From Denver to Ann Arbor

My wife and I were living in downtown Denver, and while we loved the city and mountains, we were ready to try some place new—to have a new adventure. We made a list of potential cities we’d like to experience, along with a checklist of what we wanted in a new place. The list ranged from Portland, OR to Portland, ME, and Boise to Ann Arbor.

We wanted a place where we immediately felt a sense of community, and where there was a perfect blend of urbanism and academia, all with a small-town feel. In short, we wanted an area with lots to do that was highly walkable. With over 400 miles of sidewalks, a gorgeous university campus, world-class theaters and concert venues, and plentiful mom-and-pop shops all blended together, Ann Arbor checked every box on our list.

Ann Arbor is so walkable, we discovered, because it was designed that way.

My wife is a health-and-wellness professional, and we have two dogs, so walking is important to us. It’s a great way to experience and explore where you live. Of course, it’s also good exercise. (A study by the University of Utah  showed people weighed 6–10 pounds less, on average, if they lived in more walkable neighborhoods)

Ann Arbor is so walkable, we discovered, because it was designed that way. Designed to bring people together, not just through its community programs, but by its roads. The city accommodates all modes of transportation, which in turn fosters a greater sense of community. This is clear from the multi-use roadways, the plentiful parks and open spaces, and the wide sidewalks that allow for more outdoor seating for café’s, bars, and restaurants.

Not surprisingly, Ann Arbor has been named a Gold-level, walk-friendly community by the  Speaking of bicycles, there are a lot

of them out here. It seems everyone gets around, at least part-time, on two wheels.

From students to professionals, families to hipsters…even the shirtless guy lugging a bag full of recyclables over his shoulder!

Whether you drive, bike, or walk, it’s easy to get around. To me, that’s a sign of a city that encourages movement, interactivity, and community. And that would explain why, even though Ann Arbor is new to us, it already feels like home.

– Seth Barnhill