Livonia 101: Weighing the Pros & Cons of Living in Michigan's 6th Largest City
Considering a move to the heart of Metro Detroit? Living in Livonia, Michigan offers an intriguing blend of advantages and challenges that make it a unique place to call home. From its strategic location that promises easy access to downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor, to its top-rated schools, excellent rec center, and ample events, Livonia has much to offer. However, like any city, it comes with its own set of drawbacks, such as traffic congestion and a lack of a vibrant downtown. This comprehensive article delves into the pros and cons of living in Livonia, Michigan, providing valuable insights for anyone contemplating making the move.
For those interested in living in Livonia, Michigan, the city offers a plethora of amenities and conveniences that make it an attractive option. One of the most significant advantages of moving to Livonia, Michigan is its strategic location. Situated with easy access to the I-275 freeway on its western edge and I-96 running through its southern part, Livonia provides quick commutes to various parts of Metro Detroit. The city is approximately 20 miles from downtown Detroit to the east and about 25 miles from downtown Ann Arbor to the west.
Furthermore, Livonia is in close proximity to three charming downtown areas—Northville, Plymouth, and Farmington—all within a 10-minute drive. For those who enjoy shopping, Novi's 12 Oaks Mall and Fountain Walk are conveniently located just to the northwest. This central location is particularly beneficial for those working in downtown Detroit, as the commute from Livonia is generally 20-30 minutes shorter compared to other nearby cities like Northville, South Lyon, and Novi.
Schools are often a top consideration for families thinking about living in Livonia, Michigan, or moving to the area. Livonia Public Schools serves a robust student population, with over 14,000 students enrolled across 13 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools. The district also includes a Career Tech Center and an Early Childhood Center.
When it comes to academic performance, Livonia schools have received notable recognition. Several have been designated as Reward Schools by the Michigan Department of Education, an accolade given to the top 5% of schools in the state based on academic achievement. Various ranking platforms also speak highly of the district. For instance, Niche.com gives Livonia an overall grade of B+, with an A in College Prep. GreatSchools.org rates Livonia's high schools as follows: Franklin scores a 7 out of 10, Churchill an 8, and Stevenson a 9. U.S. News reports a favorable student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1. Additionally, School Digger awards the district four out of five stars, and Public School Review gives Livonia a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
For families prioritizing education, these accolades and ratings make moving to Livonia, Michigan, an attractive option.
Kirksey Recreation Center
For those who prioritize an active lifestyle and community amenities, the Kirksey Recreation Center adds significant appeal to living in or moving to Livonia. Unlike many cities that lack a comprehensive recreation center, Livonia boasts a facility replete with both indoor and outdoor amenities. Indoors, the Kirksey Recreation Center offers a leisure pool, a lap pool, a gym, workout facilities, an indoor track, a rock-climbing wall, party and meeting rooms, child care services (for an additional charge with a two-hour max stay), a tree fort, a gymnastic center, concessions, and locker rooms.
Outdoors, the center features a skateboard park, an inline skating rink, a picnic pavilion, volleyball courts, walking and jogging paths, soccer fields, and a water spray ground. The lap pool is particularly impressive with its 25 lanes, and the leisure pool spans 6,500 square feet. The rock wall stands at 42 feet tall and offers 13 climbing routes, along with a mini climbing wall designed for children under 10. Additionally, a wide range of classes are available for both children and adults, making it a versatile space for community engagement and personal development.
Community Events & Entertainment
Another compelling reason for living in Livonia, Michigan, or considering moving to Livonia, is the city's vibrant events calendar rich in events and cultural activities that offer residents an engaging and fulfilling lifestyle. One of the most anticipated events is the Livonia Spree, an annual week-long celebration marking the city's birthday. This festivity features a carnival, games, food vendors, live music, and culminates in a fireworks display that ranks among the top five in Metro Detroit.
In addition to the Livonia Spree, the city hosts a variety of events at Greenmead Historical Park, offering something new and exciting every week. From summer camps for children to activities at the senior center, there's something for every age group. The Kirksey Rec Center also enhances the community's cultural life with free, kid-friendly live music every weekend. Special events like Shakespeare in the Park and the Wicked Bizarre, a Halloween-themed festival complete with decorations and crafts for sale, add unique flair to the city's social calendar.
The fifth advantage of living in Livonia is the affordability and investment potential of its real estate market. Livonia consistently ranks high for those seeking a safe community with good schools without breaking the bank. The current average sales price for a home in Livonia is $288,000. With a 20% down payment and a 6% interest rate, the estimated monthly mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, would be approximately $1,722.
Moreover, Livonia's real estate market has shown promising growth. While property values have increased about 1% year-over-year, the ten-year average growth rate stands at an impressive 8%, outperforming many neighboring cities. This makes Livonia an attractive option from an investment standpoint.
Additionally, the average sales price of homes in Livonia is only about $10,000 above the state average, making it a more affordable option compared to higher-priced nearby areas like Novi, Northville or Plymouth. It is also well below the national average sales price of $485,000. For those interested in a financially sound and rewarding living experience, Livonia, Michigan, offers a compelling case.
Crime & Safety
The final noteworthy advantage of living in Livonia, Michigan, or considering moving to Livonia, is its exceptional safety record and low crime rates. Livonia has been repeatedly recognized as the safest city in the state and has garnered several accolades from various organizations. For instance, it was listed among the 25 Safest U.S. Cities by Reviews.com in 2019. The National Council for Home Safety and Security ranked it in the Top 100 Best Cities in which to Raise Kids in 2017.
Additionally, SmartAsset.com included Livonia among the Top 50 Best Small Cities for Retirement in 2021. The city's real estate market, particularly the 48154 Zip Code, was highlighted as one of the hottest markets in the nation for millennial homebuyers in both 2018 and 2019 by Realtor.com. Furthermore, Livonia was named the 10th Happiest Mid-Sized City in the Country in 2016.
For those who prioritize safety, family-friendly environments, and a strong sense of community, Livonia, Michigan, stands out as an ideal choice.
As with any other city, living in Livonia is not without its challenges. One significant drawback to consider when moving to Livonia is the heavy traffic congestion. With a population of approximately 95,000 residents, Livonia ranks as Michigan's 6th most populated city. Traffic can become particularly intense during special events like the Livonia Spree, which attracts visitors from across Metro Detroit.
Additionally, Livonia serves as a workplace for many who reside outside the city, further contributing to the traffic woes. The city also functions as a transit route for residents of neighboring areas like Novi and Northville who are commuting to downtown Detroit or Dearborn. Therefore, if you're considering living in Livonia, be prepared to navigate through busy streets and potentially longer commute times during rush hour.
Lack of a Downtown
Another consideration when moving to Livonia, Michigan, is the absence of a traditional downtown area. While efforts have been made to develop a downtown along 5 Mile Road, these initiatives have not been as successful as in other cities like Wixom. For those who prioritize a downtown atmosphere, living in Livonia may not meet those expectations. However, nearby alternative options for a more traditional downtown experience include Farmington, Plymouth, and Northville, or even South Lyon and Brighton if one is willing to travel (or live) further out.
It is worth noting that Livonia has introduced a 2021 vision master plan, known as Livonia 21, aimed at revitalizing three key areas near the civic center, the underutilized Livonia Mall, and along the Plymouth Road corridor. The plan envisions transforming these areas into green spaces with walkable shopping districts, bike paths, and housing. While the city has ambitious plans, long-time residents remain cautiously optimistic about these developments coming to fruition.
The third drawback to consider when moving to Livonia, Michigan, is the issue of neglect in certain areas of the city. A common grievance among residents is the state of some roads and, more notably, vacant buildings that have become eyesores. The Livonia Mall, for example, has been a point of concern due to its dilapidated condition. Such neglect can impact the overall aesthetic and appeal of living in Livonia, and it's a factor that prospective residents should weigh when considering relocation to this city.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The fourth consideration for those thinking about living in Livonia, Michigan, is the limited options for restaurants and nightlife. While the city does have dining establishments, they are predominantly chain restaurants, making it a challenge for those who prefer to support locally-owned businesses. As for nightlife, Livonia offers a few bars, such as One Under Craft Beer + Eats, which borders Idyl Wyld Golf Course, and Coaches Corner, which are popular among locals. However, for a more varied selection of dining and entertainment options, one would need to venture to nearby cities like Plymouth, Northville, Farmington, or even Downtown Detroit. Additionally, the prevalence of big-box stores in Livonia contributes to traffic congestion and detracts from the charm of smaller, locally-owned shops. These factors may not be deal-breakers, but they are worth considering when contemplating moving to Livonia.
The fifth and final con to consider revolves around the city's shopping malls. The Livonia Mall, as mentioned earlier, is currently vacant. Laurel Park Place Mall, located at 5 Mile Rd and Newburgh, has been struggling financially for years, with a dwindling number of stores. However, while Livonia lacks malls, it does offer a couple of quality movie theaters worth noting. Phoenix Theatres at Laurel Park features heated reclining seats, providing a luxurious cinematic experience. Additionally, AMC Livonia 20 on Haggerty offers a wide range of the latest film releases. For those seeking a more robust shopping experience, Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi is a short 15-minute drive away and boasts over 180 stores as well as many restaurants. Directly across from 12 Oaks is also Twelve Mile Crossing at Fountain Walk, providing additional shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities.
In conclusion, Livonia, Michigan, presents a compelling case for those considering a new place to live or invest in real estate. With its strategic location, strong school system, and array of recreational and community events, it's no wonder Livonia has been recognized for its safety and quality of life. However, potential residents should also weigh the challenges, such as traffic congestion, lack of a cohesive downtown, and some neglected areas. Whether you're drawn to its pros or cautious about its cons, Livonia offers a multifaceted living experience that warrants thoughtful consideration for anyone thinking about living in or moving to this vibrant Metro Detroit community.
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