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Old 12-18-2011, 11:41 AM
172 posts, read 424,109 times
Reputation: 50


Hypothetical: Job offer in Kalamazoo after working on relocating to GR for months. Would I be disappointed in Kalamazoo after falling for GR? Is Kzoo close enough to GR to occasionally make the trip to GR for a concert or event? Does Kalamazoo have enough going on for families? Good schools? Safe, nice neighborhoods where we would likely meet other families? What does Kalamazoo have going for it in your opinion. (I don't need input on whether to take job offer in Kzoo or wait for offer in GR-that is not what I am asking)
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:30 PM
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,325 times
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I lived in Kalamazoo for 12 years before moving to GR.

Kalamazoo is a nice enough town that you will find you like it for many of the same reasons you've probably fallen for GR. Both have a downtown that is reinventing itself in the quest to be relevant (and succeeding I believe). Both have an acceptable but not quite big-city selection of restaurants, brew pubs, bars, theaters, etc. for your evenings out. Both have a college that dominates parts of its news cycle (more so with WMU in Kzoo than GVSU in GR I think). Both have billionaire philanthropists that have helped reshape the city's belief that it can escape its rust-belt past (Stryker and Upjohn heirs in Kalamazoo, Amway and Meijer and others in GR).

The main difference, and the reason we've come to really love GR, is that GR does all these things on a larger scale. There are more restaurants, more culture, more philanthropists, more city, more great urban neighborhoods, more of everything really.

So, if you have a great job offer in Kalamazoo you will come to love the city and you should live there over commuting an hour every day unnecessarily (yuck).

There are two things I would consider personally, having lived in both places:
1) There are more jobs in GR. What brought me here after years of happy life in Kalamazoo was the difficulty finding a job there, and the relative ease (compared to Kalamazoo) finding one here. That's not to diminish the fact that there are jobs in Kalamazoo, just that a metro area 3-4 times larger has 3-4 times as many jobs.

2) Kalamazoo is closer to Chicago. This is a huge bonus for Kalamazoo. It's only 30-40 miles, but it makes Chicago truly equidistant from Detroit if you're living in Kalamazoo. While we like to pretend GR tilts toward Chicago, it really doesn't without some serious effort. Kalamazoo is ideally positioned for jaunts to the city, and the train may run more than once a day too (I don't recall, but you could check easily enough).

Good luck!
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:34 AM
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
16,409 posts, read 27,045,743 times
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I am living in Kalamazoo and grew up in Grand Rapids. I really think Grand Rapids is a more exciting city with more things to do. Kalamazoo is nice, don't get me wrong.. I don't think you can go wrong here.. but Grand Rapids is undoubtfully better.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:20 AM
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,623,818 times
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I actually really like Kalamazoo. In some ways, Kalamazoo's downtown has some advantages over Grand Rapids. The central business district is a little more compact, and IMO, it is easier to walk between restaurants and bars. Downtown Kalamazoo has a great movie theater, which is something that downtown GR does not have. Also, as posted above, it is a pretty easy drive to Chicago from Kalamazoo.

Another cool thing about Kalamazoo is that it is within an easy drive of SW Michigan wine country. There is nothing comparable in the GR area. Also, the beach towns along Lake Michigan that are within an easy drive of Kalamazoo are really nice. I like South Haven and St. Joseph better than Grand Haven, which is where most people from GR go when they want a beach day.

Kalamazoo also has more of a college town vibe than Grand Rapids, and a slightly more liberal attitude.

I think there are enough good things happening in Kalamazoo that it would be a reasonable "substitute" for Grand Rapids. And it's easy to drive up to GR for big events like Art Prize or to visit attractions that Kalamazoo doesn't have.

Last edited by michigan83; 12-20-2011 at 10:29 AM..
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