Ferndale, Michigan is a small, vibrant city located just north of Detroit. With a strong sense of community and a diverse range of cultural, dining, and entertainment options, but with all the good, there’s also some bad, so be sure to stick around and find out about some of the downsides of living in Ferndale, Michigan. Let’s get to it.
The city of Ferndale covers about 3.88 square miles with a population of around 20,000 people. But don’t let this city's size fool you, it’s packed a big punch and landed itself in national headlines for being on Realtor.com’s Top 10 markets for first time homebuyers in the whole entire country coming in at number 9. But before you base making a move to Ferndale Michigan on just this article alone, I want to break down some pros and cons to give you some more insight about the area, and if Ferndale continues to interest you, I’ll link another video I created a little while back comparing Royal Oak and Ferndale’s similarities and differences.
And if you need help making the move that way, my name is Andrew McManamon with living in Michigan, I'm a Michigan realtor helping people like you buy, sell and invest in the wonderful state of Michigan, so if you ever need anything, my contact information is in the signature below.
PROS OF LIVING IN FERNDALE MICHIGAN:
PRO #1 - COMMUNITY
Kicking this list off with the pros of living in Ferndale Michigan, we have #1, the community. As I mentioned, Ferndale is known for its strong sense of community. The city hosts many events throughout the year, including the Woodward Dream Cruise, which actually began as a small fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan, and has sense turned into the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing in over 1-million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the world. Driving up and down Woodward avenue, waving, honking horns, revving engines, while everyone piles in on both sides of the street to see new and classical cars. There’s also Ferndale Pride, which supports pride of course, and becomes a massive celebration of diversity.
Then of course the DIY Street Fair, which is a 3-day annual event where bands, artists, crafters, Michigan breweries, wineries, distilleries, restaurants, food trucks, and businesses, come together for one big celebration. These are just a few of the city event offerings that create such a well rounded sense of community in the city of Ferndale. This is such a huge pro to living in this city, and these few 5-star resident reviews will further prove it, as each one of them talks about loving the neighborhood, having fantastic neighbors, living there for 10 years and loving every part of the community, while neighbors help echo other out, along with another commenter talking about the incredible community with some of the greatest people making them feel welcome.
PRO #2 - LOCATION
Moving on over to pro #2, we have the location. Ferndale is located just a short drive from downtown Detroit, which offers a wide variety of cultural and entertainment options. It’s also about 20 miles east from Novi, which has great entertainment and shopping options like the twelve oaks mall and it’s about 20 miles west of Lake St. Clair so you can get your lake fix. On top of that, If you take a look at an aerial view of the city, it’s located near several major roads and highways, such as I-75, 696, Woodward Ave, Eight mile and the lodge, making it easy to travel throughout southeast Michigan.
PRO #3 - DINING + NIGHTLIFE
The next pro on the list, coming in at #3 is dining and nightlife. Ferndale is one of the few city’s I have touched on over the years that actually has a nightlife outside of Ann Arbor and Detroit. Businesses are actually open past 9pm if you can actually believe that. So if this aspect is important to you in a city, Ferndale needs to be on your radar, because as I said, this point is few and far between. Ferndale is full of so many cool restaurants that even though I'm located over 50 minutes away, my fiancé and brothers will often find ourselves down there since their cuisine is so diverse, and the town isn’t sleeping. We have actually gone to a few small concerts at the loving touch in downtown Ferndale as well. I’ll be sure to put a link in the description to several food options in Ferndale provided by Eater Detroit. And Just an FYI, This city is known for its craft cocktails, craft beer, and mixed cuisine, including vegan and vegetarian options. So if that tickles your fancy, you might want to make a visit.
PRO #4 - ART + CULTURE
Moving along to pro #4, we have arts and culture. The city of Ferndale has a thriving arts community, with several art galleries, studios, and theaters all over the area. The city also hosts several cultural events throughout the year, including the Ferndale Art Fair which takes place at the end of September and has 100+ artists and over 30 authors. This art event has actually been voted among the Top 50 art fairs to visit year after year. The city also hosts the Ferndale Blues & Music Festival, which takes place between January and February for 6 evenings with around 40 scheduled guests in previous years.
Last but not least, we have pro #5, parks and recreation. This isn’t often talked about when it comes to the city of Ferndale because it’s all about downtown, the community and of course the nightlife, but people don’t realize there’s some nature outside the concrete jungle. Ferndale has 14 parks and recreational areas, including Harding Park, which features a playground, picnic areas, and trails. Many of the parks are actually newly renovated and have modern play equipment, sitting areas, walking paths/trails, athletics fields, a new dog run (with access for both large and small dogs), a sledding hill, and so much more. Which is a nice touch because there are several areas throughout metro Detroit that aren’t dog friendly, but Ferndale isn’t on that list of course. And to put the cherry on top, the city is very well connected and has several bike lanes throughout the city near other amenities such as the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Park.
FERNDALE MICHIGAN: TOP 10 BEST PLACES FOR FIRST TIME HOMEBUYERS IN THE UNITED STATES!
Before I jump over to the cons I also want to take a moment to touch on Ferndale’s involvement in Realtor.com’s Top 10 markets for first time homebuyers, which directly correlates to an affordable cost of living, so that will be bonus pro #6. When people think of Ferndale, they think young and hip, but people don’t realize the typical home is a century-old bungalow with loads of character situated in a walkable neighborhood. Scrolling through Realtor.com here you can see that with your own eyes. Older homes, great character, quality curb appeal, several have been renovated, others have been a little neglected. Just to give you a sense of the home affordability, taking a look at this chart provided by the MLS.
Curtesy of Realcomp MLS
It shows the entire MLS in blue, Ferndale in green, royal oak in yellow and Berkley in red as their average sale price progresses over the course of 3 years. As you can see, Ferndale comes in nearly $100,000 less than Royal Oak and $80,000 less than Berkley, and over $30,000 less than the MLS as a whole, so in an affordability standpoint it’s no wonder it was in the Top 10 list for first time homebuyers.
While there are many great things I touched on about living in Ferndale, there are also some potential downsides to consider too, just like in any city across the globe. So let’s jump into the cons of living in Ferndale Michigan.
CONS OF LIVING IN FERNDALE MICHIGAN
CON #1 - THE TRAFFIC
Starting off with con #1, The traffic. Since I mentioned Ferndale being located near several major highways, the area can experience heavy traffic congestion during rush hour and peak travel times, which of course can make commuting to and from work or other activities a lot more difficult. There’s also several other factors contributing to the traffic and that’s the population density in general. More cars, more people, more honking, you get what I mean. There’s also the limited road infrastructure, Ferndale isn’t built like a large metro area, so there can oftentimes be some congestion, and delays, with roads being narrow, especially when construction and all the events I mentioned come into town, that causes a lot of rerouting around the downtown area.
CON #2 - THE PARKING
With all this in mind, it transitions right into con #2, and that’s the parking. Parking in Ferndale can be challenging to say the least, particularly in the downtown area. This tends to be one of the biggest complaints about Ferndale actually. Like I said, the population density doesn’t help traffic and that holds true for parking too. The parking is limited, it bleeds onto the street so it adds to the overall congested feel, the downtown business district is a widely popular area, as you could probably assume since I mentioned I drive 50 or so minutes to get there, so that doesn’t help parking either with all the outsiders coming in. There are limited parking spaces, no-parking zones, and it can be overwhelming for someone not familiar with the area, so I will link some parking locations in the description for your convenience and recommend you to download the Park Ferndale app on your phone so you can pay for parking at meters much easier. On the bright side, Ferndale does have public transportation such as buses and trains to reduce the need for parking, but they are limited in accessibility and sometimes a little inconvenient.
CON #3 - EDUCATION
Stepping over to con #3, we have Education. Niche.com has ranked Ferndale public schools an overall grade of a C. The four categories that drove down their overall grade were academics at a C-, teachers at a C-, college prep at a C+, and administration at a C+. Of course, there are schools out there with much worse rankings than Ferndale, and the bright side is there commitment to diversity, special education services, advanced placement and steam programs, but the district has faced some challenges in declining enrollment, and budget cuts, but the administration still strives to make efforts to improve communication, increase professional development and invest in technology and infrastructure upgrades.
CON #4 - LIMITED JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Next on this list, is con #4, Limited job opportunities. While Ferndale is located near several major job centers, including Detroit, there are still some limited job opportunities within the city itself. This definitely isn’t a dealbreaker by any means since the average commute time for anyone is 25-30 minutes which in most cases, is well into another city if you’re living in southeast Michigan. This city’s proximity to some of the industrial hubs in the area is a huge plus, but overall, Ferndale is a small business community that doesn’t exactly have the resources to hire a large number of employees. There’s also a limited industry presence in this 3.88 square mile chunk of land, which is definitely understandable. All in all, I’d say this is a small concern for anyone looking to move to Ferndale since it’s location is in such close proximity to other cities and expressways for an easy commute time.
Other Video Resource:
Royal Oak Michigan Vs. Ferndale Michigan - In this video, I break down which of these two cities is the BEST city to move to and why. If you're thinking about making the move to Royal Oak or Ferndale, this video is for you!
Royal Oak or Ferndale? Ferndale or Royal Oak? Which one of these southeast Michigan cities is better to live in? That question is going to be answered, right now! Drop your choice in the comments!
Overall, Ferndale is a wonderful place to live, I have helped several clients call this city their new home and they have not complained whatsoever.
So for those of you that have lived or know of Ferndale Michigan, what are your thoughts and for you outsiders looking in, what are yours? Drop them in the comments below.
If you’re thinking about making the move to Ferndale or a surrounding area, feel free to reach out anytime.
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.