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View Poll Results: Help us make a choice!
Royal Oak 6 50.00%
Berkley 3 25.00%
Clawson 0 0%
Wixom 1 8.33%
West Bloomfield 0 0%
Birmingham 2 16.67%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-26-2017, 08:40 AM
 
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We are expecting Our first baby this november, we are currently living in Royal Oak and we love it. Except our 1 bedroom 550 sq ft condo has become too small for us 3. We thought of staying in the area, meaning we'd look into Clawson and Berkley for our first home.

Except we were at Wixom enjoying some lunch and we loved the new construction communities and their affordable prices. If we were not expecting we wouldn't consider moving from the area we are now (Royal Oak) but with a baby on the way, and this beautiful homes with great backyards full of trees, we are in a conundrum.

Because of schools we'd consider Birmingham, but it seems we don't get much for our money, and then there is West Bloomfield which has a lot of things we are attracted to but Wixom and West bloomfield would be non walkable for us, and that is a big deal.

We obviously need to compromise walkability and availability of shopping for a better place to live, but my question is, is it worth it??

At the end, we end up using the car for everything but we love the walkability that the Royal Oak area has to offer.

We seek your advice because we obviously do not know how much our lives will change with baby.

We like schools in All of these places, our budget is 300k tops but we would only consider going this high for new construction (Wixom), any other place we would not like to spend more than 250k.

My husband commutes to downtown Detroit, I'm not working as of now. We like diversity, we are pro recycling, eating local/organic, biking and being close to great parks. We don't mind getting along with snobs or not, but are liberals ourselves. We would not mind buying an apartment instead of a house if the location is amazing and the apartment is upscale.

Last edited by Marylennox; 06-26-2017 at 08:47 AM.. Reason: Spelling
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,767 posts, read 65,645,334 times
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Congratulations!

It all depends on what you like personally. New construction "communities" tend to be very sterile and conforming. On the other hand they tend to attract a lot of new buyers so there may be a lot more people of your age - thus more local friends for your kid(s).

Do not worry overly much about schools, unless they are terrible. First off any good school is fine for kids to do well in life. Bad schools are not, but stay above the middle, and your kids will be fine. It is more about your parenting than about the school ranking. Second, what is a good school will depend a lot on your particular children. Some excel in a smaller homier atmosphere with a focus on the basics of education, others excel in giant cold institutional schools that are extremely competitive and offer classes in everything known to man. Your kid's particular skills and interests may change what is important in a school for your kid. Our youngest, while academically very astute, plans to become a professional trumpet player. For him, the school with the best trumpet/jazz band and teacher is a better choice than the school with the highest SAT scores. It rally depends on what direction your kid goes. Our school is great at training people to go into engineering, medicine, business. So far our kids are a music teacher, a Psychology PhD candidate; a I will do whatever job I can get as long as it does not involve sitting still for long periods of time; and information systems major (not totally sure what that is) - whose real interest and goal right now is a shot at the Olympic rowing team in 2020; and our trumpet player. For each of them our local schools may have been ideal or less than ideal, they are all different. We chose our location in small part because they had an exemplary vocal music teacher (PhD) - who promptly retired and was replaced by a kid with no work ethic or teaching skills. You will either end up having to make do with what your local school offers, or move as your child(ren) develop. Your school system and your kids will not stay the same for the next 12 - 15 years, so choosing by school is not always the best idea. For elementary school, any school will suffice in most cases. We had our kids in everything from bad to excellent schools for elementary, and I cannot see that it made any difference. They all did well in high school regardless of the elementary experience.

Walkable has different definitions and will change for you as your family develops. For young kids parklike trails may be more walkable than a trendy downtown with lots of sex toy shops or other adult oriented locations that you may no longer want to visit or look at when you have kids. Until your kids are teenagers, do you really care about having lots of coffee shops or bubble tea or whatever Poke is? Early on, the horror that is Chuck E Cheese may be more important to you than Bigby's. Or maybe a playground that is clean and safe over ready access to Lover's Lane.

Some new subs are walkable in that the streets have little traffic, or they have nice sidewalks, but there is little to look at or visit. Some have trails in park like settings or connect to very nice parks you can walk in. Traditional "walkability focuses on adult living. You may have different priorities when your life focuses around 3-12 year olds. To me, when raising kids, having Kensington Park in your back yard is preferable to having Royal Oak just down the street.


A short commute will be very important as your family develops. In fact, that may be the single most important priority in life. Mommy and Daddy time with homework, attending events and performances, or just hanging out is more important to your kids development, self esteem and well being than any factor relating to where you live. A short commute is the single most important issue for a family. It took me a lifetime to realize this, or at least to accept it. Luckily for much of my kids critical years, I had a three minute commute. but that was not because I recognized or accepted the importance of a short commute, but just a happy chance resulting from other decisions we made.

The reality is wherever you move now, you are not that likely to stay there for the rest of your kid's home life. You will probably move at least once and may well move to a completely different community. Your choice today should really be based on your needs of today, not on the off chance you will still be there and the community will still be the same in 12 or 15 years.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 06-26-2017 at 10:44 AM..
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Chicago
939 posts, read 845,288 times
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I tend to agree to the point about schools... look, this is an extreme example, but for all the negative ink spilled about Detroit Public Schools over the years, they still send kids off to UM-Ann Arbor on the reg along with Ivy League schools and elite HBCUs that are harder to get into than most public schools. Successful and invested parents breed successful kids, most of the time.

This isn't saying that you shouldn't factor in schools, but the reputations are constantly changing. It will be some ~6 years (depending on kindergarten enrollment cutoffs) before your child even enters a classroom... a lot can change both in your personal life and in the way schools are regarded. Places like Ferndale, for example, have historically kinda crappy schools (though I knew a few Ferndale natives at UM) but now have half million dollar homes and increasingly good schools. Livonia schools went from an association with excellence to mediocrity largely in the course of 10 years. Look at schools, but don't be a slave to their rankings.
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Old 06-26-2017, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Metro Detroit
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Your situation sounds similar to the one my family and I faced last fall. We lived in Downtown Royal Oak, but when buying a house quickly found that anything we could afford near Downtown was in terrible shape. We could still afford something nice in Royal Oak, but it would put us up by 13 Mile, two miles from downtown, and in area that isn't exactly walkable, which in my opinion defeated the purpose of being in Royal Oak.

We started looking in Rochester and Plymouth, but every time we went out to either it was like, "Wow, this ... is ... really, really far." So we crossed those off pretty fast. Having moved to Michigan from a non-walkable suburb, we knew places like Wixom, Livonia, and Shelby were off the list. We hated that. We drove everywhere which in turn made it so we did a lot less.

It came down to Berkley, Clawson or Northern Royal Oak. The reason we settled on Berkley was because while it wasn't the best at anything, it offered a little bit of everything. You get the vibrancy and walkability of its own downtown with quirky stores, coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants - all within a mile of anywhere in town, and we loved that. Plus, even at Coolidge, we're still only 2 miles from Downtown Royal Oak, which is the same distance we'd have been had we gone with Northern RO. Berkley has great schools (better than RO or Clawson) - schools that rival districts like Birmingham, Grosse Pointes, or South Lyon, but in a community which has character like B-Ham, affordable areas like South Lyon, and proximity to the things we love in Detroit, like GPs. Also, the schools take in Huntington Woods (very wealthy) and Northern Oak Park (more working class), so you get some diversity in Berkley Schools, which in my opinion is great! Clawson is good too, and we like its little downtown, but it felt the taxes were high enough that any savings we'd receive on the house price itself was quickly negated by taxes, and overall it's just a bit more conservative than we were looking for. Berkley leans left, but doesn't get quite get as far left as a place like Ferndale. We liked all of that.

So far, about 6 months into being a resident of Berkley, I can safely say it was the right choice. Had my budget been $350,000 I'd have stayed around 11 Mile and Main (I really liked Royal Oak), but it wasn't, it was $200,000 - and at that price you really can't beat 11 Mile and Coolidge. As for my wife, she likes it here better. The culture is definitely more targeted at families than it is singles or DINKs, and whether or not that's a good thing is completely subjective, but I'd suggest you look at a house or two in Berkley as part of your search.

Last edited by Geo-Aggie; 06-26-2017 at 11:19 AM..
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Old 06-26-2017, 11:45 AM
 
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I would think very long and hard about doing a daily Wixom - Downtown Detroit commute daily during peak commuting hours. Its not pretty.
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Old 06-26-2017, 04:36 PM
 
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Have you considered Northville? You can get a decent condo for $250K. Northville is walkable, somewhat liberal, somewhat diverse, has a decent sized state park, and is ranked among the best schools in the state.
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,767 posts, read 65,645,334 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pojack View Post
Have you considered Northville? You can get a decent condo for $250K. Northville is walkable, somewhat liberal, somewhat diverse, has a decent sized state park, and is ranked among the best schools in the state.
While I love Northville (grew up there - sort of) and I think it is a great place. Some of these assertions seem odd to me. Maybe you can explain what you mean?


"somewhat diverse" - roughly 94 % white, I guess "somewhat" is a relative term. When people talk about diversity - Northville never pops to mind for most people. It is pretty much an all white place.

"has a decent sized state park," - what? Mayberry is in Northville Township well outside Northville, more claimed by Novi (across te street), and Lyon Township than Northville. Maybe there is another park you are referring to? Hines Park is in Westland mostly but extends almost to the edge of Northville (I guess that is not State anyway).

Mayberry is a former TB asylum that has been a State park for several decades. Some of the remains of the old buildings are still there and even some underground tunnels that once connected the buildings (I used to explore them as a kid, but you cannot get into them anymore). It is about a square mile mostly wooded with great trails. There is a working farm, an Equestrian center and lots of trees and fields with trails. Oh and they have a corn maze at the farm.

Across the street Novi has a giant wooden playscape and many soccer fields. It is supposed to be for Novi residents only, but we often took our kids there when visiting Grandpa and no one ever checked us for ID. Might be restrictions on parking you car there (we walked or biked).

Northville is definitely walkable/bikable. It has a neat little Mini greenfield village place with about six or ten historic buildings moved to one place to preserve them. Some awesome Queen Anne homes, a handful of neat shops and restaurants. Quite a lot of nice restaurants for a town of less than 6,000 people. The "vibe" of Northville is laid back, generally pretty friendly, with a tinge of snobbery particularly from newer residents (hopefully that is not becoming a trend). Northville has some great churches. The schools are outstanding. High school is huge (eeeewge!). It is nicely located near Plymouth, Novi, Canton, and 275 passes right through the outside edge of Northville. Kensington MetroPark, Mayberry State Park, Island Lake State Park and Hines Park are all very close (Bike-able distance). Ann Arbor is pretty close too, you can ride a bike there, but it is a long ride.

Downtown has some remaining historic small town quaintness, but much of it was butchered in the 1980s and 1990s. There was a neat small ford factory right in town for many decades. It was partly powered by a water mill. It is now offices I think. The Rouge river runs right through Northville. It has the coolest lumberyard around.

The surrounding area has been badly infected with McMansion subdivisions, but the downtown stayed partially intact and somewhat quaint. (No McDonalds, or Sav on, or car parts chains. No walmart).

Traffic is a problem for Northville and especially for the surrounding communities. (Beck Road in Northville Township is probably the worst place for traffic that I regularly encounter in Michigan, there may be worse places, but Beck has to be top ten). It is roughly an hour from Downtown Detroit - you can make it faster on occasion, but an hour is what most people will allow to get to work on time most of the time.

Not far outside of Northville, ther are still some places tha are ruralesque. My dad still lives in or family home on 3 acres on a dirt road with a neighbor on 110 acreas of basically empty mostly wooded land. A golf course surrounded by McMansions takes up much of the formerly wooded and farm area around him and in the winter he can see the McMansion subdivisions and hear them all year round. Still there are frequently horses trotting down the road, and no one bothers him about burning his trash int he back yard. (He has a Northville Address, but is really in Lyon Township). However it is only a matter of a few years before the neighbors property will become a subdivision.

You can find rural around Northville, but it is getting harder, and it will not last.

Funny suggestion for a Condo. The whole Condo thing is what nearly ruined Northvlle (and Plymouth). It is the antithesis of what Northville stands for and what makes it charming. However yes, they are there, and there are some apartments too. They are really ugly and an eyesore to the community, but yes they are affordable while a Victorian or Tudor house in Northville is not affordable. Northville property taxes are pretty high for Wayne County, so be sure you factor that in when you decide what you can afford. They are about the same as we have in Grosse Ile. I think it works out for us to about 1.5% of the actual value per year. Northville is in Wayne County which for some unfathomable reason scares some people off. Stigma maybe?

Northville does not seem to host non-stop community events like Plymouth does and it does not really have a center of town where people can gather for such things. It is not a "Lets Have a Parade" kind of place, the residents would get too annoyed about streets being blocked. (Yes I think they do have a parade and there are some community events here and there. They do not have them every month or two like some of the more homey communities do).

I am trying to give you a balanced description, not rose colored glasses, not negative nellie. In the balance, it is one of my favorite towns in SE Michigan and I would love to live there, despite some imperfections.

We bid on a house being auctioned off there in 2005, and it appeared we were going to win it at $480,000, then someone walked in at the last minute and Bid $620,000. (Odd, they probably could have gotten it for $500,000 we were at our limit and other bidders had dropped out). That house is now shown as worth $1.2 million. So I guess property values in Northville have more than recovered from the recession.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 06-27-2017 at 07:43 AM..
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Old 06-27-2017, 11:48 AM
 
169 posts, read 131,627 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
While I love Northville (grew up there - sort of) and I think it is a great place. Some of these assertions seem odd to me. Maybe you can explain what you mean?


"somewhat diverse" - roughly 94 % white, I guess "somewhat" is a relative term. When people talk about diversity - Northville never pops to mind for most people. It is pretty much an all white place.
Judging by my child's school and just my experience driving/walking down the street and taking her to extra curricular activities, your assertion isn't true. If you were to walk into my child's school, you'd see kids that are African American, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Hispanic, etc. The most recent data for her school (2016 I believe) has it listed at 75% White. The high school is listed at 75% White. Not 94%. As for walking downtown, I've seen minorities every time I've been down there, which is quite often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
"has a decent sized state park," - what? Mayberry is in Northville Township well outside Northville, more claimed by Novi (across te street), and Lyon Township than Northville. Maybe there is another park you are referring to? Hines Park is in Westland mostly but extends almost to the edge of Northville (I guess that is not State anyway).
Ummm, the city of Northville is across the street from Mayberry as well. Perhaps you don't know that the city limits extend to Beck Rd (see the link below). And yes, it's a decent sized park at 1.5 square miles. And it offers horseback riding, mountain bike trails and several other activities that most other parks don't offer.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/No...!4d-83.4832692

Incidentally, most people who don't live in or frequent Northville and Northville Township have no idea there's a difference between the city and the township. Heck, I've heard of people who actually have lived in either the city or township for a while who weren't aware of the difference until they went to the wrong government building to pay a bill and had to be referred to the other government.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Traffic is a problem for Northville and especially for the surrounding communities. (Beck Road in Northville Township is probably the worst place for traffic that I regularly encounter in Michigan, there may be worse places, but Beck has to be top ten). It is roughly an hour from Downtown Detroit - you can make it faster on occasion, but an hour is what most people will allow to get to work on time most of the time.
I work downtown Detroit and live in Northville. When there's no traffic, it takes me 30 minutes. With rush hour traffic, it's usually a 50-60 minute commute. I also like that Northville is situated close the middle of Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Funny suggestion for a Condo. The whole Condo thing is what nearly ruined Northvlle (and Plymouth). It is the antithesis of what Northville stands for and what makes it charming. However yes, they are there, and there are some apartments too. They are really ugly and an eyesore to the community, but yes they are affordable while a Victorian or Tudor house in Northville is not affordable. Northville property taxes are pretty high for Wayne County, so be sure you factor that in when you decide what you can afford. They are about the same as we have in Grosse Ile. I think it works out for us to about 1.5% of the actual value per year. Northville is in Wayne County which for some unfathomable reason scares some people off. Stigma maybe?
Much of the city of Northville (The portion north of 8 mile), is actually in Oakland County. Many people don't realize this fact either. My Northville home is in Oakland County. When we bought, it was a selling point, for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Northville does not seem to host non-stop community events like Plymouth does and it does not really have a center of town where people can gather for such things. It is not a "Lets Have a Parade" kind of place, the residents would get too annoyed about streets being blocked. (Yes I think they do have a parade and there are some community events here and there. They do not have them every month or two like some of the more homey communities do).
Totally inaccurate. There are events most days of the week in downtown Northville. Concerts, art festivals, grub/pub crawls, kids events, etc. And there actually is a city center where people gather, mainly for the concerts. Click the link.

Welcome to Downtown Northville!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
We bid on a house being auctioned off there in 2005, and it appeared we were going to win it at $480,000, then someone walked in at the last minute and Bid $620,000. (Odd, they probably could have gotten it for $500,000 we were at our limit and other bidders had dropped out). That house is now shown as worth $1.2 million. So I guess property values in Northville have more than recovered from the recession.
Definitely. It's one of the few communities that have held strong during and after the housing crisis. 1200 square foot ranches that need work are selling for $265K. I've been told a turn key newly renovated one would fetch $300K...

Last edited by pojack; 06-27-2017 at 11:57 AM..
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Old 06-27-2017, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Back in the Mitten. Formerly NC
3,819 posts, read 5,470,195 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pojack View Post
Judging by my child's school and just my experience driving/walking down the street and taking her to extra curricular activities, your assertion isn't true. If you were to walk into my child's school, you'd see kids that are African American, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Hispanic, etc. The most recent data for her school (2016 I believe) has it listed at 75% White. The high school is listed at 75% White. Not 94%. As for walking downtown, I've seen minorities every time I've been down there, which is quite often..

School of choice. There is no longer a correlation between a city's demographics and the school district within the city's demographics.
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Old 06-27-2017, 01:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jaynarie View Post
School of choice. There is no longer a correlation between a city's demographics and the school district within the city's demographics.
Northville doesn't participate in school of choice. I take that back. Each year, they offer school of choice opportunities to 5... count them... FIVE... incoming 11th graders.

So yes, there is a correlation between the school district and city/township demographics in Northville. I believe Birmingham is the same. The only two in the area that don't participate in school of choice as far as I'm aware. Which I suspect is a big reason why they're able to maintain such high quality schools.

Last edited by pojack; 06-27-2017 at 01:41 PM..
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