A Guide for Relocating Your Family to West Michigan

Thinking About Moving Your Family to Grand Rapids, MI?

Considering a move to Michigan’s fastest-growing metro area and second largest city? Maybe you have family here or maybe you grew up in West Michigan. Perhaps, you’re a fan of craft beer and living in Beer City USA seems irresistible. Maybe you’re simply drawn to Midwest family values or the low cost of living found in West Michigan. There are many reasons to relocate your family here!

If you’re considering a move to Grand Rapids, you probably find yourself searching for a top-notch realtors, researching school options, checking out various neighborhoods and the overall vibe of the city.

Relocating your family is a big transition, but Grand Rapids Kids is here to help. We created this guide to help inform your decisions on where to move, the best places to dine with kids, where to find good childcare and more. Keep reading and get prepped for your big, exciting move!

Calder girl Relocating to Grand Rapids

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

What’s it Like to Live Here?

The strong work ethic paired with a reasonable cost of living and warm, Midwestern charm cannot be beat!

Michigan also has incredible beauty to be found across the state. The sparkling Lake Michigan beaches, white sand dunes and hiking trails provide endless outdoor fun in the summer.

On the other hand, our lake effect snow provides loads of winter fun–sledding, skiing, building snow men and snowshoeing, to name a few. (We recommend to always conclude your outdoor adventures with hot cocoa and snuggles under warm, fuzzy blankets while you thaw out.)

Muskegon Winter Sports Complex - Ice Skating Trail

Muskegon Winter Sports Complex – Ice Skating Trail

You’ll love the variety our four seasons have to offer! Native Michiganders will warn you, though, to dress in layers. You never know how the weather might change in one day’s time. Check out the articles linked below to learn more helpful tips.

REALTOR Ready to Help With Your Move

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.

7 Items we can Help you Check off your Moving To-Do List

1- Before you move, you’ll need to find a great Realtor. Check out our preferred partner realtors HERE and give one of them a call to get your moving plans rolling.

2- As you start house hunting, check out our Community Pages to learn more about all the specific areas you could opt to live within greater Grand Rapids. Whether you are looking for a small town vibe, a neighborhood city, trying to find your dream farmhouse or looking for a place  north or west of Grand Rapids, our detailed community pages will help inform your decision.

3- We know figuring out child care, preschool, and where to send your big kids to school are high on your priority list, too. Be sure to read our Child Care, Preschool and Schools Guide for lots of practical, helpful information.

4- Once you’ve moved, you’ll want to quickly find quality health care providers for your family. You can find the “cream of the crop” in our annual, reader-voted Top Health Care Providers Guide, which covers the top-voted providers from pediatricians to dentists to OB/GYNs and more!

5- While you’re unpacking and your kitchen is in shambles, you’ll probably want to eat out. Be sure to bookmark our list of where kids eat FREE or cheap around GR. We also have a reader-voted guide on the best, most kid-friendly breweries around town.

old goat food

Delicious dinner at The Old Goat

6- Dining out with kids can be fun, but we all love a nice date night out once in a while. Check out our babysitter resource guide to help you line up some trusty sitters. You can also draw some fun ideas from our 101 date night ideas or our list of the top date night restaurants in GR.

7- Last but not least, you will definitely want to read through our Grandtastic Awards guide. A reader-recommended list of all the BEST places for families around greater Grand Rapids. This guide will point you to the best places to eat, dine, play, learn and shop with your family.

Lake michigan Beach park empire sand dunes Michigan Beach Vacations

Now that we covered all the all-important basics, keep reading for other helpful information and resources to ease your transition to Grand Rapids…

REALTOR Ready to Help With Your Move

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!).

Decoding Grand Rapids Lingo

It won’t take you long, to notice that West Michigan natives use a lot of acronyms and slang.  Study up and you’ll be interpreting GR lingo in no time (you can thank us later for this crash course).

A Breakdown of our Acronyms

  1. CRC = Christian Reformed Church
  2. EGR = East Grand Rapids
  3. FMG = Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (also called Meijer Gardens)
  4. GR = Grand Rapids
  5. GRAM = Grand Rapid’s Art Museum
  6. GRCM = Grand Rapid’s Children’s Museum
  7. JBZ = John Ball Zoo
  8. U.P. = Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
  9. The BOB = The “Big Old Buildling” in downtown that houses multiple restaurants, bars and a comedy club

REALTOR Ready to Help With Your Move

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.

The Lingo You’ll Hear Us Say

  1. G-Rap/GRAR/GRap = Grand Rapids
  2. Lake-Effect Snow = Expect TONS of snow during the winter, thanks to being on the eastern bank of Lake Michigan. Residents of Holland and south to Allegan get even more snow than Grand Rapids.
  3. S-Curve – An S-shaped part of the 131 freeway  running through downtown Grand Rapids (that can often be car accident prone).
  4. The Beltline – M-44, a state trunkline highway, is named “East Beltline” or is often just called “The Beltline”
  5. The Big Lake/The Beach – Lake Michigan
  6. ‘Ope! – An amalgamation of sorry and oops, we often say ‘Ope! as a way to be polite and show deference to the other person who we almost bumped into or cut o in line. (You can take this knowledge with you anywhere in the Midwest.)
  7. ArtPrize – Grand Rapid’s bi-annual public art competition, the most attended public art event in the world.
  8. Small Group/Community Group/Life Group – Bible study church group
  9. Knapp Corner/Knapp’s Crossing – shopping area with a movie theater and restaurants off of East Beltline
  10. Medical Mile – A designated area within the city that has medical-related development in the Hillside District of GR, bordering both sides of Michigan Street.
  11. East – East Grand Rapids or East Grand Rapids schools (e.g. “She’s a senior at East”). Do not confuse this with Eastown, an artsy Grand Rapids neighborhood just down the street from East Grand Rapids.
  12. Blue Bridge – an iconic pedestrian (blue) bridge, located in the center of downtown GR between Pearl and Fultonblue-bridge-DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS
  13. Up North – Michiganders love to get away “Up North,” but there is no exact definition of what constitutes northern Michigan. “Up North” generally refers to anywhere farther north of where you are located, but still in the Lower Peninusla of Michigan
  14. Yooper– Someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula
  15. Troll – Someone who lives south of the Mackinac Bridge
  16. The Calder – “La Grande Vitesse” is a public sculpture created by Alexander Calder, an American artist. It is located on the large concrete plaza referred to as “Calder Plaza” near City Hall in downtown GR.
  17. The Weatherball – The WZZM 13 Weatherball is a large steel structure, which gives visual weather information based on the color of the weatherball. There is also a well-known Weatherball song that goes, “Weatherball red, warmer weather ahead. Weatherball blue, cooler weather in view. Weatherball green, no change foreseen. Colors blinking bright? Rain or snow in sight.
  18. Michigan U/Michigan Left – A “Michigan Left” is a design which replaces a left turn with a U-turn and is also called a median U-turn crossover or boulevard turnaround michigan-left
  19. Neighborhood/Community Names – Grand Rapids transplants may get confused about all the little neighborhood names around town like “Heritage Hill” and “Eastown,” that aren’t actual cities, but just neighborhoods. Find out about the various communities around GR through our community info pages.

    Pronunciation Pointers

    1. Dutch Names: DeJonge (De-Young), Meijer (My-er), Kuyper (Ky-per), De Boer (Dee-Bore)
    2. Places in Michigan: Mackinac (Mack-in-awe), Charlotte (Shar-Lot), Dowagiac (Doe-wah-jak), Ypsilanti (Ip-sill-ann-tee) and Sault Ste. Marie (Soo-Saint-Marie)

Must-Read Resources for Parents

Imagine this… It’s a rainy day and you’re new to town. You and your kids are going a bit stir crazy. What do you do? Where do you go?

Rainy Day things to do grand Rapids

These are the kinds of questions that grkids.com can answer for you! Our website, Facebook page and Pinterest boards are chock-full of great ideas! The Indoor Play Guide and 25 Things to do in a Rainy Day in West Michiganfor example, will hook you up with options on where to spend that rainy day. The grkids Visitor’s Guide to Grand Rapids with kids is a great way to familiarize yourself with downtown GR. If you’re looking to spend a fun afternoon downtown with kids, be sure to check out these ideas.

For age-specific tips, you’ll want to read our New Parent’s Guide or our Preschooler’s or Kindergartener’s Guide to Grand Rapids. If you’re looking for Parenting Groups or you want a list of Parenting Classes & Resources in West Michigan, we’ve covered that information, too.

A “Must-Do” for Grand Rapids Parents

My last few tips for your are…check our event calendar often and sign up for our amazingly helpful eNewsletters! Sign up HERE to receive our Weekend Planner email in your inbox each Tuesday morning–this is a resource all West Michigan parents are sure to love. You’ll receive TONS of great parenting ideas, our top picks for events each week, along with helpful parenting articles and more. (Plus, if you happen to be expecting or have a little one in their first year of life, you will definitely LOVE our Grand Rapids Baby email series).

WELCOME TO GRAND RAPIDS! We can’t wait to have you join us in this great city.

Visit us on Facebook and send us a message to introduce yourself. We can’t wait to meet you soon!

Grand Rapids, We Need to get Better at Welcoming New Locals – It Starts with a Simple “Hello”

Hi, I’m New Here!

I’ve been there. New state. No family. No friends. No babysitter. Just a hardworking husband and two energetic boys. Moving can be exciting, but it can also be very hard to leave the life you had behind to start from scratch.

Having that experience helped me empathize with other families that struggle with feeling isolated in a new community. We love our city, and it’s important to help newcomers to love where they live!

4 Ways to Help New Locals Feel Like They’re Home

1 – Say Hi!

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