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Old 03-08-2012, 02:48 PM
19 posts, read 71,692 times
Reputation: 11


My family and I are contemplating a move to the Grand Rapids area and are planning a trip to check out nearby suburbs/towns over spring break. So, I'm looking for more information on places we should visit. My husband works from home for a company out of Washington State, so as long as he doesn't lose this job, everything's kosher, but should he lose it, the opportunities for him there would be slim. The risk of this is what has been holding us back. We currently live in the Minneapolis area, but lived in an apt. in Wyoming,10-15 years ago, while he attended Kendall & I worked in downtown GR. So we know a little about the area and liked it. If my husband did have to find a job there, he might have a few opportunities in G.R., Holland or Zeeland. We love being near Lake MI, & GR is only 2 hrs. from our parents in Indiana, rather than 10.

Our main criteria would be decent to good schools--our son will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. I say decent because the best schools seem to be in affluent areas we cannot afford. Also a priority is housing value (we can afford around $150K, definitely not more than $200K). After that, pluses would be things like neat downtown/shops, historic areas, nice parks, public gardens or neat places to hike or walk. I'm a nuture nut. We like unique places like Eastown (out because of poor public schools), or gaslight village (out of our price range, as is Ada and Forest Hills). Spring Lake or Rockford seem too far North (if the commute would be 45 min or more at rush hour). Holland might fit the bill, but I'm concerned about the schools. It looks like they rank in the lower 50% in the state--I'm not sure how bad that is.

As far as housing goes, we (I esp.) don't like subdivisions where all the houses are beige & look similar with little landscaping (what we find a lot here). And we understand that in our price range we may have to go w/an older home like from the 30's to the 80's. I like older neighborhoods anyway, with varied housing styles and old-growth trees! Thus, we need help with all the places we know little-to-nothing about e.g. Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, Zeeland, etc. Any opinions or insights would be appreciated. Let us know if we've overlooked a hidden gem!
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:37 AM
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,625,883 times
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It sounds like you don't want to be too far out from downtown?

A few areas that don't get mentioned as often on this forum are the Northview school district, Kenowa Hills school district, and the Comstock Park area. Northview is directly adjacent to the northeast side of Grand Rapids. There are some nice, affordable, older neighborhoods with mature trees. There is no city called "Northview", but I think the district includes some neighborhoods that are actually within the Grand Rapids city limits.

Comstock Park is basically straight north from downtown. Kenowa Hills is to the northwest and west, and includes the suburb of Walker. These areas might be worth checking out also.

These areas are not the trendy place for people to move to in the area, but they are all solid school districts with plenty of nice homes to choose from. They are also less congested than suburbs to the south like Wyoming, Kentwood, and Grandville. The White Pine Trail ( a popular biking and jogging trail) runs through Comstock Park, so you would have easy access to it from all three of these areas.

The drawback to these areas is that none of them have a defined, traditional downtown (but neither do Kentwood or Grandville). Well... actually, Comstock Park does have a small downtown, but it is lacking in charm somewhat. I'm guessing that these areas have more long-time residents and people with deep roots than places like East GR and Forest Hills, so they might not be as open to new people.

Northview area:

Comstock Park area:

Kenowa Hills area:

Last edited by michigan83; 03-09-2012 at 03:55 AM..
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:24 AM
Location: Niceville, FL
8,235 posts, read 16,834,326 times
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For a long time, the Kenowa area was where a lot of far west side families (west of the Covell Road corridor) would move when their kids were hitting middle school age. They liked Covell/Shawmut/C.A. Frost elementary schools, but weren't fans of the GRPS secondary school options. There's something of a downtown commercial cluster in the Standale area, but it's more car-based than pedestrian-based. In that area, if you stay in Walker city limits and south of Richmond Road, you're very close to the Blanford Nature Center, which has some nice trail areas.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:27 AM
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Hi there. I saw your post and thought I'd reply since we used to live in Grandville. We really enjoyed it and were very sad to have to leave it (stalled economy=job transfer to southern us). We lived near the Grandville Middle School in an established neighborhood with sidewalks that was walkable/bikeable to schools, the wonderful library, Wedgewood and Heritage Park, and the Buck Creek Trail. The Buck Creek Trail is short but it was supposed to be connecting to the larger Kent Trail system so maybe it already has. We loved the conveniences of being close to the hwy, shopping, restaurants and also took advantage of the seasonal farmers market that they held near the library and enjoyed the annual 4th of July celebration. I commuted part time to both downtown gr and the cascade area...it was an easy 10-15 minute commute to downtown and 20-25 to cascade. As far as distance from the lakeshore, we could be in holland within 30 minutes and grand haven in 35-40 min. Commuting times were absolute heaven compared to what we deal with now. Our kids were not of school age at the time so we do not have personal experience with the schools there ourselves but know several others that do. My husband grew up in the walker area and I grew up in mid michigan just to give you some background. Good luck with everything!
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:43 AM
19 posts, read 71,692 times
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Thanks michigan83 & beachmouse! I'll look into those school districts.

The only reason I'm not wanting to get too far from GR is for poss. future commute time. My husband did a 1.5 hr. commute in WA for 6 months & it nearly killed him! But if he keeps his current job, it's all mute--so it's just a matter of future risk. We're trying to be as practical as possible because we're so tired of moving & really want to try to make this one the last!

That said, if we were really being practical we would stay near Minneapolis (many more jobs & great schools), but it just doesn't hold the same appeal for me. Maybe it's because we grew up in N. Indiana, going to the Warren Dunes, Saugatuck, etc. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but they're all scummy!
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:45 AM
19 posts, read 71,692 times
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Thanks, mitttengirl38. We'll definitely look around Grandville!
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:53 AM
Location: Wyoming, MI
47 posts, read 87,440 times
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I'll also give a recommendation of Grandville school district. I have two kids attending Grand View Elementary. No problem finding houses in the $150k range. The school district extends a bit beyond the city of Grandville, so you can do a real estate search on grar.com and search by school district, rather than city.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:24 PM
19 posts, read 71,692 times
Reputation: 11
francishsu, thanks for mentioning grar.com. I'd been looking up houses on homes.com, but grar is much better!!
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:37 PM
157 posts, read 261,261 times
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Grand Rapids township does have affordable houses in your price rangs and would put your kids into Forest Hills Schools. It isn't really walkable unless you are considering a new development like Celedon New Town, but honestly GR is really a car town anyway uless you are downtown GR or East GR. Both are probably too expensive though.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:45 PM
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Well no matter where in west michigan you move you're never more than hour away even suburbs on the lakeshore ie Grand Haven,Holland,Saugatuck-douglas ect are all within a half-hour drive Rockford public schools might be good too look into
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