Grand Rapids is a great mid-size city with numerous opportunities for growth, education and families. But like any major decision, you should do your research homework before making the move. Whether you’re moving to Grand Rapids because of work or simply because it really is a great place to live, these tips will help you get acquainted with Grand Rapids resources and culture.
Be prepared for snow and cold for a good portion of the year. Most of Michigan is accustomed to long winters with cloudy days and lake effect snow. Winters here call for boats, hats, gloves and shovels, with up to 75-inches of snow falling annually. But the spring and summer seasons make getting through the winters worth it. Grand Rapids enjoys warm sunny days with average temps at 83 through the June-September months, perfect for beach days, downtown festivals and outdoor activities. Fall is one the best seasons in Grand Rapids as well where residents can enjoy vibrant colors from the trees and crisp days.
Grand Rapids is home to some of the most prominent worldwide companies including Amway, Steelcase, Bissell and Wolverine Worldwide. The job scene here continues to grow and offers many opportunities throughout different industries. Unemployment rate sits at a low 4.4%, Global Trade Magazine, a quarterly publication on the global marketplace, has selected Grand Rapids as one of the top 10 “Emerging Cities” in the U.S. in its third-annual report on “America’s Best Cities for Global Trade.” Forbes has also ranked Grand Rapids #9 in job growth in the nation. Job security here is a strong plus when considering the benefits.
The public school systems in Grand Rapids are some of the best in the nation. Forest Hills Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools and East Grand Rapids Public Schools are consistently some of the best-testing schools with great opportunities for college and future employment. Grand Rapids is also home to several local top performing universities like Grand Valley State University, Aquinas, Davenport University, Calvin College and Grand Rapids Community College.
Grand Rapids has a strong sense of community and has events all year round that are sure to have something for everyone. Also known as Beer City, USA you can count on having great local breweries like Founders and G.R. Brewing along with superb restaurants. The sports scene is always bustling with the Grand Rapids Griffins, West Michigan White Caps and Grand Rapids Drive. Downtown GR is also home to some of the best festivals including ArtPrize and the first ever LEED certified Famers Market where you can take advantage of fresh and locally grown food.
Moving Companies & Storage Facilities
Can you expect help when moving here? Absolutely. Throughout Grand Rapids are numerous professional moving companies that are conveniently located throughout Kent County to help make your transition smooth. Additionally, there are several self-storage companies that will lend a hand if you still need to store a few things. Here are a few companies to help you get started:
The Rapid is a public transportation bus line that runs throughout all of downtown and to several suburbs in the Grand Rapids Area. It was named “Best Mid-Sized Transportation System in the US” by the American Public Transportation Station in 2013 and offers affordable and accessible options to everyone in the city. If you’re supplying your own transportation, the two major highways in Grand Rapids are I-96 and U.S. 131 both make commuting downtown and across town a breeze. Travelers can expect no more than a 30-45 minute commute from even some of the farthest suburbs like Byron Center or Rockford.
Registering your Car & Park Pass
Michigan Division of Motor Vehicles will take care of getting new license, registration and tags. To transfer your driver’s license, you will need proof of identity and residence, your Social Security card, valid Michigan auto insurance, and you will have to pass both a vision test and knowledge test. To transfer your registration, you will need proof of state auto insurance, proof of identification and your car’s title. The average fee for a license is $25 and the cost of registration and plates can run $20 and up depending on whether or not you choose special tags. You also have the option to opt in for a recreational park pass which will allow you to park without having to pay per visit at registered parks and beaches in Michigan. Pretty handy if you like to travel or camp.
There are plenty of suburbs to choose from if living right downtown isn’t your preference all of which are conveniently located no more than 45 minutes away from downtown. Some of the most popular regions are:
Make a Pro/Con List
With every decision you should expect to have a few trade-offs because no city is perfect. Writing out the things you find important prior to selecting a city will be the best way to find one that matches your criteria.
Tour the City
Everyone likes to try before you buy. If you haven’t had a chance to actually visit Grand Rapids, then that should move its way up to the top of the to-do list. There are plenty of places to stay around the city where you can get the best views and tours including Amway Grand Plaza, J.W. Marriot and CityFlats Hotel. There are also organizations that will help you get a feel for the city, answer any questions you have about location and entertainment and allow you to get one step closer to your decision.