And, here’s yet another interview for the series. This one is with a young woman by the name of Meaghan Fukunaga.
MARK: You wrote to me a few days ago, asking me if you could be a part of this Ypsilanti Immigration Interview series. I’m curious how you first became aware of it, and why it is that you wanted to be included?
MEAGHAN: I first came across your blog two years ago when I was looking for more information about Ypsilanti. I’ve been reading it ever since and lately have really been enjoying the immigration interviews. I would have loved reading them before moving to Ypsi, so I’d like to help carry on the tradition by contributing my own thoughts and experiences.
MARK: If you could convey one thing to other people who are considering a move to Ypsilanti, what would it be?
MEAGHAN: The general friendliness. For example – I like to work in the yard, and I used to do so in the house my husband and I rented in Ann Arbor. I would smile at people who walked past, but usually I just got blank stares. In Ypsi when I’m in my yard, people stop to talk and I really enjoy it.
MARK: What were you doing prior to moving to Michigan?
MEAGHAN: I was in school in Massachusetts.
MARK: If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you, and what were you studying?
MEAGHAN: I am 31 and I was studying art history in Massachusetts.
MARK: Would I be right in assuming that you, or someone in your family, came here either for a job, or to attend university?
MEAGHAN: Yes indeed. My husband and I moved to Michigan four years ago so I could attend the University of Michigan’s School of Information.
MARK: Did you graduate from U-M? And, if so, what do you do now? Was finding a job difficult, given the economy in Michigan?
MEAGHAN: I graduated from U-M in 2009. I was fortunate to have some good contacts in my area of work, but even then the job search wasn’t easy. I work as a digital archivist for a research unit at the Medical School.
MARK: What does your husband do?
MEAGHAN: My husband is a software engineer. He works from home as his company is based in MA.
MARK: I don’t have any hard and fast rules when it comes to interviewing people for this project, but most folks that I’ve spoken with have been relatively new converts to Ypsilanti. You’ve been living here for a few years, though. As that’s the case, I thought that I’d ask, how, if at all, you’ve noticed Ypsilanti change over that period of time.
MEAGHAN: I’ve been very glad to see all the new businesses springing up. Cross Street in particular is filling up rapidly, which is nice to see. And, speaking of Cross Street, the beautification/road repair project the City embarked upon has given a nice facelift to that whole area.
And watching businesses move in on Huron, Washington, Mich Ave, etc. has been fun. I like to wander around from time to time and see if anything new has popped up during the week.
And this isn’t necessarily a new development, and I’ve heard mixed opinions on the matter, but I enjoyed having films shot in the area during the summer. It was fun to see all the new faces and the bustling action.
MARK: Do you own a home, rent, squat, phrog, etc? (Phrogging is when you live in someone else’s house without them knowing.)
MEAGHAN: My husband and I bought our home in 2010. (Phrogging sounds like a Muppet dance.)
MARK: When assessing various communities, what was it about Ypsilanti that tipped the balance in our favor?
MEAGHAN: Initially, it was the amount of house we could get for our money. We had rented in Ann Arbor for two years and tried there first since we knew the area. However, Ann Arbor prices were less than fantastic, so we looked into Ypsi as an alternative. I came across the house we live in now on Zillow.com. We drove out to look at it without knowing much about Ypsi other than that it was the home of La Fiesta Mexicana, the best restaurant known to mankind. From there, we tried to learn as much as possible about the area. In the end, we liked the small Midwest town feel of Ypsi, the diversity, the fact that it’s walkable, the historic buildings, and the real sense of pride that its citizens display.
MARK: How extensive would you say that your research was prior to making the decision to live here? What did it entail?
MEAGHAN: Fairly extensive. We drove and walked all around Ypsi, just to see the area in person and get a feel for the place. We ate in various restaurants, and popped our heads in Mich Ave shops. We looked at a lot of websites, like those for the City, the police department, the library, the Ypsi Community Utilities Authority, CoPAC, the Ypsi Heritage Foundation, annarbor.com, the Ypsi Citizen, the Ypsi Courier, markmaynard.com and the Dusty Diary.
We also found as much information as we could online about each neighborhood. I asked friends and classmates who lived in Ypsi for their thoughts on the area. We talked to the seller of our house. We talked to our realtor. We talked to the seller’s realtor.
MARK: How well equipped would say that your agent was to answer questions about Ypsi’t various neighborhoods, etc?
MEAGHAN: He was great about pointing out all the various festivals, restaurants, shops, and bars that he enjoys. I especially appreciated him pointing out the festivals, as we weren’t aware of many of the events that come to town. He did seem a little reluctant to move out of the Normal Park area, and was hesitant about the bus depot/Deja Vu area and Ypsi public schools.
MARK: Did the state of the public schools here enter into your decision at all?
MEAGHAN: When we were looking for a house, though, neither of us was planning on having children so it wasn’t a big factor. Things change though so we’ve been looking more into public schools now. If anyone has experiences they’d like to share, I’d be interested in hearing them.
MARK: Where do you buy your groceries?
MEAGHAN: Whittaker Kroger. Hiller’s. The Chinese market on Washtenaw. Beer/liquor from Eagles.
MARK: Do you ever make use of the coupons that I run on my site?
MEAGHAN: I just recently noticed them and plan to.
MARK: Do you have any questions about Ypsi that my readers might be able to help with?
MEAGHAN: Does anyone know what’s happening with the O’Neal Construction building on Cross Street? I haven’t seen anything in the news lately.
[For those interested, the rest of my Ypsilanti Immigration Interviews can be found here.]