What Your Family Should Know Before Moving to GR

Are you considering a move to Grand Rapids? Grand Rapids, Michigan is a wonderful city to live in and a great place to raise your family.

We’ve got the big city amenities with the small town feel. It’s easy to get to downtown and we have a variety of suburbs for every family personality. We have quality school everywhere and lots of top notch medical resources. We are friendly, we are helpful.

If you don’t live here yet, what are you waiting for??

Oh, is it the snow? We can help with that. If you have all the right outdoor gear, Michigan will be a winter wonderland for you.

Even during those hazy, lazy days of summer with the sun reflecting off the lake and the sounds of the waves hitting the shore, you may be daydreaming of skiing, sledding and ice skating in the snowy season. It’s okay – in Michigan, it’s hard to pick a favorite season.

Jump to find…
Moving to Grand Rapids Guide
Relocating to Grand Rapids
10 Things to Know Before Moving to GR
How to Dress for GR Weather Local Weather Stations
Scout out the Best GR for You
What’s it Like to Move to Grand Rapids?
The Different Grand Rapids Communities

Get the Inside Scoop about Grand Rapids

What do you need to know about GR before you move here?

1- The Weather is Unpredictable

If you are moving to Michigan from a warm-weather state, you may want to start mentally preparing yourself for Michigan winters. (Check out our tips for how to dress for Michigan weather.)

Some years, winter lasts 6 months. We’ll have some snow days, and you’ll hear the terms “Lake Effect Snow” and “Snowmageddon.”

michigan weather be like (1)

And the next winter we will get much less snow than normal,  have a few 60 degree days in January, and then we’ll get a blizzard in April.

If nothing else, Michigan weather will teach you to wear layers and check your weather app frequently. (Also: if you move to the U.P. expect winter to span about 3/4 of the year.)

Amanda DeLong

Evermark Realty

Amanda’s Website

At Evermark Realty, we strive to make lasting impression in the life of every client we serve. We are passionate about forming relationships with our clients, serving them with the highest level of integrity and professionalism, and providing them with a first class real estate experience from our initial meeting to the closing table (and beyond!).

2- Our U-Turn is Called a Michigan Left

Don’t let our “Michigan Left” intimidate you. This is a left turn designed to replace a U-turn or a boulevard turnaround. Study up on the diagram below and you’ll be ready to take on your first Michigan Left in no time.

michigan-left moving to Michigan

3- We Have Endless School Options

West Michigan has many school options: public, private, charter, virtual, homeschool and more. Every school utilizes differing methodologies and offers varying things to make their school stand out, some schools even offer a year-round, balanced calendar.

Grand Rapids Public offers unique options like “Zoo School” at John Ball Zoo and Ada Christian School has a new 37-acre outdoor education program. Explore your options with the GRKIDS Preschool Guide and Schools Guide.

Brooke A. Sines

Grand Allure Home Group – RE/MAX of Grand Rapids

Brooke’s Website

Specializing in communication & negotiation between the buyers/sellers we work with, Grand Allure Home Group focuses on education, reviewing trends, & more for you! Passionate about creating and maintaining solid relationships, Brooke has been told over and over by her clients that it’s her dedication to personalized service that sets her apart from the rest.

4- We Enjoy our Beaches Year Round

You’ll quickly learn how much Grand Rapids residents love spending time on the lakeshore each summer. We are fortunate to live a mere 35-60 minutes away from miles of gorgeous, sandy beaches.

Rosy Mound

Our West Michigan Beach Guide will help you navigate your family summer beach trips. You’ll have to put Saugatuck’s Oval Beach high on your list because it has won ALL the awards (Condé Nast Traveler‘s Top 25 Shorelines in the World; MTV’s Top 5 Beaches; National Geographic’s Top Two Freshwater Beaches in the US, etc.).

Plus, you can enjoy mouth-watering, delicious fried chicken at The Southerner after spending the day at Oval Beach.

You also should check out Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Beach, Michigan’s only beach to receive the Certified Blue Wave Clean Beach Award by the Clean Beaches Council.

You are moving to Grand Rapids so you probably already plan on enjoying summer fun at the beach.

Tunnel Park

But, did you know that you can also enjoy visits to the beach in the winter? Your family will enjoy seeing floating ice chunks and frozen waves, just be sure to bundle up and bring your camera.

Holland State Park

5- Downtown Streets are Not on a Grid

The city of Grand Rapids was designed around the winding Grand River. This makes for a lovely centerpiece to our downtown, but doesn’t lend itself to clear driving routes.

Some of the city follows a grid system, while other routes wind around the river. Check your route before you head out because many streets dead end and then pick up again later. Some streets run at angles and others meander and may even intersect major streets several times.

blue-bridge-DOWNTOWN living in GRAND RAPIDS

Janet Romanowski

Romanowski Homes- Greenridge Realty

Janet’s Website

Janet Romanowski and her expert real estate team believe that success in real estate comes in many forms. As a top performer within the brokerage, as well as being credited with negotiating the largest residential sale in the history of West Michigan, we find the most satisfaction not in our proven sales record, but in the relationships we continue to develop with our clients.

6- We Are Serious About Beer and Coffee

Grand Rapids is known for its top-notch breweries. Check out our family-friendly breweries if you’re heading out with kids in tow. Founders, Brewery Vivant, New Holland, Perrin and Elk Brewing Co are just a few that we head to in droves.

We also have many high end coffee offerings, like local favorites Madcap, Rowster and The Sparrows. These coffee houses not only source their beans wholesale, but they also roast their own coffee and Madcap offers training to baristas wanting to learn their trade.

7- Our Farmers Grow the Best Produce and Meat

If you enjoy eating fresh, local fare, you’ll love all our many farmer’s market options in West Michigan. Living close to fertile farm country, Michiganders enjoy the delicious, fresh produce like corn, apples, berries and much more.

You can even find local produce year-round at the indoor Downtown Market. This 130,000 square foot culinary marketplace is full of various vendors and delightful restaurants. Grand Rapids’ local farmer’s markets will help your family enjoy the tastiest and freshest produce around!

And now that you’re craving fresh fruits and veggies, check out this article to get the low-down on joining a West Michigan CSA.


8- Grand Rapids is Green and Clean

Have you heard how eco-friendly Grand Rapids is? Expedia named GR as one of America’s Greenest Cities,” which is unsurprising based on all the recognition we’ve received for sustainability achievements. Grand Rapids is a leader for mid-sized US cities, with 473 LEED Certified buildings as of 2018. (LEED stands for  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

GR has also received awards for an innovative recycling program that has successfully reduced waste and increased recycling efforts across the city. Organicycle is a curbside composting program for city residents as well.

Allergy Friendly Places for Kids Grand Rapids Downtown Market

9 – We Have a Serious Dutch Influence

Michigan natives know how to finish this cheeky phrase: “if you ain’t Dutch…” (“you ain’t much!”). This area was settled by many Dutch immigrants, and the heritage is still going strong. If you are not familiar with Dutch culture, here are a few things you’ll want to know before moving to West Michigan.

  1. Dinner is often called “supper.”
  2. Some folks are still serious about taking a “day of rest” on Sundays, so may find some businesses are closed and things slow down (generally).
  3. You’ll meet lots of people with last names like DeJonge (pronounced De-Young) and VandenBosch.
  4. Dutch treats are a serious thing. You’ll find people hold strong opinions about their favorite Windmill cookies and can debate about which Dutch candy store is the best. Come Christmas, you may hear talk of Sinterklaas Day and treats like homemade banket (pronounced Bahn-KET) and chocolate letters.
  5. Tulip Time is an annual festival in Holland where you can learn all about Dutch heritage and buy your own pair of wooden Dutch shoes.

10- ArtPrize

Have you heard about ArtPrize, the “most-attended public art event on the planet?” This radically open public art event descends upon GR each fall. Now on a biennial schedule, ArtPrize will host the gigantic city-wide art competition and a more localized art event on alternating years.

Families love ArtPrize and we have all the details on heading downtown to ArtPrize with your family. Be sure to wear walking shoes and know that you won’t be able to see it all in one day.

Moving here soon?

Leave us a comment below and let us know any other questions you have or resources you are interested in utilizing. We are here to help your family make as smooth a transition as possible!

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  • forest hills community expo

FREE KID FUN at the Forest Hills Community Expo

Free Family Fun on Saturday, March 16

The annual Forest Hills Community Expo returns for another year of free family fun on Saturday, March 16, 2019. My kids ask about when this will return… it’s become a yearly tradition to go play at the Forest Hills Expo (and eat samples!).

Come on Down to the Expo at Ada Christian School

It’s held at Ada Christian School and features the following kid-oriented events:

  • free restaurant samples (the number and type of these vary each year – show up and be surprised!)
  • Little Caesars will be selling lunch this year during the event, too!
  • […]

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