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Old 07-13-2017, 02:22 PM
 
8 posts, read 10,462 times
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My wife and I are planning on moving to western MI in a year or two. I work from home, so we can choose wherever we please and we're having a really hard time narrowing down our options among all of the beautiful towns and cities along the west coast.

To start getting an idea of where we'd like to settle, we are going to do a whirlwind 4 night tour of western MI. I know this is not nearly enough time, but it is all that we can manage right now. Our goal for this trip is to get a very general feel for each town and what they have to offer.

We are a young(ish) married couple, expecting our first baby in a few months. Things we will be keeping an eye out for will be:

-active downtown areas with at least a few restaurants and family friendly breweries/wineries
-young(ish) population
-proximity to trout streams and ski hills
-proximity to Grand Rapids (this would be nice, but is not a deal breaker)
-affordable lake access (not necessarily just lake MI, we'd also be happy with sports-friendly inland-lakes)
-affordable real estate (our budget is ~200k)
-year-round population


Our high-level itinerary looks like this:

Day 1 - Day in Grand Rapids, sleep in Holland
Day 2 - day in Holland, evening/sleep in Grand Haven
Day 3 - day in Ludington, sleep in Manistee
Day 4 - day in Mainistee, sleep in Traverse City
Day 5 - day in Traverse City

Am I hitting the right places? Any suggestions for activities and towns would be greatly appreciated. My wife is 6 months in, so there won't be any rigorous exercise or drinkin', but slow walks and lunches at breweries are definitely still in the cards.
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Naperville, IL
184 posts, read 185,652 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghaleon View Post

-active downtown areas with at least a few restaurants and family friendly breweries/wineries
-young(ish) population
-proximity to trout streams and ski hills
-proximity to Grand Rapids (this would be nice, but is not a deal breaker)
-affordable lake access (not necessarily just lake MI, we'd also be happy with sports-friendly inland-lakes)
-affordable real estate (our budget is ~200k)
-year-round population
For the first two, I'd definitely say Manistee and Traverse City should be your focus (though not sure how young-ish their year-round pops are). But both are near some really nice trout water - the Little Manistee, Boardman, Jordan, Platte, Pine and (big) Manistee all hold decent populations of brown, rainbow, and some have brook trout. They are also both close to the best ski areas in lower Mich - the Boyne area and Crystal mtn.

Personally, I'd pick the TC area - there are lots of properties available (some off small inland lakes) at the 200k$ price point and near enough to TC proper (check Zillow or Trulia). TC will have much of the nightlife, entertainment and good restaurants that you want, with the caveat that it is a summer "resort" town, so population gets a bit bigger in summer obviously with a little more traffic, and things quiet down in the winter. GR will be about 2.5 hrs away. Doable for a day trip, but not a nightly dining destination.

I don't know anything about the TC school system - which will eventually be a concern for you (and also should be a resale consideration).

Oh yeah - snow - most of the areas you are talking about get a fair bit of lake-effect enhanced snow. We're talking 100+ inches/year, especially farther north in the TC area (there's a reason the skiing is good there, and vineyards and fruit trees prosper). So you need to be able to at least deal with (if not somewhat thrive) with that.

BTW - if you want to get a literary feel for the area, with fly-fishing stories in the mix, check out Jerry Dennis' "A River Home" or "A Place on the Water". Jerry lives on Old Mission Peninsula which juts out from TC and separates the east and wests arms of Grand Traverse Bay. He's lived in the area pretty much his whole life.
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Old 07-15-2017, 12:14 AM
 
1,580 posts, read 1,581,268 times
Reputation: 1618
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghaleon View Post
My wife and I are planning on moving to western MI in a year or two. I work from home, so we can choose wherever we please and we're having a really hard time narrowing down our options among all of the beautiful towns and cities along the west coast.

To start getting an idea of where we'd like to settle, we are going to do a whirlwind 4 night tour of western MI. I know this is not nearly enough time, but it is all that we can manage right now. Our goal for this trip is to get a very general feel for each town and what they have to offer.

We are a young(ish) married couple, expecting our first baby in a few months. Things we will be keeping an eye out for will be:

-active downtown areas with at least a few restaurants and family friendly breweries/wineries
-young(ish) population
-proximity to trout streams and ski hills
-proximity to Grand Rapids (this would be nice, but is not a deal breaker)
-affordable lake access (not necessarily just lake MI, we'd also be happy with sports-friendly inland-lakes)
-affordable real estate (our budget is ~200k)
-year-round population


Our high-level itinerary looks like this:

Day 1 - Day in Grand Rapids, sleep in Holland
Day 2 - day in Holland, evening/sleep in Grand Haven
Day 3 - day in Ludington, sleep in Manistee
Day 4 - day in Mainistee, sleep in Traverse City
Day 5 - day in Traverse City

Am I hitting the right places? Any suggestions for activities and towns would be greatly appreciated. My wife is 6 months in, so there won't be any rigorous exercise or drinkin', but slow walks and lunches at breweries are definitely still in the cards.
You have Western Michigan and Traverse City area on your itinerary. Keep in mind they are far from each other. So, if you are thinking of going to see both areas, I would skip Manistee, nothing against it, but you really don't need a whole day there. There is so much to do in the Traverse City Area that it requires much more than a day. You are better off just stopping in Manistee for a quick look, and then head up to the Traverse City Area. There are so many nice places up there. Frankfort, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Glen Arbor, Suttons Bay, Torch Lake.

Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Shore, and Charlevoix are probably too far as well as Mackinac Island - but worth seeing if possible. As far as Western Michigan, Saugatuck is a must.

Pure Michigan | Official Travel & Tourism Website for Michigan

https://www.experiencegr.com/
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,862 posts, read 17,620,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Republic of Michigan View Post
You have Western Michigan and Traverse City area on your itinerary. Keep in mind they are far from each other. So, if you are thinking of going to see both areas, I would skip Manistee, nothing against it, but you really don't need a whole day there. There is so much to do in the Traverse City Area that it requires much more than a day. You are better off just stopping in Manistee for a quick look, and then head up to the Traverse City Area. There are so many nice places up there. Frankfort, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Glen Arbor, Suttons Bay, Torch Lake.

Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Shore, and Charlevoix are probably too far as well as Mackinac Island - but worth seeing if possible. As far as Western Michigan, Saugatuck is a must.

Pure Michigan | Official Travel & Tourism Website for Michigan

https://www.experiencegr.com/
I would agree with this. You could spend 2 or 3 days just in the Crystal Lake to Petoskey area. But I wouldn't personally settle anywhere in those areas as a young couple with kids on the way. TC would be the only option. If you were retiring, maybe.

While in Grand Rapids, if you're looking for breweries you might check out this map. I don't even think it's completely up to date since quite a few more have opened in the last couple of years:

https://res.cloudinary.com/simplevie...674a909ce8.pdf

Most are family friendly. If you're only in town for a day or so I'd check out Founders (the biggest), New Holland on Bridge St, Brewery Vivant, Harmony, Elk (Comstock Park location), Perrin and/or Mitten Brewing. Harmony and Mitten have great pizzas, fyi. Perrin is pretty far out of the city but it's a great spot. Or stop by the infamous Hopcat (the flagship location).

With a budget of $200K you're going to have a hard time finding something with lake access, anywhere in Michigan. Especially an all sports lake. Unless you're talking about just the lot.

If you like skiing, trout fishing and any other outdoor recreation, you might check out Rockford, North of Grand Rapids. It has Cannonsburg Ski area, which also has a great mountain biking park year round, and has the Rogue River which is a great fly fishing and kayaking destination. It also has the White Pine Trail, and several other awesome mountain biking parks, Merrell, Luton and Cannonsburg State Game area (I mountain bike which is why I bring it up ). All are open all winter long too for fat biking. Downtown Rockford is pretty cool with a lot of restaurants and shops right along the Rogue River by the dam.

There are also quite a few lakes in the Rockford area, most with public access points.

Last edited by magellan; 07-15-2017 at 08:43 AM..
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Old 07-15-2017, 08:39 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,091 posts, read 5,575,572 times
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I agree with Magellan. You will definitely want to include a visit to the Rockford area.
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:28 PM
 
Location: Naperville, IL
184 posts, read 185,652 times
Reputation: 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by magellan View Post

With a budget of $200K you're going to have a hard time finding something with lake access, anywhere in Michigan. Especially an all sports lake. Unless you're talking about just the lot.
You can find waterfront at the 200K$ price point if you're not too picky, and willing to be out a ways from TC (but still near good trout water)... sure they're not "resort" properties...

https://www.trulia.com/property/1082...-City-MI-49686
https://www.trulia.com/property/3207...ochen-MI-49643
https://www.trulia.com/property/3102...-Lake-MI-48629
https://www.trulia.com/property/3273...anton-MI-49663
https://www.trulia.com/property/3271...-Hale-MI-48739
https://www.trulia.com/property/3260...eorge-MI-48633
https://www.trulia.com/property/3269...ylord-MI-49735


And if you want to be close (30-45 min) to GR...

https://www.trulia.com/property/3551...ville-MI-49344
https://www.trulia.com/property/3220...tings-MI-49058
https://www.trulia.com/property/3273...-City-MI-49329
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:31 AM
 
8 posts, read 10,462 times
Reputation: 25
Wow, so much great info. Thank you for the detailed responses!

It definitely sounds like we need to focus more of our trip on the Traverse city area, which won't be a problem if take RoM's advice and switch a night in Manistee with an extra night in Traverse City. Here is a revised itinerary


Day 1 - Morning/afternoon in Grand Rapids, sleep in Holland
Day 2 - day trip to Grand Haven and Rockford, sleep in Holland or Grand Haven
Day 3 - depart early, stop briefly at Luddington and Manistee, sleep in Traverse City
Day 4 - Traverse City
Day 5 - day in Traverse City, depart

How does this look? I'm worried that the first couple of days might be a little ambitious, but our goal in this trip is to get a very general feel for each town and to narrow down our options.

The next step will be planning the perfect two-day itinerary in Traverse city so that I can win my wife over on the area. At this point she is gravitating to the Grand Rapids area due to its proximity to Chicago and the airport.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoePO View Post

Oh yeah - snow - most of the areas you are talking about get a fair bit of lake-effect enhanced snow. We're talking 100+ inches/year, especially farther north in the TC area (there's a reason the skiing is good there, and vineyards and fruit trees prosper). So you need to be able to at least deal with (if not somewhat thrive) with that.

BTW - if you want to get a literary feel for the area, with fly-fishing stories in the mix, check out Jerry Dennis' "A River Home" or "A Place on the Water". Jerry lives on Old Mission Peninsula which juts out from TC and separates the east and wests arms of Grand Traverse Bay. He's lived in the area pretty much his whole life.
We are definitely snow people, and the proximity to Boyne will be a big selling point. And thanks for the book recommendations! I had never heard of Jerry Dennis and have already ordered both of these books



Quote:
Originally Posted by Republic of Michigan View Post

Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Shore, and Charlevoix are probably too far as well as Mackinac Island - but worth seeing if possible. As far as Western Michigan, Saugatuck is a must.

We are already familiar with Mackinac Island. It is where we were married a couple of years ago

Saugatuck was not on my radar. Why is it a must see, and what would set it apart from, say, Holland or Grand Haven?



Quote:
Originally Posted by magellan View Post

While in Grand Rapids, if you're looking for breweries you might check out this map. I don't even think it's completely up to date since quite a few more have opened in the last couple of years:

https://res.cloudinary.com/simplevie...674a909ce8.pdf

Most are family friendly. If you're only in town for a day or so I'd check out Founders (the biggest), New Holland on Bridge St, Brewery Vivant, Harmony, Elk (Comstock Park location), Perrin and/or Mitten Brewing. Harmony and Mitten have great pizzas, fyi. Perrin is pretty far out of the city but it's a great spot. Or stop by the infamous Hopcat (the flagship location).

With a budget of $200K you're going to have a hard time finding something with lake access, anywhere in Michigan. Especially an all sports lake. Unless you're talking about just the lot.

If you like skiing, trout fishing and any other outdoor recreation, you might check out Rockford, North of Grand Rapids. It has Cannonsburg Ski area, which also has a great mountain biking park year round, and has the Rogue River which is a great fly fishing and kayaking destination. It also has the White Pine Trail, and several other awesome mountain biking parks, Merrell, Luton and Cannonsburg State Game area (I mountain bike which is why I bring it up ). All are open all winter long too for fat biking. Downtown Rockford is pretty cool with a lot of restaurants and shops right along the Rogue River by the dam.

There are also quite a few lakes in the Rockford area, most with public access points.
Thanks! I will definitely look into the Rockford area. It's a little further inland than what we have in mind at the moment, but it looks really nice.
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:20 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,091 posts, read 5,575,572 times
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The Rockford area has some "up north" qualities while still being convenient to Grand Rapids. The local ski hill (Cannonsburg) is not as impressive as what you'll find Up North, but the trade off is that you are near GR. Rockford also has nice rolling hills and lots of inland lakes to the east of town. Wabasis Lake park would be a good one to check out, and there's no entry fee. The lakeshore area west of GR is actually less "pretty" than Rockford, and by that I mean flat landscape without all the inland lakes. But of course you then have Lake Michigan, which more than makes up for the slightly less interesting landscape leading up to the Big Lake.

It's all about personal preferences and what trade-offs you want to make. Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,862 posts, read 17,620,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan83 View Post
The Rockford area has some "up north" qualities while still being convenient to Grand Rapids. The local ski hill (Cannonsburg) is not as impressive as what you'll find Up North, but the trade off is that you are near GR. Rockford also has nice rolling hills and lots of inland lakes to the east of town. Wabasis Lake park would be a good one to check out, and there's no entry fee. The lakeshore area west of GR is actually less "pretty" than Rockford, and by that I mean flat landscape without all the inland lakes. But of course you then have Lake Michigan, which more than makes up for the slightly less interesting landscape leading up to the Big Lake.

It's all about personal preferences and what trade-offs you want to make. Good luck!
Lake Michigan is great to visit but honestly I wouldn't want to live near it. It's always 10 - 15 degrees cooler within a couple of miles of the lake, and taking a boat out on the big lake is challenging at best. And I can't remember the last time I went in Lake Michigan and the water was warm. Plus all that wind and sand beats the snot out of your house.

Just a small rant. I'd take a large inland lake over Lake Michigan any day (if I could afford Lake Michigan frontage).

I would add to my above comment that the Newaygo/White Cloud to Montague/Whitehall area has the same beautiful terrain as the Rockford area, for a lot less money. I just kayaked on the White River in the Manistee National Forest and it was incredibly beautiful. Our neighbors introduced us to pontooning on the Croton Hardy Dam Pond last summer and I was doubly impressed. I had no idea some of these places existed.
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,862 posts, read 17,620,584 times
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Originally Posted by JoePO View Post
Nice finds! I have friends who ask me about buying lakefront property near Grand Rapids and it's all getting pretty expensive. Guess I have to venture further out.
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