Commuting to work from the suburbs into a city can be extremely frustrating. From the time spent waiting in traffic to the weekly gas tank fills, it‘s a struggle most deal with for years. As a millennial, I have little patience and knew I could not continue my commute from the suburbs of Detroit to downtown for much longer. I recognized there were many factors to consider when moving into the city from the suburbs—from transportation to roommates, to safety and housing—but I never thought it would be as tricky as it was to navigate on my own.

In my mind, transitioning from the suburb life would be as simple as finding an area I want to be in, calling someone up and moving in shortly after. Well, as I am sure you can assume at this point, I was wrong.

Since 2006, over $9 billion has been invested in real estate development projects in greater downtown Detroit. Of that $9 billion, $5.2 billion was invested in a total of 258 projects between 2013 and 2014 alone. Even with all this expansion, there is still not enough housing units for the influx of residents rapidly moving to downtown.
All this redevelopment has led to more and more people moving into the city, just like me. So, needless to say, that while I started my apartment hunt in June—with hopes of moving to Detroit in August–I was put on a waiting list for many of the apartments I liked.

A survey by the Downtown Detroit Partnership in August 2017 found that neighborhoods within the greater downtown Detroit area are expected to see a demand for 10,000 new residential units during the next five years. After further research, I was no longer surprised as to why my apartment hunt was much harder than I expected; thus, I needed to act quickly if I wanted to make my escape from the suburbs before 2020.
The Reality of a Twenty-Something Navigating the Detroit Real Estate Market
After non-stop research, phone calls and unannounced visits to countless leasing offices, I actually found a place! I like to think my journey has made me a “moving” expert, so I’m sharing with you some key tips for anyone looking to make the transition from the suburbs to a city:

  • Decide on your price range
  • Pick a location you want to be in EARLY ON
  • Learn more about the safety of the location
  • Do research on the public transportation and parking around the area
  • Ask a friend for recommendations
  • Take a tour of MANY places
  • Join the waiting list (if it is a place you love)
  • Keep calm because it will all work out

Even with the rapid increase in real estate development in the past few years, it is clear the momentum for the Detroit housing and rental market is still on the rise. Living in a city leads to many opportunities, including engaging with new cultures, networking with people from all walks of life and industries, and gaining a better sense of independence. Just remember, do not get discouraged in your search and know that with dedication and hope (!), navigating real estate in the Detroit market—or any city— is possible for anyone.

Morgan Greenberg is an associate at Lambert