Relocating to Detroit: What do you want to know?


I've been hesitant to write anything about our move and life here for two reasons.

Latest Project: Science Tactile Graphics

First, life is hectic! Rental house is mostly in order, but work is busy and honestly, I'd rather be out exploring new stuff than sitting at my computer writing.  (Right now, I'm waiting for my second computer (nerd alert) to generate some 3D mill cutting paths (double nerd alert), so I have some time.)

Second, Detroit is tricky. It's huge, ridiculously diverse, and unbelievably complex. I don't have a handle on it at all, so I've been feeling reluctant to say anything. Who am I to write about Detroit? But then I got to thinking, who is allowed to write about Detroit then?  It is not like I'm going to act like an authority, I'm just observing and learning.

It seems outside people are really very curious about Detroit. It is hard to get a grasp on what it is really like with all the scary news reports, ruin porn photography, etc.  

So why not share my experience? Sort of what should be blogging is all about, right? Here goes:

After shipping our kids North with my parents; packing like mad for 3 days, being in limbo for 5 days, we finally drove North on I-75 to our new rental house in metro Detroit. I will be the first to admit that traveling to Detroit from the South it is not pretty.

My honest first thought was: "What the hell have we done?"

But as we got closer, the sick feeling in my stomach quickly turned into excitement.  I love big cities.  I grew up in a rural area, but have lived in Berlin, Philadelphia, and NYC. I love the energy.  The endless activities. The possibilities.

I had the usual observances:  Cars drive fast.  The roads are horrible.  People are very nice.  Food is great. Local beer is very good.

And the other ones:  Sprawl is real here.  Suburbs are nice and vast.  City itself is very complicated.  Some areas are desolate:  a single house amid nothing but overgrown lots and so many abandoned buildings.  But some areas are full of life:  from sophisticated office towers and the river park, to more DIY neighborhoods with community gardens and beautiful renovated brick apartment buildings.

From top of Renaissance Center (tallest building downtown)  looking at a huge urban surface parking lot on the left, Belle Isle in the Detroit River, and Windsor, Canada on the right.
Marc lived here until he was 26 and I've been visiting for 14 years, so it's not such a big shock to see the juxtaposition of nice areas to holy shit are we in a war zone?  That being said, driving to his parents' house in the 'burbs and occasionally hitting up Lafayette downtown isn't the same as living in Detroit.

The other day Marc and I were home alone working when the power went out, so we decided to start our neighborhood search.  We've already been to Royal Oak & Ferndale, both suburbs pretty close to the city, but decided to drive around Hamtramck (a city within the city of Detroit), Eastern Market, and the North End.  Then the next day, I took the girls "to the grocery", which was really a veiled plan to head to the Whole Foods near Wayne State and check out Midtown.

...And this is where I stop because 1) my cutting paths are done, and 2) I'm not sure how or what people are interested in hearing about.  This is lame, but help me out here:
(and feel free to elaborate or ask another question in the comments)

What do you want to know?

** Please note, If I do A or B, I'll still post about our rental. Option C is if you only want to see rental posts, none of our future location search.


  1. Replies
    1. G - I realized that it might not be clear, so I just added "** Please note, If I do A or B, I'll still post about our rental. Option C is if you only want to see rental posts, none of our future location search."


  2. Hi! Long-time reader from Seattle. Love your blog! My brother moved to an area outside Detroit and so I'm extremely curious about all things Detroit. It would be fun to read any thoughts you have on the area.

  3. my only exposure to detroit is from reading Sweet Juniper and occasionally my former neighbor's twitter feed. I'd love to read as much as you have time to share. Neighborhoods, and why you want to live there, are always interesting - even if I don't live in the same city. And Detroit is unique in that it has lots of people, but a lot of sprawl, and is a big city (with big city problems) but not (anymore) considered a "major" city?

  4. I'm interested in your move, the decision to switch gears, and your discovery of the area. As someone who moved from Chicago to Michigan, my husband is from the town next to Detroit, he NEVER took me there. I took myself around town when he was at work to explore. Good luck! I'll be reading, whichever way you decide to go.


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