Housing in Ann Arbor
Choosing a home is fundamentally a personal decision—everyone has different needs, tastes, and processes to consider. Still, in our experience, the Ross MBAs who have been most and least happy with their housing during their first year have cited the following topics as important to consider. This is not a complete list of what you should think about, but we hope it will help.
The GBR Housing Committee has compiled the information below from a detailed survey of current Ross MBAs, administered in February 2013, the University Housing Office, and multiple other sources. At every step of creating this guide, we have tried to verify that the information is accurate, complete and fair, and that it's organized in a way that is useful to you. That said, this is only an introduction to the Ann Arbor housing market—we can neither guarantee your satisfaction with a particular apartment or neighborhood, nor the sainthood of a particular landlord or neighbor. The rest is up to you—Happy hunting!
Neighborhoods & Commuting
Commuting & Time Management
Your first year at Ross is very rigorous. Between classes and myriad clubs and fun activities, students can easily (and happily) keep busy 18 hours per day—Ross' building is open until 1:00am for a reason. About 30% of MBA1 survey respondents said they wished they had lived closer to Ross. Some ways to minimize your commute include:
a) Living within a 10 min walk to Ross—generally SoHill, West of State, Downtown, South University; and some areas of Burns Park and Angell.
b) Living close to an Ann Arbor bus route that passes by Ross, such as the #5 State Street; #6 Packard, or UM Campus Loop Shuttle.
c) Renting a parking spot from a student apartment near campus and commuting by car. (Free street can be difficult to find, and UM Permit Parking is limited; see UM Parking & Transportation Services for more info.)
Several larger housing companies offer shuttles to campus for their tenants. Some shuttles are great, but not all operate regularly or have enough capacity to meet demand. Be sure to check with neighbors or Ross MBAs before relying on them for your commute.
Online commuting resources include:
Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (city bus routes)
UM Parking & Transportation Services operates a campus loop, which you can track using the "Magic Bus" web tool.
Ann Arbor City (incl. Parking Services)
Ann Arbor ZipCar
In addition to being a college town, Ann Arbor is a working city. Key factors to assessing an apartment for noise include a prevalence of students or undergraduate fraternities and sororities in the neighborhood, proximity to business districts, whether the housing is on a busy street (E.g., South University, Packard, Main, Huron), and distance from the train tracks that run through town (the train passes in the middle of the night). On Saturday game days during the fall, most of the town south of Huron is congested with pedestrians, car traffic, and tailgating parties, especially in neighborhoods adjacent to The Big House (football stadium). In "the skinny" sections of the Neighborhood Guide, we call attention to some of these factors, but ask for yourself when you look for your housing.
Ann Arbor experiences slightly less crime than would be statistically expected for a city of its size. The crimes that occur are generally evenly spread throughout the city. While violent crime is relatively low, property crime is a much more significant problem. The annual Ann Arbor Observer City Guide publishes a crime map that presents data for major crime categories by neighborhoods. See also the Ann Arbor Police and the University of Michigan Police for information about safety in Ann Arbor.
MBAs' Perception of Safety
MBA respondents indicated that they feel safe in Ann Arbor in all neighborhoods, approximately equally in day or night, whether at home or commuting from Ross. More than 99% of students rated their safety as average for Ann Arbor or better, with 89.7% saying they felt "Very Safe," and no respondents feeling "not very safe." Of course, it's not factually possible for every neighborhood to be above average, but this does indicate that students don't think there is a "good" or "bad" area of town.
Housing Options & Leases
Renting vs. Owning
The vast majority of Ross students—rent or lease an apartment or house. We therefore have insufficient data to contrast MBAs' experiences with renting versus home ownership in Ann Arbor.
Types & Costs of Housing
Ann Arbor offers a variety of apartments, complexes, houses, condos, and other types of units for rent. Of MBA survey respondents, 39.8% live in a house or condo, and 60.2% live in apartments. Costs will vary by neighborhood and quality of housing. For example, housing located closer to campus is generally more expensive expensive.
Quality of Housing
Many landlords file a Certificate of Occupancy from the City of Ann Arbor, certifying that their rental units have been properly maintained. When viewing a prospective rental unit, be sure to ask the landlord and the current tenants if there are plumbing, insect, or other problems with the unit. If the landlord is cleaning or repairing any part of the house, the cleaning or repairs should be completed before your lease begins. The landlord is required to provide you with two inventory checklists upon move-in. Be sure to complete this list thoroughly to avoid being held financially liable when your lease ends.
Amenities & Utilities
In addition to the amenities you know you want, be sure especially to ask about utilities and parking. When not included in rent, they can add up and make a more expensive housing option more comparably affordable. For example, heating costs in the wintertime can run upwards of $100/mo, in some cases significantly more; Internet/cable runs $30-100 or more depending on the package. Street parking can be hard to find in some neighborhoods. If you plan to sublet your housing during the summer months, see if the landlord will provide storage space for belongings you don't want to leave out for subtenants.
Three Tips on Landlords & Housing Companies
1) Name Brands Aren't Everything. In addition to housing developments, apartment complexes, leasing companies, there are people with investment properties or who moved out of the area and are willing to rent out their homes to students. Craigslist is a great place to find some deals.
2) Negotiate. Don't be intimidated by established housing companies or pre-prepared lease deals. You may be able to negotiate lower rent, extra amenities (e.g., Parking), etc., especially if you're willing to sign a longer-term lease. The housing market in Ann Arbor is no better than anywhere else in the country, and all landlords want to lower their vacancy rates.
3) "Trust, but verify." As with any city, there are great landlords in Ann Arbor, and not-so great ones. In general, use your keen business judgment and seek information. Ask for offers and promises in writing, and make sure the landlord gives you a checklist and Tenants Rights booklet when you sign your lease.
Because the housing market is largely driven by the influx of UM students during the academic year, most landlords require year-long lease terms that run from September 1 through the following August. This is not ideal for the typical MBA student, who leaves Ann Arbor for a summer internship from May through August. Subletting is popular during these months, so because the market is flooded, subleases often only yield half the regular rent price. As you negotiate your lease, keep in this in mind. Some landlords are willing to sign 9-month leases from September to May, while others will provide significant discounts for a long-term commitment, such as half-price rent during summer months. About 68.4% of MBA1 survey respondents signed a 12-month lease, while 22.4% signed an 8- or 9-month lease, and 4.8% signed for 20 months.
Students with Disabilities
Disability-Related Concerns: The UM Housing Information Office can assist students with disabilities with advising, communications and other helpful services. Other resources:
Services for Students with Disabilities (734-763-3000 or TTY 734-615-6921) - is the UM office on campus that coordinates information and services for students with a disability.
Center for Independent Living Services Serving Washtenaw County (734-971-0277 or TTY 734-971-0310) - a valuable resource for housing-related questions.
SOS Community Services — Offers a list of barrier free housing units.
Once You're Here
Utilities: DTE Energy
Driver's License & Car Registration: Michigan Secretary of State (by law, when you move to Michigan you must transfer your car registration within 1 month)
Moving can generate a lot of trash and recyclable waste. Some resources:
Washtenaw County Waste Knot Partners — this site describes Ann Arbor (Washtenaw Count) waste pickup and recycling services. On the same site, look for the Trash to Treasure page for a list of area operations accepting selected items for reuse, resale, or donation.
Recycle Ann Arbor — Provides curbside bulky waste pickups at the following cost: $70 for up to 2 cubic yards; $25 for each additional yard; $25 per Freon appliance. Also accepts bulky items at the Drop-Off Station.
TDF II Hauling & Plowing (734-994-3484) — Pickup and disposal/recycling services for many items, including appliances, computers, furniture, and yard waste. TDF also donates items such as cleaning products, toys, clothing and books to local charities.
1-800-GOT-JUNK — For help during Move-Out, they'll take away large items, such as furniture and appliances, that you no longer want.
From Art Van Furniture to Craiglist, there are lots of places to purchase or rent new and used furniture in Ann Arbor. Here are a few other local sources for used furniture that some students utilize:
Cort Furniture Rentals, 42350 Grand River Ave., 248-449-4660
U of M Property Disposition, 3241 Baxter Rd., 734-764-2470
Treasure Mart, 529 Detroit St., 734-662-1363
Super Family Thrift Store & Donation Center (Salvation Army), 1621 South State St., 734-332-3474
Recycling & Composting
The U.S. EPA has recognized Ann Arbor as one of the top 20 recycling communities in North America. Weekly compost and recycling pickup is available at most residential locations throughout the city. Some resources to help you participate:
Recycling storage bins and information delivered to your home, leave a phone message on the 24-hour line: 99-GREEN (994-7336) or pick up your bins from the ReUse Center located at 2420 S. Industrial.
Disputes & Problems
We hope you don't have any issues after you move to Ann Arbor. Just in case, keep these free, useful resources handy:
Housing Information Office more detailed information covering topics such as the legal rights of tenants, drafting roommate agreements, checklists, subletting, and the Ann Arbor Rights & Duties of Tenants Handbook.
UM Student Legal Services free, full-service law office available to enrolled students on a variety of practice areas, including consumer problems, insurance, notary service, criminal defense, wills & family law, and landlord/tenant disputes.
UM Conflict Resolution Services, 734-763-4105
"Top 100 Best Places to Live"