Brighton Vs. Howell Vs. Milford Michigan | Which Southeast Michigan City Is BETTER?
Brighton Michigan Vs. Howell Michigan Vs. Milford Michigan - All these southeast Michigan cities are great to live in, BUT which one is BETTER? Well, In this video, I am going to breakdown the downtown areas, cost of homes, bring you on virtual home tours, show you things to do, annual events, chat about the school districts and share some good, average and bad reviews from REAL residents.
Before we put these three cities head to head, I want to briefly touch on where they are located and what their populations are, just to give you some more perspective on the rest of the points I’ll cover here.
Kicking it off with Brighton. Brighton is conveniently located near I-96 and US-23 to give you 360 degree access to anywhere you’d possibly need to go north, south, east or west. This is the city where I grew up and resided for over 20+ years and I’d have to say it’s one of the best things I loved about the city, along with the downtown, which I'll get into a little bit later. This city is the CenterPoint between: Pinckney, Howell, Milford and South Lyon. The city of Brighton covers 3.69 square miles and has a population of just under 7,500 people, whereas the township of Brighton covers 34.6 square miles with a population of just under 19,000 people.
On the other hand, the city of Howell is located 10 miles west of Brighton up I-96, and shares a great location, but lacks the great north and south commute that Brighton has being so close to US-23. The city of Howell covers 5.19 square miles and has a population of just over 10,000 people, whereas the township of Howell covers 32 square miles and has a population less than 7,200 people. With that being said, you can assume that the township of Howell is quite a bit more rural than Brighton, as Brighton twp’s population is 12,000 more for near the same area, give or take a few square miles.
Moving over to the third city in this comparison, Milford. Milford is located smack dab in the middle of the M-59 corridor, US-23 and I-96, which adds quite a few minutes to your commute, as you wouldn’t be very close to the expressways. For me personally, I live in White Lake which shares that same trait, and I have to go through Milford to get onto I-96 to get to cities like Brighton and that adds 15-20 minutes to my commute. I know you’re probably thinking Milford automatically loses this comparison, but before you draw that conclusion, there’s a reason people love this city, so be sure to stick around and find out why. The city of Milford covers about 2.53 square miles and has a population of around 6,500 people and Milford charter township covers 35.17 square miles and has a population of just under 17,000 people.
Switching gears to the cost of homes in each city, I’ll throw up a few graphs from the multiple listing service which shows not only the city stats, but the township stats to give you an idea of how the price ranges are in each area. Starting off with the average sale price as of October 2022 for Brighton (in blue), Brighton twp. (in green), Howell (in yellow) and Howell twp. (in red). For those of you listening to the audio version, just listen along as I break down these values. This graph shows the last 3 years and how these price points were affected during the pandemic up until present time. Looking at the right side here, from lowest to highest, you can see the city of Howell coming in at an average price point of just over $261,000, Howell twp. coming in at just under $308,000, the city of Brighton around $334,000 and Brighton township coming in at the highest for $452,000 and some change. Switching graphs to the city of Milford (in blue), and Milford charter township (in green) you can see the 3 year progression as well up to present time and see the city of Milford coming in at an average sale price of around $333,000 and the township of Milford coming in at the highest average sale price in all the comparisons at around $526,000. And just to clarify, this is for all property types, and all price ranges within each one of these areas. Before I switch gears and talk about each downtown area, I want to put a little more visualization out there aside from just graphs to show how far you can stretch your dollar in each one these cities and townships, so i’ll briefly show you a few images of a house in each city and township based on their average sale price to give you an idea of what you can get!
Starting off with a home in the city of Brighton, here’s a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom condo with over 1,500 finished square feet, with a garage and a basement, built in 1995 listed at $324,900, which is $10,000 less than the city's average sale price. Moving over to Brighton township, listed at $460,000 (which is $8,000 more than average), we have a single family home with 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, with 2,685 finished square feet with a basement and a garage, situated on 2.5 acres and built in 1997. Stepping over to the city of Howell, we have this condo listed at $279,000 ($18,000 over average), with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, with just under 1300 finished square feet with a basement and a garage that was built in 2004.
In Howell twp., we have this single family home listed at $325,000 (about $17,000 more than average), with 4 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, with just under 2,000 finished square feet with a basement and a garage, that was built in 1969 and is situated on just over ½ an acre. This residential home in Milford Twp is listed at $525,000 ($1,000 less than average), and has 4 bedrooms, 2,5 bathrooms, about 2800 finished square feet with a garage and basement situated on .3 acres and built in 2015. Last but not least, we have the city of Milford. This home is listed at $350,000 ($17,000 more than average) and has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, around 1500 finished square feet with a basement and a garage situated on 1.15 acres, and was built in 2010. I hope that quick breakdown helped you get a better idea of how far you can stretch your dollar in these 3 different areas.
Stepping over to the downtown areas. I would say they all have quaint little downtowns in comparison to any true metro area, but I’d have to say, Downtown Milford takes the cake when it comes to quaint, and I'll tell you why. If you look at Brighton and Howell’s downtown areas, yes they are fairly small in size, but each of them have Grand River avenue running right through the town, which takes away a little bit from that charming and quiet downtown image people have in their minds. Yes, Milford has Commerce road which is a very lengthy and “main'' road that is used to commute all over the place on that side of town, even for me being in White Lake, but it is nowhere near the same traffic as Grand River Avenue. I will throw in a caveat though for Brighton and Howell’s downtown areas.
They are by no means just a drive through town as their main strips are off of the busy roads. (more so with Brighton). For example, Brighton has Main street, which offers the imagination station playground, the Millpond, with bridges to walk around, and several great local businesses that truly make the downtown area what it is. On the other hand, Howell has Michigan avenue, which is the street perpendicular to grand river that has a few businesses on it, but all in all, in downtown Howell at least, the main downtown strip is on grand river avenue. Howell’s downtown area is more known to be historical with little mom and pop shops and historical landmarks that became the center point for the city's growth.
Brighton on the other hand, has focused more on becoming a little more modern, incorporating newly renovated storefronts, higher end shops, and an updated amphitheater for entertainment along the mill pond. Milford has some Huron river frontage which makes the downtown area incredibly unique, you have a central park on one side that has a playground, amphitheater and gives you the opportunity to kayak and canoe on the river, then crossing under the elevated train tracks you are hit with an incredible downtown atmosphere with several local businesses. Once you step away from main street you can see the several side streets of beautifully kept historic homes.
If you were to ask me what downtown atmosphere I like the most, being as I lived in Brighton, went to college in Howell and spent my whole childhood roaming Milford with my extended family, I'd have to choose Milford, with Brighton coming in second. Over the years, southeast Michigan has been growing at such an extraordinary rate, and in downtown Brighton and Howell, you can definitely feel that. Brighton is booming and at the end of the day it’s just creating more and more traffic on Grand River, which directly affects the “homey'' feeling of each of their downtowns. Whereas Milford, is one of those places despite the constant growth that just doesn’t seem to change or feel overly packed with people. It’s one of those places that truly maintained its small town feel and I truly hope they continue to do so. All of these downtown options are very clean, well maintained, and walkable.
With all that being said about the downtowns, it creates a little perspective on the overall city feel. A lot of people who watch my videos like this and say “that’s awesome stuff Andrew, but what’s the vibe like?” so that comment alone has created this new point called “city feel”.
These downtown areas and cities are all very similar, like I said, they are walkable, well maintained and very clean. They are also not overly loud and obnoxious. Unless there’s a football game happening, parade, city event, bands in the park, etc. These are not your party hardy until 3:00 am kinda places. Most people will head over to Ferndale, Royal Oak, Ann Arbor or downtown Detroit for that kind of night life. Howell, like I said, is known to be more rural, more farm fields, more acreage, more motor toys riding around, and all in all just more space for living, outside of the downtown area of course. While Brighton is a little more close knit, homes and businesses take up every square inch it seems like, even though Brighton has made a great effort to be awarded tree city USA for keeping their greenery intact despite the constant developments.
So in comparison to Howell, getting a home on a few acres in the city of Brighton is a win in anyone's book and you should hold onto that for quite a while. Milford is almost a hybrid of the two, and offers a mix of suburbia and rural living, all while maintaining that small town atmosphere like I mentioned before. The city of Milford is more like Brighton, but the township of Milford is more like Howell in a sense that there’s more acreage involving parks and rec, along with the extended amount of space once you take general motors road away from downtown toward the proving grounds. Properties tend to have a little more acreage and homes aren’t as clustered together just like in most city layouts.
Moving over to the next comparison and that is things to do. Brighton, Howell, and Milford, all have several events put on by the community throughout the year, so I will be sure to link all their community event calendars in the description so you can familiarize yourself with what’s going on in these cities. Starting off with Brighton, the city of course has mount Brighton for your skiing and snowboarding needs in the winter season, visiting the island state recreational area for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and biking, Kensington valley ice house for hockey and figure skating, spending hours downtown of course, along with the yearly events such as: taste of Brighton, smokin jazz and barbecue blues festival, Brighton's holiday glow with Christmas market, Brighton’s art and music festival, along with their several farmers markets and car shows that happen throughout the year.
Howell on the other hand has the Howell nature center, the tanger outlets mall, the depot museum, the historic howell theater, endless golf courses, and of course, you’ll have to come see my alma mater, Cleary university, take the ice at the 140 ice den to watch some college hockey! They also have several annual events such as: their sunday farmers market, balloon fest, howell melon festival, the fantasy of lights, and the legend of sleepy howell. Moving on over to Milford, we of course have the famous Milford memories event that happens once a year and completely takes over the whole city while thousands of people all over the state and even outside of it come to this one of a kind event, along with farmers markets, christmas, 4th of july and memorial day parades, along with several concert series in the park. You can also visit the Kensington Metropark, camp dearborn, visit the historical museum, and do several activities along the Huron river.
Each city has an abundance of offerings from annual events to things to do every day that are available to anyone and everyone. Each city focuses on community involvement as it is a huge pillar to each city’s overall growth.
The next aspect I want to touch on are the schools. Niche.com does a great job grading these districts, since their data is derived from overall academics, culture and diversity, parent and student surveys, teachers grade, clubs and activities, resources and facilities, along with an overall sports grade. All these data points are then put together to create one overall grade. Brighton is in the Brighton area schools district, Howell is the Howell public schools district and Milford is in the Huron Valley Schools.
Brighton area schools earned an overall grade of an A, and the only thing that really kept this grade from being a perfect A+ is due to diversity coming in at a C-. Brighton area schools ranked #5 out of 552 best places to teach in Michigan, #13 out of 562 districts with the best teachers in Michigan and #29 out of 557 best school districts in Michigan. Howell public schools earned an overall grade of a B, and the 3 categories that brought this overall down was diversity at a C grade, resources and facilities at a B- and Administration at a B-. Howell public schools ranked #170 out of 571 best school districts for athletes in Michigan, #171 out of 557 best school districts in Michigan, and #267 of 562 districts with the best teachers in Michigan. Last but not least, Huron valley schools earned an overall grade of a B+, and the two factors that brought the overall grade down are the resources and facilities with a C+ and the overall diversity at a C. Huron valley schools has ranked 28 out of 571 best school districts in Michigan for athletes, #117 out of 557 best school districts in Michigan and #305 out of 562 districts with the best teachers in Michigan.
Moving on to city reviews from current and past residents in each city, I'll show you a good, bad and average review for each. Starting off with Brighton, we have this excellent review talking about how Brighton is a large town that still has that small community feel. People are kind and the school is a huge part of town which is something I definitely agree with. Every Friday during football season is always a big deal and homecoming is something you don’t want to miss. Next we have an average review touching on their 12 year lengthy stay in Brighton, and goes on to talk about how they don’t like the nightlife for Brighton, and just like I mentioned earlier, this really isn’t the city for a wild nightlife (just like the other two cities on my list), unless there’s a planned community event happening. Next we have a bad review. This nearby resident has had some experience in Brighton the last 40+ years, that has a few complaints about food diversity and finding something to cater to their allergy. Then goes on to talk about the facebook group for convenience, and how the pandemic caused home prices to increase (which it did everywhere across southeast Michigan not just Brighton) and how the city has become busier and built up.
Moving over to Howell, this excellent review talks about how they love the historical feel to the city along with many different shops and the close proximity of a lake. The downtown is walkable and there’s a lot of stuff to do within the community, and I’d have to agree, it’s just a matter of going out of your way to find it. This next average reviewer touches on Howell being a great place to spend time with friends, and always being able to find something to do, all while having a variety of options throughout the city. Moving onto the not so good review, this person says the city is very closed off from the rest of world, lacking diversity, and not feeling accepting in the small community, which is something I’ve touched on when reviewing other small town communities across the state, it seems to be a common con no matter where you go. This reviewer goes on to say on the bright side it’s a safe area, with little crime and there being a lot of places to get a job.
Now to tackle the Milford reviews. This excellent review touches on Milford being a wonderful place to grow up, and all the positive experiences they go on to talk about, along with community events, but the town lacks diversity in their opinion, but overall, it’s an excellent place to live. Moving over to an average review about Milford, this reviewer talks about the local businesses having a strong influence on the town, and states that it is hard for new businesses to take off. I do agree local businesses have influence to a certain extent but I know a few people who have opened up their businesses on Main street in downtown and are doing quite well.
There wasn’t a bad review that I could find about the city, so I will include another average one. This reviewer who works in the city states that job opportunities are hit or miss, as all the students come in to hold the jobs, which is fairly common in these smaller towns, as it’s cheaper for these local and small businesses to hire seasonal student employees to save some money.
After all that, which city is best for you?
Each city has its own pros and cons, but if you’re someone who enjoys a small town heart in a bigger city setting, but doesn’t very much like the historical or deteriorated city feel with some upscale options, Brighton might be the one for you. If you’re someone looking for a convenient commute to and from a smaller town, but want to have some acreage and a little more seclusion, then Howell might be the best option for you. If you’re someone who wants a hybrid of the two. But doesn’t mind a longer commute time, Milford might be the city to put on your radar.
If you’re still on the fence about these 3 cities, I have created several videos about each area that I will link the description, so you can add them all to your queue.
Based on what you’ve seen and whether or not you’ve lived in any of these cities, which one is the best in your option, drop your thoughts in the comments below.
CITY EVENT PAGES 📅
→Brighton Michigan Events: https://bit.ly/3UIwP49
→Howell Michigan Events: https://bit.ly/3Us2zed
→Milford Michigan Events: https://bit.ly/3DW0AIa
MENTIONED VIDEO LINKS 🔗
→Milford Vlog Tour: https://youtu.be/kR7OEM7SQ6A
→Pros and Cons of Milford: https://youtu.be/9vXyt6uxJQ8
→The Actual Cost of Living In Brighton: https://youtu.be/wCvuI4QSWTw
→What To Know About Brighton: https://youtu.be/H1M9RkiuUfE
→Reasons To Live In Brighton: https://youtu.be/B5Kc5oII6qM
→Brighton's Best Coffee: https://youtu.be/6BaA28lukeA
→Pros and Cons of Howell: https://youtu.be/X_qwHyM5A78
→Top 5 Howell Attractions: https://youtu.be/W1L35H8OL4M
Andrew McManamon is a Michigan REALTOR® with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty and provides real estate services to Buyers, Sellers and Investors throughout SE Michigan including Livingston County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, Genesee County & beyond. Andrew has become one of the rising stars of Michigan real estate agents. Prior to his real estate career Andrew was responsible for managing a senior living facility in Brighton, Michigan as a dining supervisor and an activities assistant. Andrew’s passion to help people is unlike any other, and he continues to strive to be best resource he can be. Andrew graduated from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan with a double major and currently resides in White Lake, Michigan.