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Old 11-14-2019, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, GA
5 posts, read 4,236 times
Reputation: 18

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It's a few years down the road, but my wife and I are considering relocating to Michigan. We have friends that live in the state, one in South Lyon and another in Kalamazoo. I've been to the state several times and my wife came up last September for the first time. When we visited last September, we drove up from our home south of Atlanta to St. Igneous, going through South Lyon. Then on our return trip, we went through Traverse City, and down through Holland and Saugatuck.

We both enjoyed the atmosphere of the places we traveled to. We also liked how the population of the towns and cities seemed to be more established. Meaning there's not some huge influx of people moving in from out of state. Maybe its just me, but there seems to be more of a "pride of ownership" mindset than we see down south.

We're both from the same area in the South Metro Atlanta area. As we have gotten older, we both have become intolerant of the heat. Cold weather actually doesn't seem to bother us. We do not have any kids, and are not very close to our families.

Our friends both recommended Rockford first. It seems to be a good fit with our beliefs and it's in a good proximity to a large city like Grand Rapids. Home prices seem to be a little high, but given where Rockford is I can understand that. I recently started to look at Midland too. I know that's where DOW chemical headquarters is located and the city seems to offer with the things we like to do. Home prices appear to be lower there, but crime is low in the area as well. As to our jobs, my wife has a background in marketing, while my background is more technical. I'm more of a hands on person in electric motor repair and other types of mechanical repair type jobs. So, we're looking for an area that would be good for both of our professions.
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Old 11-14-2019, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
12,330 posts, read 20,733,612 times
Reputation: 15196
Metro Grand Rapids has managed to claw back a bunch of manufacturing and other skilled blue collar jobs over the past decade and is also going to have more businesses in need of marketing experts. And there are other parts of metro GR like Lowell or Byron Center or parts of Caledonia that might be a little cheaper and help you avoid a daily north of town US 131 commute (nothing like an outside the Perimeter commute in ATL but annoying nonetheless, especially during perpetual road construction) and still check the boxes on the features list.

The problem with Midland is that it's a smaller city and if you need to look further afield for jobs, you're talking Saginaw (which has rather a 'Thank God for Flint and Benton Harbor' kind of existence) or Bay City (trying hard to make a comeback with mixed results) or, well, Flint.
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Old 11-14-2019, 06:23 PM
 
1,299 posts, read 1,692,040 times
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Exactly what beachmouse said. The greater Grand Rapids area is a much bigger and more economically progressive area that the Tri-Cities area (Saginaw, Bay City, Midland). Basically there are going to be likely more options and job prospects in that region as a whole.

Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas are going to put you within an hour of many of the Lake Michigan beach/resort towns and State Parks.

I have not spent a lot of time in Midland, but I had a friend who had to a residency in Saginaw and they couldn't wait to get out of the area.
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Old 11-14-2019, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, GA
5 posts, read 4,236 times
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I had a feeling there was a catch to the more affordable homes in Midland. I also worry if DOW ever left it will be devastating to the town. Is there any particular area around GR that should be avoided? I know a lot can change between now and say the next 5 years when we might actually pull the trigger, but we currently live in one of those areas that could go either way in a few years. We would hate to be in the same situation just in a different state.
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Old 11-15-2019, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Louisville
5,018 posts, read 5,262,251 times
Reputation: 8965
Quote:
Originally Posted by Motorwinder View Post
I had a feeling there was a catch to the more affordable homes in Midland. I also worry if DOW ever left it will be devastating to the town. Is there any particular area around GR that should be avoided? I know a lot can change between now and say the next 5 years when we might actually pull the trigger, but we currently live in one of those areas that could go either way in a few years. We would hate to be in the same situation just in a different state.
Dow is pretty firmly entrenched in Midland. Both with operations, and corporate/R&D brain trust I don't think there's really a risk of it leaving anytime soon. Midland is the most attractive of the tri-cities for a reason.

In terms of good/bad areas around Grand Rapids, keep in mind how different development patterns are between high growth/transient sunbelt cities like Atlanta, vs. the more stable growth/stable neighborhood base of Northern cities like Grand Rapids.

My experience with sunbelt cities is that they grow so fast that neighborhoods built 25-30 years ago can be transitional or bad. New and existing residents tend to chase after the constant newer housing stock that get's built. In a recovered Rust-Belt city like Grand Rapids neighborhoods built 25-30 years ago are typically still considered somewhat newer, as there is a much smaller market for new housing. What this leads to is a blending of good/bad neighborhoods in Sun Belt cities, making it more difficult to know when you may have transitioned into a questionable area. While Rust Belt cities are quite different in that the bad areas tend to be confined to certain neighborhoods of the inner city (typically with the oldest housing stock) and there's a very definite transition between good and bad neighborhoods. This makes it much easier to identify less desirable locations.

Grand Rapids is a fairly rapidly gentrifying city so there are a few neighborhoods that are transitioning back to desirability. There are a couple of zip codes within the city, and inner ring that you might want to avoid. However it doesn't seem as if you are interested in living in the urban core so as long as you stick to a radius of 2nd ring suburbs it's very unlikely you'll find any neighborhood that would make you feel uncomfortable (Unless you are bothered by a high concentration of Caucasian individuals, diversity is often important).

The city of Grandville may be a cheaper option to Rockford. It's older, and not quite as quaint, but it does have a decent little downtown, the housing stock is more affordable than Rockford, and it's closer to the core. Look at cities like Rockford, Hudsonville, Jenison(Georgetown Twp), Lowell(further out), perhaps even as far away as Grand Haven and Greenville. Even places like Comstock Park, and Walker may be ok options for what you're considering.
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Old 11-15-2019, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
2,232 posts, read 4,398,295 times
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Generally the southwest side of GR tends to be pretty sketchy.
Attached Thumbnails
Possible move from South Metro Atlanta, GA to MI. Midland or Rockford?-gr-map.jpg  
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Old 11-15-2019, 07:17 PM
 
915 posts, read 1,387,251 times
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In Midland, the big employers are basically Dow and DuPont. And everything tends to support them. Very much a company town when it comes to chemical manufacturing. A friend of mine had a contract gig out there years ago and he couldn't stop talking about how the two companies are rivals and that a lot of the bars in town are either Dow or DuPont bars and which company you were a part of was a big deal for socializing/meeting people.

In Grand Rapids, there are lot more options for work and the area is doing well. Yes, like all cities, it has its struggles, but it has put a lot of effort into revitalizing and reinventing itself.

Good luck!
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Old 11-16-2019, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Detroit
680 posts, read 431,628 times
Reputation: 1421
Born and raised in Midland. Dow, public schools, and Mid Michigan Health are largest employers. Dow will not leave, in fact they just build a very expensive new headquarters. It’s safe in terms of violent crime. There is theft and drugs though, wouldn’t say it’s a huge problem that will be really noticeable if you lock doors, but it does exist. It’s a good town for families, single people don’t like it generally. It’s a sleepy bedroom community. I just needed a change, the winters got to be too much after 33 years. Midland is the best tri city hands down. Good mix of housing, older homes and newer. In 2017 they had some major flooding, even homes not in a flood plain. The sewer system is connected to the storm system and homes built before 1989(?) are affected. Meaning sewer water could back up through the toilet and flood the house. Newer homes don’t have that issue because the footing drains address that issue.
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Old 11-16-2019, 07:43 PM
 
Location: Michigan
2,687 posts, read 2,539,713 times
Reputation: 6389
Midland is also about to get a COSTCO store, built on land off Midland/Bay City rd, and US-10 expressway (across the street more or less from Valley Plaza Inn) The next closest ones are in Lansing, and Traverse City. So, it'll be the only one anywhere near the mid-Michigan area.

It also has an extensive paved railtrail biking/walking/roller blading, etc system. There's the Pere Marquette railtrail that goes from downtown Midland, all the way to Clare (30 miles of nice blacktop paving, and partly plowed in Winter). Once in Clare, there's a short gap of about 2 miles on regular roads to the Pere Marquette STATE trail that goes all the way to Baldwin at present, just 30~ miles short of Ludington. That gap in Clare should be closed in another 2 years, to connect directly to the state trail.

They are close to rehabbing the old Smith's Crossing bridge (should be done in about 3 years), which will connect to Bay City and Saginaw railtrails.
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Old 11-17-2019, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Fayetteville, GA
5 posts, read 4,236 times
Reputation: 18
Thanks everyone for the replies, and to Topher 5150 for the map! I think both cities would be a good fit for us. We like older neighborhoods close in to a town, as long as the homes are on decent lots. We would prefer as close to as an acre as possible, but a 1/2 acre would be fine. We now have 5 acres, but its too much upkeep for the both of us, and I have some health issues that prevent me from doing too much work. We like having unique restaurants, parks and museums nearby. Which are all things we do not have now. All of those things are in Atlanta, which is a 1.5-2 hour drive one way, with good traffic! Plus, not to sound like an alarmist or a prepper, but I'm not crazy about living near such a densely populated city. By some accounts, there's about 6 million people in the metro area. I think thats a conservative number since it doesn't include northern counties that have had a population explosion in recent years. It's just too crowded here for us!
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