The problem with Ann Arbor

I know, I know. Since I moved from St. Louis to Ann Arbor, I've become the latter's unpaid ambassador, singing this small town's praises like nobody's business. I've been here long enough, however, to see that all is not golden in this little haven. For a supposedly liberal town, there's almost no gay community here and way too many environmentally-destructive SUVs parked outside the food co-op. Most of the punk rock kids are likely riding skateboards paid for by trust funds or, at the very least, generous upper-middle-class allowances. And while the university injects a certain amount of cultural diversity, this is a white, white place. In addition, there's not really much of a real working class here -- and no, sorority girls waiting tables does not count. And this, my friends is precisely why, this is what's wrong with Ann Arbor: .

That's basically my dream house -- a cute little Arts & Crafts bungalow, with hardwood floors and a working fireplace. Granted, I'd ideally love to have three bedrooms and not two, so Chris and I could continue to have separate offices, but let's say I wasn't fussy about that. This charmer has an updated bath, a back patio and even a garage, which is a definite plus when the weather turns icy-snowy. And it's within walking distance of downtown, which means we could remain a one-car family and ensure at least a little exercise once in a while. It's a total of 910 square feet, for which the crack-smoking owners are asking...


That's right. Three hundred and nine THOUSAND dollars.

Now, this is just crazy talk, even for this inflated housing market. Pfizer lay-offs have resulted in a bunch of foreclosures in the city's outskirts, where housing prices are more "reasonable." And, yes, adorable homes within walking distance of downtown are premium real estate here. But seriously? The St. Louisan in me just cannot imagine that kind of housing cost. This isn't New York, people. It's Whiteyville, Michigan. Am I missing something? Are the basements here paved with gold? The foundations built with bricks of cocaine?

If we ever decide to stop renting here, we will have to live in a cardboard box. Although clearly we'll have to look for one on the outskirts.

(Note: $309,000 is the reduced price for this home. It was on Craig's List last month for $330,000.)