Moving to Michigan? 34 Things to Know Before You Get Here.

moving to michigan map

You’re what? You’re MOVING to Michigan?

Are you SURE?

I’m gonna level with you. 

It’s freezing cold here in winter and unbearably humid in the summer.

Don’t Go Moving to Michigan on a Whim

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.

I hear Ohio has some pretty great…. something. Okay, so that was a stretch. How about Indiana! You’ll love it there. Pretend you never heard about our secret Michigan wonderland.

As a lifelong Michigander who dreamed of life around the world though, I must warn you: once you move here you won’t leave. You won’t be able to find another place that can hold a candle to Michigan.

So if You’re Still Thinking About Moving to Michigan…

We think there are a few things you might want 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 some other minor infraction.

5 – Know who the Yoopers and Trolls are.

Upper Peninsula residents are called Yoopers and people in the Lower Peninsula are called Trolls. (Get it? Because we live under the bridge!) Visitors are fudgies because they flock to the fudge shops on Mackinac Island.

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 a couple of 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. MackinAW.

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 Red.”

Big Game Days are when Michigan State University (State) or the University of Michigan (Michigan) is 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 above.)

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.”

But no one agrees where Up North starts. Usually, it’s anywhere south of the bridge, and north of where you live.

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 come out!

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 it to you how to play.

17 – Our nickname for summer is “construction season.”

And while summer is a solid two months long, road construction can span year round.

18 – Road construction happens year round 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 – We never 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 question it. Don’t google it. Just accept these invention claims.

21 – Learn how to say Ypsilanti, Charlotte, 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.

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

No, old school friends, it’s not actually “Meijers” or “JC Penneys.”

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 Thanksgiving and 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.

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 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 left sunshine. And it perplexes us.

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.

About The Author

20 thoughts on “Moving to Michigan? 34 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!

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