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 beaches.
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. 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.
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. (Start sounding 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.
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.)
8 – Learn to recognize the Midwest Goodbye.
When we say we’re gonna leave someone’s house, and when we actually leave are two different things. Sometimes happening hours apart. This applies to most Midwest states.
9 – Myth: the Mackinac Bridge swings 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…
10 – It’s “Go Green” or “Go Blue.” Never “Go Buckeyes.”
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 – Wearing red on Big Game days can make us see red.
If you wear red on big game days prepare to defend yourself. (See #10.)
12 – 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.
13 – 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.
14 – 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!
15 – Summer lasts two months.
Normally 4th of July – Labor Day.
16 – 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.)
17 – 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.
18 – 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.)
19 – Other people drink soda. We drink POP.
Soda is what you bake with. Sprite, Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew – all pop.
20 – We invented Superman ice cream, coney dogs, and Vernors.
Don’t Google it. Just accept these invention claims.
21 – 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.
22 – You must own at least one ice scraper per car.
One that’s at least 18″ long and includes a brush at one end. In a pinch, a long-handled broom and a credit card will work.
23 – “Fleece” means “coat.” And you’ll want to own a couple.
You’ll need them to help you dress in layers. Especially in the spring, we could be 58 and sunny in the afternoon and 30 with snow a couple hours later. So always keep a few bits of clothing handy that are out of season, just in case.
24 – 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.)
25 – 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.
26 – 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.”
27 – If you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait 15 minutes; it will change.
But not always for the better.
28 – 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.
29 – 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, you notice Thanksgiving, but Christmas is the headliner.
30 – 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.
31 – No, the Detroit Lions never win.
Cheer for them anyway. Michiganders are nothing if not loyal.
32 – Be wary of Wisconsin. It’s not the same as Michigan.
It feels like Wisconsin is trying to look like a mitten. And we are forever suspicious that they’ll try to steal the U.P. from us.
33 – 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.
34 – Don’t tell us you’re from California.
Or else we’ll constantly ask you why you left. I mean, you willingly left regular sunshine. We cannot compute this.
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!
Explore Life in Michigan
If you’re serious about moving to Michigan these articles will help you find your spot and plug in.