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Old 05-01-2019, 08:31 AM
 
3 posts, read 3,164 times
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My fiance and I are both 25 and currently living in Northern Virginia. The cost here in the DC metro area is simply too repressive for us to live with any meaningful time for ourselves, and are looking to leave the area in the next year or two. We're hoping for our friend to join us from Oregon to go in on a 2/3br to rent. After researching some cities like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Chicago, we stumbled upon Grand Rapids and saw that it had quite a bit economic growth and high praise for its QoL. We loved what we've read so far, and plan on visiting this summer and again this winter to get a stronger feel for the area.


We do have a few questions:

How sustainable do you feel the area's CoL and job growth will be for the future?

My fiance and I share a car, but our friend would prefer to primarily get around via bike (which we would love to shift to as well, if possible). How bikeable is the area? What are the more bikeable neighborhoods? How is public transit? Would bikes and transit be sufficient to live without a car?

During the winters, how much does the snow affect daily life? How much does it typically snow at once, and how often? How humid are the summers?


Thank you all for your help!
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Old 05-01-2019, 09:56 AM
 
Location: between three Great Lakes.
1,974 posts, read 2,147,136 times
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Life-long Michigan resident here, living in Grand Rapids since 1982. I'll answer your last question first.
There's "humid", and then there's Eastern Seaboard "humid." I spent a week in Washington D.C. once, and there is no comparison! In Grand Rapids, you'll notice a slight dampness in the air on many summer days, but nothing crippling, that'll have you ducking into air conditioned buildings for relief.
My husband and I are a one-car family, and between our bus passes, my motorscooter, and occasional bicycling, we make it work.
The public transit here is okay, but not comparable to larger cities. Improvements are incremental, but it's well worth it to get acquainted with the system and use it...it's pretty easy to learn.
The more bikeable neighborhoods are Eastown, Midtown, East Hills, Cherry Hill, and some others close to downtown.
From the tone of your questions, I think you and your fiancé would much enjoy living in a close-in neighborhood like the ones mentioned, and not in a farther, suburban-feel neighborhood. There's lots to do for young people such as yourselves.
You didn't ask, but our sales tax in Michigan is 6%, which is lower than the other states you're considering.
About your first questions, I'll let more knowledgeable folks answer.
I hope you choose Grand Rapids! You would love it here.
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Old 05-01-2019, 11:07 AM
 
4,194 posts, read 3,867,465 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yalls_ View Post

We do have a few questions:

How sustainable do you feel the area's CoL and job growth will be for the future?
If you look at the area's growth over the last 60 years it's been very steady. Grand Rapids has been an outlier compared to other midsized Midwestern towns in it's economic resilience, and ability to adapt. Economically I expect it to continue to be stable and grow. This is mainly due to the rapid growth in the healthcare and bio-sciences sectors which have exploded here over the last 20 years. The area is still heavy in manufacturing, but there are several diversified smaller firms vs. a few big firms, so during economic downturns Grand Rapids traditionally hasn't fallen as far as some of it's counterparts, and it bounces back quicker. The area has had some success attracting more creative types of late which are also helping to diversify things. The long term out look for the area is stable. That said it's much smaller than places like DC which can limit options, but the red hot employment market helps keep the job market competitive for job seekers.

In terms of CoL it's paradise compared to the coastal cities, it will likely remain that way. It's experienced higher than average growth over the last ten years which has impacted CoL to a small degree. The growth is not enough to push CoL into expensive territory though. Long term I would expect CoL to rise a bit as housing options and rental vacancies stay low. I'd check out rental rates in the neighborhoods you're interested in, they might be higher than you expect, or you might consider them a bargain.

Quote:
My fiance and I share a car, but our friend would prefer to primarily get around via bike (which we would love to shift to as well, if possible). How bikeable is the area? What are the more bikeable neighborhoods? How is public transit? Would bikes and transit be sufficient to live without a car?
The neighborhoods in and around downtown are fairly bikeable. The city has been making a push toward bikeability and for every road upgrade, it has reconfigured for better bike lines, and put in more strict ordinances to protect bikers. A lot of streets are pretty narrow so they still feel a bit tight for the bikers (I'm not a biker so I can't speak from experience). If you live in the core areas you can bike pretty easily.)

In terms of transit, if you're used to DC, you will find GR lacking. Grand Rapids bus system is pretty extensive, especially downtown with multiple overlapping routes. If you mostly stick to the core areas it's still fairly convenient. If you ever need to use the public transit into the suburbs you will find it lacking. Weekend service is greatly reduced. Weekday rush periods busses run every 10-15 minutes so it's still somewhat convenient. I am a bus commuter for work (it's just easier to be downtown without a car) but I still use my car for pretty much everything else.

Quote:
During the winters, how much does the snow affect daily life? How much does it typically snow at once, and how often? How humid are the summers?
It can get pretty snowy here, because of that there is basically an army of snow removal teams and they are very efficient. Big snow events can be somewhat disruptive, but because snow is common the area recovers much more quickly than places along the coasts and south, and drivers tend to handle it better. While there can be quite a bit of snow during the winter, there can also be weeks at a time without snow too. In an average winter you're looking at about 30 days of snow driving dispersed throughout the season. The harder part for most transplants is the cloud cover. Warmer Lake Michigan puts off quite a bit of vapor as the colder air moves through and it can be grey for a few weeks at a time. If there's an upside to that it's that the clouds trap the warmer air in, and the area is less prone to the severe cold spells that can happen on the western side of Lake Michigan.

Summers here are magical. It's hard to explain the vibe in GR during the warmer months other than it feels like one of the prettiest places on earth to me. It is humid, and it can be uncomfortable, but there are only a few days a year when it's as sticky as DC is. Keep in mind that Michigan is surrounded by more fresh water than any other place on earth. With that comes all kinds of recreation, hills, dunes, and coastlines to explore. The inland lakes and the access to Traverse City and the north country makes the area full of outdoor activities that people unfamiliar with the area often don't consider.


I apologize for the TLDR. If you're serious about GR I'd look neighborhoods surrounding downtown:

Midtown
Westside/Bridge St.
Eastown
Heritage Hills
Cherry Hill
The East Hills
Fulton Heights
and Creston.
The Westside in general is pretty up and coming but it may have more of a college vibe, depending on what you're looking for.

If you find places you're interested south of Wealthy on either side of 131 you might want to reach out to better understand the feel of those neighborhoods. They can be hit or miss. If you have other questions feel free to ask
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Old 05-01-2019, 12:36 PM
 
108 posts, read 48,462 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yalls_ View Post
How sustainable do you feel the area's CoL and job growth will be for the future?
Cost of Living, specifically rental and real estate, has sky rocketed in recent years, and wages have not kept up, but I'm seeing this trend in much of the USA. But houses that cost $1,000/mo 5 years ago now cost $1500 and homes that sold for $120-150k 5 years ago are now going for $180-200k....

Quote:
Originally Posted by yalls_ View Post
My fiance and I share a car, but our friend would prefer to primarily get around via bike (which we would love to shift to as well, if possible). How bikeable is the area? What are the more bikeable neighborhoods? How is public transit? Would bikes and transit be sufficient to live without a car?
It's bikeable and public transit is ok if you leave somewhere within GR city limits. It's much more bike-able than a city like Pittsburgh, but nowhere near the Bike-ability and not even in the same stratosphere of public transit as Portland, OR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yalls_ View Post
During the winters, how much does the snow affect daily life? How much does it typically snow at once, and how often? How humid are the summers?
Winters are brutal here. Grand Rapids has the 3rd most cloudy days in the country (only Seattle and Anchorage are worse). The snow is inconsistent, you may have a wet winter in the 20's and 30's or you may have a cold snowy winter in the 00-'s and 10's. Usually it falls somewhere in between. The grey and rain/snow tend to start in early November, with snow accumulation starting in December, and that lasts through April. In my opinion May-September (October on a good year) are the only liveable months here.

Take this with a grain of salt. I hate winter, but I'd still choose GR over Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Columbus, or Chicago.
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:13 AM
 
1,582 posts, read 1,615,982 times
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9q68xCRzXE

This is an hour away from Grand Rapids
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:45 AM
 
125 posts, read 134,034 times
Reputation: 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Republic of Michigan View Post

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9q68xCRzXE

This is an hour away from Grand Rapids
I would have said Silver Lake is at least two hours away, but I'm an old man that (sometimes) drives like an old man. I checked Google maps and it say one hour sixteen minutes, so you're not too far off.

Having said that, there are all sorts of sand dunes and beaches on Lake Michigan even closer, some less than an hour away.

And as for how bad winters are, people highly exaggerate, here's how us locals spend our winters:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiBfFyCC-l8

Grand Rapids in thirty seconds:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYRIsvCsUw0

Last edited by walker46; 05-02-2019 at 11:18 AM..
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
8,330 posts, read 16,901,228 times
Reputation: 9150
I'm a Gen Xer who grew up in Grand Rapids and most of my high school graduating class couldn't wait to get out of the city after graduation. GR has improved a lot since 1990, and a lot of my classmates who left ended up moving back over time for quality of life reasons that go beyond just being close so the grandparents could babysit their kids.

If you can handle the winter gloom, you really can get a lot for your money. There's about a $2K median family income difference between metro Grand Rapids/Kent County and Los Angeles County, and median home sales prices are maybe 35-40% of what you'd pay in Los Angeles and come with reasonably good schools and a '20 minutes to anywhere except the beach' commute if you chose wisely. Easy to have good evenings out, see minor league hockey or baseball, have a museum membership, etc. and still be able to afford that all important trip to Somewhere Sunny during winter months.
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Old 05-02-2019, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,780,313 times
Reputation: 3843
Quote:
Originally Posted by yalls_ View Post
My fiance and I are both 25 and currently living in Northern Virginia. The cost here in the DC metro area is simply too repressive for us to live with any meaningful time for ourselves, and are looking to leave the area in the next year or two. We're hoping for our friend to join us from Oregon to go in on a 2/3br to rent. After researching some cities like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Chicago, we stumbled upon Grand Rapids and saw that it had quite a bit economic growth and high praise for its QoL. We loved what we've read so far, and plan on visiting this summer and again this winter to get a stronger feel for the area.


We do have a few questions:

How sustainable do you feel the area's CoL and job growth will be for the future?

My fiance and I share a car, but our friend would prefer to primarily get around via bike (which we would love to shift to as well, if possible). How bikeable is the area? What are the more bikeable neighborhoods? How is public transit? Would bikes and transit be sufficient to live without a car?

During the winters, how much does the snow affect daily life? How much does it typically snow at once, and how often? How humid are the summers?


Thank you all for your help!
Grand Rapids was recently ranked the #4 city in the country for millennial relo's/homebuyers.

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/gove...re-moving-most

But no joke winters can be brutal. I know quite a few people who make it a yearly routine to get out of here in February and go somewhere with some sun, even if it's snowy sun (like Utah, Colorado or Idaho).

But if you're into the outdoors at all, hands down you can't beat the recreational opportunities here. And accessibility is key, ie, you can get off work at 5 or 5:30, go home, change clothes, and be on a mountain biking trail, climbing a sand dune at Lake Michigan, on a river fly fishing, on a golf course, backpacking, camping or boating with friends by 6:30. And since we're on the far end of Eastern Time Zone, it doesn't get dark until 10:00pm here in the Summer. It really is that "dreamy" for outdoor enthusiasts.
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:23 AM
 
1,075 posts, read 963,604 times
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I live not far from you in Virginia, and have lived in Grand Rapids, so might be able to give a unique perspective.

Humidity in Virginia is not the same as Grand Rapids. Humidity in Virginia is brutal.

The snow, and winters in general, are awful. There's no way around it or upside to the winters there aside from the beauty of the first snow. The only thing snow really affects are commute times and house maintenance.

It's a nice place to live. I miss it from time to time. Ultimately, I moved back to Virginia. I was attracted to the low COL and opportunity but left due to high property taxes, crazy winters, and a rapidly rising COL. My situation was unique though in that I bought in EGR and had my property taxes spike after I bought. I dealt with it for a couple years but when I looked to buy, property prices had gone up 20-30% and it was no longer worth living there.

It's a nice place to live. Would move back if the right opportunity came along!
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:19 AM
 
3 posts, read 3,164 times
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Thank you all for the information!

It seems like most of the housing recommendations in this thread, and elsewhere online, are focused around East Hills and Eastown. Pretty much within the borders of Michigan St to the North, Wealthy to the South, Lafayette and Plymouth from East to West.

However, I haven't heard much in general about the neighborhoods North of Michigan and 196. Belknap Lookout and Highland Park? Nor have I heard much about West of the river, between the neighborhoods of Swan and West Grand (forgive me as Google maps doesn't show as much neighborhood naming conventions as the Eastern side).

Would anyone be able to share some insight on those areas?
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