Destination Detroit: A Mid-life Foray into Adventure?

graffiti pig

A little less than a week ago, I sat down to read this article: How a Young Community of Entrepreneurs is Rebuilding Detroit (Fast Company magazine).

Thirty minutes later, I plopped myself down next to Mr. Perfect and asked nonchalantly (a big grin on my face), “What would you think of moving to Detroit?”

I was only half-kidding.

See, we’ve been discussing this where-should-we-live thing since the moment we began dating.

Why? Because California is so damn expensive.

Yes, it’s beautiful and sun-shiney almost every day.

Yes, we’re close to the ocean and the mountains (and most of our families live here).

But we can’t afford to buy anything in the Bay Area.

And we don’t want to live in any of the so-called “arm pits.”

We’ve enjoyed daydreaming about becoming expats — you know, moving to South America and opening up a bar/taco stand (him) and teaching English (me).

We’ve taken trips to the Pacific Northwest to see what we thought of Oregon and Washington. (LOVED. But too expensive.)

And we’ve talked about moving to Colorado where we have both family and friends already in place.

Until a few days ago, we’d pretty much decided on Colorado. Now things are back in limbo.

When I tried to explain it to Ira, the only thing I could say was that the idea of Detroit got me excited.

Like there was a place that needed us as much as we needed it.

And maybe we could contribute something valuable and help build something important there.

Yes, it’d be risky.

A primordial soup of potential is always fraught with dangers — both real and imagined.

But I’m approaching 50 faster than I’d hoped.

And I’m not ready to find a nice quiet place to settle down and retire.

I want to do something interesting. Be of service. And explore the (to me) unexplored.

I’ve never been to Detroit. Never even been to Michigan or any of the other great lakes-adjacent states.

I’m also not fond of freezing weather. But I think I could hang.

Besides — something in that article rekindled an old desire for adventure. It’s pulling me to investigate further. Even Ira thought it’d be good for me to go see it in person.

See it up close and in the flesh.

See if my desire for adventure would live up to the realities of abandoned buildings and severe poverty.

So I’m on my way to Detroit. The plane ticket’s been purchased. The car’s been reserved. Facebook friends have been notified.

Come May 14th, I’m off to see the Wizard…

If you’ve got any sage advice, travel tips or good-hearted warnings, please share in a comment below.

Photo Credit: Georgio Montiforti



Filed under Business, Travel

21 responses to “Destination Detroit: A Mid-life Foray into Adventure?

  1. David

    You are the adventurer aren’t you….I was ready to settle down at stay put at age 10 🙂

  2. Beverly

    I LOVE it!!! Wish you would have called and invited me along 🙂 Love you!

  3. Thank goodness it isn’t just ME. I’ve been living in California since the mid 70’s, Tea, and I haven’t been able to save a dime for all these years. Talk about “expensive”! You need gangster money to make a go of it!! You may recall I was planning a move to Arizona at the end of March. Unfortunately, I encountered … uh … let’s say … a relationship issue that meant the move was off. Darn! I was SO looking forward to a new adventure. And REALLY looking forward to not paying through the dupa for everything. Oh, well. AZ wasn’t meant to be.

    My youngest brother and his wife resided in Michigan for a long time and they were very sad when they had to leave. My brother was offered a mechanical engineering position in Philadelphia … an offer he couldn’t pass up. So off they went. They still talk about their old neighborhood and the great friends they made there. Yes, it’s damned cold in the winter but like a lot of other things in life, it’s a tradeoff.

    I’m excited for you and I wish I could tag along!!

    • Thanks Mel! I’ll be touring as much of the real estate as I can. I see lots of listings online (fixer uppers) for like $1000. Yes, One Thousand Dollars. Need to see these up close and personal. If it works out, want me to get you one? LOL

      • Those of us who reside in Extortionville have a difficult time believing the purchase price of housing in other parts of the country, don’t we? LOL!! I’ve seen some fabulous homes for sale in Virginia, for example, that are going for a song and a dance. You couldn’t buy an outhouse in need of repair here in CA for those figures.
        Really anxious to connect with you when you get back from Detroit. Have a feeling you’re going to have pasta pot full of stories! 🙂

  4. Hey Tea, you have the spirit of an entrepreneurial gypsy and enough hutzpah to start a movement anywhere you went. I think Detroit doesn’t know what may be about to roll in. Or anywhere you go for that matter. But more than anything its great that what gets you going is the idea that you could do something meaningful and make a difference. Look forward to the stories of your foray.

  5. Good for you! I grew up in the Detroit area and now live in Oregon. Every time I go back lately I think about how cool it would be to live there and be a part of the transformation. Alas, my life doesn’t permit that right now. When my parents were growing up there pre-1960’s Detroit was known as the Paris of the midwest. So much beautiful architecture and lively culture. The auto companies tried to create a Renaissance in the 1980’s but that was a flop. This time it’s the people who are doing it, and I think it’s really going to work. It’s very exciting!
    I’ll be watching your adventure with interest – thanks for writing about it!

  6. I’m excited that you are taking this leap of faith and embracing this adventure. I was born and raised in the suburbs outside of Detroit, but have fond memories of going to “Greek Town” in downtown Detroit for lamb and this fantabulous cheese they would deliver to the table in a crock-style pan. I remember all the waiters and restaurant patrons bellowing the word, Opa!

    Anywho, I put the word out on Facebook to all my Detroit peeps to come over here and give you scoop or to just leave a comment on my status update. Either way, I think we’ll have you covered for some good fun, sightseeing and anything else that will feed your curiosity.

    Enjoy, have fun and be safe.

  7. cynthia

    What?!? You’re checking it out??!? I guess strategic impulsivity is borne with age. Have a blast!

  8. I’m a California (Los Angeles) native, and I LOVE it here. I have, however, resigned myself to the idea that I’ll never own property and I’ll just have to be okay with that. For the most part, it’s fine. Though, when I visited Asheville, NC last month and discovered how vastly different the cost of living is (people renting houses for what I paid to rent a room), it did make me think “COULD I actually live somewhere else?” The winter thing is HUGE for me and a big part of what’s keeping me where I am. I don’t function the same way in cold weather and gloominess bums me out.

    But I’ve started quasi-considering the idea of living elsewhere. It’s a scary idea, but I’m attempting to be open minded.

  9. I grew up in Michigan, worked in downtown Detroit for 8 years in television news as a journalist. I know the city and suburbs better than any place on the planet. I live in NYC 60% of the time and in Michigan 40% of the time. I have to say… there’s nothing like spring and summer in Michigan… winters don’t bother me… the irony is… as much as NYC is great… every time I come back to Michigan, I’m here right now, I want to stay and end up staying longer…. Reach out if you want some advice… my friend David Kirkpatrick, who wrote the Facebook Effect, did his first Techonomy conference in Detroit last year… seems to be attracting a lot of attention right now..

  10. Hi Tea,

    I grew up and lived in the Detroit area for most of my life and I love it. There is something very unique about the people and the spirit of that city that doesn’t falter even in bad times. I grew up in St. Clair Shores and I know that there are some amazing waterfront homes going for insane prices there. Grosse Pointe is a very nice higher end area. Royal Oak and Ferndale have this hipster/indie scene going on. Oakland County has a lot of very nice cities to “settle down” in but I sense that you’d rather be in the middle of the action

    If you’re looking to stay within the city there are some great places right Downtown (there are some awesome lofts down there) and in the Woodbridge neighborhood. My brother lives in Woodbridge with some friends because he’s going to Wayne State but it’s a very strong community in itself. People there are proud of their neighborhood and they all know each other. They have a really cool urban garden too!

    To get a feel for the culture I’d suggest going to a baseball game at Comerica Park, checking out Cork Town and Greek Town and dropping in to the local favorite spots like Mercury Bar, Fishbone’s and Slow’s BBQ. The metro area is massive too and each city has it’s own distinct feel which I always found to be pretty cool. Anyway, have fun!

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