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Ann Arbor Appeal: A Haven for Remote Workers and Entrepreneurs

People know Ann Arbor is one of the best places to live in the country, but did you know its a haven for remote workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and startups? As workspace and lifestyle changes continue to reshape the modern workforce, professionals have newfound freedom to choose their ideal location to live and work.

While some employers are pushing to get workers back to the office, remote and hybrid work is here to stay and a move to Ann Arbor is at the top of many people’s list. Nearly 7 in 10 employees (68 percent) said they would rather look for a new job than return to the office, according to a survey from Clarify Capital, a financial consultancy in New York City that surveyed more than 1,000 remote workers. That figure is even higher among Generation Z workers, of which 79 percent said they would look for a new job over returning to the office.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, known for its special community vibe, thriving economy, and stunning natural beauty, is emerging as a prime destination for workers and entrepreneurs looking to put down roots while seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle in a city that is not too big or too small.

A Goldlielox Town – Not too Big, Not too Small – Just Right

Photo of Liberty Street in Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor is a 20 minute town – you can drive across town in 20 minutes (excluding peak rush hour and football Saturdays).

Many remote workers are voting with their feet for less-crowded, less-expensive alternatives to large metro areas. Ann Arbor consistently ranks among the top cities in the United States for quality of life offering a unique blend of cultural, recreational, and educational opportunities that cater to a diverse range of interests.

Ann Arbor is a 20 minute town – you can drive across town in 20 minutes (excluding peak rush hour and football Saturdays). It is just easier living and getting around in a smaller city.

Ann Arborites take pride in supporting locally owned businesses. Retail shopping is alive and well in Downtown Ann Arbor. In fact, the shops in Kerrytown and Downtown offer some of the deepest inventories of well-curated merchandise anywhere in the county. Ann Arbor punches above its weight when it comes to shopping.

From its renowned dining scene, locally-owned shops and galleries to its numerous parks, hiking trails, and scenic landscapes, Ann Arbor provides residents with a high standard of living in a pretty small package.

A Resilient Vibrant Economy

Ann Arbor’s economy is resilient and adapts well to change.

In a word, the Ann Arbor economy is resilient.

Ann Arbor’s economy holds up well in an economic downturn. During the recession of 08’ Ann Arbor unemployment was under 5 percent vs. Michigan at 7 percent, one of the worst in the nation.

While Ann Arbor housing did slide during the recession, it was a safe haven relative to most other real estate markets in the state.

Ann Arbor prides itself on being recession-proof — at least in comparison to the many other communities in Michigan…hit hard by manufacturing plant closings.

It’s also home to a world-class university, the University of Michigan, with its nationally ranked schools in law, medicine, and social work. Its downtown … is vibrant with locally owned stores, packed restaurants, and nationally recognized music venues like The Ark and Hill Auditorium for performing arts.

Zingerman’s Deli, with its corollary businesses of a bake house and a creamery, offers food that most people expect from such cities as New York and San Francisco.

– From

The University of Michigan Factor

University of Michigan Biomedical Research Building

University of Michigan Biomedical Research building along with the rest of the campus helps to keep the Ann Arbor economy stable by providing consistent employment.

With the rise of remote work, Ann Arbor’s burgeoning tech ecosystem is gaining recognition. The city is home to numerous tech startups and research institutions including two tech unicorns – Duo Security and Llamasoft and unicorn bound May Mobility and Groundspeed Analytics

“Ann Arbor is Michigan’s petri dish for unicorns, with the resources and vibe of the University of Michigan campus and its $1.6 billion in annual research volume (FY20), singular tech-focused operations ranging from the Domino’s Garage digital beehive to one of the world’s leading autonomous-vehicle testing sites called Mcity, and research headquarters for Toyota and Hyundai.”

Ann Arbor fosters an environment of collaboration, creativity, and entrepreneurship, making it an ideal place for remote workers, freelancers, and startups seeking networking opportunities and professional growth.

Ann Arbor is renowned for its educational institutions, primarily the University of Michigan. This world-class university attracts top talent from around the globe and fosters a rich intellectual and cultural environment.

You can tap into the vast resources, libraries, and academic events that contribute to Ann Arbor’s intellectual vibrancy.

Walkable In-Town Neighborhoods Priced Within Reach

Example of a 2 way buffered bike lane on the west side of 4th Ave near Depot.

Example of a 2 way buffered bike lane on the west side of 4th Ave near Depot.

Compared to major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, New York City, Washington DC, or Seattle, Ann Arbor offers a more reasonable cost of living.

People can enjoy the benefits of homeownership without the high prices generally associated with tech-centric cities, making it an attractive option for those looking to establish roots.

Ann Arbor’s top in-town neighborhoods such as Burns Park, Kerrytown, Downtown, and the Old Westside can be considered expensive. However, there are many walkable-bikeable neighborhoods in Ann Arbor that are more budget friendly such as the Dicken neighborhood, Landsdowne, the Northside neighborhood, North Campus neighborhoods such as Orchard Hills/Maplewood, and many many more.

Ann Arbor Believes in Schools

The Ann Arbor District Library has 5 locations that serve the greater Ann Arbor Area.

Ann Arbor, Michigan is the most educated city in America.

To say Ann Arbor invests in its public schools is an understatement. In November 2019 voters passed a twenty-year, $1 billion bond for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, the largest bond in Michigan since 1994, to support the following goals:

  • Teaching & Learning – Continue the Tradition of Academic Excellence
  • Safety, Health & Well-being – Focus on Development of the Whole Child
  • Sustainable and Environmentally Responsible Infrastructure – Create Resilient Schools for Climate Change
  • Efficient and Effective Support Systems and Services – Continue Technology & Transportation Replacement and Renewal

Ann Arbor is serious when it comes to schools. According to a study done by WalletHub, Ann Arbor, Michigan is the most educated city in America. This was a study done with only the 150 largest cities by metropolitan area and used a series of 11 different matrices to determine their rankings. The matrices included criteria like the gender education gap, the quality of public school systems, and the number of adults 25 and up with at least a bachelor’s degree.

A Sense of Community and Place

Families and friends enjoying a perfect summer day.

Ann Arbor’s strong sense of community and inclusive atmosphere make it an appealing place to call home. The city hosts numerous festivals, events, and community gatherings that foster connections and encourage participation. Ann Arbor is home to the largest juried art fair in the nation, showcasing over 1,000 artists each year in July.

The City of Ann Arbor is serious about placemaking. Placemaking is a concept that took hold in city politics and planning around 10 years ago and today, we see the results take shape on the ground through initiatives such as the DDA’s Friendly Streets Project. The goals of the People-Friendly Streets project are focused on making the streets in downtown Ann Arbor safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities using all modes of transportation. These projects prioritize people, place making, and resiliency.

The practical side of these infrastructure development projects is that you will want to spend time in these places, you will bump into people and make connections and create friendships. You can see this happening along South Main between Williams and Washington when the City of Ann Arbor closes off the the streets to auto traffic and restaurants fill the sidewalks with tables and umbrellas.

4 Seasons of Natural Beauty Recreation Activities

Broadway Bridge Northside Ann Arbor

Tubers enjoying the Huron River while going under the Broadway Bridge in Northside Ann Arbor.

Nestled amidst the scenic landscapes of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The city is surrounded by picturesque parks, trails, nature reserves, loads of on and off road bike trails, and more.

Access to such natural beauty provides a welcome escape from the demands of remote work, promoting a healthier work-life balance.

Ann Arbor is a Remote Worker and Entrepreneur Haven

For professionals and workers of all kinds seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle, Ann Arbor is a compelling option. With its exceptional quality of life, vibrant tech hub, educational opportunities, affordable housing market, strong sense of community, and abundant natural beauty, Ann Arbor stands out as an ideal destination for those looking to settle down.

As the world embraces the benefits of remote work and more people start their own businesses, Ann Arbor has positioned itself as a prime location to live and work. City leaders have done a lot to keep downtown Ann Arbor relevant to remote workers. Please feel free to ask us any questions by sending an email to


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