Most Expensive Places To Live In Michigan For 2020


We used science and data to determine which cities in Michigan that will put a big dent in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the most expensive places to live in Michigan.

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.

If you're about to move to the Wolverine State but want to avoid living in an outrageously expensive city, you're in the right place. We've done the research to discover which places in Michigan are the most expensive to live in.

While big Michigan cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids may be the first to come to mind, they actually aren't among the most expensive cities in the state. In fact, Michigan's priciest places are fairly well distributed throughout the state. Ann Arbor and some its surrounding cities make up a big chunk of this list, but there are also a few on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, like Houghton, and a handful in Michigan's mitten, like Traverse City. Wherever you are on this list geographically, it's a safe bet that life's going to be a bit tougher economically.

So how much money should you have in the piggy bank if you want to hang with the elite in these hyper-expenive Michigan cities? Earning at least $24,133/year oughta keep you from going bust in any of these places. If you want to compete with Michigan's native son Larry Page, you'll have to earn substantially more. Just invent the world's most popular search engine -- easy!

Get ready to swap stock tips with Michigan's many billionaires, because we're heading to the most expensive places to live in the Wolverine State.

What's the most expensive place to live in Michigan? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that East Lansing is the most expensive place to live in Michigan.

So hopefully Ishpeming (the cheapest place to live in Michigan) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Michigan and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Michigan For 2020

East Lansing, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 48,374
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.8x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 40.8x (10th most expensive)
More on East Lansing: Real Estate | Data | Photos

East Lansing is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan directly east of Lansing, the state capital. Most of the city is within Ingham County, with the rest in Clinton County. The population was 48,579 at the 2010 census, an increase from 46,420 in 2000. It is best known as the home of Michigan State University.

The median income in East Lansing comes in at $38,502 and the median home value is $186,700 for 2020.

Houghton, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,934
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 6.1x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 35.3x (4th most expensive)
More on Houghton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Houghton is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and largest city in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,708. It is the county seat of Houghton County. It has been listed as one of the "100 Best Small Towns in America."

The median income in Houghton comes in at $24,133 and the median home value is $148,200 for 2020.

Ann Arbor, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 120,641
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.7x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 52.7x (43rd most expensive)
More on Ann Arbor: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census recorded its population to be 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan.

The median income in Ann Arbor comes in at $63,956 and the median home value is $298,400 for 2020.

Marquette, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 20,932
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 53.3x (44th most expensive)
More on Marquette: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Marquette is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Marquette County. The population was 21,355 at the 2010 census, making it the largest city of the state's Upper Peninsula. Marquette is a major port on Lake Superior, known primarily for shipping iron ore, and is the home of Northern Michigan University. In 2012, Marquette was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS MoneyWatch.

The median income in Marquette comes in at $40,398 and the median home value is $178,200 for 2020.

Howell, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 9,597
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.6x (13th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 50.6x (32nd most expensive)
More on Howell: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Howell is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 9,489. It is the county seat of Livingston County and is located mostly within Howell Township, but is politically independent from Howell Township. The city is part of the South Lyon-Howell-Brighton Urban Area.

The median income in Howell comes in at $45,760 and the median home value is $164,100 for 2020.

Ypsilanti, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 20,939
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (10th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 45.3x (18th most expensive)
More on Ypsilanti: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ypsilanti, commonly shortened to Ypsi, is a city in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan, perhaps best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University. As of the 2017 census, the city's population was 21,018. The city is bounded to the north by Superior Township and on the west, south, and east by Ypsilanti Township. Ypsilanti is located 6 miles east of Ann Arbor and about 18 miles west of the Detroit city limits.

The median income in Ypsilanti comes in at $36,982 and the median home value is $141,100 for 2020.

Traverse City, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 15,474
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.5x (4th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 60.7x (69th most expensive)
More on Traverse City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Traverse City is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Grand Traverse County, although a small portion extends into Leelanau County. It is the largest city in the 21-county Northern Michigan region. The population was 14,674 at the 2010 census, with 143,372 in the Traverse City micropolitan area.

The median income in Traverse City comes in at $53,871 and the median home value is $240,100 for 2020.

Brighton, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,626
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (15th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.8x (57th most expensive)
More on Brighton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Brighton is a suburb in metro Detroit located in the southeast portion of Livingston County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,444. Brighton forms part of the South Lyon-Howell-Brighton Urban Area. It is one of two incorporated cities in Livingston County, and incorporates land that was once part of Brighton, Green Oak and Genoa townships.

The median income in Brighton comes in at $58,041 and the median home value is $194,600 for 2020.

Mount Pleasant, MI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 25,691
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.6x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 50.0x (28th most expensive)
More on Mount Pleasant: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Mount Pleasant is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Isabella County, located in Central Michigan. The population was 26,016 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Mount Pleasant comes in at $37,984 and the median home value is $135,600 for 2020.

Petoskey, MI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 5,707
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.2x (80th most expensive)
More on Petoskey: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Petoskey is a city and coastal resort community in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 5,670 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Emmet County.

The median income in Petoskey comes in at $40,903 and the median home value is $178,400 for 2020.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Wolverine State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Michigan
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Michigan to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 148 places in Michigan that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in Michigan according to the data is East Lansing. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Michigan For 2020

Well there you have it, the places in Michigan that have the highest cost of living, with East Lansing ranking as the most expensive city in the Wolverine State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in Michigan according to the data:

  1. Ishpeming
  2. Iron Mountain
  3. Bay City

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Michigan

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 East Lansing 13.0 48,374 4.8x 40.8x
2 Houghton 17.33 7,934 6.1x 35.3x
3 Ann Arbor 19.0 120,641 4.7x 52.7x
4 Marquette 27.33 20,932 4.4x 53.3x
5 Howell 28.0 9,597 3.6x 50.6x
6 Ypsilanti 28.17 20,939 3.8x 45.3x
7 Traverse City 30.33 15,474 4.5x 60.7x
8 Brighton 32.33 7,626 3.4x 57.8x
9 Mount Pleasant 35.0 25,691 3.6x 50.0x
10 Petoskey 39.17 5,707 4.4x 63.2x
11 Walled Lake 40.0 7,193 2.8x 50.2x
12 Southfield 40.67 73,392 2.7x 50.2x
13 Big Rapids 41.67 10,392 3.7x 43.1x
14 Novi 43.0 59,625 3.3x 70.6x
15 Birmingham 46.0 21,066 4.2x 79.5x
16 Wixom 46.67 13,870 4.4x 76.9x
17 Grand Rapids 47.33 197,081 2.8x 52.7x
18 Lapeer 48.0 8,731 2.9x 47.3x
19 Rochester Hills 48.33 74,011 3.1x 72.7x
20 Farmington Hills 49.0 81,482 3.1x 72.1x
21 Sterling Heights 49.33 132,470 2.8x 63.1x
22 Rochester 49.83 13,130 4.0x 87.2x
23 Benton Harbor 51.33 9,920 3.3x 31.0x
24 Dearborn 51.67 95,089 2.6x 51.5x
25 Kentwood 51.67 51,525 2.8x 60.3x
26 Zeeland 52.0 5,581 2.9x 58.8x
27 Beverly Hills 54.33 10,440 3.1x 89.5x
28 Grosse Pointe 54.5 5,218 3.2x 91.8x
29 Farmington 55.33 10,590 2.8x 70.8x
30 Plymouth 56.0 9,054 3.6x 94.0x
31 Rockford 57.0 6,186 2.7x 69.0x
32 Troy 58.0 83,881 3.0x 83.6x
33 Huntington Woods 58.0 6,340 2.7x 78.7x
34 Fenton 58.0 11,336 2.5x 53.9x
35 South Lyon 58.17 11,786 2.6x 69.4x
36 Eaton Rapids 58.33 5,216 2.7x 55.8x
37 Grosse Pointe Park 59.67 11,207 3.1x 110.6x
38 Saline 59.67 9,223 3.1x 93.6x
39 Ludington 60.33 8,057 3.0x 63.6x
40 Milford 61.0 6,484 3.1x 99.0x
41 Kalamazoo 61.33 76,040 2.6x 52.0x
42 St. Joseph 61.33 8,314 2.9x 78.2x
43 Royal Oak 61.33 59,107 2.7x 75.6x
44 Chelsea 61.67 5,295 2.6x 74.2x
45 Northville 62.0 5,971 2.9x 100.4x
46 Frankenmuth 62.33 5,147 3.1x 91.4x
47 East Grand Rapids 62.67 11,642 2.6x 88.8x
48 Manistee 62.67 6,071 2.7x 58.3x
49 Warren 63.0 135,192 2.4x 51.5x
50 Greenville 63.33 8,394 2.6x 51.8x
51 Auburn Hills 63.33 23,107 2.3x 58.1x
52 Richmond 64.67 5,874 3.0x 83.3x
53 Grosse Pointe Woods 65.0 15,559 2.3x 69.5x
54 Niles 65.67 11,265 2.6x 51.6x
55 Hamtramck 66.67 21,941 2.5x 36.3x
56 Holland 67.33 33,503 2.5x 67.1x
57 Grand Blanc 67.33 7,925 2.8x 79.2x
58 Westland 67.67 82,120 2.4x 55.0x
59 Alma 67.67 9,051 2.6x 53.7x
60 Grosse Pointe Farms 68.67 9,224 2.6x 93.8x
61 Walker 68.67 24,768 2.6x 78.2x
62 New Baltimore 69.0 12,365 2.8x 108.9x
63 Sault Ste. Marie 69.33 13,712 2.4x 52.0x
64 Grandville 69.33 15,952 2.6x 75.3x
65 Dearborn Heights 70.0 56,089 2.1x 48.0x
66 Livonia 71.0 94,567 2.3x 73.7x
67 Oak Park 71.33 29,849 2.1x 47.5x
68 Allegan 72.33 5,044 2.3x 54.1x
69 Grand Haven 72.33 10,974 2.6x 72.3x
70 Woodhaven 73.0 12,551 2.5x 75.1x
71 Ferndale 73.33 20,211 2.2x 66.1x
72 Hudsonville 73.67 7,344 2.4x 70.9x
73 Berkley 74.0 15,360 2.3x 75.1x
74 Clawson 74.0 12,029 2.5x 78.4x
75 St. Clair Shores 75.33 59,781 2.2x 58.2x
76 Madison Heights 75.33 30,226 2.2x 54.6x
77 Portage 75.33 48,421 2.5x 78.5x
78 Tecumseh 77.33 8,346 2.4x 69.1x
79 Riverview 78.33 12,167 2.4x 74.9x
80 Muskegon 78.5 37,969 2.2x 44.1x
81 Port Huron 78.67 29,175 2.1x 49.3x
82 Fraser 79.67 14,638 2.4x 75.1x
83 Wyoming 80.33 75,532 2.2x 62.5x
84 Marshall 80.5 7,021 2.3x 67.4x
85 Milan 81.67 5,944 2.3x 78.6x
86 Midland 82.33 41,963 2.4x 81.0x
87 Monroe 82.67 19,947 2.3x 68.2x
88 Norton Shores 83.33 24,357 2.2x 65.9x
89 St. Johns 83.67 7,910 2.3x 70.1x
90 Mount Clemens 84.33 16,358 2.2x 60.0x
91 Mason 84.33 8,447 2.1x 62.4x
92 St. Clair 85.33 5,350 2.4x 93.0x
93 Ionia 86.0 11,187 2.1x 56.6x
94 Lansing 86.33 116,699 2.0x 50.0x
95 Escanaba 87.0 12,298 2.4x 64.4x
96 Garden City 88.33 26,809 1.8x 52.2x
97 Battle Creek 88.67 51,475 2.0x 54.3x
98 Highland Park 89.0 10,915 1.9x 30.3x
99 Adrian 89.33 20,640 2.0x 50.4x
100 Kingsford 89.33 5,022 2.3x 66.6x

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.