The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Detroit

If you decide to call Detroit home, expect a relatively low cost of living, especially when it comes to housing costs. Learn more here.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If you decide to call Detroit home, expect a relatively low cost of living, especially when it comes to housing costs. But you’ll also have to take that in stride with high crime rates and snowy winters.
Colonized by French missionaries in 1701, the area that would become known as Detroit became an automotive manufacturing powerhouse by the early 1900s. But the industry’s subsequent decline domestically, along with other factors like the 2008 financial crisis, have been hard on Detroit.
But if you’re looking for a new place to live, don’t count this city out so quickly. Residents here are proud of their city, and it’s slowly making a comeback. Courtesy of
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What you need to know about Detroit before you move

Home to more than 672,000 people, Detroit has had its struggles, but various metrics show it’s been slowly making a comeback in recent years. Will you be tagging along for the ride? To help you weigh your options, here are a few things you should know about living in Detroit. 

1. The cost of living is low, but rising

The cost of living in Detroit is lower than the national average, but certain costs are on the rise. 
For example, rent for a one-bedroom apartment has risen more than 7% over the last year, according to data from
. As of September 2022, the average of $1,450 is still lower than the national average of about $1,700.
Based on numbers from
, you could generally expect an average restaurant meal for two to cost about $60 in Detroit. A coffee to go could cost about $4 to $5, as could a pint of beer at a local bar. On a trip to the grocery store, it’s possible you could expect to find a gallon of milk for about $3, while a loaf of bread could cost $2 to $3.
According to data from the 2020 census, 1 in 3 Detroit residents lives in poverty. The median household income was $32,498, and the minimum wage is $9.87 per hour. To live comfortably in Detroit, MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates a single adult without children would need to earn at least $16.20 per hour or about $33,696 per year.

2. The job market has seen better days, but it’s improving

August 2022 report
from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Detroit’s unemployment rate as of July was about 3.5%, which comes in under the national rate of 3.8%. That’s a significant improvement from last year when Detroit’s unemployment rate was 7.4% compared to a national rate of 5.7%.
As home to the “Big Three” automakers General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler, manufacturing is still a major component of Detroit’s workforce. American Axle and Manufacturing is another major manufacturer headquartered in Detroit. 
Other top sectors include professional and business services, manufacturing, education, healthcare, trade, transportation, and utilities.

3. Violent crime rates are improving, but they’re still a problem

Violent crime in Detroit fell 16.5% during this year’s second quarter, compared with the same time last year. During this same time period, however, property crimes rose 22%. 
While the city continues to make efforts to reduce crime, both violent and property crime remain significantly above national averages, and high auto theft rates mean it’s possible you might pay more for your car insurance.

4. The city has a rich music culture

When it comes to good music, Detroit has plenty of bragging rights. The Detroit area has played host to musical greats across a wide range of genres over the years, from blues and jazz to pop, rock, R&B, and techno. 
Just a few artists on that lengthy roster include Madonna, Aaliyah, The White Stripes, Eminem, Betty Carter, and John Lee Hooker.
Detroit was also the original headquarters for Motown Records during the ‘60s and ‘70s, which put out music by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, The Supremes, The Temptations, and more. 
These days, Detroit’s music scene remains strong and there’s a scattering of popular live music venues throughout the city. You’ll also have the chance to listen in on annual music festivals, like the Movement Electronic Music Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival. 

5. Driving is usually the best transportation option

Other cities may have worse traffic, but
Detroit drivers
still lose about 13 hours per year to traffic congestion, according to INRIX’s
Global Traffic Scorecard
Still, the city covers an area of over 142 square miles, so driving is usually the easiest way to get around. 
According to some residents, the city’s
public transportation
can leave much to be desired at times, but it could also help you get from point A to point B if you need it. A standard 31-day DDOT pass costs $55, while a 31-day regional pass costs $70.
Detroit also tends to be relatively
, with a number of cycling routes running through the city.

6. You’ll need to be able to tolerate hot, humid summers and brutal winters

The Great Lakes have a major impact on Detroit’s climate. Summers are hot and humid, and temperatures can extend beyond the 90s at their peak. Average summer lows tend to fall to the low 20s, and the average annual snowfall is about 33 inches. 
What severe climate risks do you need to be aware of in Detroit? According to the FEMA National Risk Index, Wayne County, where Detroit is located, is particularly vulnerable to heat waves, lightning, flooding, strong winds, tornadoes, and winter storms. It’s a good idea to keep these risks in mind as you explore insurance options.

7. No, there’s not a “South Detroit” 

Speaking of Detroit’s rich music history, it’s also been the subject of plenty of pop music lyrics—like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”. And if you’ve been in a crowded bar when this song has come on, you can probably hear dozens of people belting those lyrics around you: “born and raised in South Detroit!”
But if you’re hoping to become a Detroit local, it helps to know from the get-go that there’s not actually a Detroit neighborhood called “South Detroit.” Corktown and Downtown are some of the southernmost neighborhoods. Any farther south and you’ve crossed the Detroit River into Canada. The more you know!

Does Detroit live up to the hype?

Detroit has been through a lot. Its past economic hardships and history of racial discrimination have lingering effects on this city still today, so if you’re considering becoming a part of its future, you’ll want to understand Detroit’s past. 
As a Detroit local, you can expect to enjoy a relatively low cost of living, especially when it comes to housing costs, but you’ll also need to anticipate high crime rates, cold winters, and hot, humid summers. 
If all this sounds all right to you, Detroit might just be a place worth considering.
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Finding a place to live in Detroit

The housing market in Detroit is heating up. While you won’t as easily find houses selling for just several hundred dollars as you might have been able to about a decade ago, median home sale prices in Detroit still fall well below national averages. 
As of August 2022, the median home sale price in Detroit was just $75,000, according to
. Detroit’s housing market is still very much a buyer’s market, meaning for-sale homes outnumber demand. This can give you more bargaining power as a homebuyer.
Just like with any property, though, be sure to visit any home in person before deciding to buy it. While housing prices in Detroit can be very low, be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true—sometimes the cheapest deals could come with extra unexpected costs, like liens, back taxes, or underlying structural problems that would have to be addressed to make a home livable. 
With the right amount of attention and research, you just might be able to find yourself the right place to call home in Detroit.
Planning to buy instead of rent? Those costs are on the rise, too, but again, still lower than national averages. 
A one-bedroom apartment in Detroit costs, on average, about $1,450 per month. The average rent for a studio apartment is about $910, and if you’re looking for more space, the average 3-bedroom rent is about $2,750 per month.
When choosing a neighborhood to live in, consider factors like your budget, then narrow your options further by what’s most important to you, whether that’s proximity to a certain park, lower crime rates, or a good number of historic homes.
As you explore your options across Detroit’s various neighborhoods, here are some worth looking into: 
  • Most iconic neighborhoods: Corktown, Brush Park, Sherwood Forest, Downtown, Eastern Market
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Sherwood Forest, Palmer Woods, University District, Corktown
  • Best neighborhoods for foodies: Downtown, Corktown, Mexicantown, Greektown
  • Best neighborhoods to buy a house: Sherwood Forest, Palmer Woods, Corktown
  • Most affordable neighborhoods: Gratiot Town, Henry Ford, Krainz Woods
Be sure to visit the neighborhoods and homes you’re considering in person. That way, you can get a better sense of whether the areas you’re considering will be a good fit for your budget and lifestyle.

Moving to Detroit checklist 

Once you’ve found the right place to call home in Detroit, the hardest part of relocating is over—or is it
Whether you’re moving from a nearby town or from across the country, planning any move is bound to come with challenges. To help make your transition as smooth as possible, here are some items you’ll want to add to your moving to Detroit checklist. 

Before you go

Ahead of your move to Detroit, make sure you:

After you get there

As you unpack the last of your boxes in your new Detroit home and begin to
settle in
, there are just a couple more things you’ll want to take care of: 
  • If you’ve moved to Detroit from
    out of state
    , you’ll need to
    re-register your car
    in Michigan and
    update your car insurance
    if you haven’t already.
  • Get to know your new city! Now that you’re officially a Detroit resident, start exploring your new home and finding your favorite parks, shops, and restaurants. 

How to save on car, renters, and home insurance in Detroit

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Whether it’s worth it to move to Detroit depends on your budget and what you’re looking for in a lifestyle. You can expect a relatively low cost of living in Detroit, but it’s also worth noting that crime rates are significantly higher than national averages. Still, other signs like an improving unemployment rate suggest promising things for Detroit’s future.
When it comes to relocating to Detroit, it’s possible your actual move could cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on factors like the size and distance of your move and whether you hire professionals to help you.
To live comfortably in Detroit, MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates a single adult without children would need to earn at least $16.20 per hour or about $33,696 per year.
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