1. Small Town Comforts with a Big City Vibe…
Location, Location, Location…Grand Rapids, MI is a city where you can bask on a pristine sandy white beach, kayak down a lazy river, take a horse-drawn carriage through a thriving down town area and tour a historic neighborhood all within one day. In fact, all of this within 30 – 45 minutes of driving time without the hassles of big city traffic. Grand Rapids, MI is a place where people still smile and say ‘Hi’ and will often open the door for you to walk through first, especially if you’re carrying an arm full.
2. Art Prize & Beer City US
Yep! Very few cities can lay claim to both. But in Grand Rapids, MI citizens enjoy the flair and drama created by hundreds of artists from around the country and world lending their creative muse to public spaces throughout the community. Art Prize is the world’s largest community art contest in which the citizens choose the winning entry by electronic vote. Truly a democratic affair! As for the beer thing, Grand Rapids has won the nationwide vote for the best crafted beer two years running…2012 & 2013.
3. Maker’s Spaces & Cool Funky Creative Vibes
If you love to build stuff, create new things, innovate and invent – there are few cities of its size which offer what Grand Rapids MI does to the entrepreneurially inclined. There’s a vibe that you can instinctively feel about Grand Rapids. It’s citizens are curious souls. Hardworking too. There are several communities specifically geared towards working together to collaborate and invent. These include: Start Garden, The Factory and the Geek Group to name a few.
4. Gorgeous Green Space & Eclectic Art Sculptures
Green space abounds in Grand Rapids MI. The urban landscape is frequently punctuated with park benches to stop & rest awhile. The city overseas over 1,200 acres in 71 city owned parks. There’s also a lovely quirkiness about how Grand Rapidians decorate their outdoor spaces. It’s not unusual to see gardens with numerous lawn ornaments, including dutch shoes. In the heart of downtown, Rosa Parks Circle designed by famous renowned artist Maya Lin features ice skating in the winter and line dancing in the summer.
5. The Downtown Market
Opened a year ago in 2013, the Downtown Market is an eclectic spot where you can browse through fresh offerings from local farmers during three days of the week or shop throughout the week in the indoor market which features an array of different kinds of shops. Where else can you find an all natural juice bar, a European Bakery, a Crepe Shop, Fish Market, Meat Market, Spicery, Coffee Bar, Wine Bar and take classes in yoga and gourmet cooking all under one roof? Oh and yes…there’s also a roof top garden where you can enjoy a view of the city and several restaurants to boot!
6. Awesome Eats & Sweets
Grand Rapids MI has truly become a ‘foodies’ town. The Farm to Table concept has grown roots into the community and today, several great restaurants feature items sourced from local farms. One of the most interesting cluster of restaurants to open in the area centers around the East Town Community just east of the downtown core. Some of our favorites include: The Grove, Green Well, Marie Catrib’s, and Terra. Downtown we recommend: Reserve, Osteria Rossa, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Rockwell Republic and Six One Six. For lovers of international cuisine, there are a number of Indian restaurants, Mexican Restaurants and one of our favorites, a Persian themed restaurant Shiraz Grill which features live entertainment as well as excellent food. Each year, the city showcases restaurants during Restaurant Week, a great opportunity to try out something new at a reasonable cost.
7. Affordable Housing & Unique Neighborhoods
Forbes magazine recently ranked Grand Rapids MI as the 2nd Best Place to Raise a Family in the United States. The ranking was based in part on Housing Affordability, Home Ownership Rates and Safety. The median house price for Grand Rapids is $167, 000 according to recent data available from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS. Lonely Planet dubbed Grand Rapids MI as its ‘TOP DESTINATION’ for 2014. If you’ve been thinking about a vacation to an exotic locale with gorgeous sandy beaches, West Michigan with it’s pristine shoreline, wineries and orchards might be exactly what you need. Living in an area where your mortgage note doesn’t require scrimping on your life style and in communities which take pride in their homes is a wonderful bonus. Housing stock covers a wide range including: downtown condos, apartments, suburban homes, historic homes, pastoral estates, row houses and gated communities.
8. World Class Entertainment & Fun Festivals
There’s always stuff to do in Grand Rapids MI. In fact, the variety is surprising for a city of its size. You can enjoy the opera, ballet or symphony or attend a concert or show at the Van Andel Arena or DeVos Hall. The city features several Festivals which include: Laughfest, Festival of the Arts, Hispanic Festival, Soul of the City, Oktoberfest and Art Prize. For sports enthusiasts, there are dozens of golf courses within a 30 minute drive. Sports teams include the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team and the West Michigan White Caps, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. If you’re into biking, you’ll love the fact that the city has many miles of dedicated bike trails including dedicated lanes on the roadways. In 2009, the League of American Cyclist named the city as one of the Top Bicycle Friendly Communities within the United States.
9. Top of the Line Healthcare
Even some Grand Rapidians might be surprised to know that two of the areas top employers are associated with the healthcare industry. Spectrum Health along with Mercy Health St. Mary comprise a significant portion of job offerings in the West Michigan area. It’s never a good thing to get sick, but if you need excellent care or specialized services, Grand Rapids MI rivals the nation’s best when it comes to wellness and disease treatment. In addition, the Van Andel Institute is recognized as a world leader in biomedical research and science education. The campus of the MSU College of Medicine (Secchia Center) is located along the Medical Mile.
10. Great Place to Find a Job & School
Due to a diverse economic base, Grand Rapids MI has thrived economically despite the recession which has plagued much of the country and the State. The area is home to more than 90 International companies and four of the largest private companies featured on the Forbes List. Blessed with a hardworking and diverse workforce, Grand Rapids has attracted investment from a variety of industry sectors. Average earning are just under $50,000 according to data from the Right Place and the average work force age ranges from the 20’s to 50’s. Data sourced from The Right Place.
The Grand Rapids area features a number of choices for residents when it comes to elementary, highschool, college and post graduate study. These include public and private schools as well as charter schools.
11. Gorgeous Weather – (well, most of the time)
Yes, winter can be brutal in Michigan, but you have to live here to understand why folks are willing to put up with a little excess from Mother Nature during that season. Summer in West Michigan is wonderful. Enhanced by the fact that you’re never more than six miles away from a body of water and approximately 30 minutes from Lake Michigan, Grand Rapidians revel in summer. We also enjoy fall, when the trees break into glorious splendour and put on a show that’s absolutely exquisite. We like the change of the seasons – watching the pristine beauty of winter give way to the promise of spring. One thing about Grand Rapids MI weather that’s for certain is that it’s never boring.