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Old 01-16-2013, 03:24 PM
 
97 posts, read 158,155 times
Reputation: 33

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I've thrown similar scenarios out here over the past couple of years for different job opportunities...and now one has arisen the Holland area. We have lived in Manhattan for 15 years but are originally from the Midwest (me from MI and she from WI). Now that we have a large family, it's time to move! I'm actually from South Haven, MI so this will be a bit of a homecoming for me. We have three boys, ages 5 and under, and a newborn girl (11 months) so schools--public or private--are critical.

What cities should I consider? I grew up right on Lake Michigan and would love to live near it, but I'm hoping to find that Utopian community that gives us good schools, interesting things to do (even in winter), some good restaurants, and even the ability to buy a house close to town and walk to do our errands. In other words, we are seeking a real, established neighborhood, with sidewalks that people actually use, good schools, parks and stores/shops.

At this point, we are really interested in Grand Haven. I know little about Holland and nothing of the GR suburbs or GR itself.

A couple of questions:

1. What are the schools like in those places and how is the lifestyle? Restaurants/shops/grocery stores?
2. Commuting to Holland. Is that do-able or will I drive myself insane?
3. What do folks do with kids on the weekends? Are there good sports programs?

Please no NYC bashing! We really love Manhattan and the opportunities for our kids are incomparable, but the expense is so insane ($38k for our kindergarten of choice) that it's time for something new.

Cheers!
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
8,218 posts, read 16,823,026 times
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The default recommendation of the suburb of East Grand Rapids pretty much ticks all the boxes- excellent schools that send a lot of kids to Ivies and Ivy-equivalents, interesting housing stock ranging from historic to modern, walkable downtown, etc. Commute from there to Holland is slightly annoying (and a little more than slightly annoying a few times a winter when you're dealing with lake effect snow) but it's probably going to be the best match by far for what you're looking for, and the drive would be worth it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:32 AM
 
Location: west mich
5,739 posts, read 6,039,961 times
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Since you mentioned "errands" Grand Haven downtown has entertainment and restaurants, but nothing you need. Shopping for essentials is on the north side at US-31/Jackson before the drawbridge, or south at Robbins Road, then south of that at Comstock is Meijer and Wal-Mart.
Google Maps

The pleasurable and scenic "walkable" neighborhoods are those south of downtown, while the others across US-31 are walkable but quite uninteresting imo.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
2,201 posts, read 3,736,967 times
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The hike from Grand Haven to Holland may be a bit time consuming but being all highway probably not to bad
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:19 AM
 
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Let me put in a plug for living in the downtown Holland area--especially the historic district. You are close to everything: downtown shopping, restaurants, pubs, breweries, galleries, bistros, bakeries, ice cream shops, even a cigar shop; a small college with summer stock theatre, music and arts; farmers market, nightlife, events; two theatres downtown, art in the park, multi-generational interaction, minority interaction (non-insular living), parks, pools, playgrounds, biking and running areas, waterfront boardwalks; public, public charter and Christian schools; sidewalks on both sides of every street...I could go on and on. It's truly idyllic living, even with the challenges of a modern small city that all places deal with these days.

Real estate does not come up very often in the historic district, but other areas close by (near south side, south shore drive, etc.) are still very close in. I would contact a Holland based realtor -- one that specializes in upscale homes. But don't let them lead you out to the suburbs if you are looking for convenience. 4,000 sf and a 2 acre lot might be nice, but you will need to get in the car and drive miles for even a loaf or bread. Living in Holland is great, whether you work there or not.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:39 AM
 
97 posts, read 158,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allbusiness View Post
Let me put in a plug for living in the downtown Holland area--especially the historic district. You are close to everything: downtown shopping, restaurants, pubs, breweries, galleries, bistros, bakeries, ice cream shops, even a cigar shop; a small college with summer stock theatre, music and arts; farmers market, nightlife, events; two theatres downtown, art in the park, multi-generational interaction, minority interaction (non-insular living), parks, pools, playgrounds, biking and running areas, waterfront boardwalks; public, public charter and Christian schools; sidewalks on both sides of every street...I could go on and on. It's truly idyllic living, even with the challenges of a modern small city that all places deal with these days.

Real estate does not come up very often in the historic district, but other areas close by (near south side, south shore drive, etc.) are still very close in. I would contact a Holland based realtor -- one that specializes in upscale homes. But don't let them lead you out to the suburbs if you are looking for convenience. 4,000 sf and a 2 acre lot might be nice, but you will need to get in the car and drive miles for even a loaf or bread. Living in Holland is great, whether you work there or not.
That's sort of what we're thinking as well.

We live in a 1,200 sq ft NYC condo right now. We're--literally--a very close family. But we can do anything we want any time we want living here, and are trying to hang on to some semblance of that when we move. My wife and I have concerns about how we'll keep the kids and ourselves busy and interested when not at work or in school. We don't need 4,000 sq ft--maybe about half of that with a yard, but with an accessible, practical downtown (shops, restaurants, schools) within walking distance.

I love downtown Holland. My dad worked for Bohn Aluminum in Holland (and South Haven) for about 25 years and we spent plenty of time in Holland.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:47 AM
 
97 posts, read 158,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachmouse View Post
The default recommendation of the suburb of East Grand Rapids pretty much ticks all the boxes- excellent schools that send a lot of kids to Ivies and Ivy-equivalents, interesting housing stock ranging from historic to modern, walkable downtown, etc. Commute from there to Holland is slightly annoying (and a little more than slightly annoying a few times a winter when you're dealing with lake effect snow) but it's probably going to be the best match by far for what you're looking for, and the drive would be worth it.
Thanks for this. Basic question about kid (and wife) activities/options: Can we find music/language/sports/art classes for the kids nearby? Is it a kid-friendly place?

On a related note, my wife is a high achiever and has an excellent career on national television that she will be leaving behind in order to stay home with the kids. She loves it but says she longs to leave the craziness of network tv behind. Her job cannot be replicated anywhere--not Chicago, not LA. She's also an excellent, committed mom and wife. Will she be able to make friends and perhaps meet similar women there?

Mind you, I am the one from West Michigan and she is not. My parents and relatives live there, not hers. So this would be a big commitment from my wife to make this move.

That said--leaving location out of the question entirely--the job I'm in the running for is a superior role that I would have a hard time turning down for career reasons alone. I would take the same job in NYC if such presented itself.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:08 PM
 
157 posts, read 261,119 times
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East Grand Rapids is the most kid friendly place you will find here. You will also find a highly educated and active community. I can't imagine any place here your wife would fit in better. Her hardest challenge will be adjusting to life as a stay at home mom.

Good luck!
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,870 posts, read 17,739,660 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Water 4 the Pool View Post
Thanks for this. Basic question about kid (and wife) activities/options: Can we find music/language/sports/art classes for the kids nearby? Is it a kid-friendly place?

On a related note, my wife is a high achiever and has an excellent career on national television that she will be leaving behind in order to stay home with the kids. She loves it but says she longs to leave the craziness of network tv behind. Her job cannot be replicated anywhere--not Chicago, not LA. She's also an excellent, committed mom and wife. Will she be able to make friends and perhaps meet similar women there?

Mind you, I am the one from West Michigan and she is not. My parents and relatives live there, not hers. So this would be a big commitment from my wife to make this move.

That said--leaving location out of the question entirely--the job I'm in the running for is a superior role that I would have a hard time turning down for career reasons alone. I would take the same job in NYC if such presented itself.
It will be a change for her to be home full time, for sure.

You might have her check out the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America chapter. They have monthly meetings, speakers and networking events, and it's made up of not just PR people but a lot of media and ex media people as well. She might find it fun (in her spare time). It's probably 70% women, 30% men.
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Old 04-11-2013, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Jackson, MI
28 posts, read 34,376 times
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We live in mid-Michigan and unless we can find an amazing opportunity to go south, we will be moving to the GR with my husband's job by the end of the year. In my opinion, GR is the only area I would consider moving to in MI at this point. There are some great areas around GR. East Grand Rapids and Forest Hills are supposed to be nice, educated communities with great schools. Unfortunately, they are on the opposite side of GR than Holland-about 30-40 miles. But, busy MI traffic is nothing like busy NYC traffic. GR is a very neat place. They are striving to make it more culturally diverse, greener, and healthier. There are a lot of places in MI that have been in the dumps for years now. GR seems to have avoided a lot of this and provides people with options not avaliable elsewhere. And, you still aren't far from some great beaches and camping
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