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Old 05-13-2009, 12:59 PM
 
34 posts, read 157,797 times
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Hello everyone. There is a possibility of my family and I relocating to the GR ares for a job at Cornerstone University and I don't know much about the area. My wife and I, along with our 9 month old daughter and 2 dogs live outside Columbia, SC in a small town called Lexington. We're looking for something similar to what we have now and through my research I think we'll be able to find it, I just don't know where to begin. Coming from the south we love the small town feel, but we also want something with a decent amount of shopping and activities. We want someplace with good schools, low crime, decent housing prices, and outdoor recreation. Our daughter and dogs love going to the park and we would love to continue that when we move. We're probably thinking below 200 on the housing costs. Again, not sure where to look so not sure if that is even feasible with what we want. We also try to grocery shop as organic as possible, so an area with farmer's markets, CSAs, or local health stores would be nice too, also if chain grocers sell stuff too. We have a few down here that do, but it depends on the week as to what they have. We don't really care to live in the city limits of GR, but a nice family oriented suburb with a low commute time (20-30 mins) would be great. Any advice would be great. Thanks
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Old 05-13-2009, 03:54 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,625,235 times
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You really have quite a few options for a commute to Cornerstone. I would check out the communities of Rockford, Lowell, and Forest Hills and Caledonia to start. If you are willing to drive a full 30 minutes, you could also check out something further away, such as Middleville or Cedar Springs. You will have no difficulty finding something that meets your needs for under 200k.

If you are truly looking for a stand-alone, small town feel and not a connected suburb, Lowell probably fits your description the best for the east side of town. Caledonia is also far enough out that it has a small town feel. The Rockford and Forest Hills areas (Forest Hills includes the village of Ada, which is very nice) are a little more suburban, but if you hunt around you can find spots in both of those school districts that have a small-town or rural feel.

A couple other options might be Hudsonville or Zeeland. They are on the west side of town, which can make commutes more tricky, but they both have a nice small-town feel. They are very conservative, church-going towns (all of West Michigan is, really, but that side of town especially), but if you're working at Cornerstone then you might not have a problem with that.

Last edited by michigan83; 05-13-2009 at 04:05 PM..
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Old 05-13-2009, 07:48 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
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I don't think FOrest Hills or Caledonia have that "small town" feel at all. I would remove them from the list above. They are both township/suburban style (nothing wrong with that, but it's not at all what you described). Lowell and Rockford are a great fit though.... check there first.
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suydam View Post
I don't think FOrest Hills or Caledonia have that "small town" feel at all. I would remove them from the list above. They are both township/suburban style (nothing wrong with that, but it's not at all what you described). Lowell and Rockford are a great fit though.... check there first.
And houses under $200K might be hard to come by. Although there are some areas in Ada and near Cascade Rd/Forest Hills Ave that might fit the bill. They have somewhat of a small-town feel. Not like EGR, but not endless strip malls and McMansions.

Meijer and D&W carry a lot of organics now, and the farmer's market in Grand Rapids on East Fulton is pretty good. Forest Hills Foods is a great grocery store (but too far for us to use every week). Rockford also has a pretty good farmer's market. I imagine Lowell does too (?)

20 - 30 minute commute to Cornerstone will put you pretty much anywhere in the metro area, except maybe the far Western parts of Georgetown Twp/Hudsonville or Byron Center. The more I think about it, the more I think Rockford area would be ideal. Downtown Rockford is a real treasure. Great outdoor activities, the White Pine Trail (awesome rail trail), festivals, Rogue River for fishing and canoeing, great schools, low crime, a lot of families, great golf, etc.. And it's about 15 minutes from Cornerstone.

Be sure to check out Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park across the street from Cornerstone. It's a real coup for a city our size to have such an amazing attraction (all funded by the Meijer family).
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
8,231 posts, read 16,831,262 times
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Another vote for Lowell, which seems to offer most of what you're looking for with the most reasonable commute. One note is that school district boundaries don't always match up with any other sort of boundary, but whether it's Lowell, Caledonia, or Forest Hills, the schools will be pretty good. Forest Hills is nice, and I like Ada, but it's a more expensive area and you aren't going to get as much as you would in nearby areas.

I always found the Hudsonville/Zeeland/Jenison area kind of insular, and if you aren't Dutch CRC you have to work extra hard to fit in out there.

Been a while since I've lived in the area. How long would a trip in from Hastings be?
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:07 AM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachmouse View Post
Been a while since I've lived in the area. How long would a trip in from Hastings be?
Hastings would be a great fit except for the commute (45-60 minutes)
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:36 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
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Oh yeah, connorg, when we say "Forest Hills", it's actually not a town or township, but the school district. Everyone just calls it Forest Hills. I don't know if sites like Realtor.com will pick up any search results for "Forest Hills, Michigan".

Best bet is to go to our local Realtor's site, and do a search by school district (if you're looking at Forest Hills):

http://public.grar.com/public/epubsrch.mac/start
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:58 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,625,235 times
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I'm going to have to agree with the correction to my post above... Caledonia and Forest Hills don't really fit the description (I think Caledonia did at one time, but not so much today).

Rockford and Lowell fit the bill the best, and Rockford does have the best downtown and shortest commute. I do think Lowell has more of a small town feel than Rockford, though. Driving up the East Beltline from Cornerstone to Rockford, I never quite get the feeling that I'm leaving suburbia. With Lowell, the 20-25 minute drive really gets you away from some of the action a little bit more, and the community still has everything that you would want.

Quote:
Hastings would be a great fit except for the commute (45-60 minutes)
That's true, if you take M-37 all the way from Hastings to GR.

For those of us that live southeast of GR, there is a little-known secret. From Hastings, if you head north on M-43, and use Broadway Road (Hastings Road) to cut across from M-43 to M-50, you can get on I-96 at the Lowell exit and head into GR. You actually can get to the East Beltline exit from Hastings in about 30-35 minutes if you go this way.

Hastings actually is worth checking out, because you can probably get more for your money as far as housing is concerned. There's no way I would make that commute all the way up M-37 every day though!!
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Old 05-14-2009, 12:17 PM
 
16 posts, read 71,053 times
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I have lived near Comstock Park for years and have two children 8 and 10. There are a few parks near by, one is right on the river. Comstock Park schools are nice and the area is close to shopping, and dining. Cornerstone would only be about 15-20 minutes away max. As far as housing, I think that in the area you should be able to find a really nice house for around 200k. In comstock Park there is a biking/walking trail nearby that you can take almost all the way to Traverse City, it is really nice and alot of families use it. Good luck!!
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:00 PM
 
Location: Cumming, Georgia
808 posts, read 2,971,128 times
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take a look at www.grar.com and select residential properties. If you search by school districts, there are plenty of homes at the $200k mark, including some in FH schools (I searched 190K to 225K, 3 beds min and 2 baths).

From Cornerstone, you are close to where ever you'd like to be such as FH schools, Rockford, Lowell, etc.

Good luck on your search!
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