Moving to Michigan? 28 Things to Know Before You Get Here.

moving to michigan map

Know What You’re Getting Into Before Moving to Michigan. This is NOT Ohio.

So you’ve had a few epic summer vacations in Michigan and now you’re thinking of staying here year round.

Are you SURE?

I’m gonna level with you. 

In winter it’s so snowy you can enjoy every kind of winter sport you can imagine. Our summers are hot out on those turquoise Great Lakes waters.

We have tragically beautiful sunrises and unbearably epic sunsets.

And everyone here is so nice it makes newcomers suspicious.

People say we are one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.

And that we have majestic, sandy shorelines, endless outdoor exploration, world class performance arts, friendly people, and really good food. Oh, and a decent cost of living.

But seriously, we are totally fine keeping this gem to ourselves. There are plenty of other Midwest states, afterall.

I hear Ohio has some pretty great… something.

Okay, so that was a stretch. But how about Indiana! You’ll love it there.

Stay south of the border and pretend you never heard about our secret Michigan wonderland.

If you do insist on the move, take my advice: once you live here you won’t leave. You won’t be able to find another place that can hold a candle to Michigan.

Quirks to Learn if You’re Moving to Michigan

We think there are a few things you need to know before you take the leap.


1 – Our state is shaped like a mitten.

It’s one of our claims to fame.

2 – Your hand is now a state map.

Your hand is shaped like a mitten (and the other like the Upper Peninsula) and should be used as a map.

3 – We call the Upper Peninsula “the U.P.”

The U.P. is the part of our state north of the Mackinac Bridge. It’s a fairytale wilderness dotted with waterfalls and wildlife.

4 – “Ope” means “I’m sorry.”

You say it after bumping into someone or committing any other minor infraction.

5 – Know who the Yoopers and Trolls are.

Upper Peninsula residents are called Yoopers. (Sound out “U.P.” and you’ll understand where that came from.)
Residents in the Lower Peninsula are called Trolls. (Get it? – Because they live under the bridge!)
Visitors are fudgies because they notoriously flock to the fudge shops on Mackinac Island. (Yes, this is a weird one and we don’t know why it sticks.)

6 – “The Bridge” is the Mackinac Bridge.

Also called the Mighty Mac, it’s 5 miles of engineering greatness that straddles two Great Lakes and connects our peninsulas.

(We also have several bridges to Canada. To make your international trip feel more exotic.)

7 – It’s pronounced MACK-in-aw.

Two spellings, one pronunciation. Mackinac Island, Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac county. Mackinaw City, Mackinaw township.


8 – Ope! Sorry about our Midwest Goodbye.

When we say we’re gonna leave your house, and when we actually leave are two different things. Sometimes happening hours apart. This applies to most Midwest states.

9 – The Mackinac Bridge does NOT swing closed at night.

We love to tell tourists that our mighty suspension bridge swings closed at night, but don’t worry – it’s actually open 24/7. Well, except during high winds… And it’s also closed on Labor Day morning, when we all get together and walk across it. Yes, this is a thing.

10 – It’s “Go Green” or “Go Blue.” Never “OH! IO!.”

Big Game Days are when Michigan State University (State) or the University of Michigan (Michigan) are playing. And no, you cannot root for either. You must pick one. You can never root for Ohio State.

11 – The Great Lakes are unsalted.

But it’s fun to play along with any jokes implying that sharks, whales, or other saltwater creatures live in them.

12 – We vacation “Up North.”

Deciding where Up North starts is a major point of controversy. (Usually, it’s anywhere north of where you live. We think?) If you really want to get to know your neighbors, tell them where you think Up North starts.

13 – We don’t cry over winter.

Sure, we don’t have anything on Minnesota’s chills, but eight months of winter, and several feet of lake effect snow have given us enough street cred. So when 40 degrees hits, the coats come off and the sandals go on!

14 – Summer lasts two months.

Normally 4th of July – Labor Day.

15 – Euchre is our state card game.

Pronounced “You-KER,” this is how many of us survive winter. Any of your neighbors should be able to teach you how to play. (Our advice: turn down a bower and you’re hurtin’ for an hour.)

16 – Our other state flower is the construction cone.

Once that snow melts in April those bright orange cones start blooming around every corner! Sometimes overnight, always on your favorite route to work. And they stay in bloom right until the snow starts again in the fall.

17 – Road construction happens incessantly for a reason.

Michigan breeds the largest potholes in the nation, so we never stop fixing them. (If you haven’t lost an axle to a pothole yet, you are #blessed.)

18 – You drank soda before you came here. Now you drink POP.

Soda is what you bake with. Sprite, Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew – all pop.

19 – We invented Superman ice cream, coney dogs, and Vernors.

Don’t Google it. Just accept these invention claims.

20 – Learn how to say Ypsilanti, Charlotte, Sault Ste Marie, Ocqueoc, Bois Blanc Island, & Dowagiac.

And no, they’re not phonetic. These are too hard to explain here so just Google it. Or try the pronunciation on a coworker and watch them cringe. THEY can pronounce it for ya.

21 – Buy waterproof, sub-zero winter gear.

Michigan is like Canada’s little sister. So imagine what winter gear you’d need to live in Canada. You will also need that here.

(But also hot Alabama summer gear. For those six weeks mid-year when it’s sunny and humid. The pendulum swings hard both ways in the Great Lakes State.)

22 – Old school Michiganders add “s” to the end of store names.

No, you didn’t mishear us. It’s not actually “Meijers” or “JC Penneys” but those of us who have been here a while will never get it straight.

23 – We don’t wait in line at the DMV. We wait in line at the SOS.

We don’t go to the DMV to get a driver’s license in Michigan. For that, you need to go to the Secretary of State, otherwise pronounced “Secretariah State.”

24 – Cars are illegal on Mackinac Island.

Golf carts and snowmobiles are allowed on Mackinac Island but no other motorized vehicles, by law, are allowed there. Take a horse or ride your bike.

25 – The first day of deer hunting season is a holiday in rural Michigan.

Some schools even have the day off.

And by “first day” we mean first day of rifle hunting season. Bow hunting season starts earlier, but I guess it’s like comparing Thanksgiving to Christmas. Sure, Thanksgiving is the opener, but everyone shows up for the Christmas headliner.

26 – Kids’ Halloween costumes should fit over coats.

For when it’s 30 and snowing on October 31. It could also be 79 and humid. Just… plan for anything.

27 – No, the Detroit Lions never win.

Cheer for them anyway. Michiganders are nothing if not loyal.

28 – Take vitamin D year round.

The sun is an elusive dame and can’t be relied upon for vitamin D. Get a light therapy lamp and take vitamin D daily when you get here.

Living in Michigan is something special made better by the people you know. Say hey to the people you meet, introduce yourself to your neighbors, and get involved. We’re glad you’re here!

20 thoughts on “Moving to Michigan? 28 Things to Know Before You Get Here.”

  1. Rothbury Resident

    As a Land of Lincoln native (who’s only holdout is unswervingly referring to the SOS as the DMV – and hubby[native Michigander] tells me nobody knows what you mean) who also spent 5 years in North Central Arkansas, I have thoroughly embraced living here in the Great Lakes State. We call the Midwestern goodbye “door talking” because you may be by the front door…although we have just learned to stay seated because, truth be told, no one is leaving for a long time.
    We laughed at a lot of them…quite a bit. 😁

  2. Will you accept this Ohioan??? ha! I am seriously considering making the move. I promise I won’t wear red on game day!

  3. I grew up in Mich , lived there for decades until I moved to Colorado, im now about to retire and I know all the pitfalls…and I’m coming home.

  4. I am born and raised Michigander and I actually really like michigan alot I am just no longer a fan of Detroit 🙁 I want to move out of state for a better life but a part of me is just feeling like maybe I should just move to a different part of the state instead.

  5. I’m originally from northern Germany and currently stuck in east central Illinois. I have been to Michigan numerous times and parts of it remind me of home. I plan on moving up there in two years but am not quite sure how to start.

    1. I currently live in n NYC and desperately want to move to Michigan, I’m just like you I don’t know where to start. If you get any tips please share.

  6. Great article, I left to work in DC, and couldn’t wait to get back.

    But I must say.. the Mitten’s humidity is nothing compared soooo many other states. We just believe it is!

    Really… its not bad, refreshingly low actually.

  7. Lived in Michigan most of our lives. My wife and I haved traveled most of the world and can’t wait to get back to Michigan. Michigan is beautiful the year round. When you cross the bridge to the upper peninsula it’s the most breathtaking sight you will ever experance.

  8. Nice article to one distant cousin from another. Vander Weide was my mothers maiden name. She was one of 7 or 10 depending on how you look at it
    True Michiganders
    I have always said Grand Rapids is city with a small town feel. Oh, how it has continued to grow. It continues to change with all kinds of opportunities for all .

  9. Been in out of state 16 years. Baby Imma coming home in June. Home is where the heart has always been. Miss my Michigan.

    1. What a hoot. Perfect description of home with the right touch of humor. My compliments on a well written article.

  10. George Peter Block Jr

    I enjoyed reading your article online about advice regarding moving to Michigan.

    I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and lived there most of my life, but now I live in Michigan. In my many travels to Michigan over the years, I have always marvelled at how proud Michiganders are of their state, with Michigan map window stickers and bumper stickers on their cars. NOBODY in Illinois has an Illinois map window sticker or bumper sticker on their car. Lol.

    Here is a song I wrote, “Michiganders.” I hope you get a smile out of it. Only 2 minutes long…..

    Keep up the good work.


    George Peter Block, Jr.
    Boyne Falls

  11. You for got the michigan sense of humor just in case the people don’t pick up on it through some of the things that made me laugh born and bread michigander but have been out of the state

  12. A lot of these are accurate! Lol I am originally from Florida (I know; usually people move the other way around) and I have noticed those things over the years. It’s funny though because most people I talk to here are oblivious to it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *