OT: Best Suburban SE Michigan Neighborhoods

Submitted by GoBlueUSMC on May 9th, 2015 at 3:21 PM

Long time stalker, few time poster seeking help.

My wife and I are are potentially moving back to SE Michigan (I'd be working around Dearborn) sometime in the next year.  We're trying to get a feel for the best neighborhoods for young professionals.  We've both got degrees from UofM and trying to find somewhere with people with our same age/interests.

Looking for good schools, nice neighborhoods, low crime, relaxed atmosphere.  Probably nothing about 200k or so in terms of pricing if that helps with suggestions.

Edit: My wife and I are in our late 20's.  We enjoy nice restaurants, walking our puppy, gardening.

I've heard good things about:

Royal Oak

Grosse Point (Woods,Farms, etc)

Farmington Township


Any first hand knowledge would be greatly appreciated.




May 9th, 2015 at 3:27 PM ^

Royal Oak is the obvious thing to suggest to you. Maybe you should add Novi and Birmingham to your list.

FWIW, we lived in Dearborn while I was in grad school because my wife was teaching in Detroit. It was nice, and we really liked it, but it doesn't fit your criteria. Our neighbors were all either retired or (sometimes unemployed) blue collar types.

That's basically all I know, so I'll hang up and listen.

yossarians tree

May 10th, 2015 at 9:26 AM ^

If I understand your criteria, south and east of Dearborn are out. To the west the only choice for me, within a 20 minute commute, would be Plymouth. Great little downtown with some things to do, nice little traditional midwestern suburb. The only other areas I would live in that price range within a reasonable commute would be Farmington, Beverly Hills, or Royal Oak. Ferndale is a very great little town to do things, but you probably don't want to live there because the schools are not good. Beverly Hills gets you Birmingham schools, by the way.


May 9th, 2015 at 3:31 PM ^

I graduated from Clarkston and lived there for about 12 years. Big fan of that area. Clarkston has great schools and a cute little downtown with two good restaurants. It's about 30 minutes from Detroit if you enjoy driving 80 on 75.

I dumped the Dope

May 9th, 2015 at 3:34 PM ^

Has excellent schools, and more room than Ann Arbor.  Saline HS is fairly incredible, I recommend a tour.  If you want to go to Ann Arbor, Its about 7 miles away.

That said, it depends where you work.  There's no sense in livng in Ann Arbor and working in Sterling Heights.

Also I would avoid Canton due to the intense traffic.  I always get frustrated when I go over there.

Also, Brighton is nice, Milford is nice, Commerce township is nice.  I'm more of a west sider myself.


May 9th, 2015 at 4:41 PM ^

Meh in a perfect world that is true. By your criteria almost every town in SE Michigan is not a good place to live.  The only real downtowns of any measure are Royal Oak, Birmingham, Plymouth and Rochester Hills.  Seriously - that's about it.

I am sure many people in Troy , Novi, Canton, Northville, Shelby Twp and other areas live fruitful lives with good schools etc.  They are just kids oriented towns and suburbia to the max.

To the OP - a lot of the suggestions I see don't really work for Dearborn unless you want to drive a ton.  Dearborn is in a weird spot as its in "southern" Metro Detroit.  Almost all the "hip" burbs are in northern metro Detroit ...

Grosse Pointes are your best bet for Dearborn if you want a very close drive and top schools but the $200K range will be tough for a house.  Maybe a condo there.

Royal Oak is the obvious one and Ferndale is a cheaper version of Royal Oak (but stay in northern Ferndale IMO - 9 mile and above if you look) but both are longer drives to Dearborn.  Schools are ok- not great not bad in those areas (RO>Ferndale for schools)  Really if you are going north of Royal Oak you are looking at a 45+ minute commute to Dearborn in rush hour even if almost all that is highway.  Even RO is not that cheap if you want something over 1500 sq ft- 1000 sq ft homes in RO are $150-$180K. There are condos downtown now near $500K.

Birmingham -$200K gets you a shack.  Great schools and cute downtown but uhh "elite folks" so if it's your crowd then fine.  Otherwise it can get pretentious.

If you want to go more west you can go to the Canton, Plymouth, Livonia, Northville area but that is probably more of a good area to raise kids and Northville and Canton you might again have a tough time finding under $200K.  A lot of athletes now are going to those areas.  Northville the floor is prob $200K.  Excellent schools in these areas.

Novi and Troy are "suburbia to the max" but upper class, well off, great schools and $200K is probably a small starter home (which will be built 25-30 years ago) in those areas -and are a hike from Dearborn.  I wouldnt drive that far daily myself.

It's really a shame I cannot answer "Detroit".  In theory I could but you have to be very specific and very narrrow on what neighborhoods.  If Detroit was like most big cities in the U.S. you'd have plenty of pockets for you to find exactly what you wanted with a very short commute to Dearborn.   If you are a risk taker and plan to be around 5+ years you MIGHT investigate some of those pockets but you have a layer of taxes, and seriously high insurance rates and you don't want to be there with kids as the schools are largely ... challenged.   But there are some small areas on the upswing such as midtown and maybe with the light rail and the new Detroit Red Wings arena that will continue.  Feels like we've been waiting 30 years for this Detroit recovery but there are actual signs of it happening but again-there are risks. 


May 9th, 2015 at 4:52 PM ^

thanks for the well thought out reply.  My wife and I are looking for something between 1000 to 1500 sq foot, so long as it has a basement.  3 bedrooms/1.5 baths.  

We don't have kids right now, but we may in the future, hence why I wanted decent schools.  Plus, if we sell in the neighborhood, good schools are always a plus.



May 9th, 2015 at 5:07 PM ^

1000-1500 sq ft should give you a lot of options.  A lot of people nowadays ask for 2000sq ft as a floor so a lot of the inner burbs dont even have that much inventory that is that large and what there is, is very pricey.

My Grosse Pointe comment may be off a bit - it is very east side and just growing up that was where very well off people lived (plus my roomate freshman year at UM) ;) so there is a lot of blue blood old money there. But depends which Grosse Pointe you pick (I believe there are 4?of them) and at the size you are looking at might be some inventory up your alley.  Just for convenience you probably want to do a lot of homework there - I am not a fan of spending 2 hours round trip every day in a car and if you find something in GP it will solve that issue.

Agree 100% on schools for value of selling a house down the road but it also increases the cost to buy the house up front.  So in a way it can be called a wash. If you dont actually have kids now and plan to move within 7 years you probably wont be affected by the school districts in your time in that house (kids wont even be in 1st grade in 7 years unless your wife gets pregnant in next few months) except for the increased cost to buy and increased value when you sell. (and higher property taxes all along)  So in that regard you could be more loose on your school district (i.e. accept a decent district vs a great district) since the district would only be for house value rather than directly affecting your child's education.  But again that depends on how long you plan to stay in the house.


May 9th, 2015 at 5:21 PM ^

Man, I'd kill for 200k for 1k square feet.  

I largely agree with your breakdown.  All the nice neighborhoods in this price/amenity range are going to be north of the city.  Depending on where in Dearborn he is working I could see RO/Ferndale/Birmingham being an option, but it'll be a long commute regardless.  I guess GP would also work, but I don't know the OP so that level of, um, "class" might not be up his ally.

snarling wolverine

May 10th, 2015 at 12:23 PM ^

You know a town is not a good place to live when it doesn't have a downtown.

You know, it's not like these towns are fortresses with a moat around them. I grew up in Troy, which doesn't really have a downtown (unless you count Somerset Collection) but downtown Birmingham was five minutes away, and downtown Royal Oak wasn't that much farther.



May 9th, 2015 at 4:46 PM ^

Respectfully disagree. My wife and I went to UofM, she still works there. We got a relatively nice 1500 sq ft on 1.5 acres with a creek in our back yard in Brighton for just over $200k in 2009. We love the downtown area in Brighton, there's 6 bars, nice restaurants, a lot of nice family places (mill pond), and if you are in the township the taxes are low. There's everything you could need along grand river. The OP did mention he and his wife like gardening so they may be outdoors people. More and more young families are showing up there. Unfortunately the commute to Dearborn would be 40 minutes NOT in rush hour. I work with Ford Motor Company and have done that drive a lot recently so I can speak from experience.


May 9th, 2015 at 11:47 PM ^

choose Saline. An inference from your comment is that if a community doesn't have enough blacks, then it's racist. Many of us on this board have friends or family that either work or live in Saline. Pretty broad brush your painting here acnubmer1 by saying it's frightening. You need to rethink your position on the racial composition of a community/school and if one need be "frightened" if there aren't enough blacks. I live in West Bloomfield, a community that has so much diversity our high school serves as the launch point for a Martin Luther King march every January and has done so for years. Yet, since our commmunity became "diverse", the academic reputation of our once proud schools have sunk to all-time lows. We had our first police officer (caucasian) killed in the Township by a resident (black) ever two years ago. Larceny's and assults are at record highs. Yeah, we West Bloomfield residents just love how "diversity" has "enriched" our community: the level of education has dropped, crime has increased, property values not keeping up with "less diverse" neighboring communities. 



May 10th, 2015 at 12:48 PM ^

And there are other measures of diversity beyond skin color.  Say you have two communities: 

City A is 70% white and the rest a mixture of black, Asian and Hispanic.  It is entirely suburban and very uniform in terms of household income and education level.

City B is 95% white.  The population is a mix of suburban and rural, with household incomes and education levels spread across the spectrum.

I grew up in a community like City A.  My hometown constantly patted itself on the back for being a hotspot of "diversity," and the local high school hung a bunch of flags in the hallway to represent everyone's origins.  But it was an extremely insular, sheltered place.  Everyone had college-educated parents or at least earned enough money to live like they were.  It was a community of very spoiled children who took things like vacations and new cars for granted.  People had no idea how most of the country lived.

My girlfriend grew up in a place like B.  Her hometown had no Indian or Mexican restaurants, but in terms of life experience, her classmates' families had run the gamut - there were those whose parents worked in the corporate game and those who got up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows.  

In hindsight I wouldn't say where I grew up was more diverse than where she did.


May 10th, 2015 at 2:19 PM ^

Borg, your massive accumulation of 5 whole Mgopoints may be about to vanish - along with any further commentary on race relations you may wish to post!

I'm an Ann Arbor native (and Hey! quick diversion from my message to the Borg - how come NO ONE has mentioned A2 as a great place to live/start a family?). Ann Arbor during my youth would have been absolutely chock-a-block with people who would have described a lack of diversity as "frightening"... there are many things to be "concerned" about or "wary" of, or even frightened if you so choose, that come when too many very similar people congregate and begin to see "others" as threatening.

And if you follow the news at all Borg you may have noticed that far more "people of color" are being killed by white police than the other way around... so your inclusion of that event struck me at least as a bit xenophobic. And that's what people who who describe a lack of diversity as "frightening" are frightened of.


May 10th, 2015 at 9:21 PM ^

in Arizona that you'll be purchasing from me soon. That is if you really believe hardened criminals who happen to be black were shot and killed by police (who happen to be white) because they were black, and you believe the police were not justified in their shooting the perps while they were either in the process of committing a crime or had just committed one and were resisting arrest. While you wrongly accuse me of xenophobia, you are the one who exhibits xenophobic tendencies by accusing the predominately white community of Saline of racism not based on any facts or incidents, but simply because  there are more of "them" than "you", the result of which frightens you. It's your belief (a fear of whites because only because they are white) that fits the definition of being xenophobic. 


May 10th, 2015 at 8:43 AM ^

Saline has more socioeconomic diversity than many/most places. You'll get everything from auto workers in the Faurecia plant to farmers to UM professors to bankers, consultants and, at one point, a UM football coach who now resides in Arizona.

Housing stock runs from circa $100k to $2 million or so.

If all you're looking for in terms of diversity is the colors of the rainbow, then Saline isn't terribly diverse, but if your definition of diversity isn't so limited as a collection of multi-hued compatriots who share the same tax bracket, then Saline more than fits the bill.

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Little Jimmy

May 9th, 2015 at 3:36 PM ^

Just kidding.  In all seriousness, my friend lives in Northville and it's a great place.  He chose to live there for the school district which he says it very good.


May 9th, 2015 at 3:38 PM ^

Schools in Royal Oak and Farmington are meh.  If schools are a priority, for the kind of money you're looking to spend, I'd suggest the southwest corner of Troy, in the Birmingham school district.  You might also want to consider the western suburbs of Northville and Novi, where the schools are gigantic but highly regarded, plus you can still find parts of both those communities that are somewhat rural, if that's what you mean by "relaxed."


May 9th, 2015 at 3:41 PM ^

Ok, you want to live near people with similar ages and interests, but you didn't even mention your ages or interests. If you do that, I'm sure the SE Michigan bros can help you out!


May 9th, 2015 at 3:43 PM ^

I grew up in Romulus and it has taken a nose dive, but Canton has great schools, lots of shopping, not too bad on crime and is only about a 25 min drive from downtown. The biggest downside I can think of traffic. Canton is also only about 20 minutes from Ann Arbor the other direction and about 35 minutes from the Oakland county nice suburbs like Royal Oak.


May 9th, 2015 at 3:54 PM ^

It depends on where you work and how long of a drive your willing to endure. Novi and northville are good established communities with great schools, but 200k won't get you that much, canton and Plymouth are nice and a step down from novi and northville, but you can find something for 200k, you should stay north of ford road. South lyon is up and coming, but there's not to much there to do and if you work in Troy the commute would be rough. I bought a house about 1.5 years ago and from what I read Farmington is going in the wrong direction, but is still a nice community. If you want to check the affluence of an area check the school districts. even though some may be rated highly now they could be going in the wrong direction....good luck.


May 9th, 2015 at 4:45 PM ^

Agreed. I live in north Canton, about a mile from downtown Plymouth. It's nice to bike into downtown Plymouth with the wife and kids, get a good meal, get some ice cream and maybe see a concert in the park.


May 9th, 2015 at 4:55 PM ^

Agree with this I lived in plymouth for two years and now live in canton. Nice areas really good schools safe. I lived in Farmington hills for almost 7 years it's nice for the most part but I don't think the real estate prices are very equal to what you'd actually get. I left there in early 2012 so maybe it's different now.


May 9th, 2015 at 4:20 PM ^

I am obviously biased but I honestly can't understand why anyone would want to live outside the Ann Arbor area if youre going to be living in SE Michigan. I grew up in Ann Arbor and live in Dexter now and I think the whole area just has everything you could possibly want.