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15 Things to Know Before Moving to Ann Arbor, MI

15 Things to Know Before Moving to Ann Arbor, MI Written by Brittany Slagle

There is a lot of diversity in Ann Arbor. It combines elements of the countryside with those of the city, the outdoors with those of modern technology, and the underground with the elite. It is best known as the location of the University of Michigan, and as such, it has all the hallmarks of your typical college town: a lovely main street with bookstores, gift shops, and taverns. 

Ann Arbor is a desirable area for inhabitants of all ages due to its excellent public schools, growing diverse job market, extensive public parks system, and low crime rates, among other things. Here are fifteen things to know before moving to Ann Arbor, MI!

1. You can get anywhere in 20 minutes

Ann Arbor is the perfect size; neither too big nor too small. The city is home to roughly 120,000 people. Traveling around is easy, and you can reach most destinations in under 20 minutes. From the outskirts of town, you can make it downtown in approximately 10 minutes.

If you’re used to the hustle and bustle of the big city, you’ll love this change of pace. Many people don’t even bother moving out of Ann Arbor, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to, either! Here, you’ll get used to avoiding particular places during peak hours due to traffic and rush hour. You might prefer staying far away from these locations, too.

2. Take a trip out of town

In addition to the quick commute across town, Ann Arbor is situated less than two hours’ drive away from the well-known Lake Michigan beach. 

It will take you around an hour and a half to go to Detroit and less than 4 hours to get into the downtown area of Chicago. The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is only a half-drive hour away and can be accessed easily.

3. The city is walkable and bicycle-friendly

Ann Arbor is a lot more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists than most others. There are over 157 parks and 475 kilometers of sidewalks in the city to enjoy on foot. A significant percentage of Ann Arbor’s population (about 15%) commutes on foot, over six times the national average rate. 

To the people of Ann Arbor, roads aren’t just for cars; they also belong to walkers and bikes. They have put in a lot of effort to make the walkways ADA-compliant and have won accolades for their actions. The bike lanes and walkways are well-planned and kept in good condition.

4. Explore Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Peony Garden, and the Huron River.

Parks and other scenic outdoor areas are highly valued in Ann Arbor. Gallup Park, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the border-to-border walk, The Arboretum, Peony Garden, and the entire length of the Huron River are just a few of the many beautiful places you can visit in the area. 

Walk, run, road or trail bike, kayak, swim, skateboard, or even play ultimate frisbee; Ann Arbor has it all.

5. Education and healthcare are the most robust sectors

In terms of economic resilience, Ann Arbor ranks high. The University of Michigan, St. Joseph Mercy Health Systems, Veterans Association (VA), Ann Arbor Healthcare, and Ann Arbor Public Schools are some of the city’s largest employers. 

There are, therefore, substantial numbers of people working in fields like automotive technology, high technology, etc. Two of the most stable sectors of the economy are education and healthcare. Ann Arbor’s economy is one of the state’s strongest, and it will likely remain that way.

6. Living costs make the city unaffordable for young people

Everything from rent and property taxes to restaurants and gas is more expensive in Ann Arbor. The city’s cost of living is 15% higher than the national average.

As a result of the high cost of living, workers earning lower wages simply cannot afford to make the move here. The median home price is $444,448, and the average rent of $1,912 is out of reach for service industry workers, recent college graduates, and others just starting out. Because of this, it’s hard for restaurants and other businesses to attract and retain skilled staff.

7. Ann Arbor has high property taxes

Property taxes in Michigan are already among the highest in the country, and Washtenaw County is almost as expensive as the rest of the state combined. 

Ann Arbor City has property taxes of roughly 25% more than those of the surrounding townships. Living in Pittsfield or Ann Arbor Township can be a better option if you’re trying to save money on property taxes than in your current location.

8. The city has a craft beverage culture

Ann Arbor has become a mecca for those interested in craft beverages due to its emphasis on small-batch, artisanal brewing, and cocktails. 

The Last Word and Raven’s Club are just two of the many one-of-a-kind cocktail bars in the area. Morgan & York, a wine shop and restaurant, offers superb vintages and delectable fare. Another such establishment is the Ann Arbor Brewing Company. It is a local favorite for over twenty years due to its extensive menu and wide selection of handcrafted beers made in a solar-powered brewery.

9. Get the very best medical care

In case you haven’t heard, Ann Arbor has some of the best medical facilities in the country. Whenever groups like the Leapfrog Group evaluate hospitals using their Hospital Safety Score, Michigan Medicine always receives perfect scores. 

Also, the city’s overall healthcare system is well regarded on a national scale throughout many different medical fields. The University of Michigan Health-Ann Arbor is the best hospital in the state and even among the top 20 in the country. Ann Arbor is hard to beat if healthcare is a priority for you. 

10. The city is home to great music

Ann Arbor is home to a wide variety of music venues that play host to artists and genres of all kinds. The difficulty will not be in finding live music but rather in choosing which live platform to visit on any given evening. 

There are more than 300 live music performances each year at The Ark. Hill Auditorium, Michigan Theater, and the Power Center are just a few of the places you can see both local and national artists.

11. The university is a big part of the city’s culture

Due to the presence of the University of Michigan, this is perhaps one of the finest college towns in the Midwest. It has more than 30,000 students and a 3,200-acre campus, making it one of the best public universities in the United States.

It would be difficult to describe Ann Arbor without mentioning the University of Michigan. Located in the heart of the city, it serves as the primary source of employment for the surrounding area.

Saturday game days are a big thing every fall, so be ready to become a Wolverine football fan.

12. The public school system is the best in the state

The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) are widely considered to be among the finest educational institutions in the United States, and they hold the top spot in Michigan.

The Pioneer High School, the Huron High School, the Skyline High School, and the Community High School have all been recognized as being among the best in the state.

The Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) also has a solid reputation. Each of its many distinct locations in and around the city provides students with educational opportunities beyond the traditional classroom.

13. The football games and art fair cause some traffic

The University of Michigan football games and the annual art fair are major disruptions that must be factored into your schedule. Although locals are acclimated to the slow pace of traffic, visitors may find themselves frustrated by the situation. 

During these times, movement on all major thoroughfares will come to a halt or be closed off totally. Know that these things will happen, and prepare for them.

14. The Art Fair is the biggest in the country

Are you an art lover? Ann Arbor is home to some of the world’s longest-running arts festivals, so you’ll feel right at home there. This city’s thriving arts scene is a major draw for many people. Even though it’s not the only one, their local arts and crafts fair has been going strong for 70 years. 

Ann Arbor’s Art fair is a shining example. Around half a million people show up every July for this Midwestern event. This is the biggest art fair in the country.

15. A high population density

The high population density of Ann Arbor often results in a stifling feeling of congestion. Over 125,000 people call the area’s 29 square miles home, making the population density 4,300 people per square kilometer.

The population densities of Houston, Texas, and San Diego, California, two of the most populated cities in the United States, are lower.


Thinking of moving to Ann Arbor? This city has both its advantages and disadvantages. Some great things about the city include the abundance of fun outdoor activities, convenient location, great school system, and strong economy.

On the other hand, there’s also the high population density to worry about, the high cost of living, and high property tax rates.  

Learn More About Living in Ann Arbor, MI

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