Investing in Detroit suburbs - safety issues?

28 Replies

After some analysis, I've decided to invest in Detroit suburbs (Warren/Sterling Heights) or possibly further out (Grand Rapids/Ann Arbor). 

I will be buying and holding from out of state, but I do want to visit now and then, at least initially as I get set up.

Is there anything I should be mindful of in terms of crime/safety while travelling to these cities? I hesitate to say it, but especially as a woman travelling by herself? E.g. should I avoid flying in from the Detroit? 

millions of people live in those areas and go out all the time.  you make it sound like we live in a prison yard and get stabbed as soon as we leave our houses. 

Sorry it came out the wrong way... I come from a very very safe city, and all throughout the forums I see warnings about some neighborhoods in Detroit. From what I've read, the suburbs are pretty safe, but I'm wanting to hear from you as the expert if there is anything I should be aware of. 

@Mike D'Arrigo Thanks! That's the kind of advice I was looking for. 

Originally posted by @Diana B. :

Sorry it came out the wrong way... I come from a very very safe city, and all throughout the forums I see warnings about some neighborhoods in Detroit. From what I've read, the suburbs are pretty safe, but I'm wanting to hear from you as the expert if there is anything I should be aware of. 

 Michigan is NOT in Detroit.

Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo :

Everyone needs to be cautious when going in to vacant properties. I wouldn't recommend doing it alone.

 Even this statement makes it seem as though you would be walking into one of those "made for T.V. movies" like "Death Wish".  Ridiculous.  Detroit is like any other city with it's bad areas with one bonus...it has the extra benefit of the news media's love for the "story", and the "story" being that "one more time in Detroit".  Those "one more times" happen everywhere.

...and, I repeat what I said above, "Michigan isn't in Detroit".

Hi Diana, flying into DTW is as safe as any airport. Another Airport to check out is FNT, which is north of Detroit but very small and quaint. I'm glad you are planning a trip here before making an investment. Ann Arbor and Sterling Heights should be completely fine, just take normal safety precautions. The same goes for Warren, but the city is very large and does border Detroit. I am sure if you are visiting properties with a Realtor who knows the area you will be fine. I would recommend checking out Royal Oak too. It has a nice downtown area and will give you a good vibe of the burbs. Grand Rapids is on the other side of the state, it's a great city but I can't speak to the neighborhoods.
Originally posted by @Diana B. :

After some analysis, I've decided to invest in Detroit suburbs (Warren/Sterling Heights) or possibly further out (Grand Rapids/Ann Arbor). 

I will be buying and holding from out of state, but I do want to visit now and then, at least initially as I get set up.

Is there anything I should be mindful of in terms of crime/safety while travelling to these cities? I hesitate to say it, but especially as a woman travelling by herself? E.g. should I avoid flying in from the Detroit? 

 It is not an irrational concern -- both buyers and sellers are concerned about crime rates in or around an area that they plan to invest in. Were these some of the reports that you looked at? I can see why you would be rattled by this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/detroit-h...

http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/neighborhoods/cri...

http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/mi/detroit/crime/

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-...

Originally posted by @Diana B. :

After some analysis, I've decided to invest in Detroit suburbs (Warren/Sterling Heights) or possibly further out (Grand Rapids/Ann Arbor). 

I will be buying and holding from out of state, but I do want to visit now and then, at least initially as I get set up.

Is there anything I should be mindful of in terms of crime/safety while travelling to these cities? I hesitate to say it, but especially as a woman travelling by herself? E.g. should I avoid flying in from the Detroit? 

In my neighborhood I ride my bike and walk after dark all the time.  I'm in Detroit( the city not the Metro area). There are areas where I wouldn't want to walk in the daytime.

 Come to think of it that's just like Orange County California! where I'm from. Just like any big city. A lot like Vancouver.

Crime in Vancouver

Don't take your personal safety lightly anywhere you are.

(Oh by the way you can fly into Detroit! (DTW is the Main Airport) rent a car, get a hotel, visit any suburb you want to, without ever entering the city of Detroit.) 

Hi Diana,

I would say, never travel alone in any city you are not familiar with. Look for a REALTOR from the Detroit area and familiar with all the neighborhoods. Some agents may be hesitant to spend a day looking all over the place but show them you are serious and you are able to close and you will find one to drag around for the day!

Best of luck, safe travels.

One branch of my company is in Kelowna.  For perspective, Kelowna is about as far away from Vancouver as Grand Rapids is from Detroit.  You'd likely fly into a different Airport if you're considering Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is a VERY interesting place to look at for investing.  It has it's own suburbs to consider.

South Warren can be a little dicey, but I wouldn't call it dangerous.  The other cities you mentioned are fine.  

I never have any special safety concerns flying in and out of DTW, day or night.

As others have mentioned, follow normal safety precautions no matter where you are.  Even little Kelowna is known to have shootings and violence.  Bad stuff can happen anywhere.  But the risk is not elevated beyond normal considerations in the places you mentioned.

Originally posted by @Joe Villeneuve :
Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo:

Everyone needs to be cautious when going in to vacant properties. I wouldn't recommend doing it alone.

 Even this statement makes it seem as though you would be walking into one of those "made for T.V. movies" like "Death Wish".  Ridiculous.  Detroit is like any other city with it's bad areas with one bonus...it has the extra benefit of the news media's love for the "story", and the "story" being that "one more time in Detroit".  Those "one more times" happen everywhere.

...and, I repeat what I said above, "Michigan isn't in Detroit".

Joe, this doesn't apply to just Detroit. It applies to any city. Vacant homes are frequently broken in to and attract squatters and unsavory characters. There's nothing ridiculous about what I said. Real estate agents, particularly women know this well. It's just common sense to use caution in a vacant house. It's not about Detroit bashing.

Mike D'Arrigo, Pinnacle Investment Properties, LLC | [email protected] | 800 348‑0956 | http://www.investwithpinnacle.com

Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo :
Originally posted by @Joe Villeneuve:
Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo:

Everyone needs to be cautious when going in to vacant properties. I wouldn't recommend doing it alone.

 Even this statement makes it seem as though you would be walking into one of those "made for T.V. movies" like "Death Wish".  Ridiculous.  Detroit is like any other city with it's bad areas with one bonus...it has the extra benefit of the news media's love for the "story", and the "story" being that "one more time in Detroit".  Those "one more times" happen everywhere.

...and, I repeat what I said above, "Michigan isn't in Detroit".

Joe, this doesn't apply to just Detroit. It applies to any city. Vacant homes are frequently broken in to and attract squatters and unsavory characters. There's nothing ridiculous about what I said. Real estate agents, particularly women know this well. It's just common sense to use caution in a vacant house. It's not about Detroit bashing.

Mike you are of course correct. My apologies if what I said came on stronger than I meant it to. However, it came from a place of great frustration. I see out of state investors treat Michigan as if it is some type of "free range" prison without bars. An are where you avoid at all costs. It is actually one of the most beautiful areas of the country. I greet many out of the country REI's come to visit that walk away with the attitude they would love to live here. Quite the opposite of when they first stepped off the plain, wishing they could have been carrying.

Again, my apologies,...but I'm still pi,,,

Originally posted by @Joe Villeneuve :
Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo:
Originally posted by @Joe Villeneuve:
Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo:

Everyone needs to be cautious when going in to vacant properties. I wouldn't recommend doing it alone.

 Even this statement makes it seem as though you would be walking into one of those "made for T.V. movies" like "Death Wish".  Ridiculous.  Detroit is like any other city with it's bad areas with one bonus...it has the extra benefit of the news media's love for the "story", and the "story" being that "one more time in Detroit".  Those "one more times" happen everywhere.

...and, I repeat what I said above, "Michigan isn't in Detroit".

Joe, this doesn't apply to just Detroit. It applies to any city. Vacant homes are frequently broken in to and attract squatters and unsavory characters. There's nothing ridiculous about what I said. Real estate agents, particularly women know this well. It's just common sense to use caution in a vacant house. It's not about Detroit bashing.

 I see out of state investors treat Michigan as if it is some type of "free range" prison without bars.  

That's funny! I can appreciate your frustration. Every major city has it's good areas and it's bad areas. You can't paint an entire city with the same brush stroke,

Mike D'Arrigo, Pinnacle Investment Properties, LLC | [email protected] | 800 348‑0956 | http://www.investwithpinnacle.com

I live 3/4 mile from Detroit in a bordering city and frequent downtown/corktown/midtown frequently after dark. Be smart and you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Furthermore, the city is currently undergoing massive redevelopment; a new sports arena, an international bridge crossing comes soon, streetcar line downtown, and billions on top of billions put into redevelopment of vacant/derelict structures. Your investment will be rewarded in time.

Safety is first. That is when you are going anywhere. On average 2 real estate agents are murdered every year, very low number but most of those situations don't happen in the so called "Hood". You should get with someone here and be mindful of your surroundings and go in the daytime.

@Jennifer Streamer   comparing Kelowna to Detroit or any big US city is kind of funny.

But I do remember the gang shoot out at the big hotel on the water... crime in Kelowna is relegated to biker gangs like hells angles etc..

I owned a home at the Okanogan golf club.. I loved it there why I had it.. and still frequent yearly and also Kamloops  fishing is better over there.  and I would love a lake side home on Kalamaka  I almost bought one.. but then had to come back to US  as immigration was hassling me to much.. But when I fly my plane into BC I never even get checked.. just call a number write a little number on a piece of paper and stick it on the planes glare shield.. so anyone can get into Canada pretty easy via light aircraft.. now going the other way that's a different story... count yourself lucky if you get to live and play in the Oakanagon

Medium ksqoekox 400x400Jay Hinrichs, TurnKey-Reviews.com | Podcast Guest on Show #222

@Diana B.

If you will be purchasing property in the U.S.A. while residing in Canada, then before you even get on a plane, you need to figure out your long term strategy (i.e. to you plan to keep all earnings in-country to grow your business or do you need to bring the money home) and the best organisational structure to fit your current situation and help you realise your objectives.

If you search Canadians buying real estate in the US here on BP you will find several threads which raise some of the ownership considerations when investing abroad (control of repatriation of funds; taxation; liability, etc).   The would strongly recommend you find an accountant and attorney with cross border real estate and business experience and work with them to structure your investing to meet both your immediate and long-term goals.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Jennifer Streamer  comparing Kelowna to Detroit or any big US city is kind of funny.

But I do remember the gang shoot out at the big hotel on the water... crime in Kelowna is relegated to biker gangs like hells angles etc..

I owned a home at the Okanogan golf club.. I loved it there why I had it.. and still frequent yearly and also Kamloops  fishing is better over there.  and I would love a lake side home on Kalamaka  I almost bought one.. but then had to come back to US  as immigration was hassling me to much.. But when I fly my plane into BC I never even get checked.. just call a number write a little number on a piece of paper and stick it on the planes glare shield.. so anyone can get into Canada pretty easy via light aircraft.. now going the other way that's a different story... count yourself lucky if you get to live and play in the Oakanagon

 It is beautiful there! I love my visits.  I wasn't comparing the Kelowna to Detroit- ha ha.  Just the distance between Vancouver and Kelowna to the distance between Detroit and Grand Rapids.  I figured that would be a point of comparison for the original posted. Grand Rapids is a larger city in it's own right and not a suburb of Detroit - way too far away.

@Roy N. Thanks for the heads up.

We already have 70 units (pretty much turnkey) but I'm not happy with the way they're run. I will be putting together another post about that next week. I'm looking to take a more hands-on approach to avoid the problems that I had with these 70 units. 

I already have a cross-border accountant so I'm aware of a lot of these cross border issues and the complications with working in the US. This is part of the reason I'm obtaining a work visa to move down to the US in the next half year. I will not start the new investments until we move.

Originally posted by @Diana B. :

@Roy N. Thanks for the heads up.

We already have 70 units (pretty much turnkey) but I'm not happy with the way they're run. I will be putting together another post about that next week. I'm looking to take a more hands-on approach to avoid the problems that I had with these 70 units. 

I already have a cross-border accountant so I'm aware of a lot of these cross border issues and the complications with working in the US. This is part of the reason I'm obtaining a work visa to move down to the US in the next half year. I will not start the new investments until we move.

 Diana:

My apologies.  When I read your initial post, I incorrectly arrived at the conclusion you were new to real estate investing.

@Jennifer Streamer

The distance from Vancouver to Kelowna (390kms) is about 1.5 times the distance from Detroit to Grand Rapids (253kms).

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Originally posted by @Roy N. :
Originally posted by @Diana B.:

@Roy N. Thanks for the heads up.

We already have 70 units (pretty much turnkey) but I'm not happy with the way they're run. I will be putting together another post about that next week. I'm looking to take a more hands-on approach to avoid the problems that I had with these 70 units. 

I already have a cross-border accountant so I'm aware of a lot of these cross border issues and the complications with working in the US. This is part of the reason I'm obtaining a work visa to move down to the US in the next half year. I will not start the new investments until we move.

 Diana:

My apologies.  When I read your initial post, I incorrectly arrived at the conclusion you were new to real estate investing.

@Jennifer Streamer

The distance from Vancouver to Kelowna (390kms) is about 1.5 times the distance from Detroit to Grand Rapids (253kms).

Thanks for the correction. Sorry - I should have used Google to find a more precise comparison rather than just picking a couple of cities I'm familiar that I thought the original poster would be familiar with too.  My aim was to indicate that in both cases, the cities are few hours apart and do not have a city/suburb relationship.

Warren and Sterling Heights are solid. I personally would stay above 696 or 12 Mile in regards to Warren.  South Warren is the New Eastside.

I say that as someone born and raised on Conner and McNichols where De La Salle USED to be. South Warren is just everyone from the Pershing and Osborne neighborhoods "escaping" the City.

Sterling Heights with Uitca Schools is a great value.  Also Clinton Twp is good, but avoid Mt. Clemens and Clintondale Schools.

@Diana B.  I would love to be apart of your real estate search in Grand Rapids, MI.  If you would like to discuss potential opportunities, or property management, or are even if you are coming to Grand Rapids and would like a tour of the City I would love to be apart of that.  Grand Rapids is a great city to invest in as you have most likely found during your research.  We have considered branching out to Detriot but have not found or established a relationship with a reputable management company.  Let me know what you find when you visit.  

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you