What's it like to live in Detroit, MI?

Profile written by local expert:

Nicole Jankowski

Detroit is steeped in history, culture and innovation. This Michigan metro area, which borders Canada, was settled by French explorers whose presence is still reflected in the often mispronounced street names that remain: Livernois, Gratiot and Dequindre. Nearly 200 years later, in 1908, at the corner of Piquette and Beaubien, Henry Ford would roll out his Model T for mass production. And just like that, the Motor City was born.

Detroit grew quickly into a bustling metropolis of nearly 2 million inhabitants in the years before World War II. But the loss of industry, issues with crime and economic woes, including Detroit's declaration of Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2013, have contributed to a significant population decline. In 2012, just over 700,000 people remained in the city proper. By 2016 there were about 30,000 fewer people. Due to the mass exodus of city dwellers to suburban communities, there are numerous neighborhoods now characterized by vacant buildings.

Even so, Detroit currently sits on the edge of a renaissance. Small businesses are once again setting up shop in the area, and new restaurants are luring suburbanites back to Motown.  


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.

Detroit, Michigan is ranked:

#115 in Best Places to Live

#81 in Best Places to Retire

#5 in Best Places to Live in Michigan




Best Places to Live

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

Read how we rank places

Detroit, MI Quick Stats

  • 4,317,179

    Metro Population

  • $53,690

    Average Annual Salary

  • 57.8° / 42.7°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.9

    Median Age

  • $156,508

    Median Home Price

  • 31.3 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.3%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $919

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 27.0 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Detroit, MI?

Detroit offers a host of entertainment options, particularly sports. Detroit residents are enthusiastic about rooting for the home team — whether that's the MLB Tigers, the NFL Lions, the NBA Pistons or the NHL Red Wings.

Residents can spend Friday nights at the metro area's casinos, Saturday mornings at the open-air Eastern Market and afternoons at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Detroit, MI.

What's the cost of living in Detroit, MI?

The demographics of Detroit are slowly changing. Millennials are increasingly choosing to live in the city center, enticed by low-cost housing and niche neighborhoods. Daily expenses, like groceries and utilities, are on par with national averages. However, residents can expect to pay more for home and car insurance than they would in many other cities.

Poverty is a major issue here. 

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

Value Index

Index Score: 7.3 /10

How we calculate this.

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

Housing Costs 2016



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 Detroit, MI.

What's the weather like in Detroit, MI?

Summers in the Detroit metro area are often fairly temperate, although humidity can be high. Winters are snowy and cold, but there are skiing spots just north of the metro area. Fall is arguably Detroit's most beautiful time of the year, as the leaves begin to change and the tree-lined streets become a palette of gold, red and orange hues.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.0 in


3.1 in


3.3 in


3.4 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

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

Public transportation options in Detroit are limited. Without a true subway system, residents rely on buses to get around the metro area. In downtown Detroit, residents can use the People Mover, an elevated tram system, to get around, as it stops at points of interest in the downtown area. The QLINE streetcar makes travel more streamlined down Woodward Avenue, the main road that bisects the city proper.

In more suburban parts of the metro area, public transportation is rarely used and nearly all residents own a private vehicle. However, given the high rate of car insurance, owning a vehicle isn't affordable for everyone.

The Detroit Metropolitan Airport connects residents to domestic and international destinations. Detroit is also serviced by Amtrak trains, Greyhound buses and regional buses.

Commuting in Detroit, MI

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

27.0 minutes

0.4 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

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

Who lives in Detroit, MI?

The Detroit metro area is widely diverse. The city of Detroit itself contains many neighborhoods rich in cultural heritage. Dearborn, a large community that is surrounded by the city of Detroit on three sides, is home to one of the largest Arab-American populations in the United States. Mexicantown, a neighborhood within Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge, is home to a large Hispanic population, while Corktown has a long history of Irish heritage and offers an annual St. Patrick's Parade down Michigan Avenue. Cities such as Royal Oak and Ferndale, which sit further along Woodward in Oakland County, cater to young professionals.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Detroit as national average

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