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Berkley, Ferndale named top places for young professionals in metro Detroit

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published August 31, 2015

 City amenities and a walkable downtown helped Berkley get named one of the top places to live in metro Detroit for young professionals by Movoto Real Estate.

City amenities and a walkable downtown helped Berkley get named one of the top places to live in metro Detroit for young professionals by Movoto Real Estate.

Photos by Joshua Gordon

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BERKLEY/FERNDALE — Over the past few years, the cities of Berkley and Ferndale have worked to make their downtowns accessible and to offer amenities from festivals to recreation centers that provide something for residents to do.

The moves have helped make both cities desirable for young professionals in metro Detroit, as Berkley and Ferndale were named on Movoto Real Estate’s list of top 10 places for young professionals to live in metro Detroit.

Ferndale came in second on the list, with the walkable downtown and events like the DIY Street Fair every September being attractive for young, career-oriented individuals.

“It is certainly a goal of ours to attract young professionals to our town, as they represent the future success of Ferndale,” Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter said. “We have identified specific things this demographic seeks, including a walkable community, jobs, affordable housing and transportation. So we have focused on those things in part to attract young professionals to Ferndale.”

Movoto Real Estate, an online real estate broker, looked at the percentage of residents ages 22-29, the percentage of residents who have attained a bachelor’s degree and how much it costs to live in each city. Movoto also looked at amenities and professional opportunities.

Coulter said the city gets input from residents on what they want, and events such as the DIY Street Fair or the Pig & Whiskey Festival are high on the list of things they want in the city.

On top of that, Coulter said that amenities wouldn’t mean much if people couldn’t get around the city.

“Our location is definitely a plus for us, but it is not enough, and we need to enhance our community in ways to attract folks,” he said. “We have adopted a Complete Streets policy in Ferndale because we learned that people want to work, live and play in the same place without having to get into their car necessarily. It’s not just enough to have a home and a job, but people want entertainment options as well.”

Berkley came in at eighth on the list — Plymouth took the top spot — for similar reasons to Ferndale, as Movoto cited the walkability of 12 Mile Road in downtown Berkley and events like the Berkley Art Bash that provide local entertainment.

Berkley Mayor Phil O’Dwyer said not only do young professionals like living in Berkley, but the city likes having them be part of their community.

“I have been very aware of the significant increase of young professionals buying homes in Berkley,” he said. “I think they are attracted by our walkable downtown and affordable homes, and from our point of view we welcome their energy, ideas and enthusiasm. They bring a vitality to the city, and I expect they respect the progressive nature of our city.”

O’Dwyer said amenities ranging from being able to bike around the city to restaurants close enough to walk to help with the appeal of Berkley, but other factors, such as the Berkley Public Safety Department, are just as important.

“People want to feel safe walking around, and that is something not to be overlooked,” he said. “The response of our Public Safety Department is phenomenal and helps just add to the overall appeal of Berkley.”

Coulter said he does worry about outpricing young individuals and families.

However, rising home values reflect what the city is doing right for the residents, he said.

“Ferndale is a much more affordable community than most in Oakland County, but values are rising quickly and house affordability is something we are watching,” Coulter said. “We have worked hard not to just build a strong downtown, but strong neighborhoods with investing in parks and other things that make neighborhoods strong.”

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