Brighton, Michigan is a relatively small, but exquisite city located in the southeast portion of Livingston County. Being set into the heart of the Great Lakes region, Brighton is home to several serene lakes and rivers and consists of stunning parks and countryside. There are miles of gorgeous landscapes surrounding the city and is therefore an ideal home for anyone who loves to get away to the peace and quiet.
The incredible reputation of Brighton is attributed to its thriving downtown business area which is bursting with local boutique shopping, quaint and trendy dining establishments, and beautiful, well-maintained parks and playgrounds. The entire community is known for its friendly and welcoming demeanor making any visitors or residents instantly feel at home.
Many of the early settlers of Brighton came from New York. Elijah Fitch, one of the supposed first settlers, came from Brighton, New York, in 1832 and decided to name this new area after his beloved hometown. One of the first contributions he made to Brighton’s economy was Brighton House, a general store that he hoped would entice pioneers with its provisions and the ability to send mail.
Another of the early settlers was the Maltby brothers. They came from New York, as well. They came to Brighton first on their own to build a log cabin in Livingston County. When they were finished, they went back to New York to bring their wives over and start their lives in Brighton, Michigan. They then constructed a sawmill on Ore Creek, later becoming known as Old Maltby Mill. This mill, along with the general store opened up by Elijah Fitch, led to the creation of the village of Brighton.
Brighton is located directly in the middle of the trek between Lansing and Detroit. Travellers would quite frequently pass through, making Brighton a bit of a hot spot. As the village gained in popularity and traffic, hotels began to spring up to accommodate the weary visitors. Most of Brighton’s economic success can be attributed to their influx of hotels and inns. With the addition of so many hotels, the need for more grocery stores and shops grew, creating a full and successful downtown area.
In 1928, Brighton was incorporated into a city. When the railroads were built, Brighton made sure to become one of the major stops along the way to ensure even more visitors come to their growing town. By the time 1971 came around, a new railway line added a stop in Brighton multiple times a day, increasing their numbers yet again.
Over the years, Brighton has continued to grow and maintained its status as a popular stopover for travellers and tourists. On top of that, they have grown residentially as well and have come to be ranked as one of the best areas to live in Michigan.
Real Estate in Brighton, MI
Brighton is a city, but it’s a small city with a population of 7,657 people. For many reasons, Brighton is an excellent home for families. A high rate of home ownership is predominantly single-family properties. With great schools in the area, a highly involved community, and friendly locals, Brighton is a place that anybody would be lucky to call home.
Most of the real estate in Brighton is owner-occupied and can be appraised between low- to mid-$300,000. There are some neighborhoods, such as Chilson, that range around $500,000-$700,000. The homes that can be found are mostly single-family houses and townhouses, averaging 3-5 bedrooms. A number of residences have been around for years, being built between 1940-1969. The majority of the properties were built between 1970-1999 and several of the up-and-coming neighborhoods have been constructed more recently, between 2000-2020.
In 2010, the per capita income in Brighton was approximately $45,000. Brighton has a mixed workforce of both white- and blue-collar jobs unlike some cities where one typically dominates the other. A lot of Brighton residents work in some form of management occupation (13.96%), sales jobs (13.37%), and office and administrative support services (10.12%).
A Look at the Neighborhoods
Brighton has a total of 19 neighborhoods, all of which meet exceptional living standards. Chilson is one of the top neighborhoods in Brighton. It’s a suburban neighborhood made up of mostly married couples living in stately homes that tend to maintain high real estate appreciation rates. Many of the people living here have families with school-aged children and boast about the schools in the area. The typical drive-time for a Chilson resident to get to their place of work is about 15 minutes.
Pineridge Ln/Dorr Rd is another neighborhood that ranks near the top in Brighton. This particular neighborhood is an excellent candidate for retirees as it’s quite peaceful and has above average safety from crime when compared to other neighborhoods in Michigan. There’s also a diverse variety of housing options with many affordable options. The typical drive-time for a Pineridge Ln/Dorr Rd resident is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
There are many rural neighborhoods in Brighton as well. Highlawn Way/Larkins Rd is just that and has also been ranked one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in all of Michigan. The combination of top public schools, low crime rates, and well-maintained, affordable 3-4 bedroom homes makes this location ideal for families looking to settle into an active community. The typical drive-time for a Highlawn Way/Larkins Rd resident is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Bruno Rd/Pleasant Valley Rd is another suburban neighborhood option in Brighton. The predominant type of house in this location is detached, medium to large single-family homes. An interesting note to the Bruno Rd/Pleasant Valley Rd neighborhood is that the rental properties in the area are slightly lower than other areas in Brighton averaging about $1,449 per month, whereas most are between $1,500-1,700 per month. The typical drive-time for a Bruno Rd/Pleasant Valley Rd resident is about 15 to 30 minutes.
What to Do
Brighton is brimming with excitement and offers many activities for those wanting to get out there and do something. For nature-lovers, there’s countless outdoor activities that can be done any time of the year; whether the sun is shining and bouncing off the lake in sparkling diamonds, the leaves have changed to brilliant reds and yellows and started to fall, or the chill in the air has gotten heavy enough to produce fluffy white snowflakes. With acres upon acres of beautiful, well-maintained parks, you can partake in a myriad of activities including hiking, biking, water sports, camping, skiing, bird-watching, golfing, and so much more. With so many amazing recreation areas being easily accessible to residents of Brighton, picking up one of these adventurous hobbies is a piece of cake.
If you prefer indoor activities tucked away from the unpredictable weather, Brighton has that covered, too. Several craft breweries offer their products as well as guided tours of their facilities. Escape rooms will keep youth and adults entertained with a more hands-on experience. Touring the Artisan’s Bench to shop for exceptional hand-crafted artwork and home decor items is a must for those in support of local businesses and who have an appreciation for fine workmanship. The Brighton Coffee House and Theater provides its patrons with incredible, fresh-brewed artisan coffee as well as live performances including musical talent as well as drama and poetry. All this and more is awaiting you in beautiful Brighton.
The countryside surrounding Brighton will take your breath away. With over 50,000 acres of parks, 123 miles of hiking trails, 184 lakes, and 20 golf courses, there are countless ways to spend time in the great outdoors soaking up the sun and fresh air. In the wintertime, Mount Brighton is the place to be for any skiing or snowboarding fanatics. From the bunny hill to a 250-foot vertical drop, Mount Brighton has terrain suitable for beginners and professionals alike.
Due to all the beautiful bodies of water scattered throughout Brighton, water sports are a popular activity in the warmer months. Rentals of paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and boats make for hours of enjoyment on a sunny afternoon out on the water. In the winter months when the water freezes into a shimmery bed of ice, skating dominates the to-do list of people young and old.
If you prefer to remain downtown, Brighton offers a splendid half-mile boardwalk along the tranquil Mill Pond, complete with a historic bridge and gazebo from which picturesque sunsets and be gazed upon. Children can enjoy hours upon hours of time on the Imagination Station–a 10,000 square foot playground created by a series of wooden play structures.
A Focus On Education
Brighton School District is a high-ranking district that includes five elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Altogether, there’s over 6,700 students attending schools in the area. BASD is ranked within the top 10% of all 869 school districts in Michigan (based off of combined math and reading proficiency testing data).
Brighton also has a very active Community Education Program, providing adult and youth learning and recreation programs. Some of the classes offered include aquatics, performing arts, enrichment classes, health and nutrition, music, and so much more. These classes and programs are being offered for in-class instruction as well as virtual online learning.
The educational standards in the Brighton community are quite high, with Brighton ranking among the highest in the entire nation. Of the 25-and-older adult population, 44.49% have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to the typical US community, which has roughly 21.84% of its adults holding a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree.
Arts & Culture
Brighton has a very active arts and culture community dedicated to furthering the success of the town as well as holding on to its historic roots. The Brighton Area Historical Society (BAHS) focuses on any information relevant to the founding of the town and aims to share that information with citizens and tourists alike, hoping to keep Brighton’s history alive. The Brighton District Library has an extensive genealogy collection available for residents to learn of the origins of the first settlers of the town.
The Brighton Art Guild has been a part of the community for the last 20 years. They host numerous art exhibitions in the community including showcases at the Brighton District Library, displays in the local businesses, as well as festivals and events around town. The Guild also provides classes for beginners and more advanced artists giving everyone a chance to explore their creative side.
Brighton’s Own Livingston Players are a group of performers that delight Brighton’s tennents and tourists year round. They have been an active part of the community since 1962 and put on major productions as well as children’s plays. The group performs in schools, banquet facilities, churches, and meeting rooms throughout Livingston County. The Livingston Players also run workshops for both adults and children and they encourage local playwrights to offer up their skills and services for the community to enjoy.
Shopping & Dining
Downtown Brighton is the perfect place to find anything you could ever want. Between the unique food experiences and the charming independently-owned boutiques, Brighton can offer something for everyone. For example, “The Pink Hotel,” originally named the Brighton Hotel, which was built in 1887 in the heart of downtown Brighton, is still standing and has been modernized to suit the trends of today. A traditional hotel business has been transformed into a microbrewery called Brewery Becker.
Brighton is proud of its heritage and can boast of its many family-owned and operated shops. From bookstores to clothing boutiques to custom furnishings and home decor, there’s a little something for everyone all in one convenient shopping district that is downtown Brighton.
Many of the restaurants of Brighton are locally owned as well. Whether it’s a quiet family dining establishment or a hip new craft brewery you’re looking for, you will come across several wonderful options as you explore the businesses of Brighton.