Detroit’s median home value hovers at just $41,000, according to Zillow. Pretty low, huh? But, when you figure in the soaring costs of transportation, poor job market, substandard school system, and high crime — well — let’s just say even a $500 home in Detroit is a tough sell.
“The reason why housing is so cheap [in Detroit],” The Economist wrote, “is because…life is surprisingly expensive.”
Let’s talk about commuting in Detroit, for example. Buses are few and far between so relying on public transportation would be a nightmare as we saw in the case of the man who has a 21-mile commute on foot. You can also try walking or biking — if you like arriving at work drenched in sweat every day. “The city is so big and spread out that getting to work on foot or even on a bike would be miserable even when the weather is good,” The Economist wrote.
Your best bet would be a car, but owning one would weigh heavy on your pockets. Car insurance in Detroit costs upwards of $10,000 per year, higher than anywhere else in the country. Blame a Michigan law that requires insurers to shell out cash, regardless of whom is responsible for the accident. Also, many Detroit residents drive “busted-up” clunkers — uninsured and without licenses — which drives up the insurance costs for everyone else.
That’s why people love Manhattan — sure it’s expensive, but there’s no need for a car with a reliable transit system.
With a car, of course, comes a need for parking. If you have faith that no one would even think about stealing your clunker, parking is pretty cheap. But if you’re a bit more cautious, and you should be, parking would cost you a pretty penny. “Parking in a place where your car is not likely to be taken away by a criminal tow-truck enterprise and stripped for scrap metal…can cost as much as $100 a month,” The Economist wrote.
And while you’re dodging clunker crooks, groceries are difficult to come by in Detroit — only 38 stores are operating in the city. Almost all of them are independently owned. Residents often rely on liquor shops or gas stations to get their grub for the week.
“The sheer rate of theft in the city makes it difficult for any traditional grocer to survive,” The Economist added.
So despite the cheap, attractive housing , “well-off yuppies” gentrifying parts of the city, and thriving investments in downtown Detroit, recovery is off to a slow start and may take decades bounce back — people just don’t want to live there.
How are things where you live?