Birmingham, Michigan: Most Affordable of the Top Five US Retirement Cities
Affordable Cities on Eye Catching Top 10 Lists
Lists of "Top 10 Cities" often contain entertaining facts, travel information, and ads for rental and retirement housing. Most useful to wealthier retirees, these lists can be demoralizing to seniors who have more limited incomes.
An organization in my town emailed me their list of best US retirement recommendations and it contained a surprise.
The cities are recognized for interesting food and drink establishments and for being the most "walkable"; but while the top four cities have high costs of living compared to the national average, the fifth, Birmingham, is much more affordable.
The top five cities offer urban districts that contain many goods and services within a short walkable distance of residences, often in muti-use complexes that contain dwellings. The rental prices are usually higher than average, however.
Those who watch the Food Network and foodie travel shows know that these presentations support eating and drinking places offering dishes starting at $40 per dish or higher. Most retirees are unlikely to be able to patronize these establishments, even if they are a short walk from home; but Birmingham foodies are pleased to see lower restaurant prices and high quality.
Affordable Prices in Upscale Michigan
For those who can afford the advertised range of independent living rents seen below, the unique attractions in an upscale Michigan community may be worth the price of housing.
About 26% of its residents earn over $200,000 yearly, making Birmingham one of the richer cities in the state, but affordable prices are available as well.
About 30% of Birmingham residents are senior citizens aged 55 and older, often categorized as "active seniors."
Top Five Cities for Food Enjoyment in Retirement
Range of Independent Living Retirement Costs
Evanstan IL, near Chicago
$1,600 - $4,900 monthly
The Bronx, NYC
$1,600 - $4,900 monthly
Oakland California Metro
$1,700 - $4,900 monthly
Culver City, California
In the table above, we can see that the range of rental prices recommended for retirees look too expensive for the average American senior. In fact, the average Social Security Retirement (SSR) check in the US is around $1,300 in 2017, the maximum being $2,687.
For two retirees living together, the average amount of monthly SSR leaves very little money after the rent payment. This seems like overwhelming bad news, but Birmingham does offer clean, attractive monthly housing at lower rates, as indicated below.
Moderately Priced Independent Living
About 30% of all Birmingham residents are seniors aged 55 and older.
- All Seasons of Birmingham (moderate to upscale rents): 111 Elm Street Birmingham, MI 48009. www.allseasonsbirmingham.com
- Buckingham Square Apts: 3100 Glouchester Ave, Troy, MI 48084. One Bedroom $950 for 800 sq. ft. Some are furnished.
- Kensington of Beverly Hills, 18335 W 13 Mile Rd; Southfield, MI 48076. One Bedroom $770 to $1,070 per month.
Affordable Housing in Nearby Royal Oak
I recommend Royal Oak just to the south, because it is a clean, well maintained neighborhood with many shops and dining places. Murals and other public arts abound. There is a farmers market and the Detroit Zoo is in the southwest corner, off Woodward. The annual Dream Cruise of classic cars passes this town as it proceeds along Woodward to Birmingham.
Madison Manor: 27795 Dequindre, Madison Heights, MI 48071. $690 to $790. Dozens of features and amenities.
- Royal Oak Towers: 20800 Wyoming, Ferndale, MI 48220. $599 to $742. Pets welcomed and utilities are free.
- The Village of Royal Oak Senior Living: 3442 Devon Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073. $745 to $1,200. Two pets permitted.
Zillow.com Real Estate Sales
- For Birmingham during August 2017, a consistent 250 homes were listed in a range of $147,700 to $495,000,000. Median price ranged from $650,000 to $750,000. Sperling's Best Places listed the median price at $429,000.
Birminingham is in the 10th best area for Thanksgiving celebrations, according to a survey conducted by Sperling's Best Places; and, 11th best place for senior living and healthy retirement.
Downtown Walkable Shopping District
Smart Ride: Fix route buses, shuttles, connector curb-to-curb rides by reservation, ADA fixed routes and curb-to-curb service, and the Community Partnership Program discounted rides for Seniors (donation optional). www.smartbus.org
Birmingham NEXT: Daytime ride program for Senior Citizens. www.birminghamnext.org/
Passenger Trains: Amtrak at the Troy Transit Center, seven east of Birmingham at 1201 Doyle Drive; Troy, Michigan 48084. SmartBuses travel through this center as well.
Airports: Located in Troy and Detroit.
Unique Attractions in Birmingham ("Bham" to locals)
- Birmingham/Woodward Dream Cruise: A cruise-in of antique and classic cars up Woodward Avenue for miles from Downtown Detroit is divided among many Michigan cities. Altogether, this is the world's largest cruise-in event, part of it held in the Birmingham Shopping District during mid-August annually.
- Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center and Gallery. This organization is not only a popular gallery of art in all media, but also a learning facility that offers art training programs not only for children and adults, but also for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The address is 1516 S. Cranbrook, Birmingham MI 48009. Many users have written positive opinions of the facility on its Facebook page.
- Birmingham in Stitches. Calling all knitters and crocheters! Participate in the "Birmingham in Stitches" public art yarn bombing project. www.bhamgov.org/BhamInStitches
- Birmingham Shopping District: Surrounding 151 Martin Street, Birmingham, MI 48009. This area contains over 300 retailers, along with a farmers market, a Winter Market, celebration of Small Business Saturday, dozens of American and ethnic bistros, restaurants and cafes, movie houses, theaters, and more. You will even find a Pizza Hut, but no McDonald's.
- Bistro Joe's at 34244 Woodward Avenue. This establishment provides a restaurant on the ground floor and a food and wine market upstairs (see the video below).
- City Parking: Find parking spaces via a smartphone APP.
- Concerts: Separate summer evening concerts weekly for adults in Booth Park and Teens in Shain Park.
- Historic Greenwood Cemetery Tours: Every spring and autumn.
- Ice Show: Held annually in mid-May with a unique theme each year.
- Restaurant Week: Held annually during the third week of August.
- Shain Park Summer Oldies Concerts: Thursdays during summer months.
- Village Fair and Carnival: Annually in the first week of June.
Wealthy Northern Suburb of Detroit
Even though Michigan has been though to be an economically disadvantaged Birmingham offers the highest range of retirement rents in independent living complexes, but also a range of affordable rentals for active senior citizens. Just about seven miles to the south in Royal Oak, living is even more affordable, with another set of attractions and amenities to enjoy, including a downtown area that is easy to walk.
In 2016 - 2017, Birmingham was home to 20,800 residents and over 300 retail businesses in its own downtown district, all just 20 miles from Detroit along I-75 and Woodward Avenue.
If you are considering moving to Birmingham for retirement, you might also consider Royal Oak. It is one of my favorite cities in North America.
- After55 Independent Living. www.after55.com/senior-housing/mi/metro-detroit/royal-oak Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- Apartments.com/Birmingham. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- SeniorHomes.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
- Sperling's at www.bestplaces.com. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Patty Inglish MS