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Old 02-14-2010, 07:26 PM
 
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In your opinion what are the best smaller towns/enclaves within 15 minutes of either Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo? Helping a friend find info on these two towns. She is considering either but doesn't want to live right in the city. Prefers smaller towns that are close to the amenities of Kzoo or GR. Wants a town that has it's own grocery store, library, video store, maybe a farmer's market, handful of good restaurants .. . all within a 15 minute highway drive. She works from home so job isn't an issue. Good schools are also a must.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:22 AM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,019,907 times
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Rockford has all those things (even a farmers market)

Most of the other great little towns are either further than 15 minutes from GR/Kzoo (for example Lowell is great, but not within 15 minutes of town) or don't have farmers markets of their own (East Grand Rapids, for example meets your other criteria but residents drive 5 minutes into GR to use the big farmers market there).

Oh, and to be honest, I'm not sure if Rockford has a video store (something else from your list). That's a dying industry anyway, so even if there is one today I wouldn't expect it to still be in business 5 years from now.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:39 AM
 
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Can you tell me more about East Grand Rapids? I guess I didn't phrase my question correctly. Anything "within" 15 minutes or less might be a better way to phrase it. And I don't need the town to meet all the requirements just a general criteria as I realize that living so close to one of these larger towns would meet my needs for things that the smaller towns might not have. What is the general feel of East Grand Rapids? Mostly suburbia feel or feels like it's own town in and of itself? Rockford has been suggested before so I will have to pass that one on to my friend. Can you find large lots, or acreage in east grand rapids?
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Hernando, FL
749 posts, read 2,154,183 times
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K-zoo- Mattawan, Lawton, Paw Paw texas Corners, all nice small towns.
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:59 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,019,907 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquadejoe View Post
Can you tell me more about East Grand Rapids? I guess I didn't phrase my question correctly. Anything "within" 15 minutes or less might be a better way to phrase it. And I don't need the town to meet all the requirements just a general criteria as I realize that living so close to one of these larger towns would meet my needs for things that the smaller towns might not have. What is the general feel of East Grand Rapids? Mostly suburbia feel or feels like it's own town in and of itself? Rockford has been suggested before so I will have to pass that one on to my friend. Can you find large lots, or acreage in east grand rapids?
EGR is a small city of its own. Life centers around the downtown (called "Gaslight Village") which is a mix of new construction (replacing an old department store that was torn down) and older buildings, situated along Wealthy St. from Lovett Ave to Lakeside Dr. You can use Google Maps "Street View" to get a decent view of what it looks like.

I would say EGR's greatest strength is also what you're probably thinking you don't want: Small lots with older housing stock. You asked about acreage and large lots. If you're buying homes in the $150,000-$450,000 range there are not really any "large" lots in EGR (1 acre+). Mind you, there are a few... but EGR is essentially a small city platted in the 1920s-1950s. In those days, large lots were not the norm, and EGR fits that mold.

The upside, however, is a nice walkable town with a lake and boat launch. In addition, the lake frontage is about 33% public land (a blend of developed parkland, a preserve, the middle school, library, city hall, a kayak/canoe launch, and a bike trail). So while the homes on the lake are well out of my price-range, the lake itself is readily accessible by anyone with a boat to put in the water.

You asked for great schools, and so far all the suggestions listed here, including EGR, fit that bill. Some are better than others (Rockford and EGR are the most highly rated by S&P of the districts listed here) but really they're all quite good if you're sticking to the list of suggestions on this board today.

Finally, the reason I would say EGR does not just feel like "suburbia" goes beyond the physical resources. My experience, having lived here nearly 5 years now, is that people really get to know each other. I think that community feel (which is not unique to EGR, just unique to small towns I think) is what sets a small town apart from a suburb. I suspect that's what you're really after. The barrista at Starbucks knows my name, the librarian knows my kids, and our friends (and our kids' friends) live within walking distance. I want to be sure to point out, I think other towns have this too. I know people from Paw Paw and Lawton who say the same thing. At the end of the day, I think it's about a community vs. a neighborhood/development.
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Old 02-15-2010, 03:09 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,629,849 times
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The only problem with East Grand Rapids is that I get the impression the that the OP's idea of living "in the city" would also include East Grand Rapids. While EGR does have a small-town feel of sorts, if the person is asking questions about large lots and acreage, it leads me to believe that they want to live near a smaller town, and not in a small town or a traditional city neighborhood.

If my feeling is correct, then the Rockford area, the Hudsonville area, or maybe the area west of Lowell (living slightly west of Lowell could put her within 15 minutes) would fit the bill more closely.
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:07 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan83 View Post
The only problem with East Grand Rapids is that I get the impression the that the OP's idea of living "in the city" would also include East Grand Rapids. While EGR does have a small-town feel of sorts, if the person is asking questions about large lots and acreage, it leads me to believe that they want to live near a smaller town, and not in a small town or a traditional city neighborhood.
If my feeling is correct, then the Rockford area, the Hudsonville area, or maybe the area west of Lowell (living slightly west of Lowell could put her within 15 minutes) would fit the bill more closely.
You're 100% correct... there is not rural acreage "outside of EGR".

West of Lowell is a good idea, I agree.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:05 PM
 
Location: GR MI
20 posts, read 46,443 times
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rockford has a video store (ten mile and northland by D&W) but i wouldnt advise rockford schools, there pretty big on drugs. (step brothers go there) kenowa or sparta school districts are good, just a short drive to downtown GR. there kinda out in the country but they work for me.
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:21 PM
 
Location: Tampa, FL
13 posts, read 24,466 times
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The whole area is full of drugs. Most seem to be the dumb little kids that could be smoking cat $*** and not know it but it's bad none the less. I graduated from Cedar Springs (5 min north of rockford) 07 and I personally hated the area. Cedar is very flat and boring. Rockford has much more to do. It's very hilly, has a big river that runs through the town, nice restaurants, and people walking around all day. My only problem with that area is the people seem to be a bit more stuck up then other areas. Anthony Kiedas (red hot chili peppers singer) has a place there, he lived there as well as south GR when he was little. He's been seen at the Champion gym pretty regularly. East Grand Rapids is bigger with bigger problems. From what I hear they have gangs and seem to be turning into a sort of ghetto. I personally hate Michigan and I am moving soon but for someone that likes the area I'd say rockford. Outside of GR I'd go for West Bloomfield/Keego Harbor over by Pontiac (Detroit suburb). It's almost like a Beverly Hills of Michigan, pretty and expensive.
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Tampa, FL
13 posts, read 24,466 times
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Add one more thing. I don't know about Rockford but Cedar has 122 register sex offenders. Like 4 or so live less than a mile from me and I don't live in town. I actually know two of them personally. Most of them are pretty bad too. One of the two I know raped a unconscious girl with her boyfriend passed out next to her and his friend video taped it. They then showed the tape around town bragging and surprisingly got caught. All four of them went to Cedar as well.
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