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Old 06-25-2009, 06:53 AM
 
60 posts, read 119,643 times
Reputation: 44

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Sorry to post so many questions; I'm sure you are all pretty sick of me by now! My husband and I have been ready to move for awhile now. We currently live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and aren't very crazy about it: the area is not particularly friendly to new-comers, real estate is expensive, there's not much to do...I could go on. We have been in contact with two realtors: Grand Rapids and Manhattan (NYC), and would like to choose which one to move to soon so we can buy while the prices are still down! For some background, my husband has family in New Jersey and I have family in Michigan; my parents live in Manhattan during the year and in their cottage in Whitehall in the summers; we have seven kids, and we homeschool them, so that will play a large role in what we choose; my husband works from home, so jobs are not an issue; we are CRC and would like to find a family friendly church to attend.

We like Grand Rapids because of the low price of real estate, it's small town feel, the family oriented activities and events, and (very) friendly people. We would love to take advantage either of the abundance of land in Ada and buying a farm, or experiencing for the first time the charm of a real suburban community in East Grand Rapids. Either way we would take full advantage of our living situation and our community.

We are looking in Manhattan because of its huge convenience: it would be a wonderful place to homeschool our kids with the museums, parks, etc. However, it can be lonely in a crowd, and it would be very hard to make friends. Space is also an issue: so far the best property we've found was a four bedroom townhouse (if you knew my kids, that is a scary thought!)

Sorry this was so long. I am posting a similar thread in NYC to get a fair answer. Basically what I'm asking is: What would you do? And can you offer any advice or insight as to why Grand Rapids would be the best place to raise a family?
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:02 AM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
Reputation: 236
Excuse my incredulity, but how on earth are you in a position of deciding between a global capital of commerce with 8MM+ people in the city alone (and 20MM+ in the metro area) and a nice mid-sized Midwestern city of 200k with a metro of 1MM+ (when you stretch to include Muskegon and Holland)?!

I've already made this decision. I live in the midwest. For me, it's more convenient actually. My commute is 10 minutes. My grocery-store of choice is a 7 block walk or a 90 second car-ride. I have family in metro-NYC... it's so different that I don't even know how to begin to describe it.

Everyone has their opinions about which is better for them, but I don't think you're going to hear anything on this board that you haven't heard before.

One tip: I wouldn't ask a real estate agent what to do. They're well-trained to help you find a home in a given area, but they too should (would) be a little put off by the vast differences between the two areas you're comparing.

NYC is such a different place from GR that it's like asking if someone should buy a scooter or a tank for their day-to-day. Only you know which will be better for you.

Last edited by suydam; 06-25-2009 at 09:12 AM..
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Old 06-25-2009, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
8,234 posts, read 16,831,262 times
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Agree that it really is a hard comparison because the two places are so different. I grew up in GR and like it well enough, though life has taken me other places and I've no burning desire to head back there for good.

Grand Rapids is nice for what it is- a second tier (in terms of population) Midwestern city in the middle of trying to reinvent itself and stay relevant. Downtown has really improved since I left in the 90s, though it's not the same kind of urban core you'd find in Chicago and the like. There will be times when you curse at how backward something seems; there will be times you're impressed at how this little place in what people think of as flyover country actually has some things going on that are pretty cutting edge. You can get about 90% of big city conveniences there. The other 10% can be found on a weekend trip to Chicago.

While people can still be plenty materialistic, it's not like the consumer arms race you get in the bigger cities. Call it one part native Dutch frugalness and one part lack of access to the really high end stuff. And while kids can find trouble anywhere (look at the rate of drug and alcohol abuse among rural teenagers sometime), it's a big enough area to offer a lot of activities for both young kids and teenagers that give them something constructive and fun to do when they're not doing schoolwork. The downside is that, since mass transit is pretty hit or miss, you will play carpool parent quite a bit until they're old enough to get their driver's licenses. (If you've got seven active kids, a selling point for EGR is that there are more walk/bike/bus options so you aren't having to drive all of them absolutely everywhere)

As for church, plenty of different CRC options in those parts.
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Old 06-25-2009, 11:52 AM
 
60 posts, read 119,643 times
Reputation: 44
Suydam, thank you for the fast reply. I understand your concern. To help clarify: my husband is self employed, so we are in the position to live anywhere. We have chosen Grand Rapids or New York because our families are there. IImyself grew up in Manhattan, live in metro New York, and have always spent my summers in Ottawa County, Michigan, so I know that they are very different; but they are both wonderful places to live and raise a family. My husband and I have come to a crossroads: we can finally choose where we want to settle down, anywhere in the world, and it has come down to this decision. Both cities, more than any others'we have found, seem to have real personalities and heart beats What I was looking for is an insiders' insight into the benefits of Grand Rapids that New York wouldn't have: the atmosphere, fun activities, what the people are like. I hope this clarifies my question and I'm sorry if I have offended you; I in no way meant to compare Grand Rapids to Manhattan.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:45 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
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Grand Rapids would love to have you pooches9. I can't say the same for Manhattan.

No apologies necessary for struggling on the issue. Moving an entire family is a very tough decision.
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:49 PM
 
Location: Midwest
1,005 posts, read 2,500,223 times
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Only read title, and I would prefer NYC.
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Old 06-25-2009, 07:14 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
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Pooches, thanks for clarifying and I'm sorry at my disbelief in my initial post. :-)

You've got kids right? If it was me, I'd rather raise my kids in GR/EGR/Ada than in NYC/metro. I've worked in NYC, visited countless times, and for a period of time in my single-20s I was sure I wanted to live there. Truth is, married, with kids, I covet the safeness and neighborliness you get in the midwest and EGR specifically. I don't think I've move from the neighborhood I live in right now unless I had to (until our kids graduate at least). Our house is smaller than it would otherwise be. Our lot is also considerably smaller.

Keeping Ada as an option would give you some context for a decision in this area. You really cannot go wrong either way... again it's what you prefer (space and privacy vs. neighborliness and a touch of urbanity).

Things we do with our kids include front-yard instant neighborhood get-togethers, visiting the swim club, riding bikes, hiking and going to museums (we have memberships at the G.R. Public Museum, Children's Museum and Meijer Gardens). The beach is 40-50 minutes from our front door and we're there once a week at least in the summer. We take long weekends up north in Traverse City (2.5 hours away) and surrounding towns, and I'm sure as our kids get older we'll get into some organized sports around here (there are plenty to choose from). In the summer we walk to get ice-cream, walk to the park for concerts, bike to the playground, walk/bike to friends' houses, and ride the bus downtown (to the aforementioned museums, other parks, festivals, etc). We drive far less than we did before we lived in EGR. That's been nice, but it does depend on where your house is... there are plenty of EGR homes over a mile's walk from stores at least. At any rate, that's life with kids in Grand Rapids.

I don't know what it's like in NYC... but I'm sure it's fun. I characterize our life as content. We travel enough to enjoy the rest of the world, and always look forward to coming home to GR as well. I'm sure NYC would be more exciting, but probably more stressful as well.

Good luck with your difficult decision!
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:56 PM
 
316 posts, read 1,081,476 times
Reputation: 134
Quite the different areas. I have friends in both Fairfield and New York city, so I feel your pain.
Grand RApids may be a bit more culture shock then what you can quantify on a city data forum. The conservative nature of the residents can be quite tough at times. I'd counter that while residents in Michigan think of a 15 minute drive as convenient, it drives me nuts while visiting to have to go someplace 10 minutes away all the time. In the city obviously you can condense that into your own neighborhood, walking a few blocks or just having certain things like dry cleaning and a grocery store on the bottom floor. (like my friend has in ny, I in Chi)
My thoughts are, are you going to look back someday and regret not living in the big apple? If you really want to settle, and are ok with somewhat more of a simple life, then GR is for you. I'd be more then happy if you wanted to get to know some folks that I know of in NY to introduce you. They are all very friendly people, some from Michigan even, and love to help new folks out.
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
139 posts, read 289,305 times
Reputation: 345
Oh, NYC for sure! I grew up in Northern Michigan and spent about 4 years in Grand Rapids. I've also spent a good amount of time in NYC. GR is far too conservative for me. I love the big city, and everything it has to offer so the choice would be very simple for me, although I can understand your debate.
Raising a family in Manhattan would be far different than raising one in the Grand Rapids area.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
Reputation: 3833
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCatWishedThatItWasABee View Post
Oh, NYC for sure! I grew up in Northern Michigan and spent about 4 years in Grand Rapids. I've also spent a good amount of time in NYC. GR is far too conservative for me. I love the big city, and everything it has to offer so the choice would be very simple for me, although I can understand your debate.
Raising a family in Manhattan would be far different than raising one in the Grand Rapids area.
95%+ of the people in this country do not live in a "big city", so I wouldn't assume that your wish to live in a big city is the norm.
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