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Old 04-28-2011, 07:52 PM
 
10 posts, read 18,033 times
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We are potentially moving for a job in Portage area. We have 3 young children and are coming from the East Coast. We are looking for a home and a yard near a fun town area with parks, sports, great schools (public or private) and lots to do with the kids. I like the feel of Ann Arbor, but think its too far. St. Joe sounds wonderful, but how would the commute be in the winter? Can you commute to a Chicago suburb or are there good towns near Portage? We really have no idea, so please share your thoughts/advice/etc. We are very nervous about leaving all of our friends and family and really want a great community.
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:03 PM
 
Location: At the end of the road, where the trail begins.
760 posts, read 2,214,327 times
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What's wrong with the south side of Portage? There are lots of nice places to live down by the lakes, lots of parks, a great sports complex on the east side. There are plenty of schools to choose from.

Save your time & money and live right there. Go visit Ann Arbor and Chicago on the weekends. That's what a lot of people in the area do.
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Old 04-29-2011, 07:15 AM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,855,772 times
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I'm from SW MI, and I used to live right near Portage. It's a really nice, safe suburb, and there are plenty of things to do in Portage. The Chicago suburbs are two to three hours away. I have a friend who commutes from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor for work, but it's still a long drive -- about 75-90 minutes.

If you want a smaller town, check out Three Rivers. It's an awesome place to live, of course, I'm probably biased.
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids
235 posts, read 460,131 times
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I personally wouldn't want to drive from St. Joe to Portage every day. That's about an hour (depending on where you are coming from/going to) drive and on I-94 which can be a little treacherous in the winter. However, there are people that do it. I would absolutely live in the Kalamazoo/Portage area. There are lots of things to do--more than St. Joe.
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,855,772 times
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If it's taking you an hour to make it from St. Joe to Portage, you must be driving really slow. The average time for me is 45 minutes, less if you drive faster (speed limit is 70). It's only about 40 miles, and I-94 has a speed limit of 70 the whole way.
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Old 04-29-2011, 05:58 PM
 
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
215 posts, read 452,865 times
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If he will work in Portage, do your family a huge favor and live in Portage. Don't even think about commuting from Ann Arbor or St. Joe. Its just too far, and if the snow or ice is on the highway...forget about it.

Portage has all sorts of neighborhoods and home prices from $60,000 small fixer uppers to $600,000 estates. 2 good high schools in Central and Northern. Youth sports are big in Portage if that's your thing.
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,855,772 times
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I've been away for so long, I've forgotten how loath we Michiganders are to commuting any sort of distance to work. Where I live now, people don't think twice about driving 90 miles just to go to the store, and many people work a long distance from their homes. In West Michigan, people view a 15 minute drive as an impossible commute. Since you're from the East Coast, take Michigan commute opinions with a grain of salt.

Compared to the East Coast, a drive from St. Joe or even Ann Arbor will be nothing to you. When it snows, the plows and salt trucks are out quickly, keeping the roads clean. That's one of the things I miss most about Michigan. Where I live now, they don't even attempt to clear the roads during the winter . . . they just remain a skating rink for five months out of the year.

Portage isn't a bad place to live, but it is incredibly bland, blah and boring. Strip malls, middle-class subdivisions, chain stores. I'd be bored to tears living in Portage.

If you don't like the idea of a 30-75 minute commute, I would at least advise you to live in Kalamazoo -- it's a college town and has a lot more cool neighborhoods, things to do and uniqueness that you just can't find in Portage. I really like the Westnedge Hill neighborhood in K'zoo -- pretty much anywhere north of Whites Rd and south of Howard Street is great for historic homes and small shops. The part of the Westwood neighborhood west of Clarendon Street is also a really nice, family-oriented area. Anywhere east of Clarendon is really, really sketchy. Avoid the Northside and Eastside of Kalamazoo (dangerous, high-crime ghettoes).

Last edited by northstar22; 04-30-2011 at 12:28 PM..
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids
235 posts, read 460,131 times
Reputation: 125
Quote:
Originally Posted by northstar22 View Post
If it's taking you an hour to make it from St. Joe to Portage, you must be driving really slow. The average time for me is 45 minutes, less if you drive faster (speed limit is 70). It's only about 40 miles, and I-94 has a speed limit of 70 the whole way.
I just google mapped from my daughter's Dr in St. Joe (Ste 102, 3800 Hollywood Road
St. Joseph, MI 49085) to the mall in portage (6650 South Westnedge Avenue
Portage, Michigan 49024). The shortest suggested route is 53 minutes. I then google mapped from Lakeland Hospital (1234 Napier Avenue
St. Joseph, MI 49085) in St. Joe to some apartments in Portage (6103 Mallard Circle Portage, MI 49024). Again, 53 minutes. To me, to say "about an hour" for a 53 minute drive is not exaggerating. Especially taking into consideration traffic and weather. Additionally, I do NOT drive 70 miles per hour, but I was not advising on what I personally drive or how long it takes me. I was trying to give CORRECT information.

For the record, I did have to commute from my place near KVCC in Kalamazoo to Benton Harbor while I was finishing up at LMC about 6 years ago, and it was NOT desirable. Now, with the price of gas being $4.16 that has got to be even harder on the wallet. Heck, I only drive from South Haven to St. Joe for work and I spend a pretty penny on gas.

Last edited by notdeconcentrate; 04-30-2011 at 02:53 PM..
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,855,772 times
Reputation: 3264
Google Maps always assumes a speed less than the speed limit -- I believe they calculate based on an average speed of 60 on the freeways. That's not correct information, it's overly conservative information. No one ever drives that slow, except if traffic is heavy or weather is bad. Besides, you're arguing over 8 minutes . . . travel times can vary by that based on red lights, slow drivers, etc. Still, it has never taken me an hour to make it from Portage to St. Joe, and that's a drive I've done many, many times.

Gas prices are brutal, though. I didn't know they were $4.16 in Michigan! Up here, they are $3.94, still brutal but not THAT bad.
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Old 04-30-2011, 03:23 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids
235 posts, read 460,131 times
Reputation: 125
Quote:
Originally Posted by northstar22 View Post
Google Maps always assumes a speed less than the speed limit -- I believe they calculate based on an average speed of 60 on the freeways. That's not correct information, it's overly conservative information. No one ever drives that slow, except if traffic is heavy or weather is bad. Besides, you're arguing over 8 minutes . . . travel times can vary by that based on red lights, slow drivers, etc. Still, it has never taken me an hour to make it from Portage to St. Joe, and that's a drive I've done many, many times.

Gas prices are brutal, though. I didn't know they were $4.16 in Michigan! Up here, they are $3.94, still brutal but not THAT bad.
I am not arguing over 7 minutes. My point in general is that my saying "That's about an hour (depending on where you are coming from/going to)" is not exact nor it is overly conservative. Especially if you are talking about a drive to work.
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