Community | Opinion | Real Estate

Renting in Detroit is a challenge

I lived in downtown Detroit for six years. I first lived in the city with a significant other who owned a townhome in Lafayette Park. I then rented a unit in the Lofts at Woodward Center; a different experience indeed. I then lived at the Garden Lofts in Brush Park. I have tried a few places and I know what I am looking for in a home in the city.

For the past year, I have been renting an apartment in the suburbs which is less expensive than all three previously mentioned places. It has been fine, and we only moved because my fiancé and I both started working in this particular burb. The quality of life has improved, as our commutes are about five minutes each. Additionally, there are no Detroit income taxes to pay out here. Score.

Now there has been a shift. A curve ball, if you will (please excuse all baseball references – I am kind of a baseball fanatic). My betrothed has found a new job! And get this – in Detroit. So we are heading back. While this is something we both want. there are so many new challenges we now have to face; which technically wouldn’t be the first time. But these challenges are unique.

Aside from the fact that we want to move before our November wedding (insanity on our part), we now have to make sure our list of wants and needs are met. We want to feel safe number one, and secondly, we want to be able to afford a place with the amenities we feel like we deserve. We make decent livings, and we like nice things. This is not anything to be ashamed of, so when I tell you about the challenges we are facing, they are for sure #firstworldproblems. And I am ok with that.

We have started to explore what is available to rent in Detroit, downtown specifically. We are hoping to be within walking distance to my fiancé’s job, which of course narrows the options. We want to be that close because let’s face it, parking is ridiculous. And in some cases, it will cost an additional $200 a month to park where we live. So as we start looking, we realize that a 2-bedroom place is out of the question. It’s hard to find a 2-br that’s less than $1,800. Doesn’t that cost seem ridiculous to anyone else? I know we all hate the comparisons to other cities like Chicago and L.A., but this is not Chicago or L.A. and these rates are somewhat comparable. To make matters worse, there aren’t even that many places available. There are wait lists everywhere.

With a 1-bedroom, it becomes hard to find adequate storage and space for everything a couple of 30 and almost 30-somethings possess. I am about to start my married life and we just aren’t ready to own a house, but I would like to be able to fit everything I own in this place. And host parties. And be able to have a baby in there for several months if I am lucky enough to soon start a family. Are these extravagant ambitions? I would like to think “not really,” but it has been a challenge to find the ideal spot up to this point.

The good part in all of this: Detroit is a city people want to live in, with amazing growth potential. Developers keep promising to build and renovate, which is great news, but it is not happening fast enough. I suppose I am willing to struggle with cost and take what I can get so long as Detroit continues to improve for the future resident. I am just impatient and wish Detroit was ready for me right now. Maybe good things come to those who wait.

loft view

A view from the Lofts at Woodward Center. A fine Thanksgiving morning.

Lauren McMichael
Lauren McMichael is an advertising account manager at SMZ, where her client list includes Broadway in Detroit and the Detroit Red Wings. Lauren is also a founding member of Detroit Passport to the Arts, which cultivates audiences within the Detroit arts and culture scene. Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Lauren is extremely passionate about the city. Aside from DVoice, Lauren can be found writing on personal blog, Black Tie Optional. Follow her @ellecavmc.