Alright, The pros and cons of living in Ann Arbor… I’ve got 4 pros and 4 cons to break down. So buckle your seatbelts, I’m starting right now.
Pro #1 – Atmosphere
Starting this list with the pros of living in Ann Arbor. Number one, with no surprise is Ann Arbor’s atmosphere. This city is filled to the rim with globally-inspired culture offerings, from their college town, theatrical and musical organizations, to their galleries, museums and overall art community. This place is literally dripping with culture, just oozing with it.
Pro #2 – Downtown
Which brings us to the next pro, the downtown area. There is something to do at every corner; unique restaurants for every taste, unique meeting spaces where you can lounge and do homework, read a book, or try that pick up line on that girl or boy you’ve been seeing there the past couple days, on top of that, a few cocktail bars and breweries to get social, and of course the art galleries and music venues to top it all off. Ann Arbor is the definition of walkability. You can’t spell walkability without AA. Remember that. Ann Arbor is also the definition of diversity, not only with culture, but for things to do. When you think of Ann Arbor, you think of a crowded city full of buildings, kind of like the grandson of New York, but did you know that the Huron river cuts right through Ann Arbor? With that in mind, you also have the opportunity to fish, kayak, canoe, sunbathe, etc. So don’t just think it’s all about walking sidewalks in A2, because there’s much more of course.
Pro #3 – School System
Pro number three, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this, and it’s all about the school, the University of Michigan. Times Higher Education and The Wallstreet Journal have ranked U Of M, the top public university in the United States. If that one reason isn’t good enough to get you over here to plant some roots, I don’t know what is. With over 32,000 enrolled undergraduate students with a graduation rate of 92% and an acceptance rate of 26%, the school may have a strict application process and standard for quality students, but with only 8% of students not graduating, I’d say they are doing something right with their 3,207 acre campus.
The atmosphere this school creates downtown is unlike any other, Yellow and Blue are paraded around town on any given day even if one of their teams isn’t playing. You can tell the people who live in this fine city are passionate about their school and sports teams, because when they get cut, they literally bleed yellow and blue. Just take my word for it.
Pro #4 – Healthcare
And last but not least pro number four, The U of M healthcare system. This one hits a little closer to home for me as I am a patient of the U of M healthcare system to receive specialized care you can’t find anywhere else in the state. So I can definitely attest to their high quality healthcare, but good lord I’m terrible when it comes to parking garages. Just like their schools, the healthcare system has been ranked high in the nation for not only specialized healthcare but general pediatric and adult healthcare too.
Con #1 – Population Density
Hopping on over to what you came here for, con number one, the population density. If you have strolled around the Ann Arbor area then you know how crowded the city can feel especially on game nights. That’s a whole other animal altogether. Ann Arbor is roughly 29 square miles with a population of over 130,000 people, which comes down to about 4,500 people per square mile. I’d say that’s as dense as a paczki on Fat Tuesday. Add in some out-of-towners from Michigan and some from out of state and you got yourself a full blown bumper to bumper disaster.
Con #2 – Traffic/Parking
Which brings us to the next con, the traffic. I already talked about how dense the Ann Arbor population is. Commutes to and from (I-94, US-23, or M-14.) just cause congestion around the city, and as I mentioned about the Huron river cutting through Ann Arbor, that means more bridges, which almost always have frequent congestion. Road maintenance tends to happen around there quite often, so that hinders your commute a little bit. So if you’re making a visit out that way, be sure to plan around the morning and evening congestion, so you can get where you want to go. And since it is a college town, you can bet there’s crosswalks everywhere. U of M’s campus is over 3200 acres, it’s not just all smashed on top of eachother, students need to cross roads all the time. Sometimes they don’t always cross where they are supposed to, so that could add to a little bit of the irritation when driving through town.
With brutal traffic comes even worse parking. Parking can get pretty expensive in Ann Arbor depending on where you’re parking and for how long. I would say the biggest question here is “Okay, but where is the free parking at?”, I’m glad you asked. There’s a few secret spots that i can let you know of. He main areas are off of East Williams Street, but just to give you a nice handy resource to make the process easier, I’ll link to free and cheap parking options In Ann Arbor in the description below (I hope it helps).
Con #3 – Real Estate Prices
The next con is the real estate prices. I’m sure that one’s a given but in college towns and desirable places, the home prices and rent prices tend to be much higher than the surrounding areas. Taking a look at the median sale price in Ann Arbor compared to the last 3 years, you can see on the graph that prices increased 8.5% year over year, but just from August 2020 until present day, there is a $45,000 difference in the median sale price, which is quite an increase. Not only has purchasing a home in Ann Arbor been difficult for people, so has renting a home.
Think about it for a moment, if I were to put my real estate investor shoes on, I’d want to buy up a bunch of houses or multi-family units near a university, because let’s face it, a student would rather bunk with their buddies then have a little closet of a dorm room and have a curfew any day. So with that being said, investors can charge more for rent, because not only is it a luxury to students, it may be the only option for others if they can’t get housing anywhere else. You could of course get a cheaper place out of the area let’s say Ypsilanti, Dexter or Saline, but what’s the point of going to school like U of M if you are just going to drive 25-35 minutes out of all the fun.
Con #4 – Cost Of Living
Home prices are high, rent prices are high, and so is the next con, cost of living. Based on a graph provided by bestplaces.net to give you an idea of how much higher a few of the categories are in Ann Arbor, compared to Michigan and the United States in general. I won’t read through the whole thing, but feel free to pause the video and read it over real quick.
It’s clear from the graph that the 164.2 in housing is what is driving the overall up as high as it is. The groceries are a little on the high side as well. There are Kroger’s around Ann Arbor, but it seems like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Busch’s and the Plum Market all seem to be pretty front and center, which are typically higher priced grocery stores, so that could be a reason for the higher grocery rank.
That sums up the pros and cons list for living in Ann Arbor Michigan. If you have any more questions or are interested in the area or others in southeast Michigan, just shoot me a text, call or email anytime and I would be happy to help you out.
Andrew McManamon is a licensed Real Estate Professional in the great state of Michigan. His philosophy to put people first has paved the way to his extraordinary real estate career. Born and raised in Brighton, MI, Andrew acquired a bachelors degree in business management and marketing from Cleary University in Howell, MI. The combination of his experience and education allows him to take a strategic approach towards every transaction and help his clients make more informed and confident decisions.