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Old 03-22-2010, 05:49 PM
 
1 posts, read 1,753 times
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This summer I am set to visit the Grand Rapids area to look into a potential relocation. I have done some preliminary research and have some questions:

1.) The Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland CSA has around 1.2 million people in seven counties with most of the population centered in Grand Rapids/Wyoming, Holland/Grand Haven, and Muskegon/Norton Shores. The largest city is Grand Rapids. Other cities include Wyoming, Kentwood, Holland, and Walker. Would a person from a town of around 18,000 people in a county of around 60,000 people in a state of around 600,000 find a mid-size city like Grand Rapids to be overwhelming (I have been to Montreal, Boston, NYC and Charlotte, NC and all are way too big in my view). Where I am it is very rural.

2.) The area (like most of Western Michigan) seems to be Republican and fairly conservative (Ottawa County made the "Top 100 Most Conservative-Friendly Counties" in America according to The Daily Caller). Grand Rapids proper is Democratic but the suburbs (especially West of GR) are Republican. The Russell Kirk Center is to the north in Mecosta, the New Centurion Program has a chapter in GR, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is in GR, and the DeVos Family has considerable influence in the area (they fund a number of my favorite political organizations). I take it that the GR might be friendly to a pro-life old school Catholic (I see that a Latin Mass is said in GR)? Having spent all my time in northern New England I can say that after a while progressivism can be very stifling and I need a change!

3.) Like the rest of Michigan, the GR Area has higher than the national average unemployment. Is finding a job (even with a B.A. like I have) difficult? I would be looking to get into the non-profit sector or a non-academic college job.

4.) What is housing like? I would most likely be renting at first if I were to relocate and living inside GR itself doesn't appeal to me (unless there are affordable areas to rent).

5.) I am used to a cold and snowy climate and grey skies so I wonder how winters compare? I'm not much for hot humid summers but do like autumn.

6.) I see GR has a symphony and many museums so that is good. Is the art scene really modern and contemporary or are there many traditional artists (think of those profiled in The American Arts Quarterly)?

Finally, are there mountains?
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:28 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,624,476 times
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To answer a few of your questions...

-GR is not as big as those other cities you mentioned and I don't think it will be overwhelming. Keep in mind that the cities named in the CSA are very separate and distinct. Grand Rapids and the Holland/Grand Haven/Muskegon shoreline are separated by rural areas full of cornfields and farms. In my opinion it's a bit of a stretch to include all of them in the "metro population" of Grand Rapids. A 25 minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids will take you to some pretty rural communities, especially if you go north, east or south.

-The unemployment rate is high, but I believe the number is MUCH lower if you have a college degree. I think the rate is around 5% or so for people who hold a bachelor's. A lot of the unemployed are unskilled workers.

-The area will be very friendly to an "old-school, pro-life conservative," especially in the suburbs and rural areas. A lot of Republicans run un-opposed in the elections in outlying areas.

-Zero mountains! Gently rolling hills are as good as it gets in the GR area.
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:10 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,467 times
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I think michigan83 hit it pretty well for you.

I would only add that you may wish to consider finding employment before relocating.
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,742,937 times
Reputation: 3833
Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan83 View Post
To answer a few of your questions...

-GR is not as big as those other cities you mentioned and I don't think it will be overwhelming. Keep in mind that the cities named in the CSA are very separate and distinct. Grand Rapids and the Holland/Grand Haven/Muskegon shoreline are separated by rural areas full of cornfields and farms. In my opinion it's a bit of a stretch to include all of them in the "metro population" of Grand Rapids. A 25 minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids will take you to some pretty rural communities, especially if you go north, east or south.

-The unemployment rate is high, but I believe the number is MUCH lower if you have a college degree. I think the rate is around 5% or so for people who hold a bachelor's. A lot of the unemployed are unskilled workers.

-The area will be very friendly to an "old-school, pro-life conservative," especially in the suburbs and rural areas. A lot of Republicans run un-opposed in the elections in outlying areas.

-Zero mountains! Gently rolling hills are as good as it gets in the GR area.
Hey, isn't Cannonsburg Ski Area a mountain?
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
8,226 posts, read 16,828,129 times
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Cannonsburg is a nice little hill, as is Pando (which in an odd bit of trivia can claim that it is the birthplace of competitive snowboarding)
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:18 PM
 
67 posts, read 134,522 times
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Climate- You get the 'lake effect' so it precipitates and storms often.
Politics- Grand Rapids is blood red.
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,742,937 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M032387 View Post
Climate- You get the 'lake effect' so it precipitates and storms often.
Politics- Grand Rapids is blood red.
It's hardly blood red. Let me guess, you're from Southeast Michigan.
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:21 AM
 
Location: Hernando, FL
749 posts, read 2,152,590 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magellan View Post
It's hardly blood red. Let me guess, you're from Southeast Michigan.
Not only Grand Rapids but even a lot of the smaller towns in West Michigan towns aren't as conservitive as many believe. I worked at a fairly large factory (around 300 employees) in Kentwood during the Bush-Gore race and most of them said the same thing " I don't like Bush, but I'm voting for him becasue the other guy want's to take our guns away".
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
8,226 posts, read 16,828,129 times
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Kent County went Democrat in the 2008 election, largely because of the city proper and the eastern 'burbs. The I-196 corridor westward to Holland is still extremely red.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:22 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,083 posts, read 34,951,872 times
Reputation: 16907
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGidding2010 View Post
This summer I am set to visit the Grand Rapids area to look into a potential relocation. I have done some preliminary research and have some questions:

1.) The Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland CSA has around 1.2 million people in seven counties with most of the population centered in Grand Rapids/Wyoming, Holland/Grand Haven, and Muskegon/Norton Shores. The largest city is Grand Rapids. Other cities include Wyoming, Kentwood, Holland, and Walker. Would a person from a town of around 18,000 people in a county of around 60,000 people in a state of around 600,000 find a mid-size city like Grand Rapids to be overwhelming (I have been to Montreal, Boston, NYC and Charlotte, NC and all are way too big in my view). Where I am it is very rural.
Let me take a shot in the dark here and guess you are around the Rutland, VT area. Grand Rapids is quite a bit larger than that area, but it really doesn't feel as large as the numbers would indicate. As was mentioned previously, the "metro" area includes some rather spread out small towns and a LOT of farmland. I guess people have to find a way to pigeonhole everything so they included a rather large area into a "metro" that has little in common with what you think of when the word Metro is used. I know for me personally, horses, farms, fields, and wooded areas don't exactly pop into mind.

Quote:
2.) The area (like most of Western Michigan) seems to be Republican and fairly conservative (Ottawa County made the "Top 100 Most Conservative-Friendly Counties" in America according to The Daily Caller). Grand Rapids proper is Democratic but the suburbs (especially West of GR) are Republican. The Russell Kirk Center is to the north in Mecosta, the New Centurion Program has a chapter in GR, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is in GR, and the DeVos Family has considerable influence in the area (they fund a number of my favorite political organizations). I take it that the GR might be friendly to a pro-life old school Catholic (I see that a Latin Mass is said in GR)? Having spent all my time in northern New England I can say that after a while progressivism can be very stifling and I need a change!
The overall feel of the GR area is conservative, but the numbers are actually a lot closer than people think. It isn't like the areas that went Democrat or Republican last election went by a 80-20 split, it would be more like a 55 -45 or closer split (Kent County was 149,909 votes for Obama; 148,336 votes for McCain which is only a 0.5% difference). After living in the Northeast myself for many years, I find that West Michigan has the best of both sides. progressive enough to look for needed change, but conservative enough NOT to change just for the sake of change. A pro-life, old school Catholic would have an easier time fitting in than a flaming, tree-hugging liberal.

Quote:
3.) Like the rest of Michigan, the GR Area has higher than the national average unemployment. Is finding a job (even with a B.A. like I have) difficult? I would be looking to get into the non-profit sector or a non-academic college job.
Honestly, a move anywhere right now would be wrong without a job lined up first, or enough savings to fully live on for quite sometime (6 months minimum). I would think a degree would set you up better in the job market, than nothing more than High School.

Quote:
4.) What is housing like? I would most likely be renting at first if I were to relocate and living inside GR itself doesn't appeal to me (unless there are affordable areas to rent).
Within a short drive to GR proper you can find anything from in city apartments, to homes in the country.

Quote:
5.) I am used to a cold and snowy climate and grey skies so I wonder how winters compare? I'm not much for hot humid summers but do like autumn.
The skies here are generally a bit more gray than the Northeast during the winter due to the formation of clouds caused by Lake Michigan. Snow, is another issue that is about the same. GR gets on average about the same snowfall as the Burlington area. It is generally warmer in GR than most of VT. during the winter, and about the same during the summer. I like the weather here much better than in the Northeast.

Quote:
6.) I see GR has a symphony and many museums so that is good. Is the art scene really modern and contemporary or are there many traditional artists (think of those profiled in The American Arts Quarterly)?

Finally, are there mountains?
No mountains. We make up for that with lakes . You can still go skiing, but forget those nice long runs that take some time to go from top to bottom. Think instead of decent snow, and LOTS of short runs. Wish I was more into the art scene, but I'm not really so I can't help you there. I will say that "Art Prize" last year was a BLAST to go see, and experience. The museums are nice and the GR Public Museum usually has very interesting special displays on hand. I was/am amazed at the quality of special exhibits they bring in each year.
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