clock menu more-arrow no yes
Neighborhood street in Detroit, single family homes, mostly brick and white. Trees in winter have lost their leaves. Michelle and Chris Gerard

Filed under:

Where to live in Detroit in 2020

Your go-to guide for picking the best neighborhood to call home right now

Detroit is full of amazing neighborhoods to call home. Whether you live in an apartment in Midtown, a tiny cottage in northwest Detroit, or an entire historic house, this sprawling 142-square-mile city has no shortage of beautiful architecture and picturesque tree-lined streets.

Deciding exactly where to live, however, gets harder every day. Rents and home prices are on the rise, while big-picture questions can stoke your anxiety: If you move to the next hot neighborhood, are you contributing to gentrification? Will you displace a long-time resident?

We’re here to help. To discover the seven best Detroit neighborhoods to live in right now, we focused on diverse areas, communities with strong neighborhood association groups, and places with access to transit. Everyone likes a good deal, so we prioritized affordability, too. In the Motor City, there are still a surprising number of neighborhoods that offer all of these qualities, and more.

East English Village


The draw: Affordable, well-maintained homes with plenty of density

Similar Neighborhoods: Bagley

Types of homes: Tudor; colonial


As far back as 1999, residential market watchers were calling East English Village one of Detroit’s most desirable neighborhoods thanks to its modest but well-maintained housing stock. It’s also still relatively affordable—you can find move-in-ready homes for less than $200,000.

Though it’s some distance from the city center, East English Village is bisected by Warren Avenue, which has useful bus lines, newer bike lanes, and lots of commercial potential. Some redevelopment efforts are underway—including at the historic Alger Theater—and a few new food and beverage establishments have opened in recent years. Of course there’s also Cadieux Cafe, a classic Detroit bar and the only place in the U.S. that offers feather bowling.

In addition, East English Village has an active neighborhood association. In adjacent Morningside, for example, a community group built a tool library with a sliding-scale membership fee. If you’re looking for a well-built, affordable home and don’t mind a little bit of a commute, East English Village is for you.

Jefferson-Chalmers


The draw: Great old housing stock with newer developments on the way

Similar neighborhood: Russell Woods

Types of homes: Bungalow; foursquare


Detroit doesn’t border an ocean or lake, but it does have the Detroit River. And if you have any interest in owning “waterfront” property, your best bet is Jefferson-Chalmers. Within this East Side neighborhood lies the Canal District, also known as the “Venice of Detroit,” a covetable series of blocks with backyard access to waterways leading to the river and Lake Saint Clair.

But even if you’re not interested in owning a boat, Jefferson-Chalmers has streets filled with lovely homes that can be bought for less than $100 a square foot.

There’s also been a push from the city and Jefferson East Inc., a community developer, to restart the area’s commercial corridor, the historic East Jefferson Avenue business district. A plan includes affordable housing projects, the redevelopment of commercial spaces, and the potential restoration of the Vanity Ballroom, a historic venue with beautiful Art Deco design.

For commuters, Jefferson has an express bus on weekdays that goes straight downtown, and protected bike lanes to boot.

Bagley


The draw: Stable neighborhood next to an exciting commercial strip

Similar neighborhoods: Hubbard Farms; West Village

Types of homes: Tudor Revival; colonial


One of four neighborhoods in the Live6 area, Bagley is the perfect combination of affordability and density thanks to a stock of well-maintained single-family homes. It hits the sweet spot between neighbors who either have grand, expensive houses (University District) or issues with vacancy (Fitzgerald). In Bagley, attractive, modest homes can be bought for around $100 per square foot.

Bagley also shares all of the amenities available on the “Avenue of Fashion” along Livernois, one of the city’s most vibrant commercial strips. There you’ll find any number of businesses catering to your fashion and food/beverage needs. Plus, there are exciting projects on the horizon; watch for the redevelopment of the old B. Siegel’s department store and new streetscaping—set to finish this summer—to improve walkability. And once you move in, you won’t want to miss the Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, the longest-operating live jazz venue in the U.S.

North Rosedale Park


The draw: Beautiful homes for the community-minded

Similar neighborhoods: La Salle Gardens; University District

Types of homes: Colonial Revival; Tudor Revival


If you’re looking to live in a charming historic home, but can’t afford Indian Village or Palmer Park (or even West Village), then North Rosedale Park might be the place.

The neighborhood is filled with gorgeous and unique homes, many of which go for less than $100 a square foot. Thanks to active community groups and the Grandmont Rosedale Community Development Corporation, the homes have also been well maintained over the years. Residents regularly host cleanups, and the neighborhood features community gardens, theater groups, and a youth baseball league.

North Rosedale Park is also along Grand River Avenue—one of the city’s main spokes—which features staples like Elias Donuts and newer spots like Detroit Vegan Soul. It’s also a quick jaunt to the Old Redford commercial district, which has a great little cafe, Sweet Potato Sensations, and the historic Redford Theatre, a classic film destination. While not the most pedestrian-friendly street, new streetscaping (set to finish this year) will improve walkability, bikeability, and access to public transit.

Palmer Park


The draw: Dense, diverse apartment living with a park as your backyard

Similar neighborhoods: Lafayette Park; Gold Coast

Types of homes: Art Deco; Moorish Revival; International style


Detroit has very little multifamily building stock. Outside of downtown and Midtown, which are prohibitively expensive for most Detroiters these days, there aren’t many choices if you crave that dense urban feel.

Palmer Park is an exception. In fact, the neighborhood’s apartment district is on the National Register of Historic Places. There you’ll find an eclectic assortment of architecture, from Egyptian-influenced Art Deco buildings to simpler ones in the International style. The units are still affordable, with gorgeous Albert Kahn–designed condos going for under $300,000 and one-bedroom apartments renting for around $600.

Many of these homes are situated around Palmer Park—one of the city’s largest—with a forested area, little lake, and plenty of paths to walk or bike. There’s also restored handball courts, picnic areas, an old log cabin, and the beautiful Merrill Humane Fountain.

Other nearby amenities include the State Fairgrounds at 8 Mile Road, which has a Meijer grocery store that fulfills all your shopping needs. There’s been little recent news about the redevelopment of the fairgrounds, but it could be a huge boost to the area if it comes to fruition. And nearby Palmer Woods, arguably the densest collection of historic homes in the city, provides excellent architecture gazing.

Hamtramck


The draw: Affordable housing with no shortage of activity

Similar neighborhoods: Fitzgerald; Southwest Detroit

Types of homes: Two-flat; bungalow


Yes, we know Hamtramck is not a neighborhood in Detroit. But as an enclave that’s closely aligned with the city, we’re including it in this guide.

Hamtramck’s motto is “A League of Nations” for a good reason: It’s incredibly diverse. For decades, Hamtramck was known as a mostly Polish town—and there are still plenty of signs of that history in its restaurants, street names, and obsession with paczkis—but today it’s home to large populations of African Americans, Bangladeshis, and Yemenis.

That cultural diversity is reflected in the city’s unique energy and cuisine. Though it’s just over two square miles, there are more than 40 bars. Its live music scene is strong—as is the thrifting, antiquing, and shopping for affordable home goods. A new indie theater and bar just opened. Jos Campau is a solid commercial strip with even more potential, and the Joe Louis Greenway is likely to weave through the town’s back alleys when it is built over the coming years.

Despite all of this activity, Hamtramck remains affordable. The town’s modest two-flat homes and bungalows regularly sell for less than $100,000 or rent for less than $1,000.

Southwest Detroit


The draw: Vibrant; great cuisine and culture

Similar neighborhoods: North End; Islandview

Types of homes: Colonial Revival; foursquare; duplex


Southwest Detroit is a sprawling section of the city, consisting of gentrifying neighborhoods like Hubbard Farms and more working-class ones like Springwells.

But what unites this part of town—and what remains its biggest draw—is its large Mexican and Latino community. The most visible sign of this is Mexicantown, a little commercial strip filled with Mexican restaurants, bakeries, and shops that are popular with tourists and where a shared street was recently installed. But venture further west, to Clark Avenue and beyond, and you’ll find authentic Mexican cuisine at dozens of restaurants offering the best tacos in the state.

It’s also an active and growing part of town. Colorful murals line the buildings along West Vernor Highway and the dense residential streets fill up with people on holidays. Clark Park is one of the city’s best-maintained and most enjoyable parks. And southwest Detroit is poised to get even better; a neighborhood framework plan developed by the city looks to increase density on West Vernor, add amenities to the park, and decrease truck traffic from nearby Ambassador Bridge.

Hubbard Farms, a smaller neighborhood in Southwest, has grown steadily more expensive—though still not as much as nearby Corktown. But go farther west and you’ll find 100-year-old homes renting for $1,000 and selling for $100,000.