Goin’ goin’, back back, to DETROIT?

Posted in: Life at H-I

“Wait, you moved back to Detroit?"

"You mean... you left, went somewhere else, and then chose to return?"

Guilty as charged.

Technically speaking, I didn’t grow up in Detroit. I grew up in a suburb nearby. After I graduated from Michigan State University in 2006, I had an itch I needed to scratch. I wanted to leave my predictable Michigander life and spread my wings.

So, I embarked on one of the riskiest things I’ve ever done. I packed everything I could fit into two suitcases, and flew across the country to the Sunshine State.

Now let me tell you, Santa Barbara, California is pretty damn close to paradise for me. I mean, who wouldn’t want perfect weather, the ocean to their right and mountains to their left... everyday?

But after a while, the easy west coast life I was living was becoming less and less glamorous. I’m not trying to talk crap about paradise, but I realized that it was causing me to forget my roots. I noticed myself slowly becoming a weather snob. I took the beach for granted. And I started to lose touch with the people and beliefs that made me, “me”.  So, after three and a half years I knew it was time to move home...

That’s when I made  the second “riskiest” decision of my lifetime.

Not only was I moving back from California to Michigan, I was moving to Detroit (heaven forbid)! When I’m asked why I decided to move here, I have a number of go-to responses:  I wanted a change, I missed my family, and yes, generally speaking those are the reasons that I moved back to Michigan.

But why Detroit?!

First, let me just say this. I am not a hipster, I didn’t move downtown Detroit in some state of rebellion. I’m just not that cool. And believe me, everyone has an argument against my decision, whether it’s safety, taxes, or car insurance. And I don’t necessarily disagree.

I’m not saying Detroit is “paradise”, but you can’t deny that there’s something enthralling about this city, so much so that it pulled me back in from  2,370 miles away. So here it goes... here is why I made the big move back to my city.



#1: Detroit will never be New York or Los Angeles

And I don’t want it to be. Detroit has a unique spirit, stemming from an even more unique history. I’m big on character and Detroit has plenty of it. While I love to visit the “coastal hubs,” those places just aren’t home. In fact, of my seven best friends growing up, three of us have moved back to Michigan from other “big cities”. Three never left, and one, who currently lives in New York, is dying to return. There’s just something that draws people back into Detroit that is hard to explain. But the bottom line is this: I am just not an Angeleno or a New Yorker, I’m a Michigander by birth, and a Detroiter by choice.

#2: You can’t beat Detroit pride

We love our sports teams even when they suck and we defend our city even when it might not deserve it. If you are a fair weather fan then you do not belong in Detroit. Because let’s face it, most of our “weather” is not very fair anyways.

#3: We actually have four seasons

If you’ve never enjoyed the luxury of a snow day (or four in a row, which I’ve experienced on more than one occasion), then it might be hard to see the beauty in three feet of snow. And yes, we pretty much get six months of winter, but it makes us appreciate those 90 degree summer days (with 80% humidity) while everyone else is complaining about them. And there is nothing more enjoyable than a Michigan summer day, partying on the lake with your best friends. There’s definitely something to be said about Detroit’s “eclectic” weather patterns. You never know what’s coming your way.

#4: Detroit hustles harder

It may be overplayed, but it’s true! Do you know the best compliment I ever received was while I was in California? A co-worker once told me “Wow, I should hire people from the Midwest more often, I’ve never had any employee work as hard as you do.” I never really put much thought into it before, to me working hard is second nature, but I guess that’s just my upbringing. I’m used to people taking charge, rolling up their sleeves and doing what they need to do to get the job done.

#5: Nothing’s more inspiring than a blank slate

Not only do I see what Detroit once was and what it has the potential to be, but I see what it is now, in the present. Everyone talks about what Detroit might be in five or ten years, but I thrive on the building process - living in the uncharted and the unknown. It’s not about what other cities have and we don’t. It’s seeing what other cities have, and having the ability to start from scratch to make our city even better.

#6: Land of opportunity

Detroit has long been synonymous with unemployment. Even I was nervous for the job hunt. But what I found was an amazing network of both established companies and startups vying for the best talent and pushing to put more jobs back into the city. A number of companies even offer benefits to employees who move the city of Detroit! I may be biased - after all, I’m young(ish) and have a skillset that may be more relevant than the manufacturing workforce. But Detroit recognized this gap and instead of losing steam, we’ve created more opportunity with skilled training organizations like Grand Circus and Green Works or entrepreneurial training via Bizdom and D:hive.

#7: Reaching new heights in Detroit

I thought I was spreading my wings by moving to California, but in the end it turns out I can fly much higher in Detroit. I’ve come home to a place where businesses are growing, people work hard, innovation is infectious, and plus, it’s just plain fun!

So what do you think? Has anyone else had a similar experience of leaving and returning to Detroit? Or have I persuaded you to make the move?! I’d love to hear your stories in our comments section below.

Oh and if you are thinking about making a move like mine...

Check out our Careers Page. We are always hiring innovative humans who are passionate about our amazing city!


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