Detroit is the largest city in Michigan and the tenth largest city in the United State. It grew rapidly in the early part of the 20th century due to the rapid growth of the motor industry. It was also the city where Motown was born.
Detroit has had a tough time over the last few decades with the collapse of the motor industry and the loss of almost half its residents between the 1950s and 2010s, however, things now are looking up.
Microsoft are joining other IT companies by moving their Technology Centre to Detroit in 2018 which is another step towards Detroit’s dream of becoming a world class technology hub. The city is on the road to recovery, with unemployment down and jobs being created.
If you are considering moving to Detroit, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in Motor City.
Quick Detroit Facts:
- Population: 677,116 (2016 estimate). The Detroit metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 4 million.
- Official Language: English (de facto) with over 100 languages being spoken in Detroit, including Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Romanian, Italian and Arabic.
- GDP Per Capita: $53,628 USD (2015)
- The First Car: The very first car was manufactured in Detroit in 1896.
- Currency: US Dollar (US$). As of early 2017, £1 = $1.25, €1 = $1.08, $1 CAD = $0.75, $1 AUD = $0.77
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Detroit
- New York City – $167+
- Los Angeles – $578+
- Canada (Vancouver) – $1,323+
- UK (London) – $1,322+
- Australia (Sydney) – $2,902+
- Ireland (Dublin) – $1,460+
- New Zealand (Auckland) – $3,374+
- Hong Kong – $1,765+
- Dubai – $2,660+
- Singapore – $2,730+
2. Detroit Housing Costs
Property prices in Detroit are recovering after the last few years of economic depression.
Monthly Rental Prices in Detroit
- 1 bedroom apartment (apartment) in City Centre: $800+
- 1 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $650+
- 3 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $900+
- 3 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $1,100+
Detroit Home Purchase Prices
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: $856.29
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: $750.74
Detroit Housing Cost Comparison
This is how rents in Detroit compare with other cities around the globe.
London is 90.36% more expensive
New York is 175.44% more expensive
Los Angeles is 84.51% more expensive
Toronto is 9.53% more expensive
Sydney is 77.88% more expensive
Paris is 15.43% more expensive
Dubai is 97.65% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs
- Share an apartment or house: Housing is very cheap in Detroit, but you can save even more if you share a house or apartment. Have a look at the following sites: Easyroommate, Craigslist, Roomie Match, Room Mate Locator and Metro Roommates.
- Different areas – different prices. Woodbridge is a popular area with young professionals. It’s great for those who enjoy the visual arts and want to be close to everything that going on in the city and it’s affordable. Midtown is close to many top companies, museums and good restaurants. It’s also a good area for walking or cycling to the shops and work. Downtown is close to big corporations like GM, and is well situated for public transportation and housing is reasonably priced. Many of the outlying suburbs are pretty, affordable and have housing of varying types. Have a look at Birmingham, Franklin and Northville to begin with.
3. Detroit Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Detroit has a good selection of restaurants to choose from. It’s diverse population is reflected in the style of restaurants, from Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean to Eastern European, French, Spanish and Mexican.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: $10 – $20
- Takeout Coffee: $3.25 – $5.00
- Bottle of Coke: $1.25 – $3
- 1L of milk: $0.71 – $1.19
- Loaf of Bread: $2.20 – $3.86
- 12 Eggs: $2.00 – $4.00
- 1kg Chicken: $6.59 – $15.43
- 1kg Beef: $5.84 – $19.84
- 1kg Apples: $2.20 – $6.61
- 1kg White Rice: $3.00 – $6.80
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- London restaurants are 36.43% more expensive and groceries are 17.93% cheaper than Detroit.
- New York restaurants are 48.83% more expensive and groceries are 32.88% more expensive than Detroit.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 24.00% more expensive and groceries are 3.25% higher than Detroit.
- Toronto restaurants are 0.38% more expensive and groceries are 16.96% cheaper than Detroit.
- Sydney restaurants are 11.42% more expensive and groceries are 10.78% higher than Detroit.
- Paris restaurants are 20.69% more expensive and groceries are 2.09% more expensive than Detroit.
- Dubai restaurants are 2.67% cheaper and groceries are 20.44% cheaper than Detroit.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries
- Know your supermarkets: Detroit has a few independently owned grocery stores and ethnic stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. There are also farmers’ markets in the many neighbourhoods and shops which sell health foods and organic foods. Popular supermarkets are Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, E & L Supermarkets, Food Pride Market and Imperial Supermarkets.
- Find Cheap Eats: With a little bit of effort you can find places which offer excellent food at affordable prices. Have a look at Detroit Eater, Thrillist, Four Square, Daily Detroit and TripAdvisor.
4. Detroit Alcohol Costs
Every neighbourhood in Detroit has a good selection of bars and clubs from basic bars to high end cocktail bars in the city.
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: $3.00 – $5.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: $4.00 – $7.00
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: $1.00 – $3.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: $1.50 – $4.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: $10.00 – $14.00
How to drink for less in Detroit
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- Greenwich Time Pub is well known for its cheap drinks and specials on food. Green Dot Stables is a lovely venue which prides itself on good, reasonably priced food and patrons say they don’t need a happy hour because the drinks are always cheap. Have a look at the following sites to find somewhere that appeals to you – Four Square, Hell Yeah Detroit, Drink Owl, Core Detroit and Happy Hours Detroit.
5. Detroit Transportation Fares
The Detroit transportation system is run by the DDOT. A monorail, known as the People Mover, operates on a 2.94 mile loop in downtown Detroit. Other areas are served by busses.
There is talk of SEMCOG commuter rail system for the city. People do complain about the lack of public transportation and many people use cars to get to work.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult Single – $2.00
- One day ticket – $6.00
- Monthly season ticket, unlimited – $57
How to save money on public transport
- Buy a SMART regional monthly pass for $60
- Buy a weekly GoPass for $16
- Buy a bike. Depending on where you live and work, cycling around the city may be an option. Many areas have bike lanes and are considered safe for cycling.
- If you live relatively close to where you work, you can walk to work. Some areas are not considered safe for walking, so check this out carefully before you set off.
6. Cost of Internet in Detroit
Internet prices in the States are expensive compared with many other countries in the world. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2017 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Detroit’s hottest month is July, with an average high of 73°F (23°C). January is the coldest month where the average temperature is 25°F (-4°C). The wettest month is May, with an average rainfall of 100mm.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: $25 – $60
- Summer Dress: $20 – $45
- Running Shoes (Trainers): $50 – $100
- Business Shoes: $50 – $120
- Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): $91
- Deodorant: $3.78
- Shampoo: $3.80
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): $2.88
- Gym membership: $20-$65 per month
- Movie (cinema) ticket: $10-$13
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Detroit
In Detroit the car is king. And as the public transportation system in Detroit isn’t as good as it could be, most people drive around the city. This obviously causes congestion during rush hour periods.
If you’re moving to Detroit from within the US, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new one.
You can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months as a tourist but after that you will need to get an American license. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Detroit:
- Volkswagen Golf:$20,000
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol):$0.61
- Other fees (if any): The average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $665 per annum
Ways to save money driving in Detroit
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Carpoolworld, Craigslist and Zipcar.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber or Lyft.
Need your car/vehicle moved to Detroit? Then read our guide to: Car Transport & Vehicle Shipping
9. Taxes in Detroit
Sales Tax in Detroit is 6% and is added to most goods and services. Generally, the price you see on an item does not include sales tax.
If you own your home, you will be subject to property tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about property tax in Detroit at Property Tax.
Finally, if you decide to buy an apartment or house in Detroit you’ll have to pay real estate transfer tax.
10. Flight Costs from Detroit
If you do make the move to Detroit, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2017:
- London: $269
- New York: $52
- Los Angeles: $95
- Toronto: $145
- Vancouver: $127
- Dubai: $369
- Sydney: $657
- Melbourne: $726
- Cape Town: $854
- Hong Kong: $596
Other Tips on Moving to Detroit
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Detroit but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Detroit Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city on your own can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about relocating to and settling in Detroit.
- Meetups: There are many Meetup groups to choose from. You will definitely find something to join which will help you to settle in. The selection is diverse, ranging from IT, through yoga and to dive bars.
- Attend local events: Detroit has a lot going on. Have a look at TripAdvisor, Thrillist, Crazy Tourist and Vacation Idea.
12. Moving to Detroit with a Family
Detroit has a lot to offer families. It has excellent museums, parks, amusement parks, river rides, the zoo, plays, music and more.
- New parents (or parents to be): Have a look at the following sites for ideas of where to meet parents to be or new parents and where to sign up for courses – Metro Parent and Henry Ford.
- Live in a family friendly area: Palmer Woods is a good area for families. It has lovely family homes and is close to shops, schools and restaurants. Birmingham is a family friendly area with a variety of housing, shops, farmers’ markets and open air concerts in the summer. Franklin, Northville, Plymouth, Beverley Hills, Farmington and Berkley are other suburbs to look at for families.
- Find things to do with the kids: Detroit can be a fun place for kids to live. Have a look at the following sites to be inspired – Alphamom, Midwest Living, Family Days Out and Visit Detroit.
13. Moving to Detroit for Work
People generally move to Detroit for work. It is becoming a powerful centre for the IT industry, especially with Microsoft’s announcement that it will be moving its Technology Centre to Detroit.
While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move. The unemployment rate is higher than the national average but young professionals are being drawn to the city by the successful companies which are already there and those that shortly to relocate.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries vary enormously depending which industry you are in. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to find work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Detroit, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start:Monster, Indeed, Snagajob, Craigslist and Live Career. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Detroit from Australia
There’s small group of Australians living in Detroit, most of whom have been attracted by the growing IT industry in the city.
- Size comparison: If you compare the population size of Detroit with a city in Australia, then the closest would be the Gold Coast. If you look at the whole Detroit metro, then the closest city in Australia would be Melbourne.
- Join expat groups: There are a number of expat groups enabling you to meet fellow Aussies. Try Internations and AU Community.
15. Moving to Detroit from Canada
Windsor Ontario is just over the Detroit River from Detroit and the number of Canadians in Detroit is slowly growing. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size Comparison: Montreal, with its population standing at almost 4 million, is very close in size to Detroit Metro. The city of Detroit is closest in population numbers to Hamilton, Ontario.
- Expat groups: Meeting up with fellow Canadians helps the moving process. Link up through sites such as Meetup and Internations.
16. Moving to Detroit from the United Kingdom
There are a small number of UK citizens living and working in Detroit, drawn by the growing IT industry.
- Size comparison: The Detroit Metro is just over half the size of London when you look at population size. The city of Detroit’s population numbers are midway between those of Leeds and Glasgow.
- Expat groups: If you want to get together with others from the UK who are working and living in Detroit, then go to Internations and Meetup.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Detroit you can start by comparing moving quotes here.
Guides to moving and living in other American cities