• $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $688   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1240   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  northeast US)

83% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
ill-advised urban wilderness exploration, urban decay after dark
local professional sports, museums, outdoor water recreation, bicycle friendly, nature preserves, live music 6
another factory that isn't ruined, gentrification, more lots than houses, where the good Mexican food actually is, industrial wasteland, now only bridges, waterfront sculpture gardens, poor people, black bottom, nice park w/crazy geese, crackhead central but good tacos, visiting boaters, I work for Quicken Loans, and southwest suburbs are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Detroit roommate rundown:

Detroit looms large in our national imagination. That huge Motown sound now associated with the even huger rise and fall of the automotive assembly line over the last several decades . . . which led to a huge population decline which sadly subsequently led to crime and urban decline.

Decline led to decay led to the dubious phenomenon of Detroit's primacy within the world of "urban exploration?" While the interest value is obvious, leading many urban explorers toward impressive but now untended larger structures, thousands of empty buildings around a city are not a sign of urban health.

It's also wouldn't be a sign of any kind of health if they collapsed on anyone either.

Detroit has responded by demolishing many to plant grass and trees in their wake (urban prairie).

But that's the bad news. With more recent revitalization, many older buildings are now renovated and revitalized, instead of paintballed.

Urban topography aside, Detroit still has a reputation for being dangerous. While not undeserved, crime has declined significantly in recent years, with the overall crime rate downtown now below the national average.

It's now more accurate to say that while danger still lives in Detroit, it's now mostly residing in troubled neighborhoods. So roommates new to Detroit need to be aware of theirs, particularly after dark.

Urban exploration? To explore decay, go during the DAY.

After dark in your car, stick to neighborhoods you know or busy arteries. Don't drive through unfamiliar areas on smaller streets. Driving around with friends but without a lot that's valuable (cash, jewelry, expensive clothing, bling, etc.), especially anywhere new would be clever too.

After dark out of your car, move with larger crowds. Larger venues tend to be policed or feature security that smaller might not easily afford. Understand that a late night club may be adequately populated, and your trip on a well-populated street inside a reliable vehicle relatively safe as well, but where are you going to park? What's the walking vibe between your parking and your party, plus how far?

More on transportation: It shouldn't be shocking (heh) that as the historical center of the auto industry, your experience of Detroit will usually rely on having one.

Detroit has been described as both "auto-friendly" (glass half full) and "auto dependent" (glass half empty). But whatever your feelings about driving, Detroit is spread out over a larger geographic area than most cities. And while public transport exists, it's mostly a nice way to get around downtown. Meanwhile, their modern freeway system plus ample parking pretty much everywhere encourages you to get behind the wheel.

So unless you plan to exist entirely downtown, you'll find Detroit would like you to drive, extra points for a local model.

Except one exception! Bicycling! Because the rise and fall of the auto industry was correlated with same population-wise, most streets have multiple lanes that are now no longer needed. This means bikers can get a whole entire lane all to themselves, which is rare in a city anywhere near this size.

So biking year round is awesome for all roommates, right? Well, depends on the day, plus likely where you're from.

Detroit's weather changes rapidly in all seasons, while winter remains long. Long means COLD. Storms can be severe, and snow remains on the ground for much of winter. Winter temperatures remain below freezing for months, while the wind-chill factor at its icy lowest can snap anyone Southern.

So Detroit's overall current forecast? For the adventurous yet adequately cautious, Detroit's recently revitalized downtown riverfront with ornate buildings, sculpture, fountains, historic skyscrapers, and several parks totaling hundreds of acres has much to recommend it. Affordably!

Many historic buildings downtown have been recently converted into loft apartments, which are popular due to style plus proximity to everything downtown Detroit has to offer.

That includes Detroit's skyline, enduring and still dazzling. Now more than ever.

The rest of the Detroit roommate lowdown:

  • Detroit proper has a population of about 600,000, with the greater metro area about 5 million. This makes it the largest city in the Midwest, after Chicago. While it has remained large, it gained and lost about a million residents during the surge and collapse of Detroit's automotive industry.
  • along the Detroit River, across the border from Windsor, Ontario
  • US and Canadian citizens are required to present a valid passport, enhanced driver's license or approved traveler card when crossing the border (please check with border patrol on the day of travel, requirements can change without much notice). Once you've got your identification under control, you can cross over a bridge, through a tunnel (there's a tunnel bus if you're not already in a vehicle) or on a ferry.
  • home of Baker College, Center for Creative Studies, Detroit College of Business, Michigan Christian College, William Tyndale College, Baker College of Port Huron, Lawrence Institute of Technology, Marygrove College, Walsh College of Accounting, Oakland University, University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan
  • Detroit is where Henry Ford pioneered the automotive assembly line, creating the world's first assembly line car, the Model T. Detroit has forever after been known as the "Automobile Capital" or "Motown" (short for "Motor Town"). While the auto industry surged then collapsed since its peak, several major car manufacturers still have a presence here, since merging with higher tech.
  • Detroit is the only US city to have four major sports teams all playing downtown: Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Tigers. This is possible because downtown also hosts three major sports arenas.
  • largest US city with casino resorts: three major ones
  • Detroit is famous for Coney Island hot dogs, Vernor's Ginger Ale, Detroit-style pizza (deep dish but with a crispy buttery crust) and a lot of excellent Mexican (Mexicantown) and Polish (Hamtramck) restaurants.

After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Detroit's:

  • Pewabic Pottery: Founded in 1903, they exemplified the Arts and Crafts movement then developed their own iridescent glaze and some fabulous tiles and then put them various important places all around the country. It's also Michigan's most historic pottery, as it has been designated such by a number of local and national societies. Lots of nice things to buy, but if retail's not your thing you can also view exhibitions, attend talks, and take classes with studio time to create your own.
  • Belle Isle: Shared the same designer as NYC's Central Park, but Detroit's is larger at 1000 acres. It's also in the river between Detroit and Windsor so you get there by bridge, and features swimming, yachting, rowing, golfing, and motor and boat racing. Feeling lower key? Nature watching remains another extremely valid option.
  • Rouge Park: An even larger park! 1200 acres, featuring a golf course, model airplane fields, swimming, and hiking.
  • Guardian Building w/Art Deco Lobby: 40 stories tall, with light tangerine bricks. Includes Aztec and Native American mosaics, many made at Pewabic, along with a massive mural of the state of Michigan
  • Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge: not only the only international wildlife refuge in North America, it's also right inside the city? It includes coastal wetlands, islands, marshes and shoals, all along the Detroit River.
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: hosts the world's largest permanent art collection on African American culture
  • Detroit Institute of Arts: one of the most important museums in the country with holdings worth more than a billion dollars
  • Baker's Keyboard Lounge: Since 1934, the world's oldest continuously operating jazz club
  • The Raven Lounge: One of Detroit's oldest blues clubs - unassuming exterior, warmer and sparklier interior
  • Hitsville U.S.A.: Motown Records' first headquarters where all the Motown hits were recorded. Today it hosts a museum displaying artifacts of its very own musical historical significance.

Here's the city of Detroit's official .gov for their Department of Neighborhoods, which could guide you toward a better experience in yours.


1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.

2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.

3.   From zumper.com.

4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.

5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.

6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.

7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.