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Old 07-05-2015, 02:25 PM
 
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Can anyone tell me what it is like living in the thumb of Michigan? Is it agricultural? How nice is the area? Jobs? Weather? Access to services? Medical care? Recreation? Thanks.
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Old 07-05-2015, 02:38 PM
chh
 
Location: West Michigan
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Where in the thumb? Its mostly very agricultural, except for Bay City, Saginaw, and Port Huron which are like typical small cities you'll find all over. If you're near any of those cities, you'll have quick access to services and medical care. The economy definently isn't the best, but you won't have too hard a time finding a job.
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Old 07-05-2015, 06:42 PM
 
Location: Michigan
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Most of the thumb is pretty rural. Mostly small towns that barely reach 10,000 residents. Port Huron is large enough to kind of have it's own small town vibe, but otherwise most of the towns in the Thumb are similar in sizes and economies (mostly agricultural). Towns along the Lake Huron coastline are typically popular for local tourism and outdoor recreation. Towns closer to the interstate freeways (I-75 and I-69) are usually more influenced by Detroit and usually have a lot of retail and/or manufacturing jobs.

Weather-wise, it's far enough downwind from Lake Michigan to generally not be affected by lake-effect weather which means generally warmer weather. So in a way, it's kind of more similar to typical Midwestern weather. Though occasionally the winds can shift south or west and you can get lake-effect off of Lake Huron.

Overall, if you're used to rural living, it's a pretty nice area.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:10 PM
 
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Most of the towns have under 2,000 people, and they're not clustered together. Almost all of them are just a couple of blocks large and are usually adjacent to a large agriculture plant or trucking location. It's very, very flat, except for the area around Cass City, which can get kind of hilly but nothing too major. Not a lot of woods, just small clumps in between farm fields for the most part. Winters are milder than most of Michigan, but not really all that noticeably different. Not much to do, we're talking very small, very isolated towns. I don't really consider Bay City or Saginaw as part of the thumb, they're considered more "mid-Michigan."

EDIT: I forgot about the coastal towns. Nothing too special but in the summer they do have some camping and summer events. Pales in comparison to "up north" small towns, though.
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Old 07-06-2015, 11:10 AM
 
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I had a place in Harbor Beach for about 10 years. I believe it is the lowest populated region in the lower peninsula, and it shows. The 2008 recession hollowed out that city and many others along the coast. Given that there is no industry to speak of, save for agriculture, the area has not caught up to the rest of Michigan. There's some tourism in the summer, but it's pretty minor compared to Up North and the Lake Michigan coast. Cost of living is extremely low, but that's if you can find a job that pays above minimum wage. Winters are brutal as there is nothing to do besides drink and snowmobile.

If you're looking to live in an extremely remote region, the Thumb is it.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Arthur Digby Sellers View Post
I had a place in Harbor Beach for about 10 years. I believe it is the lowest populated region in the lower peninsula, and it shows. The 2008 recession hollowed out that city and many others along the coast. Given that there is no industry to speak of, save for agriculture, the area has not caught up to the rest of Michigan. There's some tourism in the summer, but it's pretty minor compared to Up North and the Lake Michigan coast. Cost of living is extremely low, but that's if you can find a job that pays above minimum wage. Winters are brutal as there is nothing to do besides drink and snowmobile.

If you're looking to live in an extremely remote region, the Thumb is it.
Are winters any more brutal than the rest of the state, though? I would think it'd be milder due to being further away from Lake Michigan. Personally I really wish Caseville or one of those towns would start to boom just a bit to give the Thumb something like the "Up North" towns. Because then I could buy some property while it's growing and cash in a few years later!
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Old 07-07-2015, 07:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
Are winters any more brutal than the rest of the state, though? I would think it'd be milder due to being further away from Lake Michigan. Personally I really wish Caseville or one of those towns would start to boom just a bit to give the Thumb something like the "Up North" towns. Because then I could buy some property while it's growing and cash in a few years later!
Going by my observations, they had more snow than the Metro area. However, the harshness I was referring to has more to do with there being nothing to do in the region in the winters. One of our neighbors did a winter up there and almost lost his mind. It's just desolate.

I thought the area was on the verge of booming as well. One problem is that the shoreline is that it is very rocky. There are very few decent beaches, and it absolutely pales in comparison to Lake Michigan. Some towns, such as Lexington and Port Austin, had a moment in the late 90s/early 00s, but just never took off. There's just not enough going on to sustain any tourism and we watched a lot of new restaurants and businesses fail. If you vacation there for an entire week, you will struggle to find enough things to do. I would be VERY hesitant to buy any property up there again. There was an article in the Freep the other week about how vacation homes in the Thumb (and east side in general) still struggle to sell while the west side is starting to boom again.
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:17 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
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Originally Posted by animatedmartian View Post

Weather-wise, it's far enough downwind from Lake Michigan to generally not be affected by lake-effect weather which means generally warmer weather. So in a way, it's kind of more similar to typical Midwestern weather. Though occasionally the winds can shift south or west and you can get lake-effect off of Lake Huron.

Overall, if you're used to rural living, it's a pretty nice area.
You are mixing up a couple of different weather concepts. Lake effect means more snow, but it doesn't make temps colder. Being closer to the lake actually results in warmer temps. So if you're further from Lake Michigan, you get less snow, but it is actually colder. The average winter temps in the Thumb are lower than along Lake Michigan.

So if you are talking about how harsh the winters are, it depends on whether you think snow is "harsh" or if you think cold temps are "harsh." The Thumb has harsh temps but less snow than other places in MI.

Of course, everything I said is null and void if you get northeast winds coming off Lake Huron. Then you ARE getting lake effect weather in the thumb. But prevailing winds are from the west, so this is less common.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:55 AM
 
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Thank you all for your replies
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:47 AM
 
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The one cool part about the towns in the Thumb are many of them have an annual "festival" which rallies the entire town and is really fun. The midway comes to town, there's art/fair shows, parades, fireworks, music, beer tents - an all in all good time. I find the "southern thumb" to be a little more small town Norman Rockwellish and kept up - prob due to proximity to Detroit while "northern thumb" are a little more agrarian/feeling like the towns were left behind.

I don't live there - but I make a point of most weekends in July/Aug/Sept seeing if there's something up there in addition to the Wyandotte's, Plymouth Art fairs of the world.

A few of my favs...

Yale - Bologne Festival - July
Romeo - Peach Festival - Labor Day - Sept
Armada - Armada Fair - August
Richmond - Good Old Days - Weekend after Labor Day
Marine City - Maritime Days - Aug 1
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