5 Things to Know Before Moving to Michigan
Many Americans think of Detroit, the Great Lakes, and college football when they think of Michigan. But there’s a lot more to the Wolverine State than cars, lakes, and pigskin! If you’re thinking about moving to Michigan…
Guest post by Hannah Fairbanks
Many Americans think of Detroit, the Great Lakes, and college football when they think of Michigan. But there’s a lot more to the Wolverine State than cars, lakes, and pigskin! If you’re thinking about moving to Michigan for work or a change of scenery (hello, lakeshores!), here’s what you need to know:
1. Lovers of the Great Outdoors: Rejoice (and Prepare)
If you’re into any type of outdoor activities, from camping to biking to skiing, life in Michigan could be all you ever dreamed of. The thousands of rivers and lakes offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, jet skiing, or just relaxing on the beach.
Opt for a weekend adventure through the rugged cliffs and forests in the famed Upper Peninsula or unplug and camp out in the Nordhouse Dunes, a remote wilderness just four hours from urban Detroit.
If going off the grid isn’t your thing, Michigan is full of quaint towns waiting to be explored—places like Frankenmuth (Michigan’s Little Bavaria), South Haven (one of many idyllic beach towns), and Holland (where the annual tulip festival will leave you feeling like you’ve been transported to Amsterdam).
Because Michigan has four vibrant seasons, you’ll find something to keep you busy every month of the year, even through those notorious winters (and yes, the winters live up to their brutal reputation).
If you’re a winter-weather newbie, you’ll need to learn how to drive in the snow, stock up on long underwear, and invest in a warm winter jacket, waterproof boots, and gloves. But if ice-fishing, snow-shoeing, dog-sledding, or just snuggling up with some hot cider around a warm fire sound like your idea of heaven, Michigan may be a perfect fit.
2. College Towns Abound
Michigan boasts a whopping 47 colleges and universities, running the gamut in size. There’s East Lansing, the largest college town in the state and home of Michigan State University, which last year had more than 50,000 enrolled students. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Albion, one of the smallest, which houses Albion College’s 1,400 students.
College towns of any size bring education, arts, cultural experiences, a sense of community, recreational attractions, employment opportunities, and more. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of a state university or the small-town charms of a community college, if it’s education you’re looking for, Michigan has it all.
3. Low Cost of Living
If you’re considering moving to Michigan, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the cost of living in Michigan is lower than the national average.
The average Michigan home cost is about $186,000 in 2017, well below the national average ($385,200). Additionally, food and groceries, health care costs, and other miscellaneous living costs such as dining out and entertainment are all below the national average. The only things you pay over the national average for in Michigan (and only by about 1 to 2 percent) are utilities and transportation.
While Michigan’s economy has had a history of struggle, the unemployment rate has now dropped below 5 percent. Although it may be wise to secure a job before making the leap, there are still opportunities for employment.
4. A Renewed Detroit Is Coming Into its Own
Michigan wouldn’t be the same without Detroit. Though the city has wrestled with poverty and crime, Detroit is experiencing a boom. After the successful resolution of its bankruptcy in 2014, venture capital activity is on the rise.
Also on the rise is the flourishing downtown, which offers a wealth of culture, education, and attractions. Get fresh produce year-round at the Eastern Market. Check out the zoo, famous for its National Amphibian Conservation Center. Stroll the riverfront or take part in the RiverDays festival. Take a tour through the GM Renaissance Center or check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, which is housed in an old auto dealership and has a variety of rotating exhibits.
Another major draw for Detroit is its three sports teams and loyal fan base — with an NHL, MLB, and NFL team playing in town, you’ll never have to suffer through a season without a team to root for.
5. Be Prepared to Embrace the Quirks
Michigan locals are fiercely committed to all that makes this state special. If you decide to become a Michiganian, be ready to welcome some quirks unique to the state, including the way residents describe any location in the state using their hands or “The Mitten” as it’s known. Don’t worry. You’ll get it.
Other lovable quirks include the Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke, the biggest collection of magic artifacts anywhere in the U.S. at the American Museum of Magic, the “Most Boring Road in the State,” (Seney Stretch), and even a town called Hell.
If the great outdoors, four diverse seasons, an abundance of college towns, a reasonably priced home, and friendly locals all sound good to you, it may be time to make the move to the Great Lakes State.
Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. A recent addition to the Esurance team, she’s found her footing as a road-tripping expert (and traveling parent). When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, or perhaps planning her next big trip to Detroit.