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Grand Rapids, MI - your impressions?


My wife, kids and I are headed up to Grand Rapids on June 12 to check it out; on Monday morning the 14th I am interviewing there for a job with a private firm. I'd like to pick the Throbbing Brain of Michigan Cyburbians and learn a bit about Grand Rapids. What is your general impression of the city--is it a nice place to live and work? What are some of the attractions? Is it a good town to raise kids? Are there good neighborhoods (I prefer city over suburbs) where you can buy a nice older home without it costing an arm and a leg?

I visited there briefly about 12 years ago and have positive memories, especially the FLW Meyer May house (a masterful restoration, as I remember). But I didn't get into the neighborhoods much and saw little of the surrounding area. So, any information, advice, or warnings would be appreciated. Thanks, Brain!

SW MI Planner

I went to Aquinas College right after high school for about a minute, and then changed my major. So, I only lived there for about a year, but have visited many times. I really really like Grand Rapids. In fact, I almost took a job with a consulting firm in GR instead of where I am at now.

I can't really give you specifics though about schools, housing, etc. Jen is from around there, so hopefully she will see this and post and be able to help you out!


Well, as an ex-midwesterner, its been a long time since I've been there. My memories and impressions from the media are that it would be a big step up from Decatur :). Locally ownbed businesses, a diverse range of housing and neighborhoods.

From media, It is also very, very culturally conservative in a hard core Protestant way. Amway, for example, is headquartered there. Still, you have always stated that you are culturally conservative yourself, and there are remaining Eastern European populations that have retained a strong Catholic community.

This information may be somewhat outdated, so take it for what its worth. good Luck.


I go to Grand Rapids on a regular basis. Much like any town, it has it’s good places and bad places. Many of the sub-divisions between GR and Kalamaoo are getting expensive. I have a friend who grew up in the NorthWest section of the city in a traditional neighborhood, and she loved it.

Personally I think that Grand Rapids is a good city, and it is getting better every day. The community seems to be doing a lot to revitalize their downtown and attract more events to the area. I am not sure about your age, but there are tons of places to go downtown. A block from Van Andel Arena, they took an Big Old Building, and filled it with several different bars and restaurants. It is called the B.O.B. and from there, there are tons of places to go within walking distance. From what I could tell, the neighborhoods are interactive environments. There are a few places that I would suggest staying away from, but there are plenty of terrific neighborhoods. I would also suggest getting a vacation guide. Go to Visit Grand Rapids Home Page.


Chairman of the bored
Staff member
The west side still has some vestiges of the old ethnic neighborhoods, but that's disappearing. It has its fair share of cultural amenities - fairly interesting musem, some nice parks, Van Andel Arena books all the big name music groups, the mentality that prevails in the region (I'm speaking in very broad generalities here) is very Dutch and conservative (I don't think more than half of the City Council is Old Order Amish, though), but there are just enough knife wielding punks downtown to keep things interesting ;-) .
Both my parents, grand parents and great grandparents all grew up there and I have spent considerable time there. At one time back in the 70's or early 80's the city had the moniker "the all-american city". They meant it to be a good thing I'm sure, but it also holds true in terms of the problems that so many american cities of similar size seem to experience.
What attributes in particular are you looking for? For a mere 3% commission I'd be happy to locate you in the dwelling of your dreams ;-)