Moving to Michigan

Surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan offers spectacular landscapes, limitless outdoor recreation, and affordable living. It also attracts millions of tourists and residents with its awesome cities (and amazing craft beer and food). Home to Henry Ford, Stevie Wonder, Bob Seger, Eminem, and more, The Great Lakes State has a huge industrial and creative past (Motor City and Motown!) that keeps it striving and thriving. It’s easy to see why so many people proudly call themselves Michiganders.

Considering a move to Michigan? Whether it’s your first time moving or your tenth, there’s a sea of information to know about the Wolverine State. To help out, Great Guys Long Distance Movers has put together this convenient Michigan moving guide. It includes the following sections:

  1. Things to Consider Before Moving to MI
  2. Top Places to Live in the Midwest State
  3. A Handy Interstate Moving Checklist
  4. A List of Our Quality MI Moving Services
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Living in Michigan: What to Know Before Moving to Michigan

Moving to Water Winter Wonderland? There are several things to consider before heading to the nation’s 11th largest state by total area (96,716 square miles) and 10th most populated state (10 million).

Pros and Cons of Living in Michigan

Pros: 

  • Low cost of living: With an index of 96.7, Michigan offers a cost of living that is lower than the nationwide average. Housing currently scores a 76 (compared to the national average of 100).
  • Natural beauty: From colorful autumn leaves to the majestic Tahquamenon Falls and Mackinac Island, Michigan (especially the Upper Peninsula) is renowned for its stunning scenery.
  • Four seasons: Michiganders experience a distinct spring, summer, fall, and winter. Keep in mind, however, that some seasons last longer than others. We’re looking at you, winter.
  • Outdoor activities: Enjoy kayaking, boating, fishing, camping, or hunting? If you’re an outdoorsy type, you’ll be hardpressed to find a better place to enjoy rugged outdoor adventures.
  • Top colleges: Along with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, Michigan is home to several prominent liberal arts colleges (including Hillsdale College and Hope College).  
  • Surrounded by lakes: If you’re into water and beach activities, summertime in Michigan is the best! It’s virtually impossible not to know someone who lives by a lake or owns a lake house.
  • Huge sports culture: Locals go crazy for sports here. From the University of Michigan Wolverines to the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, and AFC Ann Arbor, sports are big in Michigan.

Cons:

  • Freezing winters: This is particularly true in the northern part of the state. If you’re moving from a more temperate climate, grab a warm winter coat and insulated boots.
  • Unpredictable weather: Storms out of nowhere, sunny then snowing… Welcome to Michigan. The City of Houghton, for example, has the most erratic weather in the nation.
  • Roads: First off, potholes are unavoidable. The Wolverine State has some pretty bad roads (due to winter), and that doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon. 
  • Public education: With the 11th worst graduation rate in America, the state school system has a lot of room for improvement. Fourth-grade reading proficiency is currently less than 30%.
  • Few snow days: Exhibiting a high tolerance for frigid temperatures and tons of snowfall, Michigan residents rarely see a day off due to extreme weather.
  • Swing state: If you’re put off by politics (and droves of canvassers and political ads), prepare yourself for the onslaught of living in a battleground state.
  • Bizarre laws: The state has its fair share of weird laws. For instance, you cannot be drunk on a train. Also, it’s illegal to destroy your radio intentionally in Detroit.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: 1.64%. Michigan is ranked #41 in terms of the effective real-estate tax rate.
  • Sales Tax: Michigan state sales tax rate is 6%. There are no local sales taxes.
  • Income Tax: 4.25%. The state has a flat personal income tax system.

Housing Market

To Rent or Buy? Overall, it is a better option to buy rather than rent in Michigan State. Detroit, for instance, is one of only three housing markets in the nation (including Philadelphia and Cuyahoga County, OH), with over one million residents that still offer cheaper homeownership. 

  • Median Home Value: $153,000
  • Median Rental Expense: $721 (1BR), $922 (2BR)

Cheapest Places to Live in Michigan:

  1. Ishpeming
  2. Iron Mountain
  3. Center Line
  4. Springfield
  5. Wyandotte
  6. Bay City
  7. Ironwood
  8. Menominee
  9. St. Louis
  10. Wayne

Cost of Living

According to BestPlaces’ Cost of Living in Michigan, Michigan has a cost of living index of 96.7. This index is above the nationwide index of 100.

Using the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, we can compare the average monthly expenses in three Michigan cities. Let’s use a family of four (2 adults + 2 children) for the examples.

Detroit Metro Area:

  1. Housing = $940
  2. Food = $739
  3. Childcare = $1,430
  4. Transportation = $1,141
  5. Healthcare = $806
  6. Other necessities = $677
  7. Taxes = $876
  8. Grand total = $6,609 per month or $79,308 per year

Ann Arbor Metro Area:

  1. Housing = $11,103
  2. Food = $794
  3. Childcare = $1,608
  4. Transportation = $1,198
  5. Healthcare = $904
  6. Other necessities = $765
  7. Taxes = $1,059
  8. Grand total = $7,432 per month or $89,186 per year

Grand Rapids Metro Area:

  1. Housing = $878
  2. Food = $729
  3. Childcare = $1,414
  4. Transportation = $1,169
  5. Healthcare = $804
  6. Other necessities = $648
  7. Taxes = $850
  8. Grand total = $6,491 per month or $77,898 per year

Weather & Natural Disasters

Located in the Great Lakes region, Michigan has a continental climate that is split into two distinct sections. The Upper Peninsula (also known as the U.P. or Upper Michigan) and the northern region of the Lower Peninsula sees more intense weather with shorter summers and frigid winters. The southern and central portions of the Lower Peninsula experience hot summers and relatively warmer winters.

The seasons are well-defined. Warmer temperatures can be found in the southern part of the state, while the most snowfall occurs in the north. On average, the state has around 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. The southern region is particularly susceptible to severe t-storms. 

Climate Statistics:

  1. Average rainfall – 34 inches
  2. Average snowfall – 64 inches
  3. Sunshine – 170 sunny days
  4. Summer high – 81°F (July)
  5. Winter low – 14°F (January)

The state of Michigan is considered the safest state from natural disasters in America. Though the state has a low risk, it still is susceptible to natural threats.

Natural Disaster – Threats & Risks:

  1. Flooding
  2. Earthquakes
  3. Thunderstorms
  4. Winter Weather
  5. Extreme Heat
  6. Tornadoes
  7. Hurricanes
  8. Wildfires

Economy & Job Market

Ranked 19th in state economy rankings by US News & World Report, Michigan’s score depends on several subcategories, including business environment (#26), employment (#35), and growth (#16). The Midwest state has a GDP of nearly $509 billion, and the median income is approximately $30,500.

Top Industries:

  1. Medical Devices
  2. Cybersecurity
  3. Healthcare
  4. Defense
  5. Carbon Fiber / Composite Materials
  6. Aerospace
  7. Life Sciences
  8. Automotive / Mobility
  9. Information Technology
  10. AgriBusiness 

Top Employers:

  1. University of Michigan Health System
  2. Grand Valley State University
  3. Microsoft
  4. Ford Motor
  5. FedEx
  6. Darden Restaurants
  7. Henry Ford Health
  8. Pfizer
  9. Arconic
  10. Kellogg

Looking for work in Michigan? Here are some helpful resources:

  1. Pure Michigan page: Pure Michigan Talent Connect
  2. Job search: Indeed, LinkedIn, CollegeRecruiter, CareerBuilder
  3. Resume help: Monster, TopResume, ResumeRobin

Traffic and Transportation

Major Forms of Transportation:

  1. Airports (including Detroit Metro Airport)
  2. Trains (Amtrak, Wolverine Service, etc.)
  3. Buses (Greyhound, Megabus, Indian Trails, etc.)
  4. MyRide2 (for seniors and adults with disabilities)
  5. Taxi and limo services
  6. Ferry services
  7. Shuttle services
  8. Car rentals
  9. Personal vehicles
  10. Ridesharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.)

The interstate highway system in Michigan is owned and maintained by the state of Michigan and comprises nearly 1,240 miles of highway.

Primary and Auxiliary Interstate Highways:

  1. Interstate 69
  2. Interstate 75
  3. Interstate 94
  4. Interstate 96
  5. Interstate 194
  6. Interstate 196
  7. Interstate 275
  8. Interstate 296
  9. Interstate 375
  10. Interstate 475
  11. Interstate 496
  12. Interstate 675
  13. Interstate 696

According to WalletHub’s Best and Worst States to Drive In, Michigan comes in 22nd place. This ranking depends on several subcategories: cost of ownership & maintenance (#34), traffic & infrastructure (#25), safety (#17), and access to vehicles & maintenance (#11). In 2019, 41% and 38% of Michigan roads were rated as poor and fair, respectively. Road issues are projected to not improve over the next ten years.

Things to Do

As the only state surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes (and split into two peninsulas), Michigan is a place of stunning scenery, rugged outdoor splendor, and charming cities. It also offers an assortment of places to tour and fun activities to be enjoyed. Below, you’ll find our top picks.

  • Tourist Destinations: Check out Mackinac Island (with no modern vehicles and horse-drawn carriages, visitors enjoy simpler living), Isle Royale National Park (430 square miles of breathtaking streams, lakes, and forests), Michigan History Center (filled with state history from prehistoric settlers to the industrial 20th century), Michigan State Capitol (based on the capitol building in Washington DC), and The Fisher Building (one of the state’s architectural gems, located in Detroit). 
  • Food & Drink: Michigan is home to awesome restaurants, diners, bakeries, breweries, bars, and so on. Top 24-hour diner: Fleetwood Diner (Ann Arbor). Top bar: Goodnight Gracie Jazz & Martini Bar. Top craft brewery: Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo). Top brunch: Dime Store (Detroit). Top burger: Redamak’s (New Buffalo). Top doughnuts: Sweetwater’s Donut Mill (Kalamazoo). Top chocolate shop: Bon Bon Bon (Detroit). Top coffee shop: Astro Coffee (Detroit).
  • Nature & Parks: Want to enjoy Michigan’s lovely and rugged nature? Consider the following. State Parks: Presque Isle Park (Marquette), Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon), and Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Paradise) Beaches: Silver Lake Sand Dunes (Hart), Sand Point Beach (Munising), and Stearns Park (Ludington). Bodies of Water: Presque Isle River (Ontonagon), Lake of the Clouds (Ontonagon), and Chapel Rock & Beach (Munising).
  • Sights & Landmarks: If you want to check out Michigan’s landmarks, be sure to visit Mackinac Bridge (five-mile-long suspension bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsula), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (historic lakeshore with pretty beaches and 100 miles of trails), Soo Locks (legendary locks that have connected the Great Lakes for almost 160 years), and the University of Michigan (Michigan’s oldest university, filled with museums and acclaimed facilities).
  • Fun & Games: Looking for a great place to take a date, the family, or friends? Room Escape Games: Decode Ann Arbor, Decode Ypsilanti, and Locked 460 Escape Rooms (Grand Rapids Games & entertainment centers: BATL – The Backyard Axe Throwing League (Novi), Respawn Tactical Laser Tag (Houghton), and Fowling Warehouse (Hamtramck). Mini golf: Miners Falls Mini Golf (Munising), Airway Fun Center (Portage), and C.J. Barrymore’s (Clinton Township).
  • Aquariums & Zoos: The state of Michigan is home to several aquariums and zoos. Aquariums: Belle Isle Aquarium (Detroit), SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium (Auburn Hills) Zoos: Detroit Zoo (Royal Oak) Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park (Alto), Museum Ship Valley Camp (Sault Ste. Marie), Binder Park Zoo (Battle Creek), Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square (Saginaw), Potter Park Zoo (Lansing), Roscommon Zoo (Roscommon), Wilderness Trails Zoo (Birch Zoo), Indian Creek Zoo (Lambertville).
  • Cool & Unusual: Looking for something a bit different? Check out Grande Ballroom (legendary Detroit rock venue that is now abandoned), St. Agnes Church & School (a gothic, haunting ruin in Detroit), Turnip Rock (as the name implies, it’s a turnip-shaped island in Lake Huron), Kitch-iti-kipi (meaning “big cold water,” Michigan’s biggest freshwater spring is in Manistique), and Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (filled with automata and games in Farmington Hills).

Schools and Universities

According to a report on states with the best schools by USA Today, Michigan is currently ranked #33 in the nation. It has the 11th lowest high-school graduation rate and the 21st highest public-school spending. Despite this, the state is home to celebrated colleges (including several notable liberal arts colleges), universities, and school districts. Check out the top picks below.

Top MI Colleges:

  1. The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor) 
  2. Michigan State University (East Lansing)
  3. Michigan Technological University (Houghton)
  4. Calvin University (Grand Rapids)
  5. Hope College (Holland)
  6. Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo)
  7. Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti)
  8. Hillsdale College (Hillsdale)
  9. University of Detroit Mercy (Detroit)
  10. Wayne State University (Detroit)

Top MI Public School Districts:

  1. Novi Community School District (Novi)
  2. Troy School District (Troy)
  3. Bloomfield Hills Schools (Bloomfield Hills)
  4. Grosse Pointe Public Schools (Grosse Pointe)
  5. Northville Public Schools (Northville)
  6. Saline Area Schools (Saline)
  7. Birmingham Public Schools (Beverly Hills)
  8. Okemos Public Schools (Okemos)
  9. Rochester Community School District (Rochester)
  10. Forest Hills Public Schools (Grand Rapids)

How to Become a Michigan Resident

Becoming a Michigan resident requires different actions depending on the objective. Here’s a list of examples (with links to more information):

  1. Obtaining an MI driver’s license (see below)
  2. Registering your vehicle (see below)
  3. Voting in Michigan (see below)
  4. Registering watercraft or recreational vehicle
  5. Filing income tax statements in Michigan
  6. Becoming a licensed professional
  7. Paying in-state tuition 

Moving to Michigan DMV

Acquiring a new driver’s license:

After moving to the state, new residents are required to obtain a Michigan driver’s license immediately (there is no grace period). If you have a valid license from another state or Canada, follow the instructions below to apply for a driver’s license or state ID card. (Note: On October 1, 2020, Michigan residents must provide a REAL ID-compliant document to fly domestically.)

Steps to getting a new license:

  1. Visit a Secretary of State office
  2. Present documentation of social security number (or letter of ineligibility), US citizenship or legal presence, photo ID, and Michigan residency
  3. Take a vision test
  4. Pass physical standards
  5. Have photo taken
  6. Pay applicable fees
  7. Receive Temporary Operator’s Permit
  8. Wait for driver’s license to arrive by mail

Vehicle registration:

New WA residents must title and register an out-of-state vehicle immediately (there is no grace period). 

To register: 1) Provide the current title, proof of Michigan no-fault insurance, and valid identification at a Secretary of State branch office. 2) All owners must be present when applying for a Michigan title 3) If you have a lien holder, you may take your out-of-state registration or title to any branch office (along with proof of no-fault insurance) to be issued a “Foreign Ownership-Registration Only” registration. 4) Fill out appropriate forms 5) Pay applicable titling and registration fees.

To qualify to vote, you must:

  1. Be a United States citizen
  2. Be a Michigan resident for at least 30 days
  3. Be 18 years or older on election day
  4. Not be confined in jail after conviction

You may register to vote by mail or in-person (at a county, city, township clerk’s, or state department branch office). The state currently does not allow online voter registration, but it permits no-excuse absentee voting. Voters must provide photo ID to receive a ballot. 

*NOTE: A Michigan felon has their voting rights restored upon completion of prison sentence.

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Best Places to Live in Michigan

Upper Michigan (Upper Peninsula)

Houghton

Population: 7,900
Median Home Value: $128,000

Considering a move to the U.P.? Houghton is a small northern Michigan town situated on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Copper County. As the fifth-largest city in the Upper Peninsula, it only has a population of less than 8,000. 59% of residents own their homes, and public schools are highly rated.

What makes Houghton special? Home to America’s first mining rush, it is a place built on freedom, resilience, and grit. Copper and lumber production drew European workers from Finland and England. They fell in love with the area and decided to stay, which led to a strong Finnish and Cornish influence.

The first things that come to mind when locals think of Houghton are Finnish saunas, Cornish pasties, and stellar education. Along with exceptional public schools, Michigan Technological University offers world-class staff and facilities. Offering outdoor activities like skiing, biking, snowboarding, hiking, and snowmobiling (along with being the birthplace of professional hockey), Houghton is a recreation enthusiast’s paradise. It is also where you can experience the Yooper dialect – holy wah!

Top public schools serving Houghton include Houghton Elementary School, Houghton Central High School, Houghton Middle School, E.B. Holman Elementary School, and Jeffers High School. As for higher education, Houghton is home to Michigan Tech University (MTU), a top public research university in America (as well as being considered one of the best universities for return on investment).

Considered one of the 100 best small towns in the United States, Houghton is a perfect place to put down roots and raise a family in the Upper Peninsula.

Iron Mountain

Population: 7,500
Median Home Value: $80,000

Next on our adventure through Upper Michigan, we have Iron Mountain. Known as a good town with great people, the community is extremely friendly and helpful. Iron Mountain is also considered Michigan’s safest city. 69% of residents are homeowners, and the public schools are highly ranked.

As a working-class community, Iron Mountain has a small-town feel with four beautiful seasons. If you like the great outdoors, you’ll love living here. There are tons of opportunities to explore and enjoy nature: hiking, watersports, four-wheeling, hunting, and much more. Housing is cheap, and there are several big businesses in the area like Systems Control and Boss.

As far as drawbacks, diversity is low (over 96% white). Potholes plague the town (which isn’t an isolated situation in Michigan), and drug use has become an increasing issue.

Top public schools serving the Iron Mountain area include Kingsford Middle School, Kingsford High School, Woodland Elementary School, Iron Mountain High School, North Elementary School, East Elementary School, Central Middle School, and Iron Mountain-Kingsford Community Education. 

Offering a safe, small, close-knit community with great schools, commuting, and amenities, Iron Mountain is another great small town in the U.P. ideal for getting a family started.

Marquette

Population: 21,000
Median Home Value: $197,200

Located northeast of Iron Mountain along Lake Superior, we have Marquette. As a major port and the largest city in Upper Michigan, the city of 21,000 is also a tourist destination and home to Northern Michigan University. 51% of residents own their homes, and the public schools are above average. 

As a port, natural wonderland, and college town, the City of Marquette wears many hats. Those looking for an outdoor lifestyle coupled with modern amenities will love living here. Popular activities include hiking, biking, cliff diving, swimming, boating, fishing, hockey, and the list goes on. The community also has many festivals, including the U.P. Fall Beer Festival and the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival.

In recent years, Marquette has become a tech hub. This burgeoning tech scene is in big part due to the support of the state and Northern Michigan University. With this growth, the city has started to attract a host of entrepreneurs and new businesses, which in turn has boosted the local economy. On the downside, diversity is low (nearly 90% white), and winter can be intense.

Top public schools serving Marquette include Sandy Knoll School, Marquette Senior High School, Gravitate Elementary School, Cherry Creek Elementary School, and Bothwell Middle School. In search of private academics? Consider Father Marquette Middle School and Father Marquette Elementary School. As for higher education, Northern Michigan University (NMU) is the college in town. 

Whether you’re a young professional, college student, retiree, or growing family, Marquette is a perennial favorite filled with natural attractions and northern lifestyle.

Traverse City

Population: 15,500
Median Home Value: $268,400

We end our tour of Northern Michigan in Traverse City. As the county seat of Grand Traverse County, the city of less than 16,000 sits along the southern end of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. As a major tourist magnet, it is known as America’s largest producer of tart cherries. Some 63% of residents are homeowners, and the public schools are highly rated.

Offering numerous attractions, including the National Cherry Festival (which draws 500,000+ visitors), a national lakeshore, pristine beaches, forests, vineyards, hiking trails, and ski hills, Traverse City attracts many visitors. There are also a variety of great restaurants, breweries, shops, IMAX theater, and fitness centers. Needless to say, there’s always something to do here. As far as drawbacks, it is a touristy town. And like several of its Lower Peninsula counterparts, Traverse City is relatively more expensive. 

Considering educational options in Traverse City? For K–12 public schooling, check out Central High School, West Senior High School, Willow Hill Elementary School, Central Grade School, and TCAPS Montessori School. For private K–12 schooling, look at St. Francis High School, Holy Angels Elementary School, Immaculate Conception Elementary School, Trinity Lutheran School, and Traverse Bay Mennonite School. As for higher education, Traverse City is home to Northwestern Michigan College.

Consistently voted as one of the very best small towns in America, Traverse City is a great place to call home for anyone that loves lake living and an active lifestyle.

Lower Michigan (Lower Peninsula)

Ann Arbor

Population: 120,000
Median Home Value: $378,600

As we make our way to the Lower Peninsula, we find ourselves in the City of Ann Arbor. Ranked #2 among the best cities to live in America by Niche, Ann Arbor, is quite impressive. Home to the best public university in the nation, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, the city of 120,000 is considered one of the best college towns and is the #1 most educated city in the United States.

Offering a metropolitan and left-of-center feel, Ann Arbor is a “blue” city in a swing state. Offering high livability, education, arts & culture, sports & outdoor recreation, cuisine, parks, dense forests, a thriving economy, Tree Town is perfect for nature lovers, book worms, hockey fans, college students, foodies, shoppers, and families. On the downside, the cost of living is higher than the state average, but you definitely get what you pay for here.

Top public schools include Pioneer High School, Huron High School, Skyline High School, Community High School, and Clague Middle School. Top-tier private schools in the area are Greenhills School, Michigan Islamic Academy, Clonlara School, St Francis of Assisi School, and St. Paul Lutheran School. Top colleges: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Concordia University – Ann Arbor, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy, and Ross Medical Education Center – Ann Arbor. 

Top neighborhoods: Downtown, South Main, West Park, Old West Side, Burns Park, Lowertown, Allen, and South Main.

Are you looking for arguably the best city to live in the state of Michigan (and possibly all of America)? Ann Arbor checks all the boxes and then some!

East Grand Rapids

Population: 11,700
Median Home Value: $387,100

As the #1 suburb in the Grand Rapids area, East Grand Rapids is a small city southeast of Grand Rapids in Kent County. The town of less than 12,000 is only 15 minutes away from Downtown GR, offering a quick commute. 94% of residents own their homes, and the public schools are exceptional.

Recently named as one of the Top 25 cities to live in America by USA Today, East Grand Rapids is a special place. The list is long: a strong sense of community, safe neighborhoods, stellar schools, easy commuting, Gaslight Village (the heart of the city), Reeds Lake (famous for waterskiing, kayaking, fishing, and picnicking), parks & nature areas, and more. As far as drawbacks, housing is more expensive here. 

Have children? Top public schools serving East Grand Rapids are East Grand Rapids High School, Breton Downs School, Wealthy School, East Grand Rapids Middle School, Lakeside Elementary School, City Middle / High School, Lincoln School, John Ball Park Zoo School, and Blandford Nature Center. Seeking private education? Consider St. Stephen School, a private Catholic school for PK and K–8.

Are you looking for the best suburb in the Grand Rapids area (along with being one of the best small cities in the country)? Look no further. East Grand Rapids may be your next home.

Grand Rapids

Population: 199,000
Median Home Value: $161,800

As one of the best places to buy a house in the United States, Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan (behind Detroit). Known for its arts, culture, and craft breweries, the city of nearly 200,000 offers a booming economy, diverse neighborhoods, and affordable cost of living.

Considered to have the top art, music, and shopping between Cleveland and Chicago, Grand Rapids is also a foodie and beer lover’s paradise. On top of that, the city offers award-winning public transportation, world-class sustainability initiatives, and a wide variety of outdoor activities. Downtown is a big draw, offering awesome shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing. And we couldn’t leave out the stunning gardens (such as famous Meijers Gardens) and landscape, which attracts many visitors.

Top public schools in Grand Rapids are Northern High School, Central High School, Meadow Brook Elementary School, Collins Elementary School, and Goodwillie Environmental School. For those interested in private schools, you’ll likely find Grand Rapids Christian High School, Catholic Central High School, West Catholic High School, Northpointe High School, and Grand Rapids Seventh-Day Adventist Academy to be the most appealing options. There are several colleges in town, including Calvin College, Aquinas College – Michigan, Cornerstone University, Kuyper College, and Compass College of Cinematic Arts. 

Top neighborhoods: Ottawa Hills, Eastgate, Eastown, Fulton Heights, South Hill, North East Citizens Action, Midtown, Ridgemoor, Belknap Lookout, and East Hills. 

If you’re looking for an affordable city that ranks among the best for raising a family (along with being a great destination for retirees and millennial homebuyers), you’ve just found it in the safe, clean, and friendly Michigan city of Grand Rapids.

Okemos

Population: 23,000
Median Home Value: $246,800

Last but certainly not least, we end our tour in Okemos. Considered the #1 place to live in Michigan (as well as one of the best areas to live in the United States), the unincorporated community is full of great schools, safe neighborhoods, high diversity, and a strong sense of community. Over half of the residents are homeowners (62%), and the public schools are highly ranked.

Close to East Lansing, there are plenty of things to do here. These include shopping, parks, hiking trails, lakes, and the farmers’ market. The proximity to East Lansing also makes for a short commute (under 10 minutes) to Michigan State University. Due to its high diversity, Okemos offers a wide variety of cultural opportunities. It also has many restaurants, grocery stores, and shops from different cultures.

Top public schools serving the Okemos area include Okemos High School, Okemos Public Montessori School at Central, Kinawa School, Hiawatha Elementary School, Chippewa Middle School, Cornell Elementary School, and Bennett Woods Elementary School. Top private schools include Montessori Radmoor School, St. Martha School, and Tutor Time Child Care Learning Center.

In search of the ideal family community? Okemos should definitely be at the top of your list!

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How to Move to Michigan

If you’re moving to or from Michigan, it pays to prepare. We’ve put together the following interstate moving checklist to help you experience a more stress-free, enjoyable relocation.

  • First of all, plan: At least two to three months before moving, start to coordinate your Michigan relocation. Make a list (that you can place on your fridge or another visible spot) and delegate tasks to family members and volunteers. Also, create and stick to a budget.
  • Research and book MI movers: Compare three to five fully licensed and insured moving companies. Hire ASAP for best rates and availability. Great Guys makes it super easy to select the right interstate moving services for your needs and budget. Contact us today!
  • Notify everyone: If you rent, inform your landlord early on. This notice will safeguard you from extra fees and security deposit issues. If you own, contact a real estate professional. They can ensure a successful sale or rental. Also, give a heads up to your family, neighbors, and friends.
  • Explain things to kids: Moving can be especially stressful for children. Explain (either through story or playtime) what’s going on. Be kind and patient. Also, try to maintain normal routines.
  • Declutter and downsize: To save space and money, perform a purging process. First, take inventory of your household. Next, one room at a time, sort through your belongings. Make piles or label items that you want to keep or discard. Repeat in every space.
  • Sell and donate: Once you’ve completed the sorting process, it’s time to find new homes for your old stuff. Sell online, donate to charity, or recycle any disused items.
  • Visit new state: If doable, plan a trip to your new town or city. Explore everything the community has to offer: work, schools, housing, things to do, and so on. Make it an adventure!
  • Start packing: At least one month before moving, begin the packing process. First, grab quality packing supplies. Place heavier items in boxes first, and pay special attention to fragile or valuable possessions. Don’t have the time or capability? Hire a cheap packing service.
  • Handle utilities and services: Schedule for utilities (electric, gas, water, etc.) to be turned off the day after you move. Also, make sure that your new services (including internet, satellite, etc.) are activated by the time you arrive at your new home.
  • Hire professional cleaners: About two to four weeks out, book a team to perform deep cleaning. Schedule for them to come over right after your moving crew has cleared out your place.
  • Check insurance: Whether you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, you’ll want to carry ample coverage. Contact your insurer and moving company to discuss your options.
  • Schedule special transport: Have pets or plants that can’t directly move with you? Arrange for special transport to ensure safe travel.
  • Make arrangements for kids and pets: You’ll be distracted on moving day. To safeguard your little ones on moving day, schedule playdates, daycare, and pet care.
  • Service vehicle: Planning on driving your car? If so, take it in for inspection and service. Have a mechanic go over all the essentials (oil change, tire rotation, A/C check, etc.) for a safe trip.
  • Transfer important records: These include prescriptions, school transcripts, and medical records. Also, make sure you have enough medications on hand during the moving process.
  • Change your mailing address: To do so, visit a local post office or go online to USPS.com. Don’t forget to also update your info for online services, subscription boxes, and so on.
  • Have a moving sale: Even though you may have already thrown a sale, there might be several items you still want to unload. Make a little pocket change and check up with neighbors.
  • Celebrate with loved ones: To commemorate your move, take the time to hang out with close friends and family members. Plan one-on-one time, a group outing, or party.
  • Fill essentials box: It’s moving week. At this point, you should be nearing the packing finish line. Take this time to fill a box with everything you’ll need for the first day or two at your new place: prescriptions, meds, bedding, snacks, toys, etc. Put it somewhere easily accessible. 
  • Confirm moving arrangements: Contact your moving company: double-check arrival time and any other details. Make sure to exchange numbers for easy contact during transit.
  • Confirm travel: Flying? Double-check flight times and luggage restrictions. Driving? Check vehicle (oil, coolant, air conditioning, etc.), accommodations, and driving route.
  • Rest up: It’s the night before moving day. If possible, refrain from going out or staying up late. Relax at home, eat well, hydrate, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Meet up with movers: Moving day is here! To ensure clear communication (and provide any last-minute instructions), be there when the movers arrive.
  • Provide water and snacks: This isn’t necessary, but it will help everyone start on the right foot — offer bottled water and light snacks as a nice gesture.
  • Perform the last walkthrough: Okay, so the moving crew has loaded your stuff. Take a tour of your old home. Keep an eye out for messes and any overlooked items.

     

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