Is Ann Arbor the best town in Michigan to raise a family?

Submitted by diag squirrel on January 13th, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Never thought I'd say this, but we're debating a move back to Michigan. As far as I can see, Ann Arbor area is the most stable, progressive and cosmopolitan region in the state. Or is Ann Arbor a peer to Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, Birmingham, Northville, East Grand Rapids? Wife heard South Lyon is booming and could be a stable investment.



January 13th, 2015 at 3:27 PM ^

This is appropo of nothing, but although Larry Page grew up in Lansing he had family in Flint.  According to his aunt his favorite thing to do as a kid was to go to Autoworld.  Too bad for Autoworld that its potential future benefactor was 10 and far short of his first billion.

Mabel Pines

January 13th, 2015 at 3:58 PM ^

in beautiful Christmas town, Frankenmuth!  It really is nice.  Super cheap housing and taxes, #3 rated public HS in the state (I Know!).  Very conservative and small town, but safe and nice.  Not much shopping (of the fancy variety, outlets are awesome) or fancy dining. 

I have also lived in Kzoo, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield HIlls, and Grosse Pointe.  All have pluses and minuses.  I'm not outdoorsy, so Up North is not for me.  Remember every single town in the world has plusses and minuses!  Good luck!

Mabel Pines

January 13th, 2015 at 6:29 PM ^

Dad was in automotive sales; hence, Detroit suburbs.  Then when I got married we were in Kzoo working.  My husband then got his permanent job in the medical field on the East side.  We knew we wanted to stay in Michigan and my husband is from Up north; he really does not like the 675 crazy traffic.  So this seemed like a compromise.

It's different out here in the country, but nice.  Saves me a ton since I never have to get botox and fancy clothes!  It is a nice place to raise kids, but I make sure to take my kids to Ann Arbor, Chicago, Detroit, out east, to show them what's out there.  And, boy, I will NEVER get used to that liquid fertilizer smell!!

I forgot!!  Beautiful Ann Arbor for 4 fabulous years of college where I watched Ty Wheatley and the fab five mow through the Big Ten and met my husband and partied with James Voskuil!!  Good times!  (Also there may have been drinking involved)


January 14th, 2015 at 2:12 AM ^

and bring my wife there everytime we visit from the left coast but I really like the Hefe at Frankenmuth brew pub ( is it still there ? ). But from an ex pat's view AA is still the jewel in the crown by far !!!  Bitch about the expense but then come out here to San Francisco and see what you can buy for that much . Culture, great schools, entertainment, it's the cat's meow. And unlike Frankenmuth NO SPARTIES to spoil the neighborhood.I came from Flint so I know that response is a joke. My brother still lives in Flushing and works in Owosso but spends as much time as he can in AA

Benoit Balls

January 13th, 2015 at 4:24 PM ^

lives in Grand Blanc, which is really a nice little town. Just have to be sure we dont go too far North on Dort Hwy.  Funny story: when my Mom first moved up to that area, she was confused my all the ladies she would see hanging out at the Big John on Dort Highway, right inside the FLint city limits.  We had to explain to her that those ladies were in their "office"


January 13th, 2015 at 2:05 PM ^

Same here.  Haven't pulled the trigger yet though... I'll miss the low taxes and the mountains.

I grew up in the Plymouth area been looking at Northville and South Lyon too.

diag squirrel

January 13th, 2015 at 4:20 PM ^

Stable in Michigan is tricky. The inner ring burbs of Detroit turned sketchy e.g. Southfield, Harper Woods. You don't want to get burned in a suburb that could be the next to turn due to expanding sprawl (Troy, for example) or could get burned due to the only industry in town closing e.g. Northville (Ford), Birmingham (GM), and Rochester (Chrysler, auto suppliers).

Grosse Pointe's proximity to Detroit is a huge concern. Super low end home values in Grosse Pointe Park and Farms didn't really exist twenty years ago. Grosse Pointe North High is something like 40% minority, many with Harper Woods addresses. ACT and college ready scores in GP seem to be stagnant or falling.

With the university, the hospital system, expanding tech industry, and highly educated citizens, many consider Ann Arbor "recession proof."


January 13th, 2015 at 2:54 PM ^

I'm in Colorado.  The front range is my backyard.  The lifestyle suits me perfectly in Colorado -- dress up day at the office is wearing North Face instead of Columbia, I take my dog everywhere (even skiing -- when we go uphill in the spring when it's light past 4 PM), it's so temperate that shorts are comfortable as low as 45 - 50 if the sun is out, and I Fridays I take my outdoor toys to work andbail early so I can hit the hills.


January 13th, 2015 at 3:59 PM ^

If the CO lifestyle really suited you perfectly you would never put losing it in the same category as "low taxes" for a reason to fear moving.  You know it is far more valuable than that. 

If you have skinned up through tree-line in the May morning light (4 PM is an odd statement with the risk of afternoon wet slides) in anticipation of corn heaven than you would not be including it with low taxes as a regional plus.  If you have enjoyed a good brew basking in the glory of the Rocky Mountain extreme-warming sunshine (during any month), you would not be putting "low taxes" in the same sentence as a positive.  

So, if you are just confused or feeling a bit rudderless I say: Don't be stupid.  Stay here.  Have you forgotten how the salt-laden road and horizon meld into a perfect grey during winter in SE Michigan?  Have you forgotten what damp cold feels like?  Do you really miss 35 degree rain?  Seriously, if the mountains are in you than double down and make it work.  Do you think less people are going to move to Denver?  Do you think the economy is going to tumble around here?  You can make it work; just simplify and enjoy even more the priceless lifestyle that the mountains offer.

Or, just because your story sounds so silly, maybe I should recommend: yes, move to Colorado, it is everything you have ever heard and more.  Sexy athletic women too.

Signed - Empire resident.

ps...for all you other folk, the Front Range in CO is LOADED with mid-westerners that are happy they made the move.  Highly recommended if you are looking for a change.  Plus of course: legal ganja.


January 13th, 2015 at 6:51 PM ^

Do tell. You cannot tease us like that -- it's just your extended Michigan family here, we'll keep it on the D/L.

I'm guessing it's not Jackson Hole because that is overrun now.

The mountains in New Mexico, even on the border with Colorado, don't offer once in a lifetime skiing.

So... just some logical guessing, you're either in Montana or Alaska. I've had people tell me "see Alaska last" (and I have been there) because the mountains "will spoil you"


January 13th, 2015 at 6:44 PM ^

Afternoon skinning for me is at Abasin... they do a great job of avy control so my worries about slides is good. The culture at Abasin is super friendly to our free heel kind. But yes, otherwise, getting off a summit as the day progresses is a good rule all year round. When the lifts close, my Irish setter goes up the hill with me.


- Salt sucks

- Michigan's taxes suck

- No sun for the month of Feb sucks

- Skiing and a Rockies game on the same day is pretty cool -- especially when the Tigers come to town

- Pretty transplants from warm climates are pretty cool (don't care for the LA crowd which has ruined Denver though)

I'm in Castle Rock so only 20 miles from the Tech Center but far enough away to still enjoy rural Douglas County and the lack of 2 hour standstills on I-25 and I-70 during rush hour.

Not a 420 fan -- but I don't judge either.

BUT, I really, really miss home. Especially after going through some pretty shitty life events for the last 4 - 5 years. My life has been like a cliche 70s era country and western song -- even my truck died.

+1 for the reality check. I'll quit my whining now and enjoy what I have.


January 13th, 2015 at 7:41 PM ^

...that is indeed where everyone belongs.  It is very tough to be away when shit goes down.  Also funny how when tough shit happens home is often miraculously defined; perhaps for you it is Michigan indeed.

But, still, a new place can take awhile to flow into and you are absolutely doing damn well relatively speaking by escalating your mental strength through activities like skinning with your dog.  It is life!  Right?  Great stuff.

Perhaps a move to the western suburbs would do you well?  420 may not be your thing but maybe 470 is?  Castle Rock seems tough to me for someone that loves the mtns; just hard to motivate for the drive especially with a 9 to 5 schedule.  The Tech Center (I assume where you work) makes things troublesome in this regard for sure, I get it.  Get a job in Golden.  :) 

Final thoughts: A-basin rules for sure (even with the heel locked down) and I suggest getting out more into the BC.  Proper precautions are always essential, but the fear factor of avalanches is far overblown, particularly after the snowpack goes isothermal and your dog and you can chow down on the corn.  

Peace out and mountain on...


January 14th, 2015 at 11:10 AM ^

The best place for wildland urban interface access is Colorado Springs. I did spend time down there when there was a tech corridor along Garden of the Gods. The city is right in the foothills and I could be in the BC, climbing, or biking in far less time than going from the west side of Denver into the hills. Colorado Springs is a dead town -- no commercial opportunities anymore; the entire base of jobs higher than minimum wage is now soul-sucking, political, working with lazy "grey-beards" who don't like change, Department of Defense-related work.

Western burbs is on the radar. Any suggestions? I dated someone for a while who lived in Arvada. The commute was a nightmare. 470 gets backed up -- not as bad at 70 which comes to a complete halt for a couple of hours twice a day. Either way, west burbs to Tech Center involved a LOT of downtime in the car. Perhaps you have some inside information regarding where I was going wrong.


January 17th, 2015 at 9:16 AM ^

I'm curious about tax concern.  Colorado has a slightly higher income tax rate (4.63 compared to 4.25 in Michigan).  The state sales tax is lower but there are a lot of local add ons that often make the effective sales tax higher.  Not sure about property taxes but those vary widely in Michigan based on the locality.


January 13th, 2015 at 10:30 PM ^

Low taxes and all the benefits of being in AA. Two mile jog from my place to the stadium. Traffic isn't bad now that the construction is done. Grew  up in South Lyon - kind of apples and oranges to AA. Ann Arbor is very different from other places like SL, Chelsea, Dexter, etc. My reco would be decide if you want to be in a smaller community like those, and then go from there.


January 13th, 2015 at 3:49 PM ^

I grew up in Ann Arbor and love the place but I preferred to raise my kids elsewhere. So it depends a bit on where you are on the political spectrum as to whether you will enjoy living in Ann Arbor with kids. For young adults and retirees I think Ann Arbor is great.

Dexter, Chelsea, Plymouth, South Lyon are all close to A2 without the taxes and politics but also without all of the cool Ann Arbor stuff.