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Tell me about MICHIGAN! - Page 2

post #21 of 26
I have lived in Michigan my entire life, and would only consider moving if my husband had a job we just couldn't turn down. Our school systems rank low in the nation, but if you plan to home school that's not an issue. Rent is higher on the East side of the state then the West, and both are higher to the south than to the north. If you are looking for a house or duplex to rent from a person you may be able to get what you need for that price, but it could be a hard sell. I was told by a friend that the list for section 8 here is three years, so I wouldn't count on that anytime soon.

I grew up near Ann Arbor, but currently live just outside Grand Rapids. I honestly love West Michigan more than the East. I like that we get more snow than the east side, and less ice. I love all the bulbs in spring and the sandy soil. I love the fact that there are lots of farms to get produce from no matter where you are in the state. Even if you do have to drive sometimes.
post #22 of 26
I totally agree with your feelings about the Lansing area. We have lived here for about 5 years and have developed the same love/hate relationship! ELFCO, City Market, Farmers Markets, GBC, Playmakers (we're runners) have all been incredible resources. We recently bought a house in a great neighborhood after considering purchasing closer to downtown (could have bought a lot more house than what we got but you're right- many family homes are in increasingly crime-ridden areas). Living here is great when you have small kids- there's a lot of support and family activities. To live in a safe area with access to the good stuff you're looking at a minimum of $700-$850. And the job market is terrible. I think I'd recommend Kalamazoo above the Lansing area for people just moving to Michigan.
post #23 of 26
lolar2 mentioned Berrien County but that's where I live, so I thought I'd chime in with some more info on Southwest Michigan. Whirlpool Corporation is headquartered in Benton Harbor and has locations all over Benton Harbor and neighboring St. Joseph (which is a tourist town). Whirlpool is about to build a huge new complex in downtown Benton Harbor, which will hopefully help to revitalize that area. Whirlpool had been in a hiring freeze but are now hiring again, though it seems mostly in upper-level positions. Entry-level positions are usually available in the call centers, though. I think in general this area has been less hard-hit than the rest of the state, economically speaking.

Quality of life: living near the lake is nice. We have a few good grocery stores and LOTS of options for fresh produce, although some are pricier than others (we belong to an organic produce co-op that we're loving), but a dearth of good or interesting restaurants. We don't even have a sushi place, unless you count the deli at Martin's. I haven't found a ton of like-minded mamas to connect with, but I'm doing my best to network and reach out. I have joined a group for SAHMs and that provides a lot of fun activities. I also enjoy the YMCA here. I wouldn't say we have a lot of "cultural diversity" -- everything is pretty segregated. I think Whirlpool does try to promote cultural awareness internally, for their employees, and does host some cultural awareness events throughout the year that are open to the public (I used to work there but I'm fuzzy on the details, I remember an Indian Night, though). St. Joseph is about 90% white and neighboring Benton Harbor is about 90% black, with unemployment rates of 30+%. The two cities are called the "Twin Cities" but it's mostly an ironic joke now.

Housing: I know I lived in a crappy one-bedroom and it cost $600 a month, although I rented when demand was high and by the time I moved out, they were losing tenants daily as the housing market bottomed out and people took the opportunity to buy. So rent prices might be better now.

Birth options: a few homebirth midwives cover this area, including one CNM in Berrien Springs and 2 more in Northern Indiana, and a few DEMs based north of Berrien County. But if you want to attempt an in-hospital VBAC, you'll have to travel to Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, or South Bend IN, at least 40 miles in any direction. None of the "community" hospitals around here support VBAC. Recently one of the local clinics hired 2 CNMs to deliver at the hospital in St. Joseph, and they are willing to co-ordinate care with a provider elsewhere. So you could see them for most of your pregnancy, then they would either transfer your care or see you for alternating pre-natal appointments as you near your EDD. It's not a perfect situation of course, but better than having to drive 40+ miles for a dozen or more prenatal appointments.

I agree with everything said above about Michigan generally. Ann Arbor is really the "nice" part of the state (along with a few suburbs of Detroit but they are very pricey to live in and NOT culturally diverse at all) and really your best bet to resemble Chicago living in any way.

Good luck!
post #24 of 26
For the prices you're looking at, I think you need to look further north, honestly. You're not going to be able to afford the parts of Ann Arbor that people are recommending.

The west coast of MI has its own culture. It was settled by Dutch Reformed settlers from Holland, and there's still a very strong undercurrent of "if you're not Dutch, you're not much," and issues with newcomers. There's also (in my possibly-atypical experience) a strong bootstrap sentiment and a right-wing "benefits are bad kick everyone off medicaid and foodstamps and make them support themselves" sentiment.

The tri-cities area (aka Bay City-Saginaw-Midland) is going to be much cheaper, though more depressed. There are several universities nearby (Central Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University). Diversitywise it's going to be better than Grand Rapids but not so diverse as Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor -- going from straight demographics, anyway. It's a small enough city that for CULTURAL diversity (as opposed to demographic diversity) you often have to drive aways to get to things like big concerts, art shows, etc.
post #25 of 26
We are on our way to Grand Rapids. We found a three bedroom HOUSE for 695 a month. Not bad, I think. It's a cute house too. I'm not sure about the jobs in Grand Rapids. There are quite a few colleges in town too, most of them are Christian, not sure if that would be a good or bad thing to you...? I always thought that G.R. was all white, but it seems to be a little better than I thought. There's my vote for G.R!

p.s. i'm not sure about the natural parenting scene there, but at least there are some homebirth midwives.
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalya View Post
We are on our way to Grand Rapids. We found a three bedroom HOUSE for 695 a month. Not bad, I think. It's a cute house too. I'm not sure about the jobs in Grand Rapids. There are quite a few colleges in town too, most of them are Christian, not sure if that would be a good or bad thing to you...? I always thought that G.R. was all white, but it seems to be a little better than I thought. There's my vote for G.R!

p.s. i'm not sure about the natural parenting scene there, but at least there are some homebirth midwives.
GR has a HUGE natural parenting contingent. Come find us online at http://www.michigannaturalparenting.com. You have to get 10 posts on the public board before the rest of the board, including the GR area board. We also have regular np and babywearing meetings.
http://www.michigannaturalparenting.com/grandrapids

We have awesome homebirth midwives, a few different hospital-based CNM pracitces, and even a few natural-birth friendly family docs/OBs. The hospitals are all hit-or-miss in terms of birth depending on who you get on staff at the time. There are wonderful public parks everywhere, and if you drive a short distance to surrounding areas, free parks with lakes for swimming. I think there is a lot going on culturally, with art, theater, etc. If you live in GR, there are free days at local museums and you can "check out" free tickets to sporting events, concerts, or plays. If you are in the city, there is walking/biking availability as well as public transportation. Get out on the edges, though, like we are, and you're stuck without a vehicle.

There are many colleges, and a lot of different schooling possibilities. There are public schools, a public Montessori, private schools, charter schools, schools-of-choice (going to a public school that is a different district from where you live), religious homeschool groups, secular homeschool groups, etc.

However, I would say the city is fairly segregated ethnically. The neighborhoods seem pretty defined from what I've observed. And there is a very strong conservative/Dutch faction. There is a lot stronger fundamental Christian sector than I've come across before.... but I've found that that has actually "diversified" my own circle of friends. And not everybody is conservative, although it can feel that way at times.

And the job situation sucks. I've known several people who have been unemployed and it takes a year to a year and a half to find a job. Although, I hear things are better if you're in the medical field.
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