Make Detroit the next retirement community


I recently wrote about the new average home price in Detroit: a whopping $6,035. I'm skeptical about it being a good investment because of the city's soaring vacancy rates and abysmal long-term outlook. But then I thought about it some more and had an idea: Detroit could be the new Florida.

America's sub-zero savings rate and tanking stock market has left many soon-to-be retirees in grave danger as far as retirement security. What better way to make retirement affordable than to move to a place where homes can be had for a measly $6,000?

I know: Detroit's cold and bleak, but at least they'll be able to afford the heating bill. I hereby propose that as far of the federal stimulus package, the government invest in making Detroit the retirement destination for low-income workers with depleted savings. There are plenty of dilapidated commercial buildings that could be turned into tourist traps and fun activities. There's already enough infrastructure in place to turn Detroit into a cheaper version of Branson.

That seems like a much better option for Detroit than pumping endless taxpayer cash into the auto industry. Displaced autoworkers can get jobs taking care of old people, and Detroit can perform a valuable service to the rest of the country by providing an affordable retirement mecca for people whose 401(k)s have morphed into 201(k)s.

Bottom line: Tanking property values in Detroit with little sign of a turnaround could spell opportunity for public investment for a public good.