Moving to Grand Rapids

Archived Q&A and Reviews

May 2008

We are seriously considering a move to Grand Rapids, MI. Can anyone recommend areas of the city to live? We've heard positive information about East Grand Rapids and Rockford areas. We'd like an older home or a ranch from the 50-60's era in an area with some history and character. We are also interested in safe and family-friendly neighborhoods close to the schools. My husband is checking out schools - we have a 2 year old and 4 year old- and we know there is a Spanish language immersion school in Rockford. Sounds interesting. We are hoping Grand Rapids will have a lot to offer families while still being somewhat ''small town'' and easy to navigate. How's the traffic? We'd really appreciate candid insights -good or bad- on schools, housing, and quality of life overall in Grand Rapids. Thank you!! A-Midwesterner-to-Be

Wow, I haven't been to Grand Rapids in years and years, but I did live there for several years in the early 80's. I know, what do I know? Well, for one, East Grand Rapids is a beautiful neighborhood and is the ''ritzier'' end of town -- Gerald Ford's home, for instance, is in that part of town. My mother, who lived in G.R. for years, and still lives near there (in Holland), would probably have a LOT to say about what parts of G.R. are better for families. My mom will be here in a few days for a visit and I'll have her give some input.

All in all, G.R. was NOT a ''small town'' when I lived there back in the day (e.g. not like Berkeley, Alameda or Albany, for instance), and it has grown a lot since then. Neighborhoods are distinctly divided demographically. The city is very segregated -- at least it was. Still, the city has a lot to offer and is much more subdued than what we are used to here in the Bay Area. hezmodo

My parents grew up in Grand Rapids (GR) and I grew up near by and went to college in Holland. By brother and many close friends, with kids, live there. So here is the gist of it.

You probably have heard that it's the Bible Belt through that part of southern MI. It is pretty conservative generally, but rapidly becoming more liberal from my view.

I think you would like East Grand Rapids. There are many great ''older'' homes near Reeds Lake, that general district. Pricier but not relative to the Bay Area. Schools in that area are spectacular. Rockford is also nice. Depends on where you might be commuting to if one/both work outside of the home. You might also consider Byron Center. East GR is a really good ''neighborhood'' with coffee to walk to and some trails and parks''. Rockford and Byron Center have a bit of this but further from reaching downtown. 20 mins away are Holland and Zealand which are gorgeous and family friendly as well if you don't have commuting concerns.

Traffic: You'll laugh that you asked. It can get backed up on main drags like 24th Street, 44th Street, and East Beltline but expressways are rarely backed up other than in winter when everything slows down after a snow storm.

Downtown GR has developed a lot in my lifetime. The museums are great and kid-friendly. There are really impressive restaurants. Good parks in general in SW Michigan. And summer at the lakes or beaches is unbeatable. I also have very fond memories of blueberry and strawberry picking near Hudsonville. I took my daughter this past fall and we picked apples at the orchard and had a really wonderful time.

I do think it's small-town feel but a lot of things to do. You just need to get used to a bit more strip-malls, cold weather, and churches on every corner.

I grew up in East Grand Rapids, and it is a wonderful place to raise a family. A small city completely surrounded by G.R., it has it's own schools (excellent!), lake and pools, library, police, etc. My parents sold their home 12 years ago, so I no longer go back there and do not know how the present economy in Michigan has effected it (but I bet the houses are cheap compared to California prices!) The homes are beautiful with large yards and wonderful neighbors where kids can ride their bicycles forever on the sidewalks (very flat!) EGR reminds me a little of Piedmont where you get the best of a small city with all the advantages of the big city. Good luck!

We lived in East Grand Rapids before moving to California. East Grand Rapids has fantastic schools and just the house type you want. Our 3000 square foot home there had copper out going plumbing! The yards are spacious and so green once the snow melts. The floor plan was absolutely perfect and I miss that home. The winters were mild. Our friends there were terrific and we still keep in touch with them. The restaurants are fabulous, a lot of Tappas! There was a wonderful restaurant by the big lake in East Grand Rapids and lots of others. There is a terrific children's museum! Good choice! an East Grand Rapids fan!!