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Old 01-14-2009, 11:24 AM
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
Reputation: 3833


As I've heard many business people say recently, "Flat is the new up." Which probably is becoming the mantra nationwide.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:55 AM
26 posts, read 65,206 times
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Default Moving to KZoo from Georgia

My husband has landed a job in Kzoo and we are probably looking at moving in June or thereafter. Would we be better off living in Kzoo or Grand Rapids? This is not what we ever envisioned doing but he lost his job after 14 yrs. and we have to go where the money is. He has tried to get a job here but things have really dried up as far as jobs go. We want to naturally live a good area and would like to be as safe as we can be. We like rock music and eating out and want to be able to enjoy some of the activities we get in and around Atlanta. I am a Georgia native and he is from N.C. so this is going to be a big change for us. Help!!
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:01 PM
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
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I posted on your other thread where you asked this question, but having the answer in-hand, I'll go into more depth here.

First, your're in for at least some culture shock. When that's the case, I think you'll be best served by trying to live near work. A shorter commute means you'll have time to meet friends (near work/home) and do the other things you like.

In addition, a G.R.->Kzoo commute is about an hour in good weather. Having done that drive myself for nearly a year (before moving closer to work) I can tell you that when the snow is flying it's a pretty bad commute. It certainly doesn't stop natives of either town from staying put. If you lived in Kzoo for 10 years and had a G.R. job, you might stay in Kzoo (and vice versa). As a newbie to the area though, you should cut the commute so that you can actually get home after work in the winter.

You will find that there's more to do in G.R. and you will likely drive up here now and then to go out.... but at the end of the day, I'm thinking you'll like Kzoo better just because it's near your job. GR is a metro of about a milion people. Kzoo has about 250,000. Neither area is going to measure up to Atlanta in terms of big-city amenities. You'll want to drive to Chicago for that. If you live in Kzoo, you are about 150 miles from Chicago (http://tr.im/9uch - broken link) (drive-time is totally dependent on traffic). Conversely, G.R. is a little bit further (http://tr.im/9ud1 - broken link) (but still manageable).

Socially, I'd basically portray your choices like this: Grand Rapids is a mid-sized midwestern city. There are great places to eat, and a few places to go catch a concert on a weekend and for the most part, it's pretty happening for a metro area of about of 1 million people. Kalamazoo is a great small city. Kalamazoo County (which roughly approximates the metro area) has about 250,000 people. You will hear people who live (or lived) in Kalamazoo say "there's lots to do for such a small city." At the end of the day, that's the situation... Atlanta, Chicago and other big cities have lots to do. Period. Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids are less-boring that you'd expect them to be, but you'll be driving a few hours for big-time shopping and concerts.

That's not to paint a bad picture. West Michigan has one of the greatest natural resources in North America: Lake Michigan. The towns up and down the lakeshore offer restaurants, shopping, beaches, camping, hiking, and more. I also predict you will quickly learn to prefer "our" summers "up here." It's a very nice time of year and you get to be outside in the sun instead of inside holed up in the A/C. Conversely it was below zero for an entire week last week. My kids had total cabin fever and today when it was a balmy 19 degrees, we bundled them up and sent them outside to play for 2 hours.

If you have kids, make sure to check out the local school districts, and especially The Kalamazoo Promise.

Good luck with your transition.

Last edited by suydam; 01-18-2009 at 07:13 PM..
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Old 01-18-2009, 09:16 PM
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,859,913 times
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FIrst off, it's awesome to see someone moving from Georgia to Michigan! Usually the reverse is true, I know a lot of people who've moved south to find work.

I'd definitely recommend living in Kzoo. Even the commute from 3 Rivers to Kzoo (only 25 miles) takes over an hour in snowy weather. It's tough for Michigan natives & long-time residents, much less for someone moving from the South.

You're going to love it up here. I used to live in Georgia and Michigan is far, FAR better in my opinion. You'll find that there's a lot to do in Kzoo, it's sort of like a mini-Atlanta (without the southern accents or extreme heat). There's concerts, nightlife, restaurants, the lake, and all of that sort of stuff. The weather is nice. We get all four seasons, including beautiful snowy winters, stunning springs, nice summers, and iridescent falls. Summer's not too hot, and winters are (usually, not the case this week!) not too cold. Fall and spring are awesome, perfect weather.

You may want to consider living in Portage, Mattawan, or Schoolcraft if you have kids, as Kzoo isn't known for having a family atmosphere. Those are the nice suburban areas around Kalamazoo. The city itself is safe, but there's a lot of college students around, especially on the west side of town. If you want to live in the city of Kzoo, then look at the Westnedge Hill, Winchell, West Main Hill, and Westwood neighborhoods. Stay away from the Northside and Eastside.

As for the culture shock, there will probably be some coming from the Deep South, but like any place, you'll get used to it. It's really not that different, people are basically the same everywhere. Just try to acclimate to the Michigan way of life, and get involved in local activities - go skiing, fishing, go to the lake, things like that. You'll be fine!
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Old 01-18-2009, 09:40 PM
316 posts, read 1,081,476 times
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I would look to the area closer to you. Neither area warrants a long drive to get to and from, so if you work in kalamazoo, live there. The culture shock is going to happen in either place, but you may find it less harmful in Kalamazoo.
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:55 AM
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
Reputation: 3833
The nice thing about Kzoo (or GR for that matter) is that if you absolutely crave a big city weekend, Chicago is not that far away. And it beats Atlanta hands down for amenities, culture, night life, quirky neighborhoods, theater, shopping, parks, etc..

If you haven't lived in the Great Lakes/Midwest before, I think weather shock will be bigger than culture shock. The winter weather up here is "endured", so make sure you research as much as you can about what to expect, what to wear, how to drive, and how to have fun outdoors in the winter and stay active. Otherwise, by your third winter season here, you'll be going mad.

A little back to the topic, I just read that not only did Grand Rapids' economy outperform Michigan in 2008, but it outperformed the national average (which was still a decline in jobs).


Don't get me wrong, still bad. But according to economists, efforts to diversify over the last decade saved GR from probably following much of the rest of the state and country.

Last edited by magellan; 01-19-2009 at 08:03 AM..
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:28 PM
5 posts, read 18,031 times
Reputation: 10
Originally Posted by meadgrad View Post
Is the economy in Michigan reflected in GR? I know that Detroit is kinda an economic funnel, but how is GR doing? would the economy there be closer to whats happening in Chicago than Detroit? I know it kinda sucks everywhere across the country right now (I'm in Atlanta...kinda sucks here too), just wondering how GR compares to the rest of Michigan.

I would love to move back up to Michigan, but probably not back to the East side of the state...

When you ask questions like this you will get both ends of the spectrum of answers. I feel the answer lies in what type of employment you seek. My son lives in Chicago and I live in Grand Rapids. He says Chicago still has many jobs available while here in Michigan nurses who were once in high demand are searching high and low to find a job. Many businesses here are closing their doors and it's not just related to the auto industry. Someone posted that we have jobs in the furniture industry however, the local newspaper just had an article that discussed 500 more layoffs. The cost of living here versus Chicago is much less. I wish you the best of luck!
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:10 AM
19 posts, read 33,052 times
Reputation: 10
michigan is very HARD on vehicles too, keeps me busy.thankyou
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