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Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Ann Arbor families need the biggest budgets to get by in Michigan

By Amy Biolchini

For a family of two parents and two children in Ann Arbor, they'd need an annual budget of $68,140 to get by -- making it the most expensive place in Michigan to live, according to media reports.


Downtown Ann Arbor as seen from a U-M Survival Flight Helicopter in 2012.

Jeffrey Smith | file photo

The budget is the largest for an average family out of about 20 Michigan communities surveyed by the Economic Policy Institute.

The budget figure is an estimate of the annual income a family needs for a "secure yet modest living standard," Michigan Radio reported.

Here are the top 10 most expensive places to live in Michigan:

  • Ann Arbor
  • Detroit-Warren-Livonia
  • Lansing-East Lansing
  • Monroe
  • Barry County
  • Grand Rapids-Wyoming
  • Battle Creek
  • Ionia County
  • Kalamazoo-Portage

Rural areas are the least expensive to live.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Lou Perry

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Detroit and Livonia are in Wayne County. Warren is in Macomb County. Again, doesn't make any sense.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

Just do what most UofM employees and city of Ann Arbor municipal workers do... live outside of Ann Arbor. By the way, the idea that Detroit and Warren are among the most expensive places to live is absurd.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

The property taxes are a killer. It is was not for Proposition A I think we would all be sunk. Glad I live in Ypsilanti with my little hidden gems.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

As an Ann Arbor resident this is one top ranking that I believe.

Jack Gladney

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Whooo-hooo! Another list.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Ann Arbor is a bargain compared to many (probably most) other great places to live. Making judgements based on how A2 compares to other cities in the state is a mistake. Anyone complaining about the costs here really needs to visit NY & CA to see what expensive is. I have many friends in those areas that pay FAR more for the essentials than we do, and are eager to move back someday not for cost, but for the superior quality of life in this area.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

@RUkidding, All I can say is Long Island, and the lower counties of upstate NY. They make Ann Arbor look like a quite the bargain if you live within A2 City Limits. #1 reason why I left there after being taxed out. #2 reason was corruption which is busting wide open there as I write this. If the taxes keep climbing and services are being cut you can bet the same things are going on here. The condition of the roads in A2 should have sent messages a long time ago.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

jv, really; you say we shouldn't compare A2 to other michigan cities. Why? Why would we compare it to NY and CA? But forget that; I know people in BOTH NY and CA, and also PA and NJ; we pay higher property taxes than ALL of them, and a couple of them live in VERY nice houses in VERY nice, well-kept towns. ..unless you're talking about, like, San Diego or NYC; in which case, why would you compare Ann Arbor to them?


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

TwoWrongs don't make a right - OH OH - Look out for that truck coming at you on Huron Street.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

Words rule and are connected to one another: Democrat; Socialism; Forward means Backward; Progressive - see Forward means Backward; Freedom is slavery; Slavery is Freedom; Debt morphs into bankruptcy; Saul Alinsky -Rules for Radicals; Lies are Truth; Ignorance is strength; war is peace; Big Bro means cameras; All animals are equal, except government animals are much more equal.........and on and on and FORWARD MEANS BACKWARD.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Brad - Who besides you and the liberals is in the big conspiracy that you refer to? I hate to break it to you?==========


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

And according to Alinsky you get ridiculed not because you're ridiculous, but because it's a big conspiracy. I hate to break it to you ...

Lou Perry

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

The result of the study doesn't make sense. Detroit-Warren-Livonia being #2 is illogical. Median costs in Detroit would dilute any cost of living in Livonia and Warren. The only way the numbers makes sense is if it includes Oakland County's Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Southfield and others. Before the great recession Bloomfield Hills' zip code was the highest income per household in America. With those cities included it would be #1. Michigan Radio should have dug deeper into the numbers rather than airing a press release.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

please look up the term metropolitan statistical area look up detroit - warren - livonia msa it includes birmingham, bloomfield hills, rochester, brighton, and about 3 million other people


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Following a link from the Michigan radio article shows that the areas listed in this study are determined by the US census bureau. (30 Mb pdf map - The 'Ann Arbor' area is Washtenaw county. The Detroit-Warren-Livonia area is a large 3-county area.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

"Michigan Radio should have dug deeper into the numbers rather than airing a press release." Agreed!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

I'm surprised Traverse City and Petoskey aren't on the list.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

these are metropolitan statistical areas. so detroit is the 6 counties - wayne, oakland, macomb, lapeer, livingston, and st. clair tc and petoskey are not metropolitan


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

I am very surprised that Gross Point, Farmington Hills, Bloomfield Hills, and Rochester aren't on this list.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

I think they are included in the "Detroit" listing.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

They probably don't pay the exorbitant taxes that we do here. That bad art doesn't buy itself, you know.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 10:50 a.m.

"Too rich for your blood? Sorry, move." Thanks Mayor!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 10:17 a.m.

You can get by on less than this if you avoid debt like the plague and you don't overpay for your house (admittedly, a decision you don't get to make very often)


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:33 a.m.

Plymouth...Northville.... Royal Oak ....Berkely ..Rochester Hills...Chelsea?? all missing but Battle Creek and Jackson on the list?? Not really sure about this list. Even Dexter Mich would be on before Jackson Mich., one would think.....

Russ Miller

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:18 a.m.

"Ann Arbor" in this study is the Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area, aka ALL of Washtenaw county. The source data and methodology discussion are available: Ann Arbor MSA taxes are about $25/month higher than the other top areas, but the main effect is from higher housing costs.

Dog Guy

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 4:12 a.m.

Another "top ten" for Ann Arbor!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:50 a.m.

Supply and demand folks. Population growing or, for the haters, stable. Too rich for your blood? Sorry, move. That's the free market that the right, more than most, loves. There's no shortage of people willing to live here and the "I can't afford it anymore" woes are typical of those that for ages that have been squeezed out by gentrification. Unless, of course, one wants to subsidize folks based on years in the city. Study population and real estate trends and then vote down because facts don't align with your sense of entitlement.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

ORDMAD: Words rule and are connected to one another: Democrat; Socialism; Forward means Backward; Progressive - see Forward means Backward; Freedom is slavery; Slavery is Freedom; Debt morphs into bankruptcy; Saul Alinsky -Rules for Radicals; Lies are Truth; Ignorance is strength; war is peace; Big Bro means cameras; All animals are equal, except government animals are much more equal.........and on and on and FORWARD MEANS BACKWARD.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

PS love your picture! So "artsy!"

Sam S Smith

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

"Haters?" Hardly, just sensible people who are on a very tight budget and know priorities. But if it makes you feel better to label others who aren't as well off as you or agree with you, keep calling us "haters." Perhaps it's you that doing the "hating" as your comment speaks volumes about a group of people who are working hard to meet the rising cost of living without any wage increase, having to pay more and more for everything and not looking for a handout. "Sense of entitlement?" Really? "Too rich for your blood?" Please mayor, purchase some more art that was embezzled from city funds so that ignorant people like me can appreciate the "finer" things in life. Now, don't you feel good about yourself! You won the prize along with the mayor and his cronies!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

And once that happens the city will be full of people like the commenter. And what a swell place it will be then.

Superior Twp voter

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:52 a.m.

And do note, mad, that the top three in the list are quite Democrat leaning. Hummm....

Superior Twp voter

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:51 a.m.

What a crusty, musty, and critical comment from you, once again demonstrating you a very angry Liberal. If you wish to live in a socialist nation, move to one.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:49 a.m.

There's a hefty chunk in there for child care. if you leave that out, it's come down about 15,000. Most people in two-parent families say they can't afford to have one parent stay at home, but in most cases they actually could. However, it requires a reduction in lifestyle, and that's impossible for some people to do. I requires a decision to have a smaller house (in which case you also save the cost of paying somebody to clean it), smaller cars, buying used cars instead of new, not going to Europe or Orlando or Hilton Head every summer, and not having a dozen department store credit cards, but it can be done. When you see the results - improved relationship with your kids and better scholastic performance - it's worth it.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

I know of better road/living conditions in Detroit. The Ann Arbor city government is a joke and they are laughing all the way to the bank.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

You are so right!! The City Council gives themselves raises and spends our taxes on the "art". I say spend the "art" money on replacing the downtown street lights that are rusting out!! Let some of the more affluent in AA donate the art dollars! Thank you to Chuck Carver! HIs art donation was wonderful! Let's have more donations like this!!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

Try doing it on 1/4 of that. I know many families here in town that are basically living paycheck to paycheck. Yet the city always seems to have the money for studies, planning, greening, etc. Where does our money go? I paid 1/4 of my AGI in property taxes last year for a family of 4. And I can barely get in my driveway the potholes in front of my house are so bad. But those new sidewalks for downtown dining will be nice, and I can't wait to see the 360K art they are going to slap on the Stadium Bridge. But what should we expect? Our city council and mayor for the most part are well-off and I would guess have had little experience in the working class life. Why should they care what little value we get for our taxes? Or how close many people are to not being able to live here any more? As long as we have that downtown core, and mass transit, and $18 entrees.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

Monroe ranks no. 4?!?


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

One - ONE - example of the kind of bad decisionmaking we are all paying for can be found here; quite an interesting history of the old Y lot and how much money was lost and how many mistakes were made. Read the "Former Y Lot: Background" part: The city needs to get out of the affordable housing business and the public art business (is it around $800,000 they're keeping in that program JUST to administer it into its ignominious end?) and get BACK into the core services business. FYI, this new train station is basically going to be Ann Arbor's Water Street.

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Now I know why we drive a nearly 20-year-old car and a 10-year-old minivan - because we don't even come close to making the amount we "need" to get by, for our two adult, two child household - and yet somehow, we do get by.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

The article says that this is the amount that you need to get by for a "secure yet modest living". This indicates to me a sum that is more than struggling to get by. I think that number is right on. We have a family of six (not four), but never felt secure until we finally hit that $65,000 mark. Even though we still need to drive ten plus year old vehicles, don't have cable (which these days is no longer has a corner on the entertainment market anyway), are not "consumers", buying just about everything resale, and have to watch our spending carefully, what I can do is pay our mortgage, phone bill, utilities on time with regularity. And, I am always surprised now by what we can now do that used to be unthinkable: let our kids attend a camp or two as long as it meets my affordability test, let our kids join sports teams, and donate "three to keep it free" at Top of the Park. Getting an Ice cream cone is still a rare treat and is never a double! New clothes are not happening. School supplies are whatever is left over from the last year supplemented with items from The Salvation Army or The Reuse Center, and vacation is a possible camping trip within two hours of here. I consider this a "secure, yet modest living". That number is right on.

Jake C

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Kind of strange that all of Metro Detroit seems to be lumped into one big group. There's just a little bit of a cost-of-living difference between Detroit proper or Hamtramck, compared to Sterling Heights or Grosse Pointe Farms.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

Amen to what Linda Peck said. When you pay much MUCH higher property taxes than other people, you should be able to point to real, empirical things that explain it. We can't point to our roads. We can't point to our schools (which ALSO get more money than many other schools, but are still in dire trouble for some reason). I CAN point to that ridiculous shameful chinsy "fountain" and that monstrosity of a justice center. All the people we know who don't live in Ann Arbor have trash collection. They all have good schools. They all have Main streets with shopping and dining. What do we have to explain how much more our property taxes are? Look at our roads. Look at our sidewalks. Look at the unmowed and thinning median grass, the weeds growing up in the cracks in teh concrete. WHERE IS OUR MONEY GOING??!!!!

Stuart Brown

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 6:52 a.m.

Buckets! Buckets that fund the Mayor's friends. There was the road fund bucket (funded with 2 mills) that got to over $25 Million while Ann Arbor's roads fell into disrepair; no credible, public explanation was ever given for this happening.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

For consultants and other nonsense


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

The cement slabs, with weeds poking through, that welcome visitors to the City at the 94 / State Street intersection are beyond ugly. I cannot fathom why the residents of Ann Arbor put up with it.

Sam S Smith

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

Where is a nice affordable area in southeast Michigan? I need to know because as middle class I'm being pushed out by the ever increasing taxes here!


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

@Sam S Smith, I'm thinking Livingston County. Very well-run, lower taxes, decent schools...I'd live in Washtenaw County, also, but outside Ann Arbor. Dexter, Manchester, etc. Ypsi's great also, but they have an even higher millage rate that A2. If Washtenaw County actually decides to float those bonds to fund their pension obligations, however, it's time to bail.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

Detroit metro is 2nd on the list, only a hundred dollars a month cheaper. Of course these are averages across statistical areas. You will find more variation within the Ann Arbor statistical area (Upper Saline vs. West Willow) than you will find between Ann Arbor and rural Michigan. There are plenty of bargains just outside the city limits.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

ypsi! get some while you still can!!

Sam S Smith

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

And please don't say Detroit or metro Detroit!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

And my wife.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Bet she can come up with a few things to charge *you* for.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

I think I need to start charging my 13 and 10 year old rent.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

Don't worry, the mayor will be telling you shortly we need to spend more on art, anything that sounds at all green and more frivolous stuff while the streets are full of holes and the police are to short to even keep the stop signs being enforced. Priorities my tailbone.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Green is Mean: except for Algoreans; Pelosians; BitemeJoeans; Reideans; Boxereans = callmeSenatorIworkedsohard; Obamians-Airfarceone&2&3&4&morepolluting our air Written by "Call me Sergeant-I workedsohardfor7years"; (Well, 6 yrs8months but lies are truth in Big Bro Land)

An Arborigine

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

It is tough enough for a family of one, can't imagine being three more on the same budget.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

Wow I wish we made that much. No wonder we are constantly penny pinching and struggling.

Linda Peck

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

Don't we know it! That is why I for one complain about property taxes and the fact that they are so high here. I find our tax money is wasted on extras and mistakes and this is very difficult to take, especially because my own family are charged so much on their taxes that it is really criminal. It makes me angry. I feel their money is stolen from them. I think of their money (and mine, too) when I drive by City Hall and just look at it, and then look at our streets. Something is not right.