Lansing, the capital of Michigan, is a densely populated metropolitan area known as “Mid-Michigan” for its location smack-dab in the center of the state. With the metro area being an important cultural, governmental, education, commercial, and industrial hub, stable employers make Lansing a great place for solid job opportunities, and recent job growth is positive.

Sometimes overshadowed by its better-known neighboring cities, Grand Rapids and Detroit, Lansing is a fun, laidback college town that provides an extremely affordable cost of living. You’ll find plenty of year-round activities for the whole family, from museums and historical sites to trails and nature preserves.

Lansing is rich with history and has recently been undergoing revitalization efforts to restore and preserve the historical features of the city, bringing in new local businesses, shops, and restaurants. Overall, Lansing is a friendly city with cultural diversity, a great place to move for budget-conscious families, and a desirable home for individuals who love to experience all four seasons.

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Living in Lansing, MI: What to Know Before Moving to Lansing

Lansing, Michigan is a great place to live, especially for those who enjoy a college town vibe and all four seasons of a Midwest climate. Lansing and East Lansing together create the second most populous area in the state, with 118,427 residents in the city and 464,036 in the greater metro area.

Pros and Cons of Living in Lansing

Even though Lansing provides a great quality of life, the following pros and cons will give you an idea of what life can be like in your new city.

Pros:

  • Low cost of living: You can expect affordable living combined with a stronger than average job market.
  • Fun vibes: Lansing boasts a vibrant college town atmosphere with plenty of local bars, restaurants, and nightlife.
  • Revitalization efforts: After a revamp, many historical neighborhoods are attracting new residents and businesses.
  • Four seasons: Here, you can experience all four seasons with low risk for most major natural disaster threats.
  • Close to three of the Great Lakes: Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie are all nearby.
  • City proximity: Lansing is an hour’s drive from both Grand Rapids and Detroit for convenient day trips.

Cons:

  • Crime: Unfortunately, the city suffers from higher than average crime in some areas.
  • Taxes: Homeowners can expect to pay higher than average property taxes.
  • Education: Many public schools have lower than average rankings.
  • Winter: Newcomers can expect cold and snowy Midwest winters with blizzards during the stronger storms.
  • Grey: The city also experiences cloudy skies and limited sunshine throughout much of the year.

Tax Rates

Housing Market

As of December 2019, zillow.com reported the median home value was $95,714, which is much cheaper than most other cities in the country. Zillow reports the housing market is hot, so get preapproved for a mortgage and check out listings as soon as they hit the market so you can make your best offer without delay. Home values rose 6.3% in 2019 and are forecast to rise another 4.1% in 2020.

Rental costs are also extremely reasonable at a median price of $875 a month for a one-bedroom or $1,000 for a two-bedroom, as of November 2019. Renting a home is common in Lansing, with renters making up more than 42% of the city’s population.

Lansing Proper is the cheapest place to live. Several surrounding towns including Okemos, Holt, and East Lansing, have a substantially higher cost of living in comparison to Lansing.

Cost of Living

The cost of living index in Lansing, MI, is ranked 76.5 on bestplaces.net. This index is 23.5 points lower than the US average index of 100, which means you’ll save on pretty much everything when you move to Lansing, including groceries, utilities, health, housing, and transportation. Housing is particularly affordable; the median home price in Lansing is less than half the US average of $231,200.

In Lansing, the median household income is $35,675 per year. The Family Budget Calculator estimates that a family of four would require an annual income of $77,805 to live comfortably.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Given its proximity to the Great Lakes, Lansing experiences a humid continental climate with cold, snowy winters and very warm, humid summers. In Lansing, the two hottest months are July, with average highs of 82°F and lows of 61°F, and August with average highs of 80°F and lows of 59°F. The two coldest months are January, with average highs of 30°F and lows of 17°F, and February, with average highs of 33°F and lows of 19°F. On average, Lansing gets about 32 inches of rain and 51 inches of snow per year. Rain falls most frequently in May, June, and September. Many days of the year are overcast or cloudy; you’ll only have about 175 sunny days per year compared to the US average of 205.

Lansing isn’t at high risk for major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes. However, winter blizzard conditions can be hazardous to the unprepared. Keep an emergency kit and warm blankets in your car in case you must travel. Stock your pantry with enough essentials to avoid unnecessary drives to the grocery store in inclement weather. Visit the Lansing City website to learn more about what to do and who to contact in case of a natural disaster threat.

Economy & Job Market

According to bestplaces.net, Lansing has a healthier job market than other similarly sized metro areas, with an index score of 6.7 out of 10. The job market increased by 1.3% in 2019. The unemployment rate is 5.4% compared to the US average of 3.9%.

The top industries in Lansing are healthcare, insurance, government, education, and manufacturing.  Top employers include the State of Michigan, Michigan State University, Sparrow Health System, General Motors, Auto-Owners Insurance Group, Lansing Community College, and McLaren Health.

When you’re ready to find a job, update your resume and save it as a PDF since most employers will want to see your resume in electronic format. Then, practice your interviewing skills so you’ll be prepared to make a great first impression. Check out sites like linkedin.com, indeed.com, and ziprecruiter.com to get a sense of the jobs and employers available in your area.

Traffic and Transportation

If you move to Lansing, you’ll most likely need to own a car because public transportation is limited, with a transit score of just 34/100. In fact, 77% of Lansing residents drive their personal vehicles to and from work. The good news, however, is that the average one-way commute time is 19.3 minutes, which is significantly shorter than the US average of 26.4 minutes.

The major thoroughfares include Highway 69, which runs east-west on the northern side of town, Highway 496, which runs east-west through the middle of Lansing before merging with Highway 127 on the east side of town, and Highway 96 which runs east-west along the southern border of the city.  Highway 127 runs north-south along the eastern border, roughly separating Lansing from its neighbor East Lansing.

Overall, the city has a walk score of 45/100. Depending on where you live in Lansing, you may be able to walk to nearby amenities. For example, the Downtown, Eastside, and Westside neighborhoods are extremely walkable. Lansing is also a fairly bikeable city, with a bike score of 59.

What to Do

From history to outdoor adventure, Lansing offers interesting and fun activities for residents of all ages. Here are a few great places to visit:

  • Old Town LansingThe historic downtown of Lansing, MI, is a great place to walk around and visit local shops, including vintage clothing stores and interesting cafes and restaurants. A favorite shop in the area, The Great Lakes Art and Gifts, features handmade art by more than 30 local artists—perfect for finding unique home décor or one-of-a-kind gifts.
  • Michigan State Capitol – A National Historic Landmark, the Michigan State Capitol, is a gorgeous piece of Michigan’s architectural history. The building opened on January 1, 1879, and was one of the first state capitals to feature an iconic cast-iron dome at the crest of the building. You can book a tour or explore the building independently. The capital also hosts many public events throughout the year.
  • Michigan History Center – The Michigan History Center is a popular destination for history buffs. The Center features both the Archives of Michigan and the Michigan History Museum; together these provide an engaging educational experience for Michigan natives and out-of-town visitors alike. Admission to the Center is free to all visitors on Sundays.
  • R E Olds Transportation Museum – For fans of classic and rare cars, the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is a must-see. Rated one of the ten best automobile museums in the United States by Car Collector Magazine, this museum features thousands of artifacts related to America’s transportation history, including rare vehicles like REO, Star, Durant, Viking, and classic Oldsmobiles.
  • Potter Park ZooPotter Park Zoo is a small local zoo that features a wide variety of animals, including endangered species like black rhinos, Siberian tigers, red pandas, and snow leopards.  The oldest public zoo in the state of Michigan, Potter Park Zoo is a great place to bring the family.
  • Sports – For sports fans, several teams call Lansing home, including the Lansing Lugnuts, of the baseball Midwest League, and the Michigan State Spartans, members of the college athletics Big Ten Conference.

Schools and Universities

Lansing School District provides public education to approximately 11,000 students across 27 schools. It may be challenging to find top-rated public schools in Lansing; however, the city also has private, charter, and magnet schools.

According to greatschools.org, the top elementary schools in Lansing are Cole Academy, Windemere Park Charter Academy, and Delta Center Elementary School – each with a rating of 6/10.  The top middle schools are Windemere Park Charter Academy, rated 6/10; Waverly Middle School, rated 5/10; and East Intermediate School, rated 4/10. The top high schools in the city are Waverly Senior High School, LifeTech Academy, and Everett High School, each rated 3/10.

Known as a college town, Lansing boasts three colleges in downtown Lansing: Lansing Community College, Davenport University, and Cooley Law School, which is the nation’s largest law school by enrollment. Michigan State University is located nearby in East Lansing. Other colleges within 40 miles of Lansing include Great Lakes Christian College, Baker College of Owosso, Olivet College, Baker College of Jackson, Albion College, and Spring Arbor University.

Crime

On a scale of 1 to 100, Lansing ranks 45 for property crime, which is higher than the US average of 35. For violent crimes, Lansing scores 56, also quite high compared to the national average of 23. The highest crime rates are in Lansing proper and the nearby suburbs of Waverly, Holt, and Haslett. When moving to Lansing, research the crime rates in the neighborhoods you’re considering.

Utility Providers

  • Gas service – Consumer Energy provides natural gas service. Visit their website or call (800) 477-5050 to start service.
  • Electric service – The Lansing Board of Water and Light provides electricity. Visit their website, or call (517) 702-6006 to set up service.
  • Water service – Water service is available through the Lansing Board of Water and Light. To set up service, put in a request on the website or call (517) 702-6006.
  • Trash pick-up/recycling service – Trash and recycling services are available through Capital Area Recycling & Trash (CART). To set up service, visit the website or call 517-483-4400.
  • Internet/Cable service – There are a variety of internet and cable providers in Lansing. Major players include CenturyLink and Xfinity. A convenient site that allows you to compare services is www.highspeedinternet.com. Just type in your zip code, and the site will show which providers serve your neighborhood, available packages, and prices.
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Best Neighborhoods in Lansing, MI

If you’re looking for a great neighborhood in Lansing, this guide gives you a glimpse into eight of the best.

Downtown

Downtown borders S Martin Luther King Jr Blvd on the west, Highway 496 on the south, the Grand River on the east, and Oakland Avenue on the north. Situated in west-central Lansing, downtown is the business district hub and home to the state government, several colleges, sports stadiums, and museums.

If you want to be close to everything, downtown is a great neighborhood; all amenities are within walking distance. The residential population downtown has been growing rapidly, and there are many affordable options both for renting or purchasing a home.

One of the most walkable parts of the city, downtown Lansing is easy to explore. In fact, five of the most popular downtown attractions are within a five-block radius: the Michigan State Capitol Building, Impression 5 Science Center, the Michigan Historical Museum, Cooley Law School Stadium, and R E Olds Transportation Museum.

  • Population – 9,972
  • Home Price – Median home price $100,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $609 per month
  • Employers – Michigan State Capital, Lansing Community College, Cooley Law School, Davenport University
  • Schools – Riddle Elementary School, J W Sexton High School, The Early College @ Lansing Community College

Something to try – Explore Washington Square, a historic area that features some of the oldest businesses in Lansing and bustles with plenty of restaurants, bars, and local shops.

REO Town

West Malcolm X Street on the north, South Cedar Street BL I-96 on the east, West Mount Hope Avenue on the south, and Townsend Street, the Grand River, and South Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard on the west mark the boundaries of the REO Town neighborhood.

Idyllically located on the bend of the Grand River, REO Town is an up and coming neighborhood immediately south of downtown and set to be one of the best places to live in Lansing.  Pronounced like Rio, REO Town is named for Ransom Eli Olds, an early automotive pioneer and somewhat of a local hero.

Automotive history runs deep in REO Town. This community is where REO vehicles, from fancy cars to utility vehicles, were manufactured from 1905 to 1975. The area fell into disarray shortly after the factory closed, with many buildings left vacant. However, recent revitalization has seen these historic buildings filled again – this time with an eclectic collection of vintage shops, thrift stores, pubs, restaurants, and even a record shop. Living in REO Town puts you mere steps from all the amenities of downtown Lansing.

  • Population – Less than 1,000
  • Home Price – Median home price $120,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $845 per month
  • Employers – Board of Water and Light, Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, Lansing Sanitary Supply Company
  • Schools – Reo Elementary School, Lansing Charter Academy, Eastern High School

Something to try – Catch a show at the Robin Theater, a unique space that populates a century-old storefront in the heart of REO Town. You can also visit the theater to hear local and international music of all varieties, catch a sketch comedy show, a unique poetry reading, or even puppetry performances.

The Stadium District

Located only a few blocks east of downtown’s Washington Square, the Stadium District neighborhood is bordered by Grand River on the west, E Kalamazoo St on the south, S Pennsylvania Ave on the west, and Highway 69 on the north.

If you’re a sports fan looking to live in an area known for quality entertainment, the Stadium District could be the right neighborhood for you. The Stadium District is named for the Cooley Law School Stadium, home of the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team. With restaurants and breweries opening all the time, The Stadium District is a great place to catch a game and grab a bite to eat. Check out local favorites like Nuthouse Sports Grill or the Lansing Brewing Company.

The Outfield Apartments, recently featured in Sports Illustrated Magazine, offer a unique place to live in The Stadium District. The complex sits in the outfield of the Lansing Lugnuts Stadium, and half of the apartments overlook the playing field. If living inside a sports stadium isn’t your thing, you can also find a variety of charming lofts for rent in The Stadium District’s beautiful historic brick buildings.

  • Population – 1,758
  • Home Price – Median home price $102,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $835 per month
  • Employers – Cooley Law School, City of Lansing, Lansing Center
  • Schools – Riddle Elementary School, Eastern High School

Something to try – Catch a Lugnuts minor league baseball game at Cooley Law School Stadium. Or if you prefer something more active – kayak, canoe, or paddleboard down the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers with Rivertown Adventures.

Old Town

Lansing’s original downtown, Old Town, is known as the cultural and creative capital of the city and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. Overlooking the Grand River, Old Town is a lovely neighborhood located on the north end of town and only a few minutes from downtown. From its rich history to its eclectic shops, Old Town is a lovely place to work, live, or visit.

Old Town was originally established as the capital of Michigan in 1847 and thrived for decades as a popular commercial and residential area. Over time, as other areas of the city grew around the historic district, Old Town lost some of its local appeals and began a slow decay. Fortunately, recent revitalization efforts, including restoration of its many historic buildings, have brought Old Town back to life while maintaining its history. Now the area is a flourishing urban neighborhood that simultaneously feels like a small town.

  • Population – 1,654
  • Home Price – Median home price $105,000
  • Rent Prices – $725 to $1,200 per month
  • Employers – Demmer Corporation, Buildtech LTD, Whole Health Homecare
  • Schools – Willow School, Eastern High School, J W Sexton High School

Something to try – Explore historic Old Town at your own pace with a Self-Guided Historic Walking Tour.  Download the series of five Mp3 audio files and follow the arrows throughout town to experience the best Old Town has to offer, starting at the Brenke Fish Ladder in Burchard Park.

Westside

The Westside neighborhood borders Clare Street on the west and the Grand River on the north, south, and west sides. Conveniently located immediately west of downtown, the Westside neighborhood is a charming, architecturally stunning, and diverse neighborhood known for being walkable, quiet, clean, and dog-friendly.

A beautiful historic neighborhood, Westside features homes built between the late 1800s through the 1960s, many of which sit on winding streets lined with mature trees. These historic homes offer plenty of character including unique interior woodwork.

Westside is a popular neighborhood for families looking for a strong sense of community, plus it’s one of the safest neighborhoods in Lansing. Residents often gather at the Letts Community Center located in the middle of the Westside neighborhood.

  • Population – 6,744
  • Home Price – Median home price $85,000.
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $699 per month
  • Employers – City of Lansing, TEKsystems, State of Michigan
  • Schools – Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy, J W Sexton High School

Something to try – Take a casual walk through the nearby Potter Park Zoo to see a variety of animals, including several endangered species.

Eastside

The Eastside neighborhood is bordered by Old US 27 on the west side, Highway 496 on the south, Highway 127 on the east, and Coleman Road on the north.  As the name suggests, Eastside is approximately four miles east of downtown.

Eastside is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity, vibrant nightlife scene, and eclectic selection of bars, restaurants, and coffee houses, including Strange Matter Coffee, Green Door, and Avenue Cafe. Eastside is an umbrella group made up of more than 20 neighborhood groups.

The affordable, family-friendly, and walkable community is a popular choice for both younger families that have just recently moved to the area and long-term residents who continue to call Eastside their home into retirement. A key feature is the interesting and colorful architecture of Eastside homes.

The diversity of the Eastside is what draws many residents to live in this neighborhood. People from a wide variety of professions – from artists to auto workers, graduate students to doctors – along with people of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds, call Eastside home.

  • Population – 15,274
  • Home Price – Median home price $80,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $672 per month
  • Employers – Michigan State University, Cooley Law School, Sparrow Hospital
  • Schools – Post Oak Magnet School, Eastern High School, Lansing Catholic Central High School

Something to try – Visit Hunter Park, a popular urban park with many activities for the whole family, from an outdoor swimming pool and splash pad to picnic tables and walking trails. The park also has a garden house where residents can grow vegetables and flowers while connecting with the community.

Colonial Village

The Colonial Village neighborhood borders West Mount Hope on the north, South Martin Luther King Blvd on the east, West Holmes Road on the south, and Pleasant Grove Road on the west. This family-friendly neighborhood is located just a few miles southwest of downtown and features primarily single-family homes.

Still close to downtown amenities, Colonial Village has a slower-paced, suburban feel. The quiet neighborhood is home to several local parks, including Elmhurst Park at the center of the neighborhood and Holly Park, which features several hiking trails. A popular shopping destination in Colonial Village is the open-air Logan Square Shopping Center.

  • Population – 1,901
  • Home Price – Median home price $120,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $618 per month
  • Employers – TEKsystems, City of Lansing, Michigan State Capital
  • Schools – Lewton Elementary, Cole Academy, Lansing Charter Academy, Everett High School

Something to try – Visit the Woldumar Nature Center, a 180-acre nature preserve that features five miles of trails along woodland, prairie, wetland, and riverside scenery. You can hike the trails during the warmer months or cross-country ski and snowshoe in the winter.

Old Oakland

Old Oakland bounds Stanley Street on the west, Highway 45 on the south, Cawood Street on the east, and W Willow Street on the north. The neighborhood is conveniently 2.5 miles northwest of downtown.

The area is close to amenities but also tucked away enough for a quieter suburban feel. Because of this, Old Oakland is the neighborhood of choice for many young families who enjoy the safety, peace, and quiet of the area.

Nearly one-third of Old Oakland is taken up by parks along the west side of the neighborhood: R&D Wilson Park, West Side Park, and Dunnebacke Park. These parks provide areas for a quiet walk, playtime with your kids and dogs, or to enjoy a baseball game on one of several baseball diamonds.

  • Population – 1,055
  • Home Price – Median home price $105,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $675 per month
  • Employers – Residents commute outside the neighborhood for employment
  • Schools – Riddle Elementary School, J W Sexton High School

Something to try – The Old Oakland Community Garden is a local space where residents can garden, socialize with neighbors, and teach their kids about gardening. The garden’s philosophy is, “Grow & Share, Eat & Live, Learn & Laugh, and Enjoy!”

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