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A Short Guide to Living in Grand Rapids, MI

by Allied Van Lines on May 1, 2023

For a small town, Grand Rapids certainly attracts a lot of attention. Though not as famous as some other cities around the Great Lakes, it’s frequently listed as one of America’s best places to live and retire. Its quality of life seems to rise continually year over year, while its cost of living is one of the lowest in the nation. If you’ve never thought about moving here, this short guide to living in Grand Rapids might change your mind.

Where to Live

Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, a unique blend of rural, urban, and suburban communities. Downtown you’ll find spacious apartments and lofts in both modern and historic buildings, perfect for professionals and families who want to be close to the action.

Anyone looking for a traditional home with a backyard and porch should head a little further out to Creston, Eastgate, Eastown, Alger Heights, and Westside Connection ‒ tight-knit communities full of bungalows, townhouses, ranch houses, and old Victorian homes.

Scattered around the city are a number of smaller villages, and townships, perfect for people who enjoy living close to parks, hiking trails, farmland, and traditional main streets. A number of business and shopping districts have sprung up in these areas as well, making them increasingly tight-knit and self-contained.

Though Grand Rapids offers a lot of variety when it comes to housing, almost all of it is priced well below the national average. The typical apartment rents for $300 less than it does in most major cities, while the average home costs $78,000 less. As a result, new residents don’t have to compromise when choosing where to live.

Where to Work

The Grand Rapids business community has evolved rapidly over the past few years. Though the majority of its economy is based around manufacturing and healthcare, the city has attracted a number of startups, including VNN, a fast-growing high school sports marketing and media network, and HealthBridge, a financial services firm that provides solutions for all patients and stakeholders.

The Amway Corporation and Meijer supermarket chain are also headquartered in the city. Not to mention Grand Valley State University, which has two major campuses in the area and employs many local residents. Such a diverse economy has helped the city weather the worst of the recent boom and bust cycle. In fact, Grand Rapids' economy is predicted to grow at twice the rate of the national economy over the next year.

Where to Go For a Checkup

Thanks to the generosity of Rich DeVos and Jay VanAndel (founders of Amway), as well as Fred and Lena Meijer, Grand Rapids has some of the best medical infrastructure in the United States. Most of the city’s top hospitals and medical facilities are located along the Medical Mile, a designated area for healthcare providers and scientific research. Some of its most notable facilities include:

  • The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Offers more than 50 inpatient and outpatient programs for children and teenagers, with over 300 pediatric specialists on staff.


  • Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center. A leader in vascular care and the only hospital in Grand Rapids that performs heart transplants and open heart surgery.


  • Lemmen Holton Cancer Center. Provides access to some of the most advanced cancer treatments currently available, including targeted therapy, surgical oncology, and gene sequencing of tumors.


  • Grand Valley State University Medical Center. Offers primary and preventative care, as well as behavioral health services, to students, staff, and community members.


  • Mercy Health. A non-profit health facility dedicated to helping patients improve their wellness and quality of life.


  • Lacks Cancer Facility. The first comprehensive cancer treatment center in Western Michigan, which provides diagnostic, primary, ancillary, and follow-up care all under one roof.


  • Saint Mary’s Hospital. A leading provider of neuroscience, orthopedics, kidney transplants, integrative medicine, diabetes treatments, cardiovascular care, cancer care, and endocrine care.


Where to Get Food

Fulton Street Market and the Downtown Farmers Market give residents direct access to fresh meat and produce, harvested from the surrounding farmland. The Fulton Market operates primarily in the summer, while the Downtown Market is open every day. Besides groceries, visitors can also peruse a wide range of vintage and handmade clothing, or improve their culinary skills at one of the cooking classes held regularly throughout the year.

But if you don’t have time to cook, Grand Rapids also has plenty of great restaurants to choose from. Enjoy classic American cuisine or traditional dishes from France, Italy, Mexico, and Scandinavia. Local favorites include:

  • Reserve. A farm-to-table restaurant famous for its small plates and DIY charcuterie.


  • Hancock. The place to go for Southern fried chicken. Order it Not, Hot, Hotter, or Hottest.


  • Forty Acres. Serves spicy and mouth watering cajun food such as gumbo, creole catfish, and chicken and waffles, made from scratch.


  • Sundance Grill. This Southwestern diner offers burritos, chilaquiles, and tacos, as well as mac ‘n’ cheese, walleye, and mussels, paired with your favorite cocktail.


  • Butcher’s Union. Made for people who love steak and whiskey. All the food is locally sourced, while the liquor is imported from distilleries across the world, including the United States, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, and Japan.


  • Rose’s on Reeds Lake. Enjoy a delightful blend of American and Mediterranean cuisine, including Portuguese whitefish and wood-fired pizza, while you soak in the incredible views from the restaurant's lakeside patio.


  • Noto’s Old World Italian Dining. A family business that takes pride in their handmade spaghetti and meatballs, potato gnocchi, and rolled stuffed pasta, as well as their award-winning wine list. Dine in the elaborate banquet hall upstairs or elegant wine cellar below.


Where to Get a Drink

If you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know it loves beer. It’s the beer city, after all. There are breweries everywhere, serving some of the finest hops and barley you’ve ever tasted. With new spots springing up every year, residents have plenty of places to go in order to quench their thirst, such as:

  • Mitten Brewing. A vintage themed microbrewery that pairs handcrafted beers with gourmet pizzas.<
  • New Holland. Enjoy beers aged in bourbon barrels, as well as an imaginative range of stouts, ales, and IPAs, at this downtown, all weather beer garden.<
  • Perrin Brewing Company. Uses reverse osmosis to remove impurities from their brewing water, giving their beers a consistent, cutting-edge taste.
  • Brewery Vivant. Offers some of the finest ales, IPAs, and sours in the city. Check out their seasonal menu for specially crafted beers with fun and satisfying flavors.


  • Founders Brewing Co. Serves a wide selection of barrel-aged brews, made with chocolate, citrus, and floral notes, as well as over a half dozen varieties of imported hops.

Where to Go For Fun

Grand Rapids offers plenty of opportunities for rest and recreation. There are more than one hundred musical venues in the city, such as the Van Andel Arena, Devos Performance Hall, and GLC Live at 20 Monroe, where you can listen to chart-topping artists, Broadway hits, and the best rock, rap, and metal bands.

Sports fans will get a kick out of watching the Gold, Griffins, and Whitecaps ‒ Grand Rapids’ minor league basketball, hockey, and baseball teams. Hikers spend their time exploring the region’s wilderness areas, such as the Knapp Valley, Grand Ravines, Cascade Peace Park, and the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve. The trees and hills around the city are a vivid green in summer and full of fiery colors in the fall.

Kids love the Children’s Museum and the John Ball Zoo, where they can get up close to lions, tigers, bears, and chimpanzees. In summer, parents can take them to one of the city’s three mega water parks or let them run around the ninja course at Millennium Park.

In September, residents flock to ArtPrize, the world’s most attended art event. For eighteen days, the city’s transformed into a gigantic museum. Bars, parks, restaurants, theaters, hotels, bridges, laundromats, and storefronts become galleries, showcasing some of the most creative and imaginative artists from all over the world.

In January, the World of Winter moves in ‒ the largest winter festival in the Midwest. See ice sculptures, light shows, DJs, hot air balloons, and live performances, including fire twirlers.

How to Get Around

Grand Rapids is known for its good roads and short commutes. Most people don’t spend more than twenty minutes driving to work. The city’s bus system connects downtown to the outer suburbs. Routes are limited, but they run often, so you won’t have to wait more than thirty minutes for your connection. If you ride the Laker Line or Silver Line, you won’t have to wait more than fifteen.

Cycling is another popular option. The city’s bike trails are expanding steadily, thanks to private and public investment, and the cycling community is expected to grow sharply over the coming years. People living downtown hardly need to drive at all. The compact layout in the city center means most restaurants and attractions are within walking distance.

Moving to Grand Rapids

Interstate moves may seem daunting, but with our team behind you, there’s nothing to worry about. With our skills and experience, you can be certain your belongings will be packed, shipped, and offloaded safely ‒ on time and on budget. So whether you’re moving to Grand Rapids or points beyond, trust Allied to get you there with less stress and more calm. Contact us today for a free quote!

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