16 Pros and Cons of Living in Detroit, MI

Updated On October 23, 2023

When people think of Michigan, immediately Detroit comes to mind.

The Motor City is one of the most popular places to live in the state.

Detroit offers affordable housing, cultural diversity, an authentic community, and an economy that’s bouncing back to life.

What’s not to like?

Millennials, in particular, are taking a good look at all that Detroit has to offer.

If you’re considering a move to Detroit, here are some aspects of the Motor City you should be aware of.

Detroit, MI
Detroit, MI

Pros of Living in Detroit, MI

Approximately 664,000 people call Detroit home.

The city stretches over an area of 143 miles and is the largest city in the state.

It’s also the 26th largest city in the country.

A move to the Motor City will enable you to enjoy:

1. An Affordable Lifestyle

For a city its size, Detroit has a remarkably low cost of living.

Housing prices are among the lowest in the nation.

Young professionals, retirees, and families can live a comfortable lifestyle without overextending their budgets.

Detroit’s cost of living is cheaper than 84% of comparable cities its size in the country.

You’ll also pay less for groceries, healthcare, and utilities in comparison to the national average.

If you’re just starting out, a low cost of living will give you a chance to establish yourself financially.

2. Recovering Economy

Detroit’s economy took a hit in 2013 with its municipal bankruptcy and then again in 2020 with the Pandemic.

These setbacks, however, haven’t kept the city from staging an economic comeback.

Experts predict immense economic growth in the next few years, adding as many as 10,000 jobs to the market.

As one of the country’s top innovative hubs, Detroit has found a niche with tech startups.

The city is home to 5 techs ‘unicorns’ including Duo Security, Rivian, OneStream, and StockX.

Detroit is also the headquarters of 19 Fortune 1,000 companies.

The auto industry is also extremely active in the area with over 70% of its R&D work coming from Detroit.

3. Low Housing Costs

Home costs in Detroit are 14.3% lower than the U.S. average.

This makes it easy to find a home within your budget.

Single-family homes and condos in safe neighborhoods often go for less than $100,000.

There’s also a plethora of fixer-upper homes on the market going at bargain prices.

You can buy your dream home and save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

An affordable housing market entices more people to settle in Detroit to revitalize the economy.

4. Racial & Ethnic Diversity

Detroit mixes people from different races, cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles.

This diversity gives the city greater cultural, artistic, and historical value.

Although 77.9% of the population is Black, you’ll also find English, Irish, Asian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern neighborhoods.

Every culture contributes to the community by sharing its language, traditions, and customs.

Racial and ethnic diversity is one of the greatest attributes of calling Detroit home.

5. Sense of Community

Community is big in Detroit and people are expected to get on board.

Residents actively engage in their communities to help enhance their neighborhoods and lives.

Detroit is a place where neighbors know one another and support one another to promote a better quality of life for all.

There are over 21,000 organizations in the Detroit metro area dedicated to making Detroit a safe, healthy environment.

If a sense of community is important to you, Detroit is a good place to call home.

6. Options for Entertainment

There’s lots to see and do in Detroit for personal enjoyment.

You can view works of art at the Detroit Institute and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Or catch a theatrical performance at the newly renovated Fox Theatre or Max M. Fisher Music Center.

Live games of the Detroit Lions, Tigers, or Pistons are always a thrill at Comerica Park, Ford Field, or Little Caesar’s Arena.

Then there’s Campus Martius Park where you can enjoy live music and cocktails on the beach.

7. Music Scene

The auto industry isn’t the only thing Detroit is famous for.

The city also supports a thriving music scene that started with the illustrious sounds of Motown.

Musical greats like Aretha Franklin, Eminem, The Temptations, Madonna, and Lizzo all have their roots in Detroit.

Concerts are regularly performed at Magic Stick, the Fillmore Detroit, and Little Caesars Arena.

The Detroit Jazz Festival, Movement Electronic Music Festival, and Downtown Hoedown are some of the most popular events in the country.

8. Natural Beauty

Despite being an industrial center, Detroit is filled with natural beauty.

The riverfront offers spectacular views of the Detroit River and the city skyline.

Belle Isle is a 982-acre park that features beautiful nature trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, a conservatory, an aquarium, and a beach.

The River Rouge, Blue Heron Lagoon, and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge are additional sites worth exploring.

Cons of Living in Detroit, MI

A move to Detroit also has its downsides in the form of:

1. Horrible Winter Weather

Detroit winters can be brutal with freezing temperatures and lots of snow.

If you’re moving to Detroit, be prepared to endure extreme winter weather.

Detroit winters have only grown longer over the years, starting as early as October and stretching into April.

The weather can also be unpredictable with one day sunny and the next bitterly cold.

Icy roads and heavy snows make driving hazardous and may even bring traffic to a stop.

Thick winter coats, boots, and warm winter clothes are a must!

2. Subpar Public Schools

Public education is not one of Detroit’s strong suits.

Detroit Public Schools rate very low when it comes to academic performance.

Only 6% of high school students in Detroit were found to be proficient in math and only 4% in science.

Two-thirds of high school students weren’t proficient in reading.

Overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, and corruption have plagued Detroit’s school system for years.

Needless to say, there’s much room for improvement.

3. Transportation Problems

Another area that’s lacking in Detroit is public transport.

City buses and the newly constructed Q-line fall short of providing residents with reliable city travel.

Most residents commute by car.

Traffic flows fairly well in Detroit outside rush hour.

However, many of the roads are deteriorating and in need of repair.

Ongoing road construction frequently disrupts the flow of traffic, causing lane closures and congestion.

Detroit also has one of the highest auto insurance rates in the country.

4. High Crime

Crime is a major problem in Detroit.

The chances of being a crime victim are very high, 1 in 17.

Although robbery is the crime that occurs most often, you’re also at risk of assault or other violent crimes.

People in Detroit have four times the risk of being a violent crime victim than anywhere else in the country.

By being cautious and choosing a safe neighborhood to live in, you can protect yourself against crime.

5. Poverty

Poverty is another issue that plagues the city.

Detroit’s poverty level is shockingly high.

Roughly 37% of the population lives in poverty, compared to the national average of 10-14%.

A high poverty rate can lead to other problems like homelessness and crime.

The city spends thousands of dollars annually on services geared to reduce poverty.

It’s a work in progress you should be aware of before making Detroit your home.

6. Excessive Taxes

Taxes in Detroit are exorbitantly high.

Michigan sets a flat rate for state income taxes which is 4.25% of your annual earnings.

On top of that, the city of Detroit charges an additional 2.4% for local income taxes.

Then there are property taxes based on your property value and a 6% sales tax to contend with.

What’s left goes to supporting your lifestyle.

7. Low Salaries

Although the Detroit job market is picking up, the same can’t be said for salaries.

In 2021, the median household income was only $34,762.

That’s less than half of the median household income for the whole country, which was $70,784.

Clearly, there’s a disparity between wages in Detroit and wages earned in other parts of the country.

The average personal annual income is below $15,000.

If you’re the only breadwinner, that’s not near enough to support your spouse or family.

8. High Auto Insurance Costs

To get around in Detroit, you need a car.

But car owners carry the burden of high auto insurance costs.

Car insurance in Detroit is nearly 5X the U.S. average.

It’s not unusual for a vehicle owner to pay $3,000 or more for an annual auto policy.

Detroit, MI
Detroit, MI

Pros and Cons of Living in Detroit, MI – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Detroit, MICons of Living in Detroit, MI
1. An Affordable Lifestyle1. Horrible Winter Weather
2. Recovering Economy2. Subpar Public Schools
3. Low Housing Costs3. Transportation Problems
4. Racial & Ethnic Diversity4. High Crime
5. Sense of Community5. Poverty
6. Options for Entertainment6. Excessive Taxes
7. Music Scene7. Low Salaries
8. Natural Beauty8. High Auto Insurance Costs

Detroit Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Detroit Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a good income to earn to live comfortably in Detroit, MI?

If you’re single, you can get by earning around $1,100 a month, not counting rent.

A family of four should have a monthly income of $3,800+ to meet their needs, excluding rent.

Naturally, these figures are only estimates and depend on a person’s spending habits.

Affordable living, however, is one of the city’s major attributes.

What major problems does Detroit face as a city?

Every city has its challenges and Detroit is no different.

Education, poverty, and crime are some of the weakest areas that need to be strengthened in the city.

Is Detroit really as friendly as people say?

Despite its dense population and size, Detroit maintains a small-town-friendly environment.

People are never too busy to say hello or lend a helping hand.

Detroit’s residents don’t have the ‘every man for himself’ mentality that’s so prevalent in other large cities.

Here, neighbors care for each other and look for ways to improve life in their local community.

What is Detroit, MI most famous for?

Motor City is known for being the automotive capital of the world.

It’s also the home of Motown Music and world-renowned musical artists.

Lately, it’s become a major hub for innovative technological startups.

What attracts people to Detroit, MI?

Affordable housing and a modest cost of living are two reasons people move to Detroit.

People are also attracted to the city’s diversity, sense of community, and amenities in the form of music, art, and culture.

It’s a city with a lot of potential for the future.

4 Comments on 16 Pros and Cons of Living in Detroit, MI

  1. M
    Matilda says:

    Detroit is a city that’s been through its share of challenges, but it’s also a place that’s seen significant improvements in recent years, especially in terms of safety. One of the pros mentioned in the article is the city’s growing sense of community. Many neighborhoods in Detroit have strong, tight-knit communities where residents look out for each other. Areas like Midtown and Corktown are examples of where you can experience a genuine sense of safety and community. The city’s vibrant arts and culture scene is also thriving, making it an exciting place to call home or to visit.

  2. S
    Seth Simmons says:

    Detroit is a city of transformation, and that’s what I love about it. The arts and culture scene is buzzing here – from the Detroit Institute of Arts to the countless music venues in Midtown, there’s always something cool happening. Sure, safety can be a concern in some areas, but I’ve always felt comfortable here. It’s a city that’s evolving and welcoming a new generation of Detroiters. If you’re just passing through, you can’t leave without trying a Coney dog, they’re insane!

  3. J
    Jenny Baker says:

    Having grown up in Detroit, I can attest to its resilient spirit and diverse culture. While the job market can be tough, the sense of community is unparalleled.

  4. T
    Thomas Ruiz says:

    I relocated to Detroit for work a few years ago and have mixed feelings. On one hand, the affordable housing and emerging arts scene are fantastic. On the other, the crime rate and struggling school system are major drawbacks. It’s a city of contrasts, for sure.

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