Life in Ann Arbor may be centered around the University of Michigan, but this is not your average college town. Sometimes known as “Tree Town” for its thousands of trees, deeply forested parks, and green spaces, Ann Arbor is a destination for the visual and performing arts, book lovers (it boasts the highest number of books sold per capita in the US), and much more. Here are some things to know as you plan your move to Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor’s K-12 public schools are part of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. The district governs schools in Ann Arbor and in part of eight neighboring townships. The district include 20 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, and 5 high schools. For those parents who prefer to send their children to private schools, Ann Arbor boasts both secular and religious institutions.
You can’t talk about Ann Arbor without talking about the University of Michigan. While MI is the undisputed crown jewel of Ann Arbor’s higher education scene, it’s not the only institution in town. Ann Arbor is also home to Concordia University Ann Arbor, Cleary University, and Ave Maria School of Law.
Ann Arbor enjoys a low unemployment rate, which has steadily dropped over the previous 12 months as of March 2019. The unemployment rate in Ann Arbor at the end of 2018 was 2.7%, considerably lower than the national rate of 3.8%. The city’s economy is largely shaped by the University of Michigan, which employs more than 30,000 people. Biotechnology and medical services are also major employers; drug manufacturer Pfizer is the city’s second largest employer. The automotive industry is still important in Ann Arbor; General Motors and Visteon employ many residents. In recent years, the high tech sector in Ann Arbor has grown as well.
Like many cities with low unemployment and booming growth, Ann Arbor often sees employers struggling to hire candidates. This gives candidates an advantage in negotiating salaries and perks when they are offered a job.
Ann Arbor’s culture is rich in the arts. You’ll find a number of annual festivals in the city, from visual arts to film to performing arts. Since 2001, residents have enjoyed Shakespeare in the Arb each June; the company presents one play in a local park each year. Ann Arbor is home to its own civic theater, ballet company, symphony orchestra, and opera as well. Public art is also a feature of the city — Ann Arbor is known for its fairy doors, installed around the city.
The city is home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, along with many art galleries.
Ann Arbor’s sports scene is dominated by the University of Michigan. The fervor for the school’s teams approaches that of fans of professional franchises in other cities. The football stadium at the university is the largest American football stadium in the world! Along with football, the university’s basketball and ice hockey teams draw major crowds. The city is also home to the semi-pro soccer team AFC Ann Arbor, known as The Mighty Oak.
You may not immediately think of Ann Arbor as a food destination, but the city has a lively culinary scene. You can definitely get Midwestern favorites — don’t miss out on a poutine burger — along with pub food, German-American favorites like bratwurst and beer, and steaks. But you’ll also find excellent barbecue, world cuisine, regional favorites like Nashville hot chicken, and even seafood.
Ann Arbor is, undeniably, a hamburger city. You’ll find a wide array of creative takes on the burger, from the greasy bold sliders at Blimpy Burger to the frita — a Cuban take on the hamburger — at Frita Batidos. And you’ll want to wash that burger down with beer. Ann Arbor is home to a thriving craft brewery scene.
Ann Arbor’s housing market is one of the hottest in the United States. As of March 2019, home prices had risen nearly 10% over the previous 12 months and were expected to continue to rise. The median home value in Ann Arbor is $374,000 and the median home listing price is $412,562. The median price for homes sold in the city is $346,000. The average price for a home in Ann Arbor is $214 per square foot; in the greater metro area, it drops to $164 per square foot.
Renters are paying prime prices in Ann Arbor. Median rent is $2,213 per month, considerably higher than the national median of around $1,500 per month. Moving out of Ann Arbor and into the greater metro area will save you a bit; median rents in the larger metro area are around $1,800 per month.
Ann Arbor is a driving city. More than half of Ann Arborites commute by car alone, and the average number of cars per household is 2. The average commute time in the city is around 19 minutes.
Ann Arbor is served by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, known as “TheRide.” It offers bus service throughout the city and nearby Ypsilanti. Bike trails and paths also provide routes around the city, and the University of Michigan operates its own no-free bus service within campus. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound. The closest international airport to Ann Arbor is Detroit Metropolitan.
Ann Arbor has a humid continental climate. Although the city is not directly on the Great Lakes, these bodies of water influence the climate strongly. There are four distinct seasons in Ann Arbor. The city averages about 38 inches of rainfall and 54 inches of snowfall each year.
Winter: Winters in Ann Arbor are cold and snowy. Running from November to March, winter brings average high temperatures in the 30s and 40s and lows in the 20s and below. Occasionally severe low temperatures occur, dropping below 0 degrees (actual). Windchill can also be a factor. Most snow falls in December, January, and February, with each month averaging about 13 inches.
Spring: Spring is a mild transition time between summer and fall. Running from April to early June, spring features temperatures ranging from the high 40s to the low 70s. Spring is also wetter than winter, with between 3 and 4 inches of rain falling each month during the season. The weather is generally balmy and mild, though late snowstorms can occur.
Summer: Summers are humid and hot in Ann Arbor. Running from June to early September, summer features highs in the 70s and 80s. Rain is more frequent in the summer and occasionally storms can be severe. Summer evenings are cool and pleasant, with average low temperatures in the low 60s and high 50s.
Fall: Fall is another transition season in Ann Arbor. Running from September to early November, fall can be cloudy and be impacted by the lake effect. Temperatures are in the 60s and 70s for September and October, before dropping into the 40s and 50s in early November. Fall features around 3 inches of rainfall per month and can involve early snowstorms as well. Fall evenings are crisp, with average lows in the 40s and 50s in September and October before dipping into the 30s in November.