Cost of Living Forum

ArborResident42 @arborresident42
Joined: 2 years ago

What is the typical cost of living in Ann Arbor for a family?

I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for over 15 years now and have seen prices steadily increase. I’m considering relocating my family of 4 (2 adults, 2 school-age kids) but want to get a sense of current costs before deciding.

Can any long-time residents share their estimated monthly expenses for a typical middle-class family in areas like housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and recreational activities? Is Ann Arbor still relatively affordable compared to other communities its size or has it become quite pricey? Any insights from different perspectives would be appreciated!

Posts: 14

10 Replies

TreeTownLifer @treetownlifer
Joined: 2 years ago

Housing is probably the biggest factor driving up costs in Ann Arbor. A decent 3-bedroom apartment or small house in a family-friendly area will easily run you $2,000-$3,000 per month in rent or $2,500-$3,500 in monthly mortgage payments if you buy. Utilities for a place that size add around $200-300 more.

Grocery costs are a bit high but manageable if you stick to stores like Meijer and Aldi. I’d budget $600-800 for a family of 4. Eating out even at inexpensive places adds up quickly.

Other big expenses are healthcare (plan on $500-1000 per month if not fully covered) and transportation – gas, maintenance, and insurance can easily top $500 for two cars. Entertainment, extracurriculars for the kids, etc. require budgeting too.

Overall, Ann Arbor has gotten very pricey but still more affordable than places like Chicago if you’re strategic about housing and other costs. Family income of $100K+ is recommended for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle here.

Posts: 15
AnnArborMom @annarbormom
Joined: 2 years ago

I agree that Ann Arbor has definitely become an expensive place to live, especially for families. Some key costs based on my experience:

Housing: We pay $2800 for a 3-bed 2-bath rental house near downtown. Utilities run $250-300 in winter, lower in summer.

Groceries: $800-1000 per month for a family of 4 if you buy organic/high quality. Could do $600ish on a tighter budget.

Healthcare: We pay around $800 per month for a family health insurance plan plus copays and prescriptions.

Transportation: We have two paid-off cars but insurance, gas, maintenance is still $400-500.

Childcare/Activities: $1200 for after-school care, $150 per kid for sports/activities each season. Summer camps are $300+ per week.

Dining Out: If we go all out with drinks and apps, an evening out for 4 can be $100+.

Salaries need to be over $100-120K per household to live comfortably without being house poor. It’s an amazing place to raise a family if you can afford it, but the costs are high.

Posts: 18
U-MAlum94 @u-malum94
Joined: 2 years ago

From my perspective as a single person, Ann Arbor living costs are pretty high, even compared to bigger cities I’ve lived in. But I think it can still be very affordable for families too.

Rents downtown are outrageous, but mortgage costs are more reasonable if you buy a condo or house in areas like Ypsilanti, Pittsfield, or further out like Canton/Plymouth. My mortgage on a 2-bed condo is only $950 per month.

Groceries are pricey but no more than other major metro areas from what I’ve seen. I spend $300-400 per month for one person shopping mostly at Meijer and Trader Joe’s.

Utilities, internet, mobile plans seem to be standardish for the area at maybe $200-300 for an individual.

Healthcare costs can vary a ton depending on your insurance and needs, but the UM medical system in Ann Arbor is excellent.

My biggest leisure costs are probably dining out ($200-300), gym membership ($70), and rounds of golf in the summer ($40-60 per round). Outdoor activities are very affordable.

Overall, while the downtown/central areas are super expensive for housing, I think Ann Arbor is still quite livable if you’re smart about housing and take advantage of the low-cost amenities.

Posts: 17
A2Skeptic @a2skeptic
Joined: 10 months ago

As someone who grew up here, I have to say Ann Arbor is incredibly overpriced for what you get these days. It has a lofty reputation but the costs have skyrocketed to levels not justified by the actual amenities and quality of life.

Housing costs are just insane. Rent for a basic 2-bedroom apartment is pushing $2,000 nowadays. And good luck finding an affordable family home for under $450,000 unless you want to live out in the boonies.

Groceries at places like Whole Foods and Plum Market are highway robbery. Even Meijer tends to be overpriced compared to similar stores in other cities.

Property taxes are through the roof as well. And don’t get me started on insane costs for kids’ activities, summer camps, etc.

Yes, the schools are good and you’re close to Detroit/Toledo amenities. But I just don’t see how most families can sustain a middle-class lifestyle in Ann Arbor anymore without two very high incomes. At a certain point, you’re better off in a more affordable city.

Unless your household makes over $150K, be prepared to feel perpetually house poor and priced out of enjoying much of what Ann Arbor has to offer. It’s a prime example of excessive cost of living outpacing real value and quality of life.

Posts: 11
FallenArborite @fallenarborite
Joined: 2 years ago

As someone who had to leave Ann Arbor after living there for over 20 years, I’ll echo that the costs have gotten completely out of control in recent years. The downtown/central areas have turned into an enclave strictly for the well-to-do.

We bought our starter home near downtown Ann Arbor in the late 90s for $180K. That same home would easily sell for $500K or more these days!

Groceries used to be reasonable shopping at places like Busch’s and Meijer. Now you’re looking at $800+ per month to feed a family of four without getting too extravagant.

Utilities and transportation were manageable back then as well ($200-300 per month range) but have crept up tremendously.

What finally priced us out was the cost of childcare/camps/activities for our two kids. Absolutely insane, like $1500+ per month for childcare/after-school programs alone.

Unless your household income was close to $200K, paying for housing, childcare, healthcare, etc. in Ann Arbor felt impossible after a while.

The quality of the public schools is still excellent, and it’s a wonderful place to raise kids… but only if you can afford the uber-premium costs. We ended up moving to a Detroit suburb to maintain a decent middle-class lifestyle.

Posts: 16
MPackWannabe @mpackwannabe
Joined: 10 months ago

I think Ann Arbor is quite affordable compared to the East/West coasts if you have a decent job and are smart about your housing situation. My wife and I live quite comfortably raising our elementary-aged daughter.

We bought a nice 3-bedroom house in Ypsilanti Township about 15 minutes outside of downtown Ann Arbor for $325K a few years back. Similar homes were double the price or more closer to the city center.

Our mortgage and utilities total around $2,300 per month. Not cheap but very manageable.

Groceries add maybe $600-800 per month shopping mostly at Aldi, Meijer, and Costco. Healthcare is about $500 per month through my employer plan. Car payments/insurance/gas for two cars is $600ish.

We set aside $400+ per month for dining out, kid activities, entertainment, etc. And we don’t go crazy but can enjoy a lot of what Ann Arbor has to offer.

With a household income around $140K, we max out retirement accounts and have money left over each month for vacations, etc. While the downtown housing costs are nuts, Ann Arbor is very livable for families making $100K+ if you live modestly and a bit outside the central areas.

Posts: 19
MichiganMade92 @michiganmade92
Joined: 2 years ago

For my husband and I as late-20s professionals, Ann Arbor has been relatively affordable so far, though housing is definitely the biggest challenge cost-wise. Some key expenses for us:

Rent: $1700 for a decent modern 2-bed 2-bath apartment about 15 mins from downtown. Utilities add $150 or so.

Groceries: We spend $400-500 per month shopping mostly at Kroger, Trader Joe’s, and costco. Could maybe do $300 on a strict budget.

Transportation: One car payment ($300/mo) plus insurance ($100), gas is $150ish.

Healthcare: $200 per month for both of us through my employer plan.

Student Loans: About $600 combined per month

Dining/Entertainment: $300-400 per month going out, fun activities, etc.

Gym: $50 per month

Salaries: I make $75K, husband makes $92K

Combined we bring in around $11,000 per month after taxes and save/invest around $2,500-3,000 of that pretty comfortably while maintaining our lifestyle expenses. Once we have kids the costs will go up dramatically, but for now Ann Arbor has been affordable for two working professionals.

Posts: 4
TruckingItOld @truckingitold
Joined: 2 years ago

I’m an old-timer who has lived in Ann Arbor for over 40 years now. It’s definitely become a lot more expensive to live here in recent decades, but I’d still call it relatively affordable compared to most major metro areas nationwide.

Housing is the big issue – homes have gotten ridiculously pricey in the desirable central neighborhoods. When I bought my house off Packard back in the late 80s, it was $110,000. That same house would fetch $400,000+ easy these days! Property taxes are high too.

For a single person like me though, monthly expenses are pretty manageable:

– Mortgage/taxes/insurance: $1200
– Utilities: $150-250
– Groceries: $300 shopping deals at Meijer/Kroger/Aldi
– Healthcare: $300 per month for Medicare/supplements
– Transportation: $200 for car/gas since everything is close by

If you can find an affordable place to buy and are smart about your spending, I’d say you can still live a decent lifestyle in Ann Arbor on around $4000 per month for one person, maybe $6000+ for a couple or small family.

The summers are beautiful, the University brings a lively feel, and there’s lots of parks/recreation. It ain’t cheap, but Ann Arbor has a nice quality of life if you can swing it.

Posts: 16
OldWestSider @ oldwestsider
Joined: 2 months ago

Ann Arbor used to be a relatively affordable little city, but those days are long gone in my opinion. It has severely lost its charm and become a playground just for the wealthy over the past 10-15 years.

Let me break down some key costs that show how ridiculous things have gotten:

Housing – I bought my modest 3-bed, 2-bath home on the Old West Side in the early 2000s for $180K. Recently got it appraised and it’s worth $650K now! Similar homes on my street are getting listed for $700K+

Property Taxes – Currently paying $8,500 per year

Healthcare – No insurance through employers, so we pay $1600 PER MONTH for a family healthcare plan. Outrageous.

Utilities – Gas/electric runs $300+ in winter for our 1600 sq ft home

Groceries – We mostly shop at Meijer, Aldi and pay $900 per month to feed our family of 5.

Gas/Transportation – With two old paid off cars, we pay about $600 per month in gas and insurance. Driving is a must in AA.

Activities/Entertainment – Kids activities, dining out, movies, etc. = $500+ per month

On a single income of around $90K per year, we are just scraping by while seeing our neighborhood being bought up by wealthy professionals and none of our kids can afford to live here after college.

Ann Arbor has priced out the middle class in an extreme way. It’s incredibly disappointing to see it become such an overpriced playground for the elite and students.

Posts: 11
KerrytownLifer @kerrytownlifer
Joined: 2 years ago

Ann Arbor is definitely on the higher end cost-wise, but in my opinion still very worth it if you can afford it. My family landed here from Chicago about 10 years ago and have no regrets.

Some key costs for our 2 adult, 2 kid household in the Kerrytown area:

– 3 bed/2 bath townhome mortgage = $2300
– Utilities (gas/electric/internet/etc) = $400
– Groceries = $900-1000 shopping at Plum, Busch’s, Meijer
– Healthcare = $800 through my employer for family plan
– Transportation = $450 for car payments, insurance, gas
– Kid Activities = $600-800 for sports, arts, summer camps etc.
– Dining/Entertainment = $200-500, we like to go out frequently

So our total monthly costs are in the $5500-6500 range. While high, the quality of life here is amazing with the walkable neighborhoods, parks, restaurants, access to Detroit/Toledo amenities, great public schools, low crime, etc.

It’s definitely getting more expensive, but we feel it’s worth it compared to big city costs in Chicago/NYC/etc. as long as your household makes $150K+. Modest spenders may be able to get by on $120K too.

Ann Arbor has a great mix of big city perks with a smaller community feel. Housing and cost of living is the main drawback for sure, but we feel it’s an awesome place to raise a family if you can swing it financially. Well worth the premium pricing in our books!

Posts: 16

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 15.00 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 80.00 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 10.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 6.00 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 6.00 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 4.62 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.64 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.17 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 0.84 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 3.31 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 5.88 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 2.73 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 20.21 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 11.37 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 14.05 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 6.78 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.86 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 4.78 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 5.14 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 2.87 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 4.96 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 1.70 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 3.20 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 15.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 2.05 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 3.60 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 10.00 $
  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport) – 1.75 $
  • Monthly Pass (Regular Price) – 47.50 $
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) – 5.00 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.89 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 26,000.00 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 23,857.76 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 133.72 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 42.14 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 58.12 $
  • Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult – 32.50 $
  • Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) – 21.25 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 12.00 $
  • Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child – 1,466.67 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 58.75 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 26.67 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 90.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 140.00 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – 1,829.09 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre – 1,308.33 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre – 3,612.50 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre – 2,420.00 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre – 3,758.38 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre – 2,716.08 $
  • Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) – 4,979.61 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.52
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