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Scared about moving to AA!!

Pittsburgh
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Scared about moving to AA!!

Hey, everybody! Spent the weekend in your town and tried to get to some of the suburbs that were mentioned as nice. And now I'm a little nervous about the potential move if my husband takes the job.

Pros: People were very friendly. They were helpful and willing to tell us what areas they thought were best (same ones that were mentioned by TA members). And the Fairfield Inn (great price) was wonderful. We usually go for Marriott brands when we can because they're all non-smoking. This one also included a yummy breakfast. However, the pool area was very heavily chlorinated, or at least it smelled that way. But I'll leave that as a pro since we know all the germs were definitely being exterminated! Really liked the area northeast of Ann Arbor. I don't know the name of that area, but there were housing plans there that were nice. I'll get the names wrong, but I think Foxfire was one and there were others. We took our little one to Jump City. That was awesome! We've been other places that are similar, but Jump City had the biggest structures we'd ever seen. Very fun for her ... and also very cheap! Six bucks for an hour and a half is too low, but don't tell the owners!

Cons: We looked at Ypsi first and were scared off by the number of cash advance places and "interesting" (read: suspicious-looking) people loitering around the area. We did look at Depot Town and it was nice. Maybe there is a nicer part that we missed? Second, we went to a mall (Briarwood, I think) and were told by people there that that was the only mall. Didn't feel well once I heard that. (smile) I guess I'm just used to having lots of choices as far as shopping. Are there outlets that we missed, or is there really only one mall? Third, gas prices are crazy! At least 20 cents over what we pay, and in some areas, more. Other cities we looked at were Chelsea and Dexter. I should have known there was going to be trouble when a lady told us (excitedly, I might add) that Dexter had its own A&W! They are nice towns, and I thought the shopping area of Chelsea was pretty and quaint, but there are train tracks galore. Hopefully there are just some plans we missed that aren't so close to train traffic. Or maybe those tracks aren't even in use anymore? Lastly, we made a reservation at Real Seafood for dinner. We thought having reservations would be best since we weren't sure how busy restaurants get there. Sadly, we didn't get to eat there because our waiter took a very long time just to bring one drink (for our three year old). When I asked what kind of beverages they had for kids, he said the same ones everybody else has. So I told him we were from out of town and didn't know what they offered. And he said juice. So I ordered apple juice, and he said they didn't have it. So then I had to ask what kind of juice they had and ordered orange. When he did come back to the table 15 minutes later, he tried to blow it off saying, oh, I finally made it back. He hadn't even taken our order yet! In actuality, I'm glad his poor service gave us a clue about what would happen if we stayed, so we told him we were leaving. The restaurant was so overbooked (apparently) that he didn't even mind and didn't ask why.

Diversity was somewhat hit or miss. The customers at Jump City and the mall were very diverse, but everyone we saw in Chelsea and Dexter was white (and obviously everybody wasn't sitting on their porches when we drove through, but there was a fair amount of people doing yard work). Northeast AA did appear to be somewhat diverse. As I said before, we are looking for a middle class, racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood. We'll just have to find out where that is.

Well, those are some of my thoughts on AA. Loved seeing the campus - much of it is beautiful! Law Quad especially. The stores downtown reminded me of our Shadyside area of Pittsburgh, nice upscale shops. Would like to know where the Walmart and Target are hiding if anyone wants to fill me in : ) We still are keeping an open mind about AA, but would really need to spend more time there, I think, to learn more about it. Thanks again for all your info., everybody. Wish we could have gotten to Zingerman's, but we wanted the seafood instead. (Ended up ordering takeout from Olive Garden - delish as always!) Hope to hear from AAers soon!

Bay City, Michigan
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1. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

Maybe Novi would be more of what you are looking for as far as shopping ventures, as well as food choices. Not sure of the mix of races though. That would probably be found more right in AA proper, not the suburbs of it. Otherwise, I'd think you'd have to move closer to Detroit...?

Livonia, MI
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2. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

There is a Target on Waters Road in Ann Arbor and I know there is also one in Ypsi just not sure exactly where it is. I know there is a Wal-Mart in Ann Arbor as well but the street escapes me. As for the malls – yes Briarwood is the only “mall” in Ann Arbor but there is Twelve Oaks Mall (huge by the way) in Novi. You could probably be in Novi in less than half an hour from Ann Arbor. Novi was mentioned here but if you are looking for diversity then Novi, Dexter, or Chelsea in my opinion would not fit. They are all very nice places to live with good schools but they are predominately white.

Now I may get scolded for saying this but personally I would not live in Ypsi. Ypsi Township may be a possibility but Ypsi itself I would not do. I do love Depot Town and I went to college in Ypsi and I even have family that live in the township but it just would not be my choice to raise my family. Like every city there are good places and bad and Ypsi does have some good qualities but not my choice of a place to live. My opinion people please don’t yell at me! LOL

For diversity with good race relations I say Ann Arbor is your best bet.

Manistique, Michigan
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for Manistique, Curtis
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3. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

Hello reggae girl, I went and read all your post and I have a question. Did you get a chance to look at any homes in Ann Arbor where you would be close to the Christian Montessori School? From what I have read you don't seem like an Ypsi, Dexter, Saline type person.

Pittsburgh
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4. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

Actually we didn't look at any homes near the Christian school because we were surprised to see how rundown it looked from the outside. The website makes it seem pretty nice, and I'm sure inside it might be, but we were very disappointed by the outside. First impressions mean a lot, right? : ) Plus, I figure if you're paying for a private school, some of the funds should go to upkeep of the actual building. Anyway, are there some diverse housing plans near the school? Maybe we could look at them next time we visit. Thanks everyone for your comments. We just want to make a well-informed decision so we don't have to move twice.

new jersey
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for Charlevoix, Michigan
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5. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

Reggaegirl: I read with interest you post. I am from East Lansing orginially and my husband is from Ann Arbor. We now live in New Jersey and have for the past 21 years. We both agree that we grew up in much more ethnically diverse towns than the area in which we currently live. The universities guarantee diversity and an acceptance of differences. I remember that over 25 languages were spoken by students at my High School mainly because parents on sabatical brought their children to America with them when they came to teach. My husband remembers the same at Ann Arbor Pioneer. If you want diversity, Ann Arbor is about as positively diverse as you will get in Michigan.

As for things looking a bit run down in Ann Arbor, I must agree. This summer I noticed a much more run down town than in the past. I visit Ann Arbor at least 5 times a year as we still have relatives there. I regret to say that I think you are seeing the results of a very poor Michigan economy. I noticed so many empty stores in shopping centers, weeds growing in existing shopping center parking lots and unkept buildings. Having said that, the offerings in Ann Arbor are wonderful. The Main Street shopping area with its restaurants and galleries is a bit like a mini-Soho. The mall is just ok but there are other reasonably good shopping areas. In addition to Walmart and Target (check out the Saline Road location, it is set back from the road and hard to see) there is the wonderful Meijers. I miss Meijers. It is like a super Walmart only nicer. It is a Michigan institution. Kohl's is also located off Saline Road. All are not too far from Briarwood. As for culture, the University guarantees that you will have wide offerings. The Natural History Museum is wonderful. My husband's grandfather contributed many of the arrowheads in the exhibit. The dinosaur is a favorite of my kids. Theatre, Opera, Orchestras, etc. All are offered in Ann Arbor.

Those from Michigan may find it amazing that a girl from East Lansing has such nice things to say about Ann Arbor. While I am decidedly not a University of Michigan fan (Go State!), I am a huge fan of Ann Arbor. Don't count it out just yet. Please take another look and try to understand that it is not Pittsburgh and that is ok! Moms

SE Michigan
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6. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

There's a Wal-Mart in Ypsi or Pittsfield Township near Ellsworth and Carpenter. There's also a Meijer and Target in that area. The "Ann Arbor" Target is just off I-94 at Ann Arbor-Saline Road. For malls other than Briarwood, you have to head to the Detroit suburbs (but who would want to live there, ugh - imho :^).

Re: CMS-AA - the school is located in a building that formerly had a different purpose, and as such is in more of a 'warehouse' or 'light industrial' area than a 'residential' one (as you probably noticed!), so that might have contributed to your first impressions. If I were paying tuition, I'd rather they spend money on teaching that building exterior, but then again, I remember being disappointed with the play equipment at the preschool my two oldest children attended so I guess I know where you are coming from. CMS is near two of the "co-housing" communities, which I think are very cool, but I don't know how they rate on the racial/ethnic diversity scale.

Can you rent for a while before buying a house? That way you'd get a better sense of the neighborhoods. From what you've said, I think you'd prefer being on the north side than near that school - but the way you'd find out for sure is by spending some time there. (Plus it's closer to those Detroit-suburban malls. :^) Another diverse area is the northwest side, north of Miller, in between downtown and about Newport (much past Newport and you get less socioeconomic diversity), or sandwiched between Miller & Dexter-Ann Arbor Road. But those are going to be established neighborhoods and older houses, not new developments.

As far as your Real Seafood experience is concerned - were you there on a Saturday night? Was it a home football game? Downtown restaurants are crazy busy at those times. We try to eat early on Friday or Saturday to avoid that scene (especially with children in tow!). It's unfortunate, though, that you got such a clueless waiter. That's too bad.

Overall, I think you'd find your niche and like Ann Arbor if you moved here, but I can understand your qualms. It's hard to make such a big change!

Livonia, Michigan
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7. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

I agree with the above posters - A2 is best for diversity unless you move much closer to Detroit. It Dexter and Chelsea were too sleepy for you (they would for me), try Plymouth or Northville. I think Plymouth is more diverse but still pretty white. It's a upper-middle class town with a cute old downtown with some nice restaurants and shops. There are older homes in the downtown area with larger newer homes just out of town. There's a nice park in the middle of town where many family-friendly events are held. It's an easy drive to Ann Arbor and to Detroit, close to a lot of shopping.

Good luck. I love Ann Arbor, but I'm a UM grad and have a son attending there now so I maybe a bit biased.

Sarah

Orlando, Florida
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8. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

I also grew up in East Lansing (Go State!) but now have a home near Ann Arbor. It's a wonderful town with a fair bit of diversity, but I do think East Lansing has much more diversity than AA, and has a much less....shall we say 'stuffy'....attitude.

I love Ann Arbor, love to shop there (the downtown area has some wonderful one-off boutiques), love to dine there (try the Blue Nile...fantastic!) but could never live there.

I also lived in Novi for several years. Don't bother looking for diversity there.

Is East Lansing or Okemos an option? You'll find a lot more diversity there (especially in E.L.) and there are some lovely neighborhoods once you get slightly out of the main campus area. If not, you could do worse than AA. It's got some nice areas, but I do think you might find the 'attitude' and the general class and culture to be far more 'white upper class'. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but if that's not what you're looking for, I think it IS what you'll find.

Tecumseh, Michigan
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9. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

Hi reggaegirl~As I was trolling through TA tonight (looking for a decent sushi restaurant in/near Ann Arbor), I came upon your post and my heart went out to you! I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU ARE FEELING RIGHT NOW! Kicking and screaming, I moved from New York City (Manhattan) to Michigan in December 2005 because my husband obtained a great job here. Without getting into too much personal (and rather boring-smile) detail, I, too, couldn't imagine moving to an area that was not racially mixed and culturally diverse. However, due to my husband's job location and the home/land choices he wanted, Ann Arbor was NOT an option for us. I do not want to discourage you (because there are some good options) but no matter how hard you search and try, you are NOT going to be able to duplicate the living situation you have in Pittsburgh here in southeast Michigan...it simply doesn't exist. Don't even think about it because doing so, will leave you heartbroken, disappointed and frustrated. Without a doubt though, if you want ANY sense of ethnic diversity, cultural stimulation, social tolerance, etc, Ann Arbor is your best bet! HANDS DOWN! NO CONTEST! Had I not lived in Manhattan for 10 years, I would probably be loving Ann Arbor at this point in my life. It really is a very friendly, extremely tolerant and an exciting and lively place to be, with lots of cultural diversity and very tolerant and KIND people.

FORGET YOUR EXPERIENCE AT REAL SEAFOOD! That place isn't that hot-smile! However, Ann Arbor is a college town, so keep that in mind...students and the attitude that goes with it all! Anywhere else...Novi, Northville, Plymouth, Livonia, Canton, Chelsea, Brighton, etc are not ethnically diverse...at all! Just look at the City Stats...those towns are 90% (or more) white, upper middle-class, suburban towns, etc. However, those towns are also loaded with young, upwardy mobile, young families with children. So keep that in mind, too. It really depends on what you want and what your main priorities are, so like with anything else, there are going to be some trade offs! Another suggestion (or option) I would offer you (if you can adjust to this), is to contemplate abandoning the entire "living in the city or living urban" idea and embrace moving to a semi-rural, country area NEAR Ann Arbor, so you can enjoy BOTH worlds! To me, that was the ONLY way to go when we moved from Manhattan and "city" life to Southeast Michigan. Chasing the "cool" city life just didn't work for me here...I even worked in Pontiac Michigan for a year, commuting over 55 miles ONE WAY 'cause I thought it would itch my city nerve...but it really didn't...I just ended up more homesick and ultra-disappointed. PLEASE don't disregard the country alternative 'cause the country towns in Michigan are WONDERFUL & BEAUTIFUL & AFFORDABLE! Also, many of the PRETTIEST small towns are really close to Ann Arbor. Also, please DON'T DISCOUNT having some fun in DETROIT...there is some VERY COOL stuff going on there. I wouldn't suggest living there because it just won the infamous title of being the murder capital of the USA (not sure how they came up with that one) but Detroit has a fabulous underground music scene, some great restaurants, fabulous music and WONDERFUL people! For many reasons, my husband and I relocated to Belleville Michigan, which is about 10 miles east of Ann Arbor and about 20 miles, or so, west of Detroit. If you want to know more, please feel free to email me personally at tlfiore@comcast.net. I'll be happy to link you to photos of our wonderful 130 yr old farmhouse. Yes, we live on a dirt road and there are horse farms around us but to me, it's part of the beauty about living here! We can afford a WONDERFUl home with nice neighbors that back East, would cost us over $1 million...and I'm NOT exaggerating. Please don't rule out Saline, Milford, Dixboro, Brighton Twp...even Jackson, Tecumseh or Milan. They may be a bit pricey (like Ann Arbor) but they are also pretty cool. Oh...and don't worry...the Ellsworth Ave~Carpenter Ave side of Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor has it all...Target, Home Goods, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Sam's Club, Showcase Cinemas, etc and Washtenaw Ave @ Rte. 23 in Ann Arbor has even more...Borders, Barnes & Noble, Bed, Bath & Beyond, DSW and Starbucks (if that's your thing-smile)! Please email me if you'd like to know more! It will be okay...it will be good and remember, Pittsburgh is VERY close...it really is! Take care, Toni Lee Fiore

Northville, Michigan
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10. Re: Scared about moving to AA!!

West side of Ypsilanti has some decent neighborhoods.

Gas? a couple bucks extra per week in pricing should be no factor...try to buy housing that involves a short commute, and use an efficient vehicle, those factors vastly more important that 20 cents in price...gas fluctuates by 20 cents every couple weeks

Plymouth is a great choice, plenty of Asians, but few Blacks. High quality of life, quaint downtowon, and near a huge mall in Novi

Canton is near Plymouth's downtown and is a suitable alternative. Commute to AA from Plymouth/Canton is fairly short

If the job is in Ann Arbor, then West Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Ann Arbor township are the best choices...the drive to Novi for abundant additional shopping is not too far, and the commute short

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