Berkley, Huntington Woods rank in top 10 places to live in Michigan

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published April 8, 2015

 In a recent ranking of the best cities to live in throughout Michigan, AreaVibes ranked Berkley second, with high marks for amenities, crime rates and education.

In a recent ranking of the best cities to live in throughout Michigan, AreaVibes ranked Berkley second, with high marks for amenities, crime rates and education.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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BERKLEY/HUNTINGTON WOODS — Berkley Mayor Phil O’Dwyer said that if you ask residents how they feel about living in Berkley, most will provide positive feedback.


Now, due to AreaVibes, which has been ranking the livability of cities across the country since 2010, others may feel the same way that O’Dwyer does about Berkley.


In the latest rankings, Berkley came in second on the best places to live in Michigan list, just getting edged out by Grand Beach, a city of nearly 300 residents on the west side of the state. Huntington Woods also ranked high on the list, coming in at eighth, while Pleasant Ridge came in at 15th and Ferndale at 37th.


“I suppose it affirms what our residents already know and are very proud of, and that is that Berkley is a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” O’Dwyer said. “When I looked at that study, there are several variables, but we were very high on their safety list, so Berkley is one of the safest in the state. And we have a walkable downtown, exemplary schools and first-class city services. We are not satisfied to be No. 2, however, as our goal is to be No. 1.”


To compile the rankings, AreaVibes uses seven criteria to calculate a score out of 100 for the livability of a city. The organization gave Berkley a score of 84 and Huntington Woods an 83.


The ranking categories include amenities, cost of living, crime rates, education, employment, housing and weather. Weather was the one consistent negative mark against Michigan cities, as most, such as Berkley and Huntington Woods, received a D+ ranking while some cities on the west side of the state were marked up to a C.


The best marks for Berkley came in amenities and crime rates, where the city achieved an A+ in both. Amenities looked at the nearby stores, restaurants and parks, as well as city services, while crime rates focused on violent and property crimes.


“When you run down through the amounts of different types of crimes that exist in the communities and rank them, Berkley is one of the best in the state, and we are thankful for the work of our Public Safety Department,” O’Dwyer said. “Most of them live in the city, and are very passionate about the city and care about their community and the security of all our residents.”


Huntington Woods ranked highly for amenities and crime rates, but another high grade that the city shared with Berkley was education. The Berkley School District serves both Berkley and Huntington Woods, with Burton Elementary School located in Huntington Woods.


Mayor Ron Gillham said that a great school system is one of the biggest factors for drawing new families to a community, and he thinks the Berkley School District is one of the best in the state.


“Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good school system,” he said. “The Berkley School District is really outstanding and has been for many years. We have done remarkably well, and we see a lot of young people moving in, so I think the schools are one of the biggest assets we have.”


Outside of weather, the lowest grade that Huntington Woods received was a D+ for cost of living. AreaVibes looks at several factors when calculating the cost of living, but the two biggest are the price of housing and the costs of goods and services.


With an average housing index and cost almost double that of the rest of the state, Gillham said residents and city officials realize that Huntington Woods isn’t cheap, but a big factor is the setup of the community.


“One thing to remember is we have no commercial properties to share tax bills, so we have almost 90 percent or better residential properties, and all the funds we need to operate come from taxpayers,” he said. “And, of course, we are in this epicenter of the area where we are not far from Detroit or Pontiac or Mount Clemens or Ann Arbor. We have I-696 and Woodward nearby, so we have good north-and-south and east-and-west travel, as well.”


While the rankings are good for the city of Berkley, O’Dwyer said the community wouldn’t be anything without its residents.


“We have people who are generous with their time and talents in making our city successful and a wonderful place to be,” he said. “Our greatest asset when all is said and done is our people. They are friendly, caring and willing to be involved in so many signature events in the city, from CruiseFest to Art Bash. When your neighbor is a generous, caring person, that goes a long way to how you feel about the community you live in.”


For more information on the rankings, visit www.areavibes.com/mi.

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