What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Grand Rapids, MI?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Grand Rapids is one of those cities that most people tend to hear about when they have visited there. A major tourist hotspot, Grand Rapids is mostly known for having awesome attractions, great sights, and friendly locals. In recent years, it was named one of the top 100 places to live. But, it’s still a city where you should be aware of the perks and pitfalls of life in this city. After all, living here isn’t a typical vacation…

Living in Grand Rapids means that you get to reap the rewards of a great economy, plenty of entertainment options, decent schools, and a decent cost of living. However, high crime, rough winters, and high partisanship make this a difficult place to live.

As one of the largest cities in Michigan, this place is known for having quite a few people interested in living here. The thing is, it isn’t always a good idea to move here before you see the full picture…

Related Guide: The Safest Neighborhoods In Grand Rapids, MI | Cost Of Living In Grand Rapids, MI

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What Are The Perks Of Living In Grand Rapids, MI?

You don’t end up with the honor of being considered a great place to live without amazing perks. If you live in Grand Rapids, you can expect to enjoy these benefits as soon as you move there.

Great Economy

Grand Rapids has become a staple in the startup world, which means that finding a job that’s actually going places is a possibility. That’s partly why the unemployment rate is only 5.8 percent. Of course, the income levels that this area has also plays a role in why people tend to want to move here. The median household income is $60,103. This is below the typical median, but the prices for things are so cheap that it barely makes a difference.

For the record, the median price of a house in the Grand Rapids area is $174,900. This means that having a comfortable living and being able to afford shelter is quite well within reach.

A Decent Cost Of Living

When it comes to the cost of living, it actually matches the overall economy. The cost of living index for Grand Rapids measures around 92.2, putting it well below the median cost of living for the United States. This means that you will be able to make ends meet here, even if you do have a middle-of-the-road salary.

In terms of taxes, that’s another issue that can add to the cost of living. The truth is, taxes here are fairly median. So, you won’t see any crazy surprises compared to most other areas. Check this out if you have always wondered what Michigan basement means.

Tons Of Attractions

The main reason why many people in Michigan go to Grand Rapids is that it’s filled to the brim with attractions. Many families choose to go here for the parks and recreational systems. After all, the area has amazing trails for biking and hiking, not to mention picnicking in the sun. But, you don’t have to be an outdoorsy person to love this area.

The nightlife here is also a major draw. Michigan is one of those states that doesn’t really have many nightlife zones, but Grand Rapids is a bit different. The club, restaurant, and lounge scenes here are lively and youthful—but also fairly classy. While there are still some “hole in the wall” areas, you will mostly get an upscale club vibe here.

Museums, malls, and shopping are also fairly present here. Needless to say, we totally understand why so many people choose to have a day trip here. It’s never boring!

Decent Schools

Most cities in Michigan struggle with keeping kids in school. While there is some room for improvement in the Grand Rapids school system, the truth is that most public and private schools are rated as slightly above average. The graduation rates are around 77 percent among all high schools, which is pretty par for the course on a national scale.

If you are looking for a city that has a heavy emphasis on getting a degree, then this is it. Most locals adore the school systems here and do whatever they can to make school happier, safer, and more enjoyable. As a result, it is one of the best districts within the state of Michigan.

What Are The Pitfalls Of Living In Grand Rapids, MI?

Grand Rapids is the type of town where you can always expect to have a good time…if you’re just passing through. However, living there can be a problematic endeavor. These problems are what keep people from calling Grand Rapids a perfect place to live.

High(ish) Crime Rates

While Grand Rapids has amazing schools, the truth is that the area still has a rather big crime problem. Though the area is still safe compared to many of the more dangerous states in America, the truth is that this city is the second most dangerous city in Michigan. The violent crime rate is 643 per 100,000 residents—well above the national average and Michigan average.

Oddly enough, property crimes are not as high as the national median. Here, there are 1945 property crimes—a slight dip below the national median of 2100. This is still above average in the Michigan area. So while getting a burglar alarm security system is smart, it’s still not as bad as it could be.

Rough Winters

Let’s not beat around the bush. Michigan is not exactly known for balmy winters or temperate conditions. Grand Rapids is right in the middle of an area that is known for Artic winds, and during the winter, the high temperatures hover around freezing. The nightly lows are typically in the teens. So, it’s always going to be pretty cold during the icy months.

The icy winters aren’t just cold. They are also crazily snow-heavy, so if you were hoping to just “deal with the cold,” you’re out of luck. The average snowfall within Grand Rapids’ borders clocks in at 64.2 inches. That’s a whopping five feet of snow per year. Due to the high snowfall, you should expect to have to deal with several sessions of snow removal.

At the very least, this is not for naught. It’s become part of the culture, thanks to the local Snowfall Festival. (We did mention that Grand Rapids is famous for loving snow, right?)

High Partisanship

Out of all the reviews we’ve done in terms of cities, this was one issue that we have seen very rarely. According to multiple reviews we’ve read, Grand Rapids is a strongly conservative city. This, in and of itself, is not unusual. In fact, it’s not even a bad thing if you are a fan of GOP politics. However, there have been issues arising from the behavior of strong conservative leanings in the city.

There have been several reports of people being passed up for jobs as a result of being pro-liberal in their political stance. Others have claimed that they have felt discriminated against or otherwise ostracized by people of differing political beliefs. In certain situations, there have been instances where people have experienced overt racism.

It’s important to remember that Grand Rapids is a majority-white city. This can leave some people feeling alienated, even though there are minorities very clearly present in the community. We cannot say whether or not these allegations are true, but there is enough complaint about it to make people think twice.

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Related Questions

Is Grand Rapids in a flood zone?

Yes and it’s actually a major problem. While there are pockets of the city that do not have any flooding issues, the truth is that most of the city is low enough that flooding is a fairly regular occurrence during major storms. While the flooding is rarely ever extreme, the truth is that having a couple of inches of water in the street is something you may need to get used to.Prior to moving to Grand Rapids, it’s best to look into some flood insurance. Even if you are not in a major flood zone, you might need it.

Is the Grand Rapids tap water okay to drink?

While many parts of the state struggle with providing clean drinking water, Grand Rapids does not have that struggle at all. The drinking water in the area is pure and has passed all the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. So, drink to your hearts’ content. It’s some of the best water in the state. The current drinking water pH is between 6.5 to 8.5, though some areas are cleared for a pH of 9.

What food is famous in Grand Rapids?

Though this is a Michigan city, the most famous food here is a wet burrito. This is a regular burrito that is totally slathered in enchilada sauce, followed up by a topping of taco cheese that’s melted on top. Most of us on the East Coast would call this an enchilada, but it’s a burrito in Grand Rapids.Another favorite among Grand Rapids people is the Coney Dog—a chili, mustard, and onion-topped hot dog. It’s basically a mandatory part of any trip to Grand Rapids or Detroit. We suggest downing it with Faygo, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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