As many of you know, me and my family moved back to Michigan three months ago with hopes to be a part of the comeback story that is happening and to be around our extended family more. We can when the weather was nice (June) and have been enjoying the Michigan Summer including the parks, city events, water parks, and more. While we are having fun getting adjusted being back ‘home’, there are some things that I wish people would have shared with me before coming back. Those things I have created a list of below as Things I have Learned living in Detroit:
Lesson #1: Speed limits are merely suggestions
While I am joking when I say that, so many times have I been going 10 mph above the speed limit and somebody else zoomed passed me. Coming from a place where you drive 55 mph on the highway (Hampton Roads, VA), this is a big shock, and one that will take time to get used to.
Lesson #2: Cash is King..Kinda
It didn’t take me long to find out that many places are not the ‘best’ places to use cash. Whether you are going to the corner store, getting gas, grabbing a bit to eat and many other things; you really want to have cash. The use of credit / debit may be available, but you may not want to leave a trail behind at some of these places if you know what I mean.
Now, the catch to carrying cash in Detroit is that you do not want to carry large bills. By large I will say anything over a $20 bill. Actually, to be safe, carry smaller bills because businesses will complain about breaking those bills.
Lesson #3: Eating healthy is NOT easy
While the area has more food options than I can remember, the actual city of Detroit (at least the neighborhoods) do not have them. Sure you can get a salad at a Coney Island, and of course there are Subway restaurants, but the choices are a lot lower than that of the suburbs. Within the city there are no Panera Bread’s, Chipotle, Qdoba, etc and you will need to drive at least 15 minutes to get to any of those places quickly.
Now, some might say, those are not very healthy at all. Well, when your other options are Captain J’s Fish, Little Ceasar’s (headquartered in Detroit) which seems to be everywhere, and other fast food places, you do wish for alternatives more and more.
Lesson 4: Construction is the new normal
Knowing the history of Detroit and the destruction in the city with abandoned homes and bad roads, and know that the city wants to improve, you should expect construction. It is not realistic to think that you will have a smooth ride not running into any construction when the city is looking to improve. There is so many plans to improve Detroit that the orange cones are everywhere. Money is flowing, which is a good thing, but it is a work in progress.
New Red Wings Stadium
New Light Rail
New Bike/Walking Trails
A brighter future is coming for Detroit, but it is in a rebuild process which means dust is flying everywhere. So, expect that and be optimistic for the things to come.
Lesson #5: The people are unlike any other
The people of Detroit are great to be around. And though they have seen their fair share of hard times in government, schools, economy, etc. There is still a ‘not giving up’ mood about them that is encouraging. On average, and again I have been back for three months, most people that I can come across are very pleasant. They love to hangout and explore which is something I am not used to coming from the Hampton Roads part of Virginia. Overall they are loyal and hard working. There is a luxurious side to things but also a REALLY grimy side of things but the majority are in the middle. People want to help out, improve, and receive and give help. You wont be disappointed putting some time into a relationship with a Detroiter.
Lesson #6: Enjoy the weather … while you can
I came in June 2016 and the weather was GREAT for 3 months. Not too hot or rainy, it was really weather that the entire family could enjoy. Then, its like someone flipped a switch at the end of September to RAIN MODE and it did not stop for a week. Fortunately my family was used to it coming from Hurricane territory on the East Coast, but usually there is a transition people which Michigan did not give us. No worries, nothing a couple trips to Meijer’s can’t help with so that we can get the supplies we need.
Lesson 7: Cops are cool (enough)
While the rest of the country seems to be fighting with police, there is an ‘understanding’ here that you can feel amund the community and the police. Years ago you would not see many police out, but now you see them patrolling. years ago, the response times for EMT and other services was down, but now you see them and hear the sirens. I personally welcome them and appreciate it because I have nothing to hide. God bless them Public Servants we have in Detroit. They even re-opened a station that was closed for some time to help protect and serve. It’s a good feeling!
Now, this is not to say that the stories of crime are not out there. But it is to say that you don’t feel alone like you once did in dealing with crime. You can feel the improvements.
Lesson #8: Creativity is King in Detroit
One of the beautiful things about Detroit is that it is redefining itself. It is rebuilding a culture that once was only cars and music and are adding so much more. The paths and trails that have added with Street Art / Murals are amazing. They are help and encouraging creatives to flex those mental muscles and think big in order to make the city into what it needs to be. There are art fairs and concerts all the time which really makes it easy to be a creative. If that is you, then Detroit would love to have you. Check out the Dequindre Cut, the Belt Alley, Eastern Market, and so much more. And I didn’t even mention the Museums that are around (wait, I just did)
Overall, we are so happy to live here. It would appear that absence has made the heart grow fonder for the things that we have here in Michigan. While it is not perfect, I think that is just the point, there is no PERFECT, just a perfect place for you.
…to be continued
*did I miss anything that is making Detroit what it is? Mention it below!*