What You Need to Know about Moving to and Living in Detroit, MI

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Detroit at a Glance

On the broad, flat banks of Lake St. Claire, where the waters are wide and cold and blue, and the towers of industry rise in noble but humble brick, and the pizza is thick and crispy and square, the rumbling of engines and thumping beats give the placename away. This is the Motor City. This is Detroit.  

Everywhere you look in this historic town there are new beginnings — new restaurants alongside century-old staples, shiny boutiques and street art sprouting around revamped city squares, and new startups, filling the void in long-vacant buildings. There’s certainly no hiding that the city has suffered enormous losses — empty homes and lots are still a frequent sight — and the population has continued to decline. But there’s also no denying that this is — palpably — a great city, and its cultural treasures rival those in cities three times its size.  

In the birthplace of the American automotive industry, the job market has now diversified, and unemployment is low. EV giants like BorgWarner are bringing old companies roaring into the 21st century, and the city’s research-engineering-design hub infuses Detroit with the ideas and technologies to sustain it in the future. 

With easy access to all of Michigan’s other treasures — from snowmobile trails in the wintertime to the charming towns and towering dunes on the summer shores of Lake Michigan, the Motor City’s amenities aren’t the only reason to move to Detroit. 

For those contemplating a move, our comprehensive moving guide below delves into everything Detroit and the Great Lake State offer. Planning and preparing before you move ensures a smoother transition into your new home. Explore the opportunities awaiting you in the Motor City and beyond. 

Living in Detroit

Employment Opportunities

As one of the nation’s chief industrial bases, manufacturing is still a major industry in the Motor City, employing some 245,300 thousand workers in the greater Detroit area. Despite its substantial workforce, manufacturing doesn’t claim a spot in the city’s top three sectors anymore. Trade, transportation, and utilities lead with 392,400 workers, followed by professional and business services with 386,200 employees, and education and health services at third place with 312,500 workers. 

In the employment landscape of Detroit during 2022-2023, there were modest declines across most industries. Despite this, the unemployment rate saw a minor increase of 0.1 points, reaching 3.3% in December 2023, which remained below the U.S. average. The mining, logging, and construction sectors experienced the most significant gains, expanding by 4.3% year-over-year and providing employment for 83,200 people. Conversely, the information sector faced the most substantial losses, contracting by 3.6%. 

Detroit has invested mightily in expanding two industry bases — technology and tourism — and the latter, it seems, helps feed the former. The better the amenities, the more companies are likely to find people willing to move to and remain in the city. Despite dramatic population losses over the last decade — the city has lost nearly 100,000 people since 2010 and roughly 20,000 since 2020 — Detroit is showing some rosier signs of growth. The city was ranked the #1 startup ecosystem in America by Startup Genome, which also ranked it in the top 25 cities for funding, performance and talent & experience. If you’ve got a great idea for a business (and don’t mind frigid winters), Detroit may be your best bet for getting it off the ground.  

The Detroit metro area has a diversified industry base, anchored by auto giants like GM and Ford and supplemented by global manufacturing powerhouses like Bosch, BorgWarner ­— a leader in EV technology — Ally Financial and Little Caesars. 

But this city is also a creative powerhouse. Detroit was named the country’s first UNESCO City of Design, and the city uses its University Research Corridor to integrate the engineering, research and design talent in the city.  

Cost of Living, Housing and Neighborhoods

The cost of living here in Detroit is still far below the national average, and housing is the single biggest differentiator. The median home value in Detroit is just $66,000 — that’s less than a quarter of the U.S. median and far below other affordable Midwestern and Great Lakes cities, like Saint Louis ($174,100), Indianapolis ($184,600), Buffalo ($132,100) and Cleveland ($87,400). 

Rental rates in Detroit are also far below average, not even cresting the $1,000 dollar mark. All this is good news for new residents on a budget, especially if you have the DIY knowhow to fix up an old gem. Other household expenses also cost less here. Food, healthcare and miscellaneous expenses all fall below the national average, even in the greater Detroit metro area. 

Despite the economic downturn’s impact on housing, Detroit’s revival is evident. The city’s determined spirit and reinvestment efforts have significantly reduced crime rates. As a newcomer, you’ll quickly appreciate Detroit’s positive transformation and its vibrant neighborhoods. 

Downtown Detroit’s Revival

Detroit’s Downtown Detroit has experienced a remarkable renaissance over the last decade. New businesses, housing, and public spaces have emerged, making it a must-see for residents and tourists. Downtown parks, such as Campus Martius Park, transform seasonally, offering events like “The Beach” and ice skating in the winter. The area is easily navigable with user-friendly digital maps, bike shares, the QLine streetcar and the elevated People Mover train. 

Corktown’s Charm

Just outside the city center, Corktown boasts historic buildings, trendy restaurants and boutiques. With its hometown pride and proximity to the Detroit River Walk, Corktown offers various housing options, from Victorian gems to contemporary rowhouses. 

Midtown’s Cultural Hub 

Bordering Downtown to the north, Midtown features grand single-family homes, renovated lofts, and contemporary residences. Home to premier institutions, including the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University, Midtown has seen a rise in real estate prices due to its cultural offerings. 

Rivertown’s Trendy Vibe 

East of Downtown, Rivertown is a waterfront warehouse district with trendy lofts and attractions like the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre. Housing options range from historic lofts to modern studios, all modestly priced given their proximity to the water. 

Suburban Living Options

Love the city but prefer to live in the burbs? Well, there are plenty of great places to put down roots around Detroit. There are charming bungalows in Highland Park, tony, lakefront mansions in Grosse Pointe, spacious neo-colonials in Macomb and sprawling, castle-like spreads in the exclusive area of Oakland.    

Note: If you’re planning to move to Detroit, it’s important to thoroughly research the neighborhoods and areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to reside, make sure you understand the neighborhood’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

Local Attractions and Entertainment

Boutique Shopping Extravaganza

Being your discovery about Detroit’s exciting and vast cultural scene with the city’s best boutique shopping, made-in-Detroit spots like the Shinola flagship store or City Slicker Shoes, where you can find unique treasures like antique blue alligator oxfords and a hand-painted croc belt to match. 

Nature Escapes at Belle Isle State Park

If you’re more of a nature nut than a clothes hound, the serene world of Belle Isle State Park will be more your speed. This floating nature preserve in the middle of the Detroit River is free to enter on foot (take the #12 Conant Bus if you don’t want to walk/bike), and an aquarium, nature center, and the Great Lakes Museum await.  

Seasonal Delights: Cherry and Apple-Picking

In the summer and fall, cherry and apple-picking are at the top of every Michigander’s weekend list, and one of the main draws are the donuts. Sadly, these do not grow on trees (yet), but the Franklin Cider Mill makes it sinfully easy to pluck one fresh from a sugary paper bag.  

Art and History Museums Galore

If you’re more in museum mode, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit won’t disappoint art enthusiasts. And when you want to dive deep into the city’s history, the Henry Ford Museum and Motown Museum will immerse you in remarkable tales of the city’s past. Detroit is also home to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Arab American National Museum, the only institution of its kind in the country. 

Musical Magic at Detroit Symphony Orchestra

More in the mood for a performance? Let the Detroit Symphony Orchestra dazzle you in Orchestra Hall at the Max F. Fisher Music Center, its acoustically and architecturally brilliant home.  

Family Fun at Michigan Science Center

When the kids are antsy, let them burn off some S.T.E.A.M. at the Michigan Science Center. Send those high-voltage pre-tweens on a journey beyond the reaches of the atmosphere or have them put on their engineering caps to explore space right here on Earth. There are fun activities for the tiniest troublemakers and brain-busting diversions for the older set.   

Pro-Sports Excitement

Everyone enjoys a night out at a ballgame, and Detroit’s pro-sports scene is premium, thanks to its (mostly) championship-winning teams. The Detroit Lions (NFL) pass the pigskin at Ford Field but, alas, these kings of the jungle have never ever won a Super Bowl. The Detroit Tigers prowl the bases at Comerica Park, and they have won four World Series titles in their 130-year history. The Detroit Pistons have won three NBA championships in their combustive history, but the Detroit Red Wings (NHL), who really know how to fire up the ice at Little Caesars Arena, have won more Stanley Cups than any other U.S. team.  

Detroit’s Culinary Scene

Indulge in Detroit’s culinary delights, from the original square pan pie at Buddy’s to iconic Coney Dogs at American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island. For a more upscale experience, the locals recommend fine dining options at Sozai and Petty Cash. 

If you want to be able to prepare such palate-wowers yourself, go straight to the source — Detroit’s Eastern Market. This 43-acre outdoor food paradise is where you can find Michigan-fresh produce, meats and cheeses (you’ve got competition, Wisconsin!), and fun annual events, like the Detroit Festival of Books.  

Practical Tips for Moving to Detroit 

Let Mayflower’s team of trusted long-distance movers help you move to Detroit from anywhere in the U.S. You’ll know that all your needs will be taken care of because you’re hiring America’s most trusted mover. Our customized, full-service moving packages can make your move stress-free, and Mayflower’s experienced movers can manage your storage needs, packing and unpacking, car shipping, debris removal and more. 

Get a moving quote for Detroit from Mayflower. 

Simplify your long-distance move to Detroit with our step-by-step guide. Explore our tips on hiring top movers and understanding moving quotes

Considering a DIY move to the Motor City? Don’t make rookie mistakes – leverage Mayflower’s valuable moving resources. We provide advice on staying organized, budgeting effectively and a free comprehensive moving checklist for you. 

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