Moving to Detroit

2010_03_08detroithouseLast week I heard a pair of reports about Detroit on NPR and as usual it hit my soft spot for the Motor City. I spent Saturday morning checking in on Detroit sites (like the incredible parenting/photography/urban living blog Sweet Juniper) and reflecting on the crumbling nature of one of America’s great cities.

You always hear about the ridiculous real estate prices in Detroit (one NPR story mentioned a $500 house) so I decided to see how crazy it the market really is.

It’s crazy.

While I searched I found listing after listing for beautiful homes for well under $100,000. OK, the mansions were under $100,000, the homes for the rest of us were under $50,000. The home pictured above is a four-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,000-square-foot house built in 1931 on the east side (technically the Morningside neighborhood, but that means nothing to me). The price? $19,900.

That’s crazy.

I used the mortgage calculator just for kicks (would they even give you a 30-year mortgage for a $20,000 house?). Your mortgage would be $117 per month.

All of which makes me want to move to Detroit.

We’re not moving to Detroit.

But the possibility is kind of intriguing.

I realize the reason these houses are so cheap is the wretched economy in Detroit. Sure, you could move there and get a cheap house, but you’re not going to find a job (unless, like me, your income is not dependent on your geographic location). There are also issues of saftey (you might find a job in the private security industry) and convenience (no Target, WalMart or even a grocery store within city limits). But those might be balanced by food (the locally grown options would make a foodie drool) and artistic green spaces (Art! Trails! Score!).

As Detroit slowly deflates like a day-old balloon, I see possibility rather than just a sad balloon.

2 thoughts on “Moving to Detroit”

  1. Kevin – we have some home like that hear too. Not quite that inexpensive but they are short sales and trust me the offers are rarely accepted at the asking price . . . or at all for that matter. You are right though housing has become very inexpensive in motor city. You see my friend the auto industry tanked and many are out of work and well we are in a nation wide recession. We need you here in MN so you have to stay.

  2. Kevin,
    We’re on the other side of Michigan. We definitely make good on the bad economy last year. The prices in Grand Rapids are slightly more expensive than Detroit, but we still bought our 3 bed, 2 bath home for under 95 K. We have a few great farmers markets, AWESOME gardens/parks (see meijer gardens) and a yearly city-wide art competition that’s pretty cool ( We’re bidding hard for Google Fiber around town.

    In short, if the twin cities get too expensive, and Detroit looks too shady, there is a nice happy medium in Grand Rapids. You’d be in good company.

    (And, just in case my brother stumbles upon this post — ahem… we also are home to MANY MANY Christian radio stations. And your two cutest youngest nieces in the country!)

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