kind of place. Not sure why you would live anywhere but Troy. Troy is one of our premier suburban locations. The shorter your commute the better. The only reason I could see to live elsewhere is if you do not like soulless suburbia. If you want to live in a place with a downtown and a specific identity, Rochester is the best bet of the places you listed. If any suburban location is fine for you then Troy is the answer. If you want something specific let us know and people will give you ideas. Sorry, there is really nothing resembling a European town here.

Do commute times Google maps shows make sense at work hours?
Example: Mary Ln., Washington Twp --> FCA HQ 21 miles / 25 minutes or do you have to add a lot to that?

Depends on the weather and traffic. Usually Google gives you the estimated time for the conditions at that moment. There will be days when you will add an hour or more to that time (snow/ice or accidents). The area where Troy is has some of the most dense traffic, but Michigan does not have any real traffic to speak of. Not compared to Los Angeles anyway. IF there is no traffic, I usually beat google estimated times by 10 - 20 %. But I drive fast on the freeway and use a radar detector. I also usually do not drive during rush hours.

What schools (public or private) would you recommend from your own experience? Especially since our kids will have to get used to understand and speak English, the younger one (7 yrs) having to learn the language completely.

Troy has excellent schools. The best rated public high school is international academy. You get in by lottery (luck of the draw). The best Private school is Cranbrook, but it costs $36,000 a year (possibly more now). Rochester, Rochester Hills, west Bloomfield, all have excellent public schools. Sterling Heights not as much, but not terrible either. Real estate prices reflect the rankings of schools. Area with excellent schools cost more. The rankings are really about the kids who go to that school, not about the school itself. Usually schools in wealthy areas are ranked higher because more of the kids have parental support/drive.

Do you know of places where 'horse sharing' is possible? (Don't know if there's a word for it --> someone who owns a horse lets somebody else help with the work and lets them ride in return.)

There are such places, but you have to help with the money. Usually someone is hired who does the work. There is no way you could do enough work to pay for the cost of owning a horse. They are quite expensive. There is a place on the Island where we live that has some of those horse sharing arrangements, or at least they used to, but that is not a reasonable commute for Troy. It was a long time ago that I considered it, but I think it was either $4,000 or $7,000 per year per horse sharing it with 4 people. You are probably better off just taking lessons and/or renting a horse when you want to ride for a day, than sharing ownership. I think there is a place near Mayberry Park in Northville where you can rent horses. There used to be horse places all over this area, but they are getting built out into Subdivisions so they are harder to find, but still around. If you do find a shared ownership deal, find one that is very close to your house, otherwise you will not use the horse enough to be worthwhile. Another issue is if you share ownership of one horse, are you going to ride alone?



There is a strong and very active German American society here. My brother and his wife were pretty active in it, but they moved to Germany a couple of years ago. I might be able to get you in touch with one lady who used as an interpreter when I had some German clients few years back. There are a considerable number of German people settled in this area.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 03-14-2017 at 07:59 AM..
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Old 03-14-2017, 07:52 AM
 
4,020 posts, read 2,923,401 times
Reputation: 3159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
No. But not driving history does not make a huge difference if you are over 26 years old. It makes a little difference, but not huge.
I beg to differ. It's a really broad statement you're making and there are plenty of cases where it's incorrect. If you have a driving history with a bunch of accidents and tickets, you'd better believe it makes a difference. Likewise if you have no driving history in this country whatsoever, you will be in the highest-paying tier as insurance companies will treat you as a high-risk individual because they have no evidence of the contrary.
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:25 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,752 posts, read 65,567,547 times
Reputation: 32915
Quote:
Originally Posted by highlanderfil View Post
I beg to differ. It's a really broad statement you're making and there are plenty of cases where it's incorrect. If you have a driving history with a bunch of accidents and tickets, you'd better believe it makes a difference. Likewise if you have no driving history in this country whatsoever, you will be in the highest-paying tier as insurance companies will treat you as a high-risk individual because they have no evidence of the contrary.
They were not asking about a bad driving history compared to a clean driving history and that is not what I discussed (reading comprehension issue again). Sorry if you have a bad driving history, but this discussion is about someone from another country with no driving history available, not someone who had demonstrated poor driving skills habits. No driving history is less of a problem. We have insured several people with no driving history (mostly kids, but some adults). There is a cost, but it is not astronomical compared to someone with a driving history. There is a bigger difference for age. Under 26 is expensive. You have to shop around and sometimes bundling your car insurance with homeowners or renters insurance can save you a lot.


Insurance costs depend on a lot of information. Driving history is only one of the factors. Credit rating, location, age, marital status, homeowner or renter, if you are young even your grades can have an impact. Our kids with all As got a slightly lower price than kids who did not have all As.
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:16 AM
 
4,020 posts, read 2,923,401 times
Reputation: 3159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
They were not asking about a bad driving history compared to a clean driving history and that is not what I discussed (reading comprehension issue again).
"Again"? Not sure what you're implying here. I'm not sure where you get your knowledge of the auto insurance industry, but I can tell you with close to absolute certainty that if you don't have any history, you get treated as if though your history is poor. From the standpoint of an insurance company it's only prudent.
Quote:
Sorry if you have a bad driving history, but this discussion is about someone from another country with no driving history available, not someone who had demonstrated poor driving skills habits.
I do not have a bad driving history. Not sure why you're jumping to these conclusions and turning it on me.
Quote:
Insurance costs depend on a lot of information. Driving history is only one of the factors. Credit rating, location, age, marital status, homeowner or renter, if you are young even your grades can have an impact. Our kids with all As got a slightly lower price than kids who did not have all As.
Correct, but it's the most impactful factor. Insurance companies assess risk based on history. If you don't have history, you are going to be in the highest priced tier, as if though you have points on your license (emphasized for, you know, reading comprehension). End of story.

I actually have experience (multiple instances of it, in fact) with shopping for insurance for recent immigrants and the fact that they have no verifiable driving history (or credit history, for that matter) has inevitably come up as the main reason for the high premiums, irrespective of state of residence (I say the last bit because in Michigan this impact is multiplied by the fact that we're the most expensive state for insurance). I also have experience working in the insurance industry (medical), so I'm not exactly a stranger to actuarial factors and knowing exactly how risk is calculated.

Last edited by highlanderfil; 03-14-2017 at 09:29 AM..
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Old 03-16-2017, 01:30 AM
 
Location: Germany
9 posts, read 7,807 times
Reputation: 15
Thanks for the additions Coldjensens and highlanderfil!

Are there any Insurance companies you'd recommend in addition to AAA? I'd like to get in touch with them before we get there so I don't have pressure to sign a contract quickly...
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