What's it like to live in Ann Arbor, MI?

Profile written by local expert:

Jack Nank

Ann Arbor is a city of contrasts. It is at once rural and urban, sporty and smart, outdoorsy and high-tech, counterculture and high society. It is best known as the home of the University of Michigan, and locals here enjoy all the trappings of a stereotypical Midwestern college town: a charming, historic main street lined with bookstores, gift shops and taverns; a healthy mix of longtime residents and shorter-term passers-through; and plentiful cultural destinations and events. At the same time, its proximity to reenergized Detroit, fast-growing startup scene, international community, spirit of inclusivity and high walkability give “Tree Town” a feel not unlike that of a much larger city. Aside from the university, excellent public schools, an increasingly diverse job market, a robust public parks system and low crime rates make Ann Arbor an attractive place to live for locals of all ages. 

Set amid rolling hills and bisected by the Huron River, Ann Arbor features options for outdoor recreation throughout the year, from kayaking and mountain biking in warmer months to snowshoeing and ice skating in the winter. The city was established in the mid-1800s, and the original residential areas that encircle the central business district are still full of homes from that era. Higher-density housing is common both on the city’s outskirts and, more recently, in the downtown core, where easy access to cultural, dining and entertainment destinations is attracting a growing number of full-time residents.


U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Ann Arbor, Michigan is ranked:

#12 in Best Places to Live

#7 in Best Places to Retire

#1 in Best Places to Live in Michigan

#2 in Best Places to Live for Quality of Life




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Ann Arbor, MI Quick Stats

  • 365,961

    Metro Population

  • $55,130

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 33.4

    Median Age

  • $263,225

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 2.9%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,083

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 24.0 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Ann Arbor, MI?

Ann Arbor experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year, and each offers its own options for entertainment and recreation. In need of a heavy dose of Vitamin D after a long Midwestern winter, residents flock outdoors in springtime. According to the Trust for Public Land, more than 90% of Ann Arbor’s residents live within a 10-minute walk of a public park. Those parks come in all shapes and sizes: playgrounds, baseball diamonds, skateparks, canoe liveries and disc golf courses. 

Come summer, the academic year ends and festival season begins. The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, which has been held in downtown Ann Arbor every summer since 1960 and bills itself as “the original art fair,” attracts as many as a half-million attendees. Ann Arbor Summer Festival is a month-long series of public events in parks and venues across the city. Locals planning a getaway have no shortage of options: Ann Arbor is a one-hour drive from downtown Detroit, three hours from three different Great Lakes, and five hours or less from Chicago, Toronto, Indianapolis, Columbus and Cleveland.

By September, the hills in and around town radiate the colors of fall, and returning college students bring buzzy weekends of tailgating and apple picking in nearby orchards. Local cross-country skiers, snowshoers and ice skaters eagerly look forward to dropping temperatures, but the long Michigan winter is also a popular time for indoor enthusiasts to explore Ann Arbor’s food scene, its numerous craft breweries and distilleries and cultural institutions including the family-friendly Hands-On Museum, the Ann Arbor District Library and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

What's the cost of living in Ann Arbor, MI?

Ann Arbor homeowners pay property taxes and the state of Michigan collects income tax, but workers in Ann Arbor don’t pay city income tax. Notably, Michigan drivers pay among the highest auto insurance rates in the nation.

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.0 /10

How we calculate this.

Ann Arbor offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019

Ann Arbor


Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Ann Arbor, MI.

What's the weather like in Ann Arbor, MI?

The sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour, and all who endure Michigan’s long winters are rewarded with several months of picture-perfect summer. The odd blizzard aside, the region is remarkably immune to extreme weather, so much so that some residents (and even some experts) have declared Michigan an ideal destination for the climate change refugees of the future.

What's the best way to get around Ann Arbor, MI?

Michigan is the birthplace of the automobile, and most locals are predictably car-dependent. However, the growing population of downtown Ann Arbor enjoys the same level of walkability as its peers in the densest areas of Manhattan, Washington and San Francisco.

Outside the city core, the public bus system offers a viable transit alternative virtually anywhere within Ann Arbor and neighboring Ypsilanti. Cycling, both for commuting and fitness, is popular throughout the year. The city unveiled its first protected bike lane in 2019, and its “People-Friendly Streets” initiative is implementing a more extensive network of protected bike lanes and other updates to ease all modes of transit through the city’s popular downtown core.

For out-of-town travel, Ann Arbor is served by air by the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is an easy 20-minute drive from most points in town. A major hub for Delta Air Lines, DTW offers direct flights to many U.S. cities and international destinations. Those who prefer to travel by train can catch the Amtrak line on the north side of downtown to destinations including Chicago to the west and Detroit to the east.

Commuting in Ann Arbor, MI

Means of Transportation
Below national average

Equal to national average

Above national average

Public Transit
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

24.0 minutes

2.6 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Ann Arbor, MI?

With a population of just more than 120,000, Ann Arbor is one of the most populous cities in Michigan. The city’s strong public schools and plentiful cultural and recreational attractions make it a desirable place for families, and the presence of the University of Michigan draws a significant international community: About 19% of the city’s population between 2014 and 2018 was foreign-born.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

More single people in Ann Arbor than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.