I have just moved out of the Detroit-Metropolitan area. Item 2 of your criteria will not be satisfied. It is a run-down industrial city with very few facilities of entertainment. It is hard to describe the area as 'lively'. At night, the city is dangerous. Foreclosures, gang violence and theft are rife in Detroit and smaller nearby towns. For example, Dearborn and Hamtrammock. An older friend of mine who resides in Hamtrammock told me that he does not drive an automobile because the previous two cars he owned have been stolen in the period of time of two months.
At night-time Detroit is plain dangerous and suburbs are reserved for the typical Republican glory hunter. The suburban area is very conservative in Political outlook and prefer a very simple life. One that consists primarily in going to work, coming home to fulfill their duties to their family and their community. Only once in a great while do these people seek out entertainment (or lively activities) and they satisfy this need of theirs by travelling to Northern Michigan where they spend time either camping or with their friends in even more conservative villages. (Example, Traverse City, MI).
Additional note on Detroit. It is highly contrasted. Most inner city areas are what they appear to be--mere slums. However, within miles one may find wealthy areas such as Grosse Point or Livonia. There is an old joke that is frequently told within the metropolitan communities regarding how it is ill advised to act like a tourist in Detroit. The locals will be happy to tell you that if you ever find yourself with a map in Detroit late at night, you can expect to be undermined in one way or the other. It is not uncommon for drivers to be threatened at gunpoint under such circumstances.
The location of Wayne State University is a distinct example of such contrasts. It is a school that offers a variety of superb graduate school academic programs, however, it is within the inner city and therefore surrounded by dangerous areas. If you live on campus, I would not recommend being out any later than 11 p.m especially if you are unfamiliar with Detroit. If you are out at night, regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the area, make sure that the University is within sight as doing otherwise may be the last decision you will make.
If you choose to live off-campus, I would highly recommend selecting a residence north of the 12 mile road (The further north of Detroit you are, the safer. Detroit territory begins at the 8 mile road), unless you choose to live in Livonia or Grosse Point. By the U.S Economic standards, the area is deeply impoverished, hence it is possible to rent a room in a congenial neighborhood for $300.
I just recently moved out of the Detroit metropolitan area as well, and I can say that everything SW says here is pretty much true. It's common knowledge here that if you get into a fender bender anywhere in Detroit, you had better not get out of your car. People I've known personally have had family members threatened at gunpoint during such situations.
Most of the people I've known that went to Wayne State (quite a few) commuted from the suburbs, where they lived with their parents. It seems that if you are careful, though, you can have an enjoyable time and survive the city. You just can't be careless with safety. I'm not sure if it'd be worth it to move here deliberately, though.
You'll probably encounter a few Detroit apologists out there, but the city really is in shambles economically and in terms of security. I'm glad to be gone.
Originally Posted by Usehername
(Pittsburgh has my eye, though.)
I like Pittsburgh because housing is cheap and it's basically full of college students. The weather is nothing to holler about (it rains most of the time), but it's not too extreme one way or the other. Crime is low relative to Detroit, but there have been a few incidents in the last year that were notable. One involved a man getting stabbed on the Pitt campus in front of a student-frequented bar, and the other involved a bank robbery during a huge police-procession ceremony for some recently shot Pittsburgh cops.