In which I discuss my new commute, which is going to blow

So effective late August, it appears I’ll be making the commute to work in Ann Arbor from Ferndale, 5 days a week.  (Well, probably from Ferndale — there’s a remote possibility we’ll stay in Detroit — but that’s a topic for another post.)  With the exception of the last time I lived in Ferndale, for a couple of months in 2007, I’ve never had a commute of more than a couple of miles and for most of my working life I’ve walked, biked or taken the bus.  It’s something I’ve prided myself on, low carbon footprint, etc.  I always secretly looked askance at my colleagues who commuted from far away — why didn’t everybody just pick up and move down the street from where they worked like I did?

Hence this lifestyle change has generated some major cognitive dissonance for me.  I already commute to & from work from AMD’s* place in Detroit from time to time and have got the routine down pretty well.  In the morning, I get on the road when it’s still dark, turn on Morning Edition, savor the coffee in my travel mug, and on clear days I get to enjoy the sunrise.  The afternoon is not as pretty, but I have the choice of All Things Considered on 2 different stations (Michigan Radio and WDET) to help me power through, and an excited welcome home from 2 Cairn terriers (and a more low-key kiss from AMD) to look forward to at the journey’s end.

So it’s not that it’s an unpleasant commute; far from it.  It just feels wrong.  Going back at least as far as Sex and the City, my generation has been trained by mass culture that young. childless people get to work by the subway or a similarly urbane method; that hippies, health nuts, and the environmentally conscientious get there by bike; and that a commute by car is reserved for old people with kids and responsibilities.  I’m going to be one of those old people with responsibilities, alone in my car for 90 minutes-plus each day, stuck in traffic, and it’s freaking me out.

*AMD = Astronaut Mike Dexter, aka Fang aka my boyfriend/partner/the old ball & chain.


9 responses to “In which I discuss my new commute, which is going to blow

  1. Hey there, Just stumbled upon your blod, which is enjoyable to read. About to move to ann arbor because I got a new job at U of M hospital. do you have any advice about where to live? It seems all I can find is very expensive apartments!!! Thanks, Mallory

    • Congratulations! You are right, housing in Ann Arbor can be quite expensive. I think you’ll find that rents go down sharply east of US 23. If you need more space and are on a budget, someplace within walking distance of Washtenaw Avenue, would be best since the #4 bus route services UM Medical Campus and runs very frequently (at least during business hours).

      Alternately, you could look along Plymouth Road. Rents get cheaper the further east you go along Plymouth, and the #2 and various UM/UMHS buses also offer frequent service in that area.

      I would strongly discourage you from driving to work since, as you may already have found, staff parking on the Medical Campus is also very costly.

      Hope this helps & keep me posted!

  2. Hey, its been months and I happened to stumble on this blog again. I was looking at buying a condo in pittfield village, since it’ll just be and i’m hoping after a few years I’d be able to sell it. I currently live in northville. You have any opinions on that area? Ppl have told me that a downfall to the community is onstreet parking.

    • I may have mentioned it on the blog, but I actually owned/lived in the Village from 2010 through August 2013; in fact, I just closed on the sale of my unit last Friday. It is really a wonderful community and perfect for singles since it’s all 1- or 2-bedrooms. For its price range it is the best bang for your buck in terms of condo ownership in Ann Arbor. It’s a wonderful community IMO – great people, great management, great landscaping, lots of charm and a very convenient location in terms of things like nearby shopping and services. You are correct, only on-street parking is available. Apart from learning to parallel park on a curved street, which I never quite mastered, the street parking didn’t bother me. I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have about the Village. The community’s Facebook page ( is another good source of info.

      Prices have really shot up in the past year, so if you’re only looking to own for a few years it might not be the best time to buy there; however, now that we’re heading into fall/winter, prices may stabilize a bit.

  3. I do really like them, I looked this weekend at three units for sale, two of which I’d strongly consider buying. My realtor isn’t from ann arbor and hadn’t seem them before but was quite surprised at their size and charm. A few things concerned me, the association fee is like over 300 dollars, why so high? And I was told only a handful of banks will mortgage them d/t the transition from coop to condo. Whats the deal with the mortgage, will they offer me one much different than a conventional mortgage with a fixed interest rate? I’ve just started my endeavor into home owning, and Pittsfield village seems unique in its own.

  4. *the size of the condo, as in # of units, not as in the size of the actual units…those are quite small. idk why, had to clarify that

  5. RE: association fee: It is on the high side, but the association’s finances are in excellent shape, which you will be happy about in the event there are any major exterior repairs needed. I’d encourage you or your realtor to contact the association office to request a copy of recent budgets so you can see exactly where the money’s going. RE: financing, I heard that was an issue a few years back when they were not as far into the conversion to condos, but I think that issue has pretty much been cleared up unless you are buying one of the remaining co-op units. I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble getting conventional fixed rate (I got an FHA fixed rate in 2010 which is actually harder to get); I bet the association could provide you with a list of lenders who have financed there recently. A lot of recent sales this year have been cash, too, which is more the challenge.

  6. Oh, why thank you for responding! I was driving around the neighborhood and I noticied some really weird people on the outskirts of the complex. Is the area safe? The people within the condo complex seem like families and people walking their dogs. But I was driving through the neighborhood and this house outside of it had a really weird lady who looked like a complete crazy hoarder scared me, and make me second guess owning in the area! Is it safe?

  7. Living there for 3 years I felt it was very safe. I don’t recall hearing about more than 1-2 break-ins the whole time I lived there. It’s all relative, I suppose.

    You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Ann Arbor crime maps for each month are available here:

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