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PROS And CONS of Living In Clarkston Michigan

PROS And CONS of Living In Clarkston Michigan - Ever wondered what it's like to live in a town where your neighbors are your friends? Clarkston, Michigan holds the key. But is this close-knit community all sunshine and rainbows? Let's find out together. Living in Clarkston Michigan, why do people like it? Why do people hate it? Those two questions are going to be answered in great detail for those of you on the fence debating on whether to call this place home… or not.


Pro #1 - Clarkston Michigan Schools

Kicking off with the pros of living in Clarkston Michigan, we have the schools. This might seem obvious for those of you that live in this fine area of michigan, but for you outsiders looking in, it’s eat, sleep, clarkston schools around here. Clarkston community schools have an enrollment of approximately 6,500 students. The community has 7 elementary schools (lots of flavors to choose from there), one middle school serving 6-7th grade and one junior high for 8-9th grade, and of course Clarkston highschool serving 10-12th grade, along with a virtual academy, an early childhood center as well as alternative highschool and community education facility. Clarkston High School has actually earned college success awards in 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018. Not only are the academics praised, so are their athletic programs for anything from basketball, football and hockey to cheerleading, track, golf and swimming. BUT aside from bragging about Clarkston’s accomplishments academically and athletically, the biggest appeal to this powerhouse is the community aspect. Clarkston community schools lives by their phrase, “A collaborative learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.” I believe a lot of residents in Clarkston will attest to that as well.

Pro #2 - Clarkston Michigan's Community

Moving over to pro #2, piggy backing off a great school community, the town just has a great community overall. It has that small town feel where everyone knows everyone kind of feeling. The put forth so much effort to create a tight knit community form all of their community events such as: art in the village, the farmers markets, concerts in the park, the taste of clarkston which allows you to know very fast how awesome this community is, as well as the parades they do throughout the year for memorial day, fourth of july and the holiday lights parade as well. If you’re someone that loves that community feel that seems to be so fleeting these days, I think you’ll appreciate Clarkston for just that. The village of Clarkston is very small, so that’s why it’s so incredibly easy to make this community so close knit, as it accounts for the streets around downtown and Deer Lake, with a population of about 916 people, and it’s hardly half a square mile in size, but, surrounding the village of clarkston is Independence charter twp, which is 36.30 square miles in size with a population of over 36,000 people.

Pro #3 - Clarkston Michigan Downtown

As I brag more and more about how wonderful the community is, I think it would be fair to talk about what brings the Clarkston community together, and that’s pro #3, downtown. It’s such a cool little downtown space, it’s clean for one, and two, it’s just that perfect two lane small town feeling with street parking that slowly fades into residential homes that don’t lack in curb appeal whatsoever, as a lot of them have been historically restored, so I’m sure you’ll be breaking your neck looking at them as you find yourself strolling through downtown clarkston. When it comes to a lot of small towns, they often feel a little neglected, a little dirty maybe, like you need to get a nice swiffer and dust the place off. Well, that is by no means Clarkston. Clarkston is more so like when your mom would mop the floor and yell at you if you walked on the wet parts. So just make sure your shoes are clean.

Pro #4 - Clarkston Michigan Things To Do & Attractions

But it wouldn’t be a downtown without pro #4, and that’s things to do and attractions, which of course aren’t just limited to this little downtown space. Starting in downtown, there’s the 2 south brunch house, the fed community for your modern american cuisine, union woodshop for that one of a kind BBQ,  Honchos because who doesn’t love some good latin street food, as well as Clarkston union bar and kitchen. Stepping out to Independence charter twp there’s the deer lake in  which I have been to plenty of times, very good, the clarkston royal diner, and of course, Parker’s hilltop brewery, you must make a visit to, but the attractions don’t stop there (I hope not that was just restaurants), there’s also depot park next to downtown, independence oaks county park, Fountains golf and banquet, oakhurst golf club, and let’s not forget pine knob music theater for all your favorite concerts, the ski resort, and golf club. There’s also several little lakes and ponds that have some public access for some water fun as well. A lot of the resources out there for Clarkston will say, there’s not a lot to do, there’s not a lot of attractions, you have to commute here, you have to go there, whatever whatever, BUT more times than not, they are referring to the little half of square mile village of Clarkston and not the 36.30 square mile township that swallows it whole, which is still considered clarkston to people. 


I’ve spent a good chunk of time bragging about the Clarkston area, but now it’s time to talk about the cons of living in Clarkston, Michigan, and reasons why you might not want to call this area your home.

Con #1 - Clarkston Michigan Home Prices

First and foremost, the part that will keep people from calling clarkston there home, and that’s con #1, the home prices. It’s not that they’re just off the charts expensive like Northville, Bloomfield HIlls and Birmingham, but to be in and around the downtown area will cost you a pretty penny. Taking a look at this chart which shows the average sale price of the whole MLS (in blue) to give you an idea of an average home cost across the state, Clarkston in green and independence twp in yellow. Clakrston jumps around a little bit, but comes out at just over $395,000 which actually was a 5.9% decrease over the year, and independence is over $451,000 at a 3.5% increase over the course of a year. That might not seem all that horrible, but the inventory is also very slim as of recording this, as it is everywhere. Based on the google boundaries of the village of clarkston, there’s only 2 homes for sale right now, one is a new construction home being built for $630,000. And the other is an historic 1839 greek revival colonial for $875,000 right on main street. Then branching out to the township there’s 60 other results from a $49,500 manufactured home on leased property to a 3.295 million dollar traditional 2 story home on nearly 3 acres. So the options are extremely diverse in terms of real estate prices, but homeownership is becoming harder and harder to afford especially for people at or below the average sales price of the areas. And when it comes to independence twp it’s fairly rural living so a lot of the homes are on 2, 4, 6, 12 acres of land, so a lot of that price tag accounts for the land the home is on, and the homes will need a little more love or else they will be priced accordingly.

Con #2 - Clarkston Michigan Traffic

As I mentioned there’s a lot of wonderful attractions for Clarkston residents, but at the same time, a lot of these attractions are very appealing to people from out of the area as well, so con #2, has to be the traffic that comes with all these attractions. As I said, the downtown is a pretty little two lane strip, well a lot of traffic plus small towns do not typically get along very well, so you can bet there’s some irritation from Clarkston residents. Especially for those of you that have visited pine knob music theater like myself, you know how packed that venue alone can get with traffic, we complain about it taking so long to get out of the field after the show for parking, but what about that person that just wants to pull into their neighborhood hardly minutes down the road? Just brutal I could imagine. I feel like people who move to Clarkston are like oh cool we are right next to Pine knob for all of our favorite artists to come to town, but then they realize it kinda sucks maybe? I don’t know if there’s a Clarkston resident out there, do you secretly hate Pine knob? Share your experiences in the comments. So with all that being said, Clarkston doesn’t have the infrastructure to be packing all these people here. That goes for the golf courses and banquet halls too, after those events, of course you’re going to see what cool little local places you can find, and the traffic becomes this snowball effect. 

Con #3 - Set In Their Ways

When I talk about small towns, the close knit community and how wonderful it is, there’s also a con to that I like to be conscious of to alleviate any bias, and that comes in at con #3, people just being set in their ways. I’ve made a lot of videos about small towns across southeast Michigan, and this always seems to be a con that finds itself on the list, and of course, it’s up to you for interpretation, some people  love it, some people hate it, and it’s simply the mentality of keeping to traditions, not making significant changes, whether they are needed or not, but keep in mind, Clarkston is a historic town, being established in 1832, most people just want to make sure it’s kept historic, small, and well kept without any big changes falling out of grasp, and blown out of proportion, so I get it, I’d rather have it like that too, but for some people, this may be seen as a con, especially if they are bothered by something that will never be changed. 

For those of you that stuck around, what are your thoughts about Clarkston Michigan? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

If you’re looking to buy, sell or invest in the wonderful state of Michigan, don’t hesitate to reach out and I would be happy to be your go to resource! Until next time!


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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 Brighton, Michigan.


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