Detroiters have weathered tough economic times, but positive change is afoot. The city exited bankruptcy in 2014 and many residents are pivoting from the city's former roots in manufacturing to careers in tech and IT. In 2015, Detroit had its biggest year yet for venture capital investment, with a total of $328 million raised, according to startup funding publisher Model D Media.
Living in a major city has many advantages, but affordable housing is typically not one of them – unless you're in Detroit, which is why it snagged an honorable mention as one of the best cities if you're on a budget. According to online real estate agency Movoto, the national median cost of a home in the US is around $181,000. But in Detroit, it's $60,000 – making home ownership much more attainable. The overall cost of living is fairly low as well – Detroit consistently appeared among the most affordable US cities on the cost of living indices we analyzed.
"Detroit is one of the best places in the country to begin your tech startup journey because you can iterate faster and fail cheaper," says Mike Moceri, CEO of MakerOS, an all-in-one business management solution for makers.
There are plenty of resources for tech freelancers and business owners to choose from, including Bamboo Detroit, a co-working space that also hosts workshops and skill-building courses. If you lack the skills to be a developer, Grand Circus can get you ready in just 10 weeks. Want to rub shoulders with movers and shakers in the IT and tech space? Then Detroit Startup Week is your must-attend event.
One organization dedicated to the growth of IT in the city is TechTown Detroit, a combination co-working space, tech business accelerator / incubator, and program helping to reenergize Detroit neighborhoods.
"Detroit is going through a revitalization," says Gerry Roston, executive in residence, TechTown Detroit. "It's very apparent and palpable, and it's exciting to be a part of that."
Techstars Mobility is helping to drive Detroit's resurgence by combining tech with its strong automotive history and investing in 10 to 12 mobility-related startups each year in Detroit.
"I like to say in this program we operate at the intersection of two of Detroit's biggest things, its automotive dominance and entrepreneur resurgence," says Ted Serbinski, managing director, Techstars Mobility. "Operating at that intersection really allows us to take the best of Detroit and recruit the best companies here."
So why might Detroit be the city for you? We'll let a Detroit native sum it up:
"My favorite thing about living and working in Detroit is derived from a quote: 'Detroit is big enough to matter in the world, and small enough for you to matter in it,'" says Myles Morgan, co-founder of Pro:Up, a platform connecting high school students with educational and career experience. "There's a sense of purpose driving both long-term residents and recent transplants. For the first time in over a half century, we are seeing signs of sustainable growth, development, and opportunity."