Ann Arbor, Michigan

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What's it like to live in Ann Arbor?

What is living in Ann Arbor like?

In short, it's a pretty great city.

It is a college town, and most stuff revolves around the University. Either you work there, or you went for school, or you arrange your commute & plans around University events are happening -- mostly stuff like student move-in, or graduation, or Saturday home football games (110,000 people in town for a football game, in a city that's 110,000 people? Enjoy!). People make wedding plans to avoid home football games, because they often cause totally full hotel rooms in a 15 mile radius.

There's plenty of medium-size town entertainment -- multiple nightclubs, fancy bars, dive bars, fancy restaurants, greasy spoon diners, fast food, shopping malls, multiplex movie theatres, independent movie theatres, concert venues, museums, etc. You're not going to have the kind of nightlife that NYC or Chicago or Toronto would offer, but it's pretty good for a city this size.

The bus transit system is ok. Uber and Lyft are everywhere, and so are Bird scooters for rent (especially around campus). Parking is a pain in downtown and campus, but it's available. Traffic can be annoying sometimes, but it's not as bad as people like to whine. There's a train line that runs between Detroit & Chicago with Ann Arbor in-between, but the routes are pretty limited. It's 30 minutes away from a major airport.

It's not a very outdoorsy town. There are skiing locations within about 30 minutes, but you'd have to travel a few hours to find anything resembling a decent ski hill towards northern Michigan. There's hiking trails and nature paths and bike trails in the area, but it's relatively urban -- this isn't a remote mountain area. The Huron River runs through the city, and there is a livery that rents canoes and paddleboats. There's one or two fenced-in dogparks for no cost. There's other areas that are good for walking dogs, but please please please keep them on a leash. There are also multiple "Metroparks" in a 30-mile radius for a reasonable cost where you can go biking, hiking, canoeing, rollerblading, play disc golf, bird watching, or walk dogs. They're actually quite big. Kensington Metropark is about 4500 acres, and Hudson Mills is 1600 acres with a 9-hole golf course.

We also have one big park within city limits that has an outdoor swimming pool, indoor ice skating arena, 5 baseball fields, a playground for kids, entertainment pavilions, 3 tennis courts, and the best skateboarding park in the state. Restaurants and brew-pubs and grocery stores and great public libraries and other interesting stuff all within walking distance. So that's pretty cool.

What is living in Ann Arbor like?

I love Ann Arbor; it's more than a "college town" to me. I don't have any particular connection to the university, I just live here and I like it quite well. I'm also "biased," however, in that some of my family live here, and I moved here to get away from Illinois (bleh).

Living in or near downtown is great. You can walk or bus everywhere, there are plenty of small convenience stores (and the food co-op!) so that you don't really need to go to Walmart/Meijer/Kroger/etc., and there is often something going on.

There is a lot of economic activity concentrated here, and there are so many great small businesses. It is easy to just get to know people and get a decent job here.

We have a great local radio station, WCBN, through the university, and The Blind Pig and Michigan Theater are choice spots for live music in the Midwest.

If you're looking for a small house or duplex, Water Hill is my favorite neighborhood. It's right next to downtown, and the houses there are a bit older and have more character than in other neighborhoods.

Cons: Ann Arbor is a gentrified city. There are a lot of douchey businessmen and skeezy landlords around who are honestly kind of a social nuisance. Lots of people here actually prefer Ypsilanti over Ann Arbor, and see it as less phony and pretentious, and I kinda get that. People also sometimes characterize Ann Arbor as being stuck in a '90s hipster aesthetic, or trying too hard to be a "cool city," like Portlandia or something.

The thing that endlessly intrigues me about Ann Arbor is how laid-back and seemingly lackadaisical aspects of the city governance can be. The police don't seem to do anything (for better and worse), I've seen the mayor jaywalking in mismatching clothes (which I thought was awesome), and the city has been making and granting business licenses for federally illegal marijuana businesses since before marijuana was even legal in Michigan (as of this last state election!).

These are the main bullet-points on Ann Arbor that come to my mind, from my perspective and experience. Overall, I'm glad I moved here and I don't plan on going anywhere else anytime soon!

What is living in Ann Arbor like?

I really like Ann Arbor. Tons of great restaurants and events every week. It’s a left leaning town, pretty progressive. The university is intertwined in the city, upside are some great events — academic talks, musical performances, etc… downside for me is football traffic which really limits options a few days a year. Bus system is nice, I can get downtown without a car but I’m not familiar with other systems. Downtown is pretty dog friendly, many businesses let them in and there are water dishes all over. There are quite a few parks you can walk through and a river if you like go kayak or swim (I haven’t done either).

I think people here are nice, but I can sometimes see how it gets a reputation for being uppity. I didn’t know about it until recently, but there’s a brand of coats, I think called Canadian Down or something like that. Stupid things can cost like $800+ and you see them all over. Crazy to me.

What's life like in Ann Arbor, Michigan?

I lived in Ann Arbor for 15 years and was born in St Joeseph Hospital, attended Northside elementary and then after 8 years in Flint came back to Study for my undergraduate and graduate degree. I was happy in Ann Arbor and proud of my degrees and my many friends. The people are interesting and honest. The work ethic I learned there and in Flint has been part of my DNA my whole life. I was involved in many activities and tried to run for student government and lost; I also tried out for the soccer team and got cut on the first or second day being far out classed by everyone else many of whom had been recruited.

I spent some time in a faternity and enjoyed it and then found a place with more room and less expensive. I had many great teachers and in my third yearI was treated with great kindness by the head of the Economics department Gardner Ackly who encouraged me to go to business school as an undergrade as I seemed most interested in discussing entrepreneurship and making money then economic theory.He took the time to walked me over to the business school and introduced me to the famous Paul MacCraken who became a mentor for 4 years allowing me an independendet study to write a paper on the “Voting on Michigan’s Tax and Expenditure limitation Admendment’ that was published in the prestigous Public Choice Magazine. Ironically that paper got a lot of attention and I was invited to be part of an economics seminar at Princeton University where live now near the building that the seminar was part of.

In my last year I had a great teacher David lewis who taught me the history of business which has proved very valuable to me as a high school business teacher. i also had a great professor in internatonal finance who was a graduate student from Nigeria who had mastered that often difficult field. Because of his enthusiasm and brilliance in teaching I became intriqued with international finance and was recruited to Ford Motor Company’s legendary Finance staff at World headquarters in Dearborn Michigan to be an analyst in the overseas fiancing department where I spent almost 3 years and held my own with some top PHD’s in international finance.

I can remember almost every day I spent at Michigan and in Ann Arbor and can not think of one time I was unhappy; It may have been one of the happiest times of my life and AnnArbor is the most unpretensious place I ever lived.

Pros and Cons of Living in Ann Arbor Michigan 2022