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Old 02-20-2010, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles
8 posts, read 14,298 times
Reputation: 10

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Hey, thanks Magellan. Hopefully those guys are reading your post too so that they know a little more about what their backyard has to offer...
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:54 PM
 
25 posts, read 57,059 times
Reputation: 20
Hey, fourthpost, i'm a native Michigander that just moved here a couple months after spending the last year + out in So. Lake Tahoe. I made enough trips to the bay to get a feel for the lifestyle there and really did enjoy that west coast style of living. There are some things about CA that are a real relief from the midwest (rest of the country?) but overall i'd say there are only pockets of that forward thinking, progressive lifestyle as opposed to that being more of the norm. That's what i've been looking for here and so far the pieces are coming together. It's all out there, you just have to look for it a little but. You're a smart guy, you know CA is ahead of the curve so just keep that in mind. I don't want some of the people on here to scare you away by overstating the conservatism or any of that.
On a different note, sometimes to change a place you need some outside influence. I think your qualities and skills would be a nice asset to the area. There's a green construction firm right behind my house (Bazzani.com) and from what I hear he's put together some pretty sweet projects. He might be a good guy to talk to.
As i'm sure you've heard, MI did take an economic beatdown this past year and the years before that weren't much kinder. That said, I think GR is one of the areas that has managed to do alright and the neighborhood I live in, East Hills, has apparently become a lot cooler these last few years and from the local development and community forums it looks like the area is only going to get better and better with time.
Ok, one last thing, lots of younger people from MI move to other cities, Chi, D.C., down to Florida or out west, wherever just because they want to go explore and check things out. That's what I did. But a lot of people end up coming back when they're older and they want to settle down. Just one more thing to think about.
Send me a message if you have any specific questions or anything. Best wishes.
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Old 02-22-2010, 12:10 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,901 times
Reputation: 236
Here's one bit of culture shock you'll encounter: In California, NYC, even Chicago to some degree "early 30s" is the "tweener" set you alluded too.

I will tell you that in Grand Rapids, the early-30s scene is the "kiddie mode." People have children a little younger here.

At any rate, I see two major changes moving from SF/LA to GRR.
1) The weather. It's cold here, and wet. Think Seattle (GR and Seattle have roughly the same annual sunshine) with temps in the 30s instead of the 50s. Winters with over 100" of snow are not unheard of, but that's the fun part. What stinks about the winters are the clouds, the short days, and the early-April snow (we get some almost every year). We get all 4 seasons, but Winter is the longest. Keep that in mind and be prepared to learn how to enjoy it. Plenty of people stay indoors and complain... that's a recipe for hating Michigan. Get outside, learn to cross-country ski, or by a snow-mobile, snowshoes, etc.

2) Insularness. I'm not even sure that's a word. The one thing I'm still adjusting to is the startling lack of exposure people in West Michigan have to the rest of the world. This comes through as little anecdotes, which I won't tell because anecdotes alone make me sound petty, and can be debated individually (when the overall issue is the trend of insular thinking and lack of global exposure). But a great many of my West Michigan friends have never left Michigan for anything other than Chicago trips. It sounds odd, but we have beaches, forests, snow, cities, etc and so I get why it happens. Still, it's disconcerting at first and it took me a while to adjust to.

In all, I had no roots here, moved from metro Detroit and was somewhat shocked for a while. After I adjusted, I learned to accept this area for what it is, and I'm exceedingly glad we stayed. It's a great place to raise a family (which we're doing) and a great place to get outdoors (you're close to the type of outdoors activities that are hours away in a huge metro area). For us, those have been selling points.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:57 PM
 
1,426 posts, read 2,656,223 times
Reputation: 832
If you come you might be arriving at just the right time. I sense a growing allure and excitement in the area. Downtown has been revitalized with new condos (River House, 38 Commerce, Gallery on Fulton) which have opened or will open plus numerous new coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. One notably is Madcap Coffee which has become 'tweener city' for the twitter crowd. There's also Founder's Brewery which has gained national recognition plus the recent announcement of another microbrew establishment in the Easttown area slated to open this fall.

The East Hills, Easttown, and Midtown areas are seeing rapid changes for the better. Art galleries, farmer's markets, and other shops blend with a younger 20's - 30's crowd plus a number of students because of all the colleges in the area. West side is also seeing improvements with American Seating and recently reopened Little Mexico plus other ethnic restaurants.

Speaking of art, google Art Prize. A huge success last year in its inagaural year, world's largest art prize contest.

There's a lot of winter stuff going on whether it's ice skating at Rosa Parks downtown, catching a concert or seeing the Griffens hockey team. Definitely an active music scene, come by Festival first weekend in June ... 5 band stages over 3 days, 12 hrs/day (Visitor Guide & Schedule | Festival of the arts). The place really goes nuts during the summer, it must be all that pent up energy from the winter Biking, boating, swimming, camping ...

I'll echo Suydam's comments ... keep yourself busy in the winter. It's long and grey. Some type of indoor hobby is a plus and of course enjoyment of outdoor winter activities certainly helps. There's new airline service that gets you to warmer climates. Check out Allegiant. AirTran & Frontier coming in a few months.

Here's a few links to get you going ...

GRNow :: Grand Rapids Michigan's local restaurant, event, real estate and entertainment guide.
Home
CRI : Community Profiles : Neighborhoods of : Grand Rapids
accessKent | Kent County Parks
Grand Rapids | home (http://www.visitgrandrapids.org/visit.php - broken link)
City of Grand Rapids - Downtown Development Authority - Home
The Rapidian | Really local news in Grand Rapids, MI
PedalGR
Downtown Alliance (DowntownGR) on Twitter
jason trepins (GRNightOut) on Twitter
UptownGR (uptownGR) on Twitter
GRSocial Diary (GRSocialDiary) on Twitter
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:09 PM
 
25 posts, read 61,744 times
Reputation: 13
I have lived in MI on and off for 10 years but have lived in Portland, Boulder, Hawaii and more. I have moved around a lot and feel I can offer a comparison of sorts. You will find this place ultra conservative, rude and people are threatened by those with education. I have two degrees and find people feel very threatened and think I want their jobs. The winters here are now something I am used to, but hate. It is rarely sunny in winter, 20 degrees and snows like crazy.

People are not really that outdoorsy unless it is a holiday. Yes, the campgrounds are packed for the 4th but rarely any other time. I hear West Michigan is getting more into the Arts but I don't see the explosion that people are referring to. I would say the medical field has the brightest outlook.

We have one natural food store called Harvest Health and it is not that big but I follow a high raw diet and am able to get quite a lot of raw and rare items. We have farmer's markets downtown each weekend in warm weather and Lowell has one during the week too.

Michigan is big on restaurants, we have more per square mile than you would think is possible. I think we hold some kind of record. There are some amazing small restaurants in Easttown - I would HIGHLY recommend Flaming Cheetah or Marie Catribs. These places sell organic, local and whole food menus and they rock.

I personally feel like this place grew from people coming out of smaller towns all around GR and now people act like they live in L.A. People who live here think GR is a big town but they continue to have this small town mentality. Take East GR for example, it is a two block radius with its own police force (? don't understand how this happened.) People will be out running and boating on Reed's Lake and they act like they live in some ultra rich and special place, but its not. It's just the attitude of people. They think they are special and they treat you in accordance of how you dress and what kind of purse you carry. I see a big difference in how I am treated when I run out in my P.J.'s vs. my suit. Other places I've lived, people didn't care about such material and surface stuff.

People here are not going to be polite to you and depending on what kind of work you are in, the office environment will not be good. Don't let these small business owners fool you, they may seem nice and normal in an interview and then you will be in for a shock. I've had three jobs like this. A seemingly nice normal business owner who actually needs mental help and when off their meds, treat people like crap.

I hope this helps to just prepare you guys a little bit. Good luck! I am moving to OR this spring and cannot wait to be gone.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,746,616 times
Reputation: 3833
Quote:
Originally Posted by brbie419 View Post
I have lived in MI on and off for 10 years but have lived in Portland, Boulder, Hawaii and more. I have moved around a lot and feel I can offer a comparison of sorts. You will find this place ultra conservative, rude and people are threatened by those with education. I have two degrees and find people feel very threatened and think I want their jobs. The winters here are now something I am used to, but hate. It is rarely sunny in winter, 20 degrees and snows like crazy.

People are not really that outdoorsy unless it is a holiday. Yes, the campgrounds are packed for the 4th but rarely any other time. I hear West Michigan is getting more into the Arts but I don't see the explosion that people are referring to. I would say the medical field has the brightest outlook.

We have one natural food store called Harvest Health and it is not that big but I follow a high raw diet and am able to get quite a lot of raw and rare items. We have farmer's markets downtown each weekend in warm weather and Lowell has one during the week too.

Michigan is big on restaurants, we have more per square mile than you would think is possible. I think we hold some kind of record. There are some amazing small restaurants in Easttown - I would HIGHLY recommend Flaming Cheetah or Marie Catribs. These places sell organic, local and whole food menus and they rock.

I personally feel like this place grew from people coming out of smaller towns all around GR and now people act like they live in L.A. People who live here think GR is a big town but they continue to have this small town mentality. Take East GR for example, it is a two block radius with its own police force (? don't understand how this happened.) People will be out running and boating on Reed's Lake and they act like they live in some ultra rich and special place, but its not. It's just the attitude of people. They think they are special and they treat you in accordance of how you dress and what kind of purse you carry. I see a big difference in how I am treated when I run out in my P.J.'s vs. my suit. Other places I've lived, people didn't care about such material and surface stuff.

People here are not going to be polite to you and depending on what kind of work you are in, the office environment will not be good. Don't let these small business owners fool you, they may seem nice and normal in an interview and then you will be in for a shock. I've had three jobs like this. A seemingly nice normal business owner who actually needs mental help and when off their meds, treat people like crap.

I hope this helps to just prepare you guys a little bit. Good luck! I am moving to OR this spring and cannot wait to be gone.
Good luck! Hope you find happiness.

BTW, if you don't like a place, people pick up on it and probably don't respond well.
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Old 02-25-2010, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Metro Detroit
428 posts, read 718,772 times
Reputation: 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by suydam View Post
Here's one bit of culture shock you'll encounter: In California, NYC, even Chicago to some degree "early 30s" is the "tweener" set you alluded too.

I will tell you that in Grand Rapids, the early-30s scene is the "kiddie mode." People have children a little younger here.

At any rate, I see two major changes moving from SF/LA to GRR.
1) The weather. It's cold here, and wet. Think Seattle (GR and Seattle have roughly the same annual sunshine) with temps in the 30s instead of the 50s. Winters with over 100" of snow are not unheard of, but that's the fun part. What stinks about the winters are the clouds, the short days, and the early-April snow (we get some almost every year). We get all 4 seasons, but Winter is the longest. Keep that in mind and be prepared to learn how to enjoy it. Plenty of people stay indoors and complain... that's a recipe for hating Michigan. Get outside, learn to cross-country ski, or by a snow-mobile, snowshoes, etc.

2) Insularness. I'm not even sure that's a word. The one thing I'm still adjusting to is the startling lack of exposure people in West Michigan have to the rest of the world. This comes through as little anecdotes, which I won't tell because anecdotes alone make me sound petty, and can be debated individually (when the overall issue is the trend of insular thinking and lack of global exposure). But a great many of my West Michigan friends have never left Michigan for anything other than Chicago trips. It sounds odd, but we have beaches, forests, snow, cities, etc and so I get why it happens. Still, it's disconcerting at first and it took me a while to adjust to.

In all, I had no roots here, moved from metro Detroit and was somewhat shocked for a while. After I adjusted, I learned to accept this area for what it is, and I'm exceedingly glad we stayed. It's a great place to raise a family (which we're doing) and a great place to get outdoors (you're close to the type of outdoors activities that are hours away in a huge metro area). For us, those have been selling points.
I definitely agree with this, especially the insularness part. I think part of it is geographical...Michigan is a peninsula and surrounded by lakes, and therefore its a longer drive to explore other states.

I myself am from southern California and moved to metro Detroit in July of 2006, and am moving next week to metro G.R. From what I have seen, GR is waaaayyyyy smaller than Detroit, much less L.A. or S.F. Just be prepared for that. But it's not a bad town and in the summer it really is God's country over in west Michigan...no more hot summers! Just perfect weather and beauty everywhere you look. Also I think the size of GR is kinda perfect...big enough to have stuff to do and see but not so huge that it's a boiling pot of traffic and insanity.

Like others have said, you will find the weather to be a shock. We have loved the 3 seasons...yes 3, as spring is about 2 weeks long. But winter is cool and fun as long as you just get out there, enjoy it and make the best of it! Personally I have not missed 1 day of Cali summers...I see my friends on Facebook complaining about the 110 degree temps and it's 75 in July here....love it!

Also, to be honest, you will find alot of...well...hicks here. And close minded people. BUT, not EVERYONE is that, just like anywhere else in the world. But yes...it will be different and over all more conservative than what you are used to. However, my wife and I are progressives and we find it tolerable.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:49 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,625,883 times
Reputation: 4404
nm

Last edited by michigan83; 02-26-2010 at 05:18 AM..
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:41 AM
 
2 posts, read 3,381 times
Reputation: 10
I grew up near Grand Rapids, MI and now live in San Francisco but have also lived in Los Angeles.

Grand Rapids, MI has less than 1/10th the population of San Francisco Bay area and 1/20th of greater Los Angeles. So a big plus for Grand Rapids is that driving is easy and traffic jams (by L.A. or S.F. standards) don't exist. It's much easier to be in the outdoors in Michigan because it's so close by. Cost of living is cheap so many Michiganians own cottages up north. Boating, jet skiing, sailing, racing sailboats is much more common in Michigan than CA. In general, all outdoor activity is much less of an ordeal than in CA because it's all so close instead of driving hours just to get out of the city.

Organic food is available everywhere and most food is significantly cheaper than in CA. Even CA grapes are cheaper in MI than CA but I don't know why.

There are lots of opportunities for art seekers in lower western Michigan and it's all very accessible and cheap. Of course there's no Getty but there are numerous small galleries and several art schools.

Culture shock? I doubt it. Sure you'll likely meet some loud mouth righteous Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan loving right wingers but note that MI overall has voted dem for the past 20 years. I grew up near a nude beach. In fact for more than 50 years, there's been a nudist resort just outside Grand Rapids.

In contrast, there's the town of Saugatuck only 40 miles away where 80% of the business's are owned by gay men. And everybody, including the right-wingers love that town. There's a way cool art school there also.

You'll likely find people from Michigan to be more straight-forward than native CA folk. This can be good and bad. Good if you want straight talk, bad if you want sizzle. I find that in CA, it's a bonus for me that people know I'm from MI because in their minds, that means I'm reliable and not flakey. If only they knew that secretly, I'm a radical centrist.....

There are numerous garden clubs if you want to get that deep into it. My mother is a certified master gardener and belongs to a couple of organizations.

There is lots of live music in Grand Rapids, the most common being jazz. In general, there is more live music available in MI than in CA. Cover charges are ridiculously small. There are very few glitzy clubs in comparison to L.A.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:13 AM
 
7 posts, read 56,443 times
Reputation: 14
I moved here from Seattle last year and yes it is very culturally different from the west coast. There are pros and cons to the area and you will definately need to embrace the positives or you'll be woefully disappointed. Here's the differences I've noticed most:

Pros:
  • People - I love the people here! Although they may be quite a bit more religious and conservative than the west coast, they are so friendly, real and genuine that I always feel so welcome and comfortable with every new person I meet. I've encountered none of the "you're not from around here and not welcome" reaction that's been noted in previous posts.
  • Weather - I actually love the difference in weather here vs. Seattle. I like the definate change in seasons and all the snow in the winter - my kids actually play more outside here in the winter than they ever did on the west coast.
  • Recreation - Michigan is beautiful and full of lakes, beaches and forests to explore and appreciate. Skiing is just a short drive away in the winter.
  • Speed - Everything moves more slowly here, which at first made the area feel 'slow' but I'm beginning to appreciate it. I no longer spend a couple hours a day stuck in traffic. Even attitudes are more relaxed, people aren't as uptight about the little things and I've felt that I've relaxed quite a bit since moving here.
  • Art Prize - A really amazing annual art festival that launched last year. The festival really brought GR to life and I wish the city was that vibrant year round. Your wife would love this!
Cons:
  • Shopping - I'm not a big shopper, but there's a huge lack of independent and unique stores here. The only organic grocery around here shut down a few months ago. There is however an awesome farmer's market that operates 8 months/year. I drive to Chicago once a season to shop for clothes.
  • Entertainment - I'm married with kids, so am not into the night-life scene - but don't see a hopping night life when I'm downtown on the weekends. They do have quite a bit of theater for the size of the town, but nothing really 'cutting edge'. Big outside acts do come to town and smaller events like local Griffins games are actuallly quite fun to attend. Overall though, the town seems very boring on weekends for young people.
  • Coffee - I've yet to find a decent coffee shop with west coast-style (bold) coffee. I really miss this.
  • Ethnic food - Same as above - still searching for good Asian/Korean/etc food.
  • Downtown GR - needs revitalization. Many stores are boarded up and there is a lack of people in the streets shopping and dining out. Many restaurants (and stores) are closed on Sunday.
  • Insularness - I agree with the previous poster about the insularness of the people here. Many are not worldly and seem to feel travelling even to Chicago is a big event. Not that anything is necessarily wrong with this, but I just feel I'm starting to become 'behind' and am losing out on the latest trends/etc in the world because of the lack of diversity of people here.
  • Technology - GR is totally behind the times with technology. Very few local companies have websites, very few people use 'Yelp', etc. I feel like I've stepped back 10 years in terms of IT when I moved here.
We moved here to be closer to family and are overall glad to have made the move, but I really wish GR had more to offer. I wish I could say it was a hip small town like Madison or Austin, but it just isn't...it needs revitalization.

I think it has potential though and I'm hopeful that with the area growing with its medical centers and green building technology, that more progressives and professionals will move here and make the town more trendy, vibrant and diverse.

Good luck with your decision.
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