6 Things You Should Know About Living in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan is a college town with a creative spirit. No matter where you look, you’ll find new ideas, opportunities, and experiences. It’s a place where people come to lay down roots, launch careers, and enjoy a more active, fulfilling lifestyle. So if you’ve never considered living in Ann Arbor, here’s what you should know about this beautiful, bustling city.
It Has a Diverse and Growing Economy
Jobs in Ann Arbor have been growing for decades. The University of Michigan has an almost incessant need for new people; not only educators, but librarians, technicians, trainers, custodians, counselors, and IT specialists as well. The University of Michigan Hospital alone employs over 12,000 doctors, nurses, and administrators.
And while education is the biggest force in the city’s economy, it’s not the only one. Ann Arbor sits at the western end of a high-technology corridor stretching east along 1-94 and Highway 14. Alternately dubbed “The SmartZone” or the “Ann Arbor IT Area,” the city is a major center for next generation software and hardware development, including artificial intelligence, language processing, cloud software, robotics, nanotechnology, machine learning, cybersecurity, and structural engineering.
Then there’s the automotive industry. Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors all operate plants around the city. Although they’re the largest employers in the field, Ann Arbor is also home to a number of smaller, specialty shops that produce parts and accessories for larger manufacturers. There are even research and development firms working on future technology, such as electric power steering and self-driving cars.
With so much activity, it’s no wonder the city’s unemployment rate is typically below the national average or that its job growth will likely exceed the rest of the country for the next several years.
Its an Urban Forest
Most cities exist apart from nature, but Ann Arbor exists alongside it. By some estimates, there are over 50,000 trees lining the city streets. The abundance of leaves, shrubs, and grass not only makes it a pleasant place to live, it markedly improves its quality of life for residents. Trees moderate summer temperatures and lower utility costs. They trap pollutants in the air and water, and help control runoff during rainstorms.
Ann Arbor's connection to nature is even reflected in its nickname, “Tree Town,” and it's done everything possible to protect, preserve, and expand green spaces for its citizens. The city contains 162 parks, including several along the Huron River, which runs through the center of town. Unlike some cities, which have built up their river walks with shops, homes, and commercial buildings, Ann Arbor has turned theirs into an enormous recreation area. When the weather is warm, residents come to swim, fish, kayak, hike, and sunbathe, free from the commotion of daily life.
It’s a Twenty-Minute City
Regardless of where you’re going in Ann Arbor, it only takes twenty minutes to get there. While other cities struggle with gridlock, here the streets are clear. Fifteen percent of the workforce doesn’t even bother driving into the office. They walk instead. The city has 475 miles of sidewalks and 57 miles of shared paths linking its outlying neighborhoods and downtown core, making it easy to get around by foot or bike.
Built for Book Lovers
This is a city that loves to read. The Library Journal has given the Ann Arbor District Library five stars for the past 14 years, for the quality of its collection and programs, as well as its high number of visits. In addition, the city boasts a large number of charming, independent bookstores, such as:
- Literati. The 2019 bookstore of the year. Besides offering an extensive selection of hardbacks and paperbacks, the store also organizes readings, book clubs, and poetry nights. Staffed by booksellers passionate about their job, it’s a place readers go to talk and interact with fellow book lovers, as well as discover new and exciting literary trends.
- West Side Book Shop. A store known for its high-quality books and extensive selection. No matter your interest, you can find it here. The shelves are well-stocked in practically every category: art, architecture, history, travel, photography, children’s literature, etc. It’s one of the few places you can still go to find rare, first editions of your favorite works.
- Vault of Midnight. Michigan’s premier destination for comics and graphic novels, full of familiar favorites and hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered.
But as much as it loves book shops, it’s the Kerrytown Book Festival Ann Arbor looks forward to the most. Book sellers take over an entire neighborhood downtown. Besides the endless stalls of literature, the city organizes writer workshops, sets up networking events with publishers, and invites acclaimed authors to read and discuss their work.
A Foodie Favorite
Ann Arbor loves to eat. It has more restaurants per capita than any city in the United States, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Whatever you’re craving, someone here is cooking it. Local favorites include:
- Zingerman’s Deli. Operating out of a historic building near the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Zingerman’s is where residents go for great sandwiches, made with the best ingredients: freshly smoked deli meat, farmhouse cheeses, exceptionally fine olive oil, rich vinegar, and Jewish rye bread.
- Knight’s Steakhouse. The place for smooth cocktails, sizzling steak, and succulent roast chicken. Founded by a butcher, it's beloved for its incredible cuts of meat and old-school atmosphere.
- Seoul Street. Home to the best fried chicken in the city, served hot with your choice of honey, garlic, soy, or spicy sauce. To keep their meat as juicy and tender as possible, they only cook with fresh chicken (not frozen), flavored entirely with natural ingredients, no additives or preservatives!
- Frita Batidos. Inspired by traditional Cuban street food, Frita Batidos offers a Latin spin on burgers and fries. Ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced, creating food that’s whimsical, delicious, and reflective of the community.
- Biercamp. Serves the best brisket, bratwurst, and hot dogs in town. Their meat is smoked and cured onsite according to secret family recipes and flavored with one-of-a-kind ingredients, for a taste you won’t find anywhere else.
- Zingerman’s Roadhouse. An all-American restaurant with full-flavored meals cooked in the traditional manner, to ensure maximum taste and satisfaction. You won’t want to miss their buttermilk chicken, mac and cheese, NOLA gumbo, or cornmeal fried catfish.
Offers First-Rate Entertainment
Ann Arbor isn’t a town where people stay home Saturday night. There’s new fun every weekend. Sports fans won’t want to miss the action at Michigan Stadium, especially during fall, when they can watch the University of Michigan Wolverines tear through their opponents on the football field.
Music lovers will fall in love with the city’s nightclubs. There isn’t a style or genre that’s not represented. People searching for loud, wild rock music won't be able to get enough of the Blind Pig. Or, if they're looking for something fresh, they'll swing by the Ark to catch a set from some of the region’s top up-and-coming artists. But if they're in the mood for a really big show, they'll go to the Hill Auditorium, which has played host to some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Elton John, Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, Rachmaninoff, and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Theater lovers hungry for great performances should stop by the Arthur Miller Theater. Its unique set up and seating plan puts them close to the actors, for an intimate experience few playhouses can recreate. Or they drive over to Chelsea to check out the latest production at the Purple Rose Theater, founded by Hollywood actor Jeff Daniels, which gives voice to the unique playwrights and performers of the American Midwest.
For movie lovers, there’s the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the oldest avant-garde film festival in North America. Experience a week of mind-bending, experimental cinema with over 180 movies from 20 countries.
Finally, art lovers go crazy for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. Every July, over a thousand painters, sculptors, and craftsmen descend on the city, transforming it into one of America's most remarkable, fascinating, and sensational art galleries.
Help Moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan
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