In his new book, How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass, Aaron Foley has a few tips for coastal proto-colonists seeking a home in the Motor City.
  1. Presuming It’s Guns or Bust
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    “Don’t assume that everyone owns a gun. I don’t have one. There are some people that do. But assuming that everyone is ready to shoot, ready to fight, get violent, that’s probably the number-one stereotype.”
  2. Fear of Driving a Fiat
    “You’re not going to get beaten half to death if you’re driving a BMW or something—except maybe if you go to a United Auto Workers local union meeting. People are proud of driving American cars, but you’re not going to get in trouble if you’re not.”
  3. Be Real About Bicycling
    “This idea that Detroit is like other cities where all you need is a bike and you can get from A to B pretty quickly—people underestimate how big Detroit is. It’s really hard to get across town on a bike. [Detroit is 139 square miles. Manhattan is 33.] The public transit is not such that you could go carless—not even close to that. And people are not used to seeing people on bikes here, so there’s more chance of bikers getting into collisions and stuff like that, which is unfortunate.”
  4. Avoid Real-Estate Delusions
    “People think they will be able to buy a house for a dollar. You can’t do that. When they sell a house for a dollar, those houses are not even habitable or able to be renovated. So, no.”
  5. Don’t Think You Are Part of the Salvation Army
    “The biggest mistake is this whole idea of being able to save Detroit or rescue Detroit—this idea that all you have to do is make this one app or open this one shop and everything is going to be great. Why doesn’t Detroit have a Chipotle? Everything would be great if Detroit had a Chipotle. Chipotle isn’t going to fix the schools or anything. So that’s one mistake that hipsters make, forgetting that there’s decades and years of things that have to be undone before Detroit can get better.”