Moving to Ann Arbor

Parent Reviews

You should check out Ann Arbor, Michigan! It meets all of your criteria and has a wonderful community. Good luck! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving to Ann Arbor to find affordable housing

Nov 2007

We are considering a move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am originally from Michigan but am not that familiar with Ann Arbor. My husband grew up in San Diego and is tentatively willing to try living in the Midwest. We are moving to find more affordable housing than the Bay Area and to be closer to family. What is the feel of the community in Ann Arbor? After years of living in the Bay Area, I am a little concerned about what I recall as a kind of stodgy Midwestern mind set. We would like a small town feel, but I believe there are some sprawling suburbs in Ann Arbor? We would like to find an older neighborhood, ideally with 1950-ish ranch houses. Comments on schools are also appreciated; we are interested in all options - public, charter, and private. Any insights on the livability of small nearby towns such as Chelsea and Ypsilanti would be welcome too. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Ambivalent Midwesterner

My family and I just moved here this past summer from Ann Arbor. In truth, we are still feeling pretty homesick. I had lived in A2 for 8 years, and my partner for nearly 20 when we moved. The city is small, but very vibrant. There is a group something like this one that you could join for more information. It's called arborparents. (They're a yahoo group). Good luck with the move, and enjoy Ann Arbor! Stella

I forwarded your post to a friend and former neighbor who now lives in Ann Arbor. Here is her reply:

Dear Ambivalent Midwesterner,

We moved here to Ann Arbor (A2) from the Bay Area just a little over a year ago. We've had a good experience so far. I'm not as familiar with the areas outside of Ann Arbor very well yet, but we do have some friends who live in Plymouth and they seem to like the downtown area in Plymouth (although we have yet to make it down there) and the activities they offer in that area.

Ann Arbor is often referred to as an oasis in the midwest b/c of the diversity and liberal views here. We have had a good experience here so far and have met many wonderful people. The public schools are far better than the ones in the Bay Area. They provide school buses for the majority of kids (not just special ed) unless you live within a mile or so of the school. The kids have all sorts of extracurricular activities at the elementary school my son attends: art class, music class, gym, library. I'm not as familiar with the charter and private schools, but I don't think those are necessary given the quality of the public schools in A2. And if you don't want to pay the A2 property taxes, in some areas you can live in some of the townships that are just outside the boundary that still feed into the A2 schools but have cheaper property taxes and cheaper housing prices.

We also have something similar to BPN here (although of course BPN is far larger and more organized). It's a yahoo group called ArborParents. You can look it up and sign up and either post there for more info or search for previous posts about living in A2.

We live on the Northeast side of A2. Housing prices are great right now for buyers. Not 1950's ranch styles in this area though. I'm not sure where you would find that. Those living on the ''Old West Side'' is closest to downtown A2 and the houses there are closer together and more expensive but people who live there love it b/c of the proximity to shops and restaurants.

Our only misgivings about A2 is the lack of good cheap restaurants -- of any variety, but especially of various ethnic foods.

Good luck! It's funny b/c I posted a similar type of ''help, I'm moving out to A2'' question on BPN over a year ago when we were moving out. Sandra HTH

I moved from Ann Arbor to the bay area, and while it's lovely here, I would go back to A2 in a heartbeat! It is a progressive pocket, as it is a college town. Very community oriented, with lots to do for parents and kids! Beautiful, really quite good schools, tho as everywhere, some better than others. Ranch homes abound, and with the real estate market as it is there, good deals are very possible! I think you would find it easy to get comfortable and feel settled there. Chelsea is not your best bet if you want to be in a multiethnic area. It is the opposite. Best wishes! missing my home town.

Moving to Ann Arbor with a 4 year old

March 2005

We are considering a move to Ann Arbor (possibly with a connection to U-M). I'd love to get neighborhood and school recomendations (we have a almost 4 year-old). We'd love to live in an older neighborhood like Berkeley, within walking distance to shops, schools etc. Also, what is the cost of living like there? What do people do with kids during the winter? Any other genderal information on what it's like to live in Ann Arbor would be apprciated. Thanks! anon

I don't have a recommendation per se, but we are considering a move to Ann Arbor, too. I just got a job offer at U-M. We also have two small children, ages 4 and 2. We'll be actually going there for a visit in a couple of weeks to decide whether we want to move there. After that visit I might be able to tell you more. E-mail me and we can chat more. Gyorgyi

I lived in Ann Arbor for many years, in college and as a parent of a child birth to six. The Old West side is close to downtown, (walking distance) and full of lots of educated, liberal families with young children and older, charming houses with big porches, big yards and old trees. Because of the U-M, raising children in Ann Arbor is pretty intense and there are a lot of type-A parents around. An advantage is that the public schools are MUCH better than here. They are still supported by property tax, and still have music, art and PE in the elementaries. Facilities are good, and teachers are supported by the community. Parents at our son's school started a pre- kindergarten play group, which was a great way to transition into school and form connections. We met lots of cool parents and kids that way. Cost of living is less than here, but you do have heating bills in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, (if you use it), so factor that in. Also travel costs, casue you'll want to get away for vacations. Winters are pretty brutal; cold and gray from November to May. There are local sledding parks, which is fun with kids, but people tend to do lots of INDOOR activities. I had a good friend who also liked hiking, so we took our toddlers on walks in the Arboretum and other big parks, but lots of people had indoor play dates and such. Ann Arbor has an awesome library and a great science center for kids, so we spent lots of days there. Downtown is small and very pedestrian-friendly, so we would hop the bus downtown, go to the library, go to a cafe for lunch and such. I hope you enjoy living there. It can be a funplace, if you don't miss the weather and natural beauty of California. Be ready for flat, gray and humid! Good luck. Oh, a GREAT realtor is Audrey Curtis. She's really smart and energetic. Joan, Martinez

There are a lot of great neighborhoods in Ann Arbor. The one most similar to Berkeley is Burns Park. I don't know how expensive houses are there, but I imagine they are fairly pricey, although nothing compared to the Bay Area. Another great neighborhood is down by Kerrytown which has a lot of shops, a terrific food co-op, a farmer's market, and some great restaurants. The world famous Zingerman's deli is also there, which is quite an Ann Arbor institution. As far as schools, Ann Arbor's public schools are good, or at least they were when I was familar with them in the 1990s. I don't know much about their elementary schools, except that I believe there is a Burns Park Elementary in that neighborhood. The University campus is really beautiful and in the winter you can go sledding locally or cross-country skiing. The downhill ski areas are about a 4-5 hr drive up north and are not much compared to Tahoe. Ann Arbor is a really nice and friendly community--I lived there off and on for ten years, and I have very fond memories of it. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. Good luck! rriseman

Moving with a baby to Ann Arbor

June 2001

Got something to say about Ann Arbor? We're moving there and would appreciate any insights on where to live, how to find an apartment, and how much to expect to pay. Of course, with a nine month old, we're also eager to find out about resources for parents, connections to mom's groups and playgroups, baby -friendly places to go and things to do, resale shops for toys and clothes, etc.Know of a to-die-for bakery or a great veg- etarian restaurant?

Don't keep it a secret! If I've forgotten anything, please let us know. Thanks in advance for your consideration and time spent sharing information. Paul

It has been a long time since I grew up in Ann Arbor, but you would probably feel at home in the Burns Park neighborhood (and public elementary school) if you are looking for something that feels like a community and reminds you just a little of Berkeley. If you are working or studying on campus, it is within easy walking distance. Prices have skyrocketed in recent years, but A2 is still more affordable than the Bay Area. Other recommendations: Dentist: Richard Han. Great vegetarian restaurant: Seva. Ann Arbor was a great place to grow up. Elisa

A distillation of four years spent in Ann Arbor - Zingermann's Delicatessen. This is really all you need to know (and probably all I know that's really relevant, as we didn't have kids when we were there). We stayed eighteen months in the University Family Housing which had a good social network and support group for families eg babysitting co-ops. We later rented half a house on the west side of town, on the far side of the train tracks but still in walking distance of Main Street, - very pleasant. Rents can only be lower than they are here, but heating costs can be high - they may or may not be included in the rent. The locals are very friendly. Good luck. Fiona