We moved here a year ago from Northern California and love it! Why?
1) It's beautiful. It's like "The Truman Show" - a ton of Tree-lined trees. Everyone takes really good care of their historic homes too; and there's a lot of home pride.
2) Most people are really nice and helpful.
3) You can bike/walk everywhere. It's flat with sidewalks, and 5 different walking "downtowns".
4) Taxes pay for A+public schools. (My son is in the 1st grade and LOVES it - the teachers make him feel special and brilliant).
5) Each Pointe has it's own private "resort like" park that require a park pass and it is only available to residents (also covered by taxes). Benefits:
a) Lush park meticulously maintained.
b) Olympic size swimming pool with beach entry side pool.
c) Toddler Water Park area with dedicated kiddie pool.
d) Sandy beach on the lake with gorgeous view.
e) Marina with boat slips/fishing pier/observation deck
f) Tennis courts/heated courts
g) table-game room/stately clubhouse with books and leather sofas/views
h) outdoor winter ice skating rink with warming hut that features a roaring fireplace, flat screen TV and complimentary hot cocoa.
i) glass sunroom on the water with fireplace and views
All for free
I spent an entire year searching all the surrounding areas, trying to make a decision on where to buy - and I'm so glad we choose Grosse Pointe Farms. It has the best Park for our family needs (our realtor got us passes to all of them).
Birmingham came in second, but it just could't compare. Birmingham has an almost 20% higher crime rate; many areas have no sidewalks; and the schools aren't as good. Also, it doesn't have the "Resort Like Park" either; where we spent 30-40% of our free time. B-ham does have a "hipper" vibe though - and a great shopping mall. Grosse Pointe has a "family values" vibe - but that's where I'm at in my life currently.
We like GPF better then California. The job that brought us here wasn't a great fit, and my husband left the company, so we considered moving back to our California house... and then realized we just really didn't want to go back. It would be a huge step down.
Michiganders are the hardest on their awesome home state. Whenever we say "we're from California", Michiganders always say "why would you move here?" Why? Because California is overcrowded, dry, expensive, and a bit too kookie when raising kids. The schools are overcrowded, and even in the best school districts, the schools don't compare. They are so overcrowded the districts use mobile structures and the schools look like prisons.
Also, in most households in California, both parents must work and commute 2 hours a day to afford the mortgage on their million dollar 1960's outdated 1400 sf. rancher in a good school district. As a stay at home parent, I felt like I was in a ghost town on my street and in a foreign country at the park (mostly non english speaking nannies). Many of the kids are latchkey kids. The middle schoolers were into cutting and drugs (and this was a"10" school)! No parental supervision.
The downsides to Grosse Pointe? The weather in January and Feb. sucks, and we live next to an abandoned part of Detroit. Literally blocks upon blocks of streets where houses have been removed, but the overgrown sidewalks and light posts still exist. Weird.
Ironically the crime rate in Grosse Pointe is much lower then our California "desirable" neighborhood.
Anyway- that's my take. Hope it helps someone trying to decide.