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Old 04-25-2011, 11:22 AM
 
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In your opinion, which is the better place to live: Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids? I realize Ann Arbor has more of a college town feel to it versus Grand Rapids which has more of a "small town" feel with big city amenities but what makes one place better than the other for you? Looking to relocate our outdoorsy, marginally liberal-minded family this time next year and can't seem to decide between these two places (job not being a factor). Family fun, good schools, safety are important. Which area do you think is the better place for a kid to grow up? Which place has more for adults when we want to get out on the town now and again. Which place is easier to meet people and make friends and has a better sense of "community?" What do you like/dislike about either town?
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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Tough question, because it all depends on what you like. I have lived in both cities and over the past few years have watched the employment market in my field in both cities, because I would have considered relocating to either city.

Ann Arbor has a more academic and intellectual vibe, but business is becoming more and more important. Ann Arbor has a healthy dose of weird, which can be entertaining or tiring, depending on you. It is more international. Housing is expensive.

Grand Rapids is about business and working, but is also very progressive and forward looking. The Arts are rising in importance. There are more poor people living in Grand Rapids than Ann Arbor. Housing is cheap.

Which one would I choose? I had to think about this for a long time. I would probably choose Ann Arbor, but I would fit in better in Grand Rapids.
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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DO NOT MOVE to grand rapids, its not very boring except go to Michigan adventures In North muskegon, or go to the beaches at lake michigan anyways there is not much not much In Grand rapids though and its not very clean except the downtown area, its is full of stuck up conservative people, People in grand rapids are rude, not nice to you, and are very religious and racist, crime rate is high almost as bad as Saginaw Or Flint, Cops do not care what happens and the schools are horrible almost as bad as Detroit Public, Ann arbor Is Very nice, much Nicer and more diverse people and some very intelligent, schools are way better, not very republican conservative, very clean, Very safe, and walkable, way more housing options, people are kind here, I Say Ann arbor is a 100% better choice than grand rapids, i live In northview, which is north of Grand rapids, and i cannot wait to move away to metro detroit next summer.
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:46 PM
 
Location: Old west side, Ann Arbor, MI
689 posts, read 2,074,745 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquadejoe View Post
In your opinion, which is the better place to live: Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids? I realize Ann Arbor has more of a college town feel to it versus Grand Rapids which has more of a "small town" feel with big city amenities but what makes one place better than the other for you? Looking to relocate our outdoorsy, marginally liberal-minded family this time next year and can't seem to decide between these two places (job not being a factor). Family fun, good schools, safety are important. Which area do you think is the better place for a kid to grow up? Which place has more for adults when we want to get out on the town now and again. Which place is easier to meet people and make friends and has a better sense of "community?" What do you like/dislike about either town?
First of all, you'll find that people who live in GR will always say GR is a much better option. The truth is, the cities are far different when it comes to "feel" and the type of community they are. Even though Ann Arbor has U of M, I wouldn't necessarily say it has a strong college town feel to it. It certainly is much more liberal and progressive than Grand Rapids, due to a very sizable portion of its population being from both east and west coasts as well as world wide. Grand Rapids has a much more blue collar feel (nothing wrong with that) with a large amount of conservatives, Ann Arbor is white collar academia, research professionals, and a large vegan/outdoorsy population all mixed in with students from everywhere.

I can't be an excellent judge for you, I've lived in Ann Arbor most of my life, except in Portland, OR for a short while so I may sound a little biased. As far as the amenities for kids, Ann Arbor has literally a park or nature trail at every turn, top rated schools and one of the healthiest economies in the state. Housing is far more expensive in Ann Arbor, along with property taxes, but housing is also hard to come by, most homes (reasonably priced) within a 2-5 mile radius around town are not on the market long. I personally think there is more to do in Ann Arbor myself, with many art galleries, kids science centers, theater, and lots of unique restaurants.

So I would base my decision on the following: If you prefer a much more laid back conservative/Christian, less diverse more "working" town feel then I would say Grand Rapids. If you like a very progressive, liberal, and diverse population with a "outdoorsy" naturalist feel I would say Ann Arbor. Either way, both are great cities depending on your personal taste. But one thing is certain, they are very very different. Good Luck on your move.
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:48 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, TX
27 posts, read 53,839 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 313er View Post
DO NOT MOVE to grand rapids, its not very boring except go to Michigan adventures In North muskegon, or go to the beaches at lake michigan anyways there is not much not much In Grand rapids though and its not very clean except the downtown area, its is full of stuck up conservative people, People in grand rapids are rude, not nice to you, and are very religious and racist, crime rate is high almost as bad as Saginaw Or Flint, Cops do not care what happens and the schools are horrible almost as bad as Detroit Public, Ann arbor Is Very nice, much Nicer and more diverse people and some very intelligent, schools are way better, not very republican conservative, very clean, Very safe, and walkable, way more housing options, people are kind here, I Say Ann arbor is a 100% better choice than grand rapids, i live In northview, which is north of Grand rapids, and i cannot wait to move away to metro detroit next summer.
Spoken like a true Liberal Racist!! Why does everybody who happens to have a conservative view point get labeled a racist by liberals? I believe the answer is ignorance. Grand Rapids is a very deserving city with plenty to do for the whole family. Matter of fact the entire west side of Michigan is very desirable to raise a family. Again it really depends on you doing the research and making an educated decision. I'm sure you are educated enough to not listen to the inane ramblings of the quoted individual above. Either way Michigan is a great state, enjoy it where ever you decide to go.
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:59 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,624,476 times
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I have more experience with Grand Rapids, but I've visited Ann Arbor. I would echo the positives that MittenDweller listed about Ann Arbor, but add more positives for Grand Rapids that need to be mentioned. Visually, it is a much more appealing city than Ann Arbor, especially if you're talking about the urban core. Grand Rapids is cleaner, more modern, has more impressive architecture and an actual skyline, while there is no particular view of Ann Arbor that could be considered "impressive". The infrastructure in Grand Rapids seems to be in better shape. Ann Arbor roads seem terrible to me, maybe due to the higher amount of traffic in SE Michigan in general. Also, Ann Arbor does have more of an "outdoorsy" culture, but if you actually want to GO outdoors, the Grand Rapids area has more natural beauty, and has easy access to Lake Michigan and places "Up North", which are going to be much more attractive to an outdoorsy person than anything in the Ann Arbor area. Many of the eastern and northern suburbs are set in beautiful rolling hills and woods that are sort of the exception to the rule in our mostly-flat state. Grand Rapids has more conservatives than Ann Arbor and more of a pro-business vibe, but it is very progressive in terms of people being concerned about the city's future, looking for new ways to create vibrancy, and being ahead of the curve on energy-efficient construction (I think Grand Rapids leads the nation in LEED-certified construction).

Last edited by michigan83; 04-26-2011 at 04:25 AM..
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:02 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, Isanti County, MN
3,194 posts, read 4,804,710 times
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Niether town has much natural beauty, so if that is something you seek you need to look elsewhere. Grand Rapids is a river town, and has a lot of low lying, swampy areas, which I've always found very unattractive. Ann Arbor has some attractive neighborhoods, but again.......not anything that'll blow your doors off asthetically. GR has a bustling downtown, but a lot of it is tied to the hospitals. Ann Arbor would obviously not be what it is without the U of M, and as one other poster mentioned, basically has no skyline to speak of.

Both towns have geographical advantages for me. Ann Arbor is right next to Detroit, and before people start laughing, you have to stop and realize that, despite its reputation, Detroit remains one of the great metropolises of the midwest, offering just about everything in the way of entertainment, food, sports and culture. Grand Rapids has the lovely town of Holland right down the road, as well as several other excellent Lake Michigan communities (Saugatuck, Grand Haven). GR is also a mornings drive from Detroit, as well as Chicago, the latter being an alpha city....one of the greatest metros in all the world.

I wouldn't consider either town "unsafe". You use discretion and common sense, and you'll just about always be fine anywhere you go. I like to use the ol' analogy of bothering a bees nest when it comes to safety. Stay away from the nests and you won't get stung.

GR will usually get more snow, as it is subjected to the lake effect phenomenon, but this is Michigan, and both places are gonna be cold and snowy in winter. Summers are incredible in both spots. Midwestern summers are just the best.

GR has more conservative pockets, A2 more liberal. To this I say...."SO WHAT??" I am a staunch conservative, but lived in Boston, MA - one of the most liberal spots in America - and loved it. I've never been one to allow politics to dictate where I hang my hat. There are liberals in GR, and there are conservatives in A2. If it's that important to you, just seek out spots and people that are comfortable for you to be in and around.

Housing will be more pricey in and around Ann Arbor. It's been ranked on "Best Places to Live" lists many times....and when that starts happening the prices go up. GR is no slouch, though, when it comes to quality of life. It's an up & coming place with an active downtown, cheaper housing, and more than enough to do for families. I don't know how GR measures up as a singles town, but A2 obviously has the advantage there with the university and proximity to a bigger metro.

Jobs are like everywhere else in Michigan.....tough to find. I'm in healthcare, and although nurses are still in fairly high demand, the medical companies are all cutting as much as possible in this awful economy. If you get an interview, you better go in there and WOW 'EM, because there'll be a line of competition ahead of and behind you for the job.

I'm a 42 year old, married father of 2 who makes roughly $50,000 a year, and so if I had to choose between these towns I would probably go with Grand Rapids, based on the things I mentioned...particularly the housing aspect, although I certainly wouldn't rule out A2 if I could find the right deal. If I were single, however, it would probably be A2 all the way. Both good towns for a variety of reasons.......and not a lot of negatives about either that I can think of.

Last edited by Tyryztoll; 04-26-2011 at 07:16 AM..
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:36 AM
 
1,648 posts, read 2,743,618 times
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Do a good study of Google Maps - Grand Rapids is less than an hour drive to all the beachs of Lake Michigan (pure sand dunes, stunning sunsets, has ready access to state parks with camping, tubing, fishing etc. Ann Arbor has more of a "park" feel - there are places you can go boating, running, crew but it is more landlocked.

It all comes down to preference. They're both great cities. Ann Arbor will be more expensive, more integrated and might have slightly more sophisticated cultural attractions. Ann Arbor is more transient so it has more social infrasutucre for new comers and might seem more welcoming. Grand Rapids will have more family friendly events and a stable population which would leave to a better sense of community once you get acclimated. I'd pick GR.
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,742,937 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 313er View Post
DO NOT MOVE to grand rapids, its not very boring except go to Michigan adventures In North muskegon, or go to the beaches at lake michigan anyways there is not much not much In Grand rapids though and its not very clean except the downtown area, its is full of stuck up conservative people, People in grand rapids are rude, not nice to you, and are very religious and racist, crime rate is high almost as bad as Saginaw Or Flint, Cops do not care what happens and the schools are horrible almost as bad as Detroit Public, Ann arbor Is Very nice, much Nicer and more diverse people and some very intelligent, schools are way better, not very republican conservative, very clean, Very safe, and walkable, way more housing options, people are kind here, I Say Ann arbor is a 100% better choice than grand rapids, i live In northview, which is north of Grand rapids, and i cannot wait to move away to metro detroit next summer.
Let's insult the entire population of Grand Rapids in one post, and throw in Saginaw and Flint onto the heap as well. Nice.

As a person who is not native to Grand Rapids, I think it'd be a tough decision. Ann Arbor is a bit more "cosmopolitan," since it has people attending UofM from all over the country. I think I read that AA has more New York Times subscribers per capita than even New York itself. But the population doesn't seem to have the same affinity for community, since people get their degrees at Michigan and then (for the most part) move away. The community pride in Grand Rapids is almost a bit over the top, but good to see as well. The world-class medical and engineering communities bring a lot of education to the community of AA.

Some posters are wrong about diversity. The city of Grand Rapids is about 62% white, almost 20% African American, and 13% Hispanic. Ann Arbor is almost 75% white, only 8.8% African American, and 3% Hispanic. The high cost of living in AA and income disparity amongst races probably has a lot to do with that (not trying to shift this to a racial discussion, just correcting earlier diversity opinions). AA might "feel" more diverse because of the large population of Middle Eastern and Asian students and faculty at Michigan.

If you want more diversity, head over to Ypsilanti (whites are only 60% of the population).

Last edited by magellan; 04-26-2011 at 09:30 AM..
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Old 04-26-2011, 02:51 PM
 
172 posts, read 424,157 times
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Minus the one poorly written, rambling comment by one member, the rest of the comments were great and really appreciated. As someone who lived in Ann Arbor in my early 20's when I was single and had no kids, Ann Arbor was fantastic. It really has so much to offer but cost of living is a big factor for me now. At this point in life, I am married with two kids and would like to be able to offer my kids a comfortable experience if possible and it seems like GR might allow us to make that happen more so than A2. I have only visited GR and not really in the last 10 years and from what I can tell, much has changed for GR in the last decade. I think which ever area we chose, we will not be looking at homes right in town. We would like a bit of property but still want to be within 10-15 minutes of either downtown area. I agree with most everyone with regard to A2 being so close to Detroit (which I think is a great city) versus GR with it's proximity to the lakeshore and outdoor amenities. Guess it will take a few more trips to GR to see if it will be the right fit for our family or if A2 fits the bill despite the cost of living.
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