Ann Arbor - corner of Main & Liberty St looking north
Ann Arbor, MI, consistently ranks at the top of prominent “best cities” lists. Last year, it took the #1 spot in Livability’s Top 100 Best Places To Live rankings. This year, it earned second place on Niche’s list of Best Cities to Live in America. Other recognition that has rolled in this year include Bloomberg’s Top New U.S. Tech Hubs, WalletHub’s Most Educated Cities in America, and CityLab’s list of Top 5 Car-Free Small Metros.
Criteria for such ratings include things like economics, housing, education, cultural amenities, infrastructure, and health care—and Ann Arbor is firing on all cylinders. Let’s take a look.
Entrepreneurship, education, and economic growth
When you hear “Ann Arbor,” your first thought might be the University of Michigan. After all, it anchors the city with its topnotch academics, broad range of grad schools, and groundbreaking research programs.
The university is also dedicated to advancing entrepreneurial endeavors. The unit responsible for commercializing research discoveries, Tech Transfer, reported that a record 22 startups were launched at UMich this year, covering sectors such as computer hardware, software, IoT, therapeutics, medical devices, health care information tech, and materials science. In addition, the university’s Innovate Blue hub offers more than 15 programs and centers and 30 student organizations focused on cultivating entrepreneurship.
On top of that, numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs in Ann Arbor are geared toward supporting new founders, growing businesses, and promoting economic development. For instance, Desai offers a three-month program that gives tech startups funding, mentorship, and resources to help them get off the ground. Then there’s Ann Arbor SPARK, which offers services that help jump start fledgling ventures, supports established companies, and cultivates “a network of business and manufacturing excellence.”
Things to do in Ann Arbor
Outdoor enthusiasts will find options for hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking—you name it, Ann Arbor’s got it.
Foodies will be happy to hear that Livability says Ann Arbor boasts more restaurants per resident than any other US city. And there’s a year-round farmer’s market that bolsters the locally sourced options.
Ann Arbor’s famous Main Street area has garnered nationwide attention, with its expansive array of upscale and funky shopping venues, special events, food tours, and nightlife.
And one final note: If you’re looking for museums, art galleries, unique retailers, and fabulous indie bookstores, you’ve come to the right place.
Ann Arbor data from the flight deck:
- Median population: 121,890
- Population (MSA) 367,627
- Female: 50.3%
- Male: 49.7%
- Median age: 27.5
- Median household income: $56,835
- Median home value: $374,200
- Median rent: $1,062Cost of living index: 117.
- Unemployment rate: 2.6%
Data sources: US Census Bureau; City-Data; Zillow; BestPlaces, US Bureau of Labor Statistics