Tuesday February 21st 2017

The DGAT Guide to Moving to Detroit

So you’re thinking of moving to the big D? You’ve come to the right place. As a mix of transplants and natives we’re ready to help you; wondering where to live? or how you’ll make friends? We’ve got your back.


First of all, we could not be happier that you are thinking of moving to our city. It really is fabulous here – rich in history, but also current and dynamic with a culture that is exploding with creativity. Beyond the young arts scene (we’re loving the New York Times coverage), Detroit is home to world class museums like the Detroit Institute of Art and the Motown Historical Museum, as well as to some unique cultural institutions like feather bowling and coney islands. Let’s not forget the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings, either.

For the individual, that’s you, Detroit is a new frontier of American opportunity, a chance to join a community and change the course of an iconic American city’s history! Suffice it to say, you’ll have authorship. You can transform a street into an art piece ( a la Hidelberg Project) or turn an abandoned lot into a vibrant farm (a la the Georgia Street Farm). You can start a shop or open a business downtown. Whatever your passion, Detroit is a place to grow your dreams.

That being said, this fine city is not New York…or even close. Acknowledge the fact that Detroit is not the man you’d like to take home to your parents – the city is more like your good girlfriend who you have undying love and support for because she has been through everything, but who is also a little bit crazy.

Know what you are getting into:

It's not ruin porn... it's real life.

At this point, Detroit is more of a small town than a city. Until Detroit’s new and improved leadership figures out what the actual population size is and how the city will be able to appropriately downsize, public transit will remain dicey and most of the largely empty streets will not be safe for a gal to freely walk about town.

Take the next step:

So you know it’s rough around the edges, but you’re in. Brilliant. Now, it’s time to Declare Detroit. Embrace this city. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer and at this point, all of Detroit’s naysayers have left… those of us who are still here love Detroit and are not tearing up over the loss. Yes, we need residents, but we’re looking for lovers, not haters.

Picking a hood… a neighborhood, that is:

Loft livin' in Midtown.

Embracing the city is easy. Start by bringing life into a beautiful home or condo, or by moving into one of the fantastic lofts in downtown or Midtown. Students, check out Wayne State’s housing information. If you’re moving your family or are set on a house, try Woodbridge. Craigslist is the best comprehensive list of rentals, however it may be helpful to e-mail business owners or restaurants in the area you’re hoping to move to. People are pretty friendly and locals may be able to help you or let you know if there are listings on their bulletin boards.


Like any city, play it safe:

One thing that may tip you towards the midtown area is the proximity of Wayne State, which has its own police force, a force that will beat the Detroit police to the scene by hours (just be sure to get their number and call them instead). Otherwise, look for an apartment with secure parking and kick it 80s style with a Club; as car theft is not so uncommon here. A removable GPS (you’ll want to be able to hide it when you park) will also help you get around the sprawling city and the suburbs while you’re still getting to know it.

Get your wheels:

If you have a car or a bike, bring them. If you don’t own them, when you get here invest in one of the Big 3’s cars (or risk getting your import egged, trust us, we’ve seen it happen) and check out one of the local bike shops or even Craigslist. We got a spiffy Peugeot road bike by searching in the Detroit section on eBay. However, public transportation is still an option. Get a monthly DDOT/SMART pass so you don’t have to fumble for change and use your smart phone to download up to the minute schedules. It’s also helpful to have DDOT’s main number programed into your phone incase you need to call to bitch about your bus being an hour late or a badly behaved driver.

The Odds and Ends:

Not sure how you’ll make it to all of the Detroit hot spots without hurting your dogs feelings? Canine to Five is your spot. Disappointed that Detroit doesn’t offer citywide recycling? Don’t let yourself get lazy, head over to one of the Recycling Here! centers.

Staying in the know:

Of course you’re going to check DGAT daily, but also sign up for iamyoungdetroit, Model D and put the Detroit Free Press on your homepage so you can start keeping tabs on the city’s news and events. Mark your calendars for Dally in the Alley, the Detroit Marathon, the Detroit Jazz Festival, Noel Night and the Detroit Electronic Festival.


A community meal at Detroit SOUP.

Once you get here, head on over to Motorcity Brewery for a celebratory Detroit brew and then go dig into the history and get oriented with a tour by Inside Detroit. If you’re looking to make friends, check out Russell’s Street Deli in the Eastern Market where you’ll share a table and easily strike up a conversation. For an intimate and simple dinner party with strangers that benefit, head to Soup at Spaulding and the SOUP in Mexicantown.

Get involved:

Do a gardening project with the Greening of Detroit or become a Detroit Reading Corps member. Think of everyone on your block as a neighbor and reach out, they’ll be happy (hopefully) to meet you and show you around. Join your local fútbol team. If you’re looking for a date, join in on the fun and support local businesses with Pick MI Date. After getting dirty with Greening and getting rough with your fútbol team, relax with “Arc of Justice” or “Middlesex” at locally owned Woodbridge Pub.

A drink at Woodbridge awaits you.

Keeping your figure:

If you’d like to work off all the fabulous Detroit food when it’s too cold to head down the riverfront via the Dequindre Cut or to Belle Isle, check out the YMCA’s gym downtown, donation based yoga with People’s Yoga Detroit, or head to Wayne State’s Gym.

Now get here already:

Moving to any city is a big step, but know that if done correctly, moving to Detroit can feel like moving into a community. If you’re ready, bring your street smarts, creativity and passion – it’s time to move into that condo you’ve always dreamed of (Mies van der Rohe in Lafayette Park, anyone?).
Now get packing!