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Old 10-28-2012, 06:21 PM
 
13 posts, read 17,582 times
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Hi, everyone

I'm new to the forum, and currently live in northern Illinois. I'm interested in western Michigan because of the climate and proximity to the Big Lake. So, I need to decide if its to be small town peace and quiet or larger city conveniences and services.

Grand Rapids sounds attractive, but how "big city" is it really? Having lived most of my life around Chicago and its crowded suburbs, I'd like a change. Grand Haven was a consideration, but how about something a bit larger, like Muskegon--would that be considered "medium-sized"?

In general I'm looking for further information about what life is like in the area, specifically:

* I'm into ecology and outdoor recreation. Aside from the opportunities along the Big Lakeshore, does anyone have thoughts on parks, forests, smaller lakes in the region? How about state and local support/legislature of environmental issues? Are there active organizations that work to preserve the local environment?

* I don't like hot dry weather in summer, and have heard that near the Lakeshore area gets plenty of rain at that time of year, plus considerable snowfall in winter. Is that true? Sounds good to me! What about a bit further east, as in the eastern part of Grand Rapids--how much lower is the snow/rainfall in that area compared to further west?

Thank you all in advance for your help and advice!

JN
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:33 AM
 
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Grand Rapids isn't "big city" at all. It has a small downtown center with a few highrises but the rest is very suburban. You can also drive 20-30 minutes from downtown and be somewhere pretty rural. Rural might not be the right word, but there is a lot of open space.

Muskegon isn't a place that most people would recommend moving to. It's seen better days. Grand Haven is much nicer.

Regarding your questions:
*There are a lot of lakes, espescially NE and SE of GR. Too many to name really. Manistee National Preserve begins about an hour north of GR as well. There is no shortage of outdoors stuff in the area.

*The snowfall difference between right on the lake and GR isn't that much different. There is no shortage of snow in GR anyway. You can probably look up the exact numbers for say, Grand Haven and Grand Rapids for any given year, but again I wouldn't expect a major difference.

For what it's worth I am originally from (and currently live) in Chicago, so I can speak to the differences between the two areas pretty well. That being said, they aren't all that similar in my eyes.
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:12 PM
 
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Grand Rapids is the biggest city in West Michigan. It has grown a lot in the past decade and is the 'hip/modern' city in Michigan these days.

That said, it's not like Detroit or Chicago by any stretch. Like Jandur said, you don't have to drive very far to find rural/open spaces.

There are areas around Muskegon that are nice, but I wouldn't move to Muskegon itself.

Grand Rapids and West Michigan get lake effect weather from Chicago. I grew up in K-zoo and now live in the Metro Detroit area and I love that we don't get as much snow on this side of the state as people in West Michigan do.

Michiganders love the lakes and it a huge part of the culture.
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:47 PM
 
13 posts, read 17,582 times
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Jandur: Thank you for the heads up about Muskegon! I'll check into Grand Haven...I'm still interested in Grand Rapids, but would like to be a bit closer to the Big Lakeshore; how about Allendale or...any other suggestions?

Thanks again!

Judi
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:55 PM
 
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snoopygirl:

Your help is much appreciated! You suggested that there are areas around Muskegon that are nice--did you mean "nice to live in" or just "nice to visit"?.

I'm sort of leaning toward being at least nearby a good sized town/small city anyway, for shopping, night life, medical care, etc. How are those things in GR?

Thanks again!

Judi
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Old 10-30-2012, 12:18 AM
 
Location: west mich
5,739 posts, read 6,040,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorthe View Post
Jandur: Thank you for the heads up about Muskegon! I'll check into Grand Haven...I'm still interested in Grand Rapids, but would like to be a bit closer to the Big Lakeshore; how about Allendale or...any other suggestions?

Thanks again!

Judi
Allendale is quiet and a good location with basics like groceries etc. M-45 moves well in both directions (sometimes traffic around the university). It's an easy drive to both G.R. and the lakeshore.
Muskegon has seedy areas on the east side with shopping along US-31. West it has a long stretch of beach and a great state park. Pan this Bing image south from Fenner Road to Kruse Park - it's all public beach. Zoom with your mouse wheel.
Bing Maps - Driving Directions, Traffic and Road Conditions
Coopersville has one of those small quaint old downtowns, but very limited shopping.
Grand Rapids has just about everything, and I may be there myself next year. For shopping and nightlife, it comes in first, with Kalamazoo second - and that's about it for west Michigan. The coastal tourist towns like Grand Haven, have nightlife as well, but shopping is limited.

Last edited by detwahDJ; 10-30-2012 at 12:27 AM..
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:16 AM
 
95 posts, read 216,686 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorthe View Post
Jandur: Thank you for the heads up about Muskegon! I'll check into Grand Haven...I'm still interested in Grand Rapids, but would like to be a bit closer to the Big Lakeshore; how about Allendale or...any other suggestions?

Thanks again!

Judi
Allendale is a nice, centralized place to live. From there, you are just 20 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, Holland, Grand Haven, and the lakeshore.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:04 AM
 
1,210 posts, read 2,735,774 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorthe View Post
Jandur: Thank you for the heads up about Muskegon! I'll check into Grand Haven...I'm still interested in Grand Rapids, but would like to be a bit closer to the Big Lakeshore; how about Allendale or...any other suggestions?

Thanks again!

Judi
If easier access to the lake is important Allendale is a good choice. Obviously it's geographically in the middle, but it also has a decent amount of stuff/services due to Grand Valley State. I would avoid apartments though, might end up neighbors with some loud college kids.
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:02 PM
 
13 posts, read 17,582 times
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I really appreciate all the great advice, everyone! I'm doing further research based on all your suggestions!

Just to get a bit more in-depth, here's what I'm looking for: * low-to-moderate living expenses. I won't be buying property right away, so reasonable rentals in a pleasant area (not too noisy) would be of interest. * Some shopping not too far of a drive--nothing fancy--just groceries, maybe a Kmart, within fairly easy driving distance. *Accessibility to the the Lake and Lake-related recreation is very desireable too!

Here are the areas I'm focusing on now: Grand Rapids and suburbs, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Holland, and maybe up as far as Ludington.

Thanks again!

Judi N.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:15 PM
 
Location: west mich
5,739 posts, read 6,040,838 times
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This is Meijer and WalMart in Grand Haven's south end. Home Depot is at the north end before the drawbridge to Spring Lake (no shopping here). Similar shopping is in Holland, Muskegon, Standale, Ludington, but not in between. You might find Standale desirable.
Bing Maps - Driving Directions, Traffic and Road Conditions

Another option is Whitehall/Montague (quiet recreational area, near Lake Michigan, state park at Duck Lake, Meinert park & beach on Lake Michigan) but you will drive to the type of shopping you mentioned. Same with Pentwater.
Bing Maps - Driving Directions, Traffic and Road Conditions
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