Fun stuff: taking them to parks, having playdates (playgroup every Wed. at my place
), taking them to civic functions -- there is a lot going on downtown, especially in the warmer months. There are two spray parks in town, and a wonderful paved rail trail for biking, walking, etc. We visit the library a lot, there is a wonderful kids area, and the mall's playarea & barnes & nobles train table (although there are no kids clothing stores except the department stores & target). There is also an ice skating rink around here somewhere, and the community pool...
There is a LOT to do around here, IMO. Also, Saginaw, Bay City & Mt. Pleasant are all about 1/2 hour away.
When it comes to the housing, this isn't an unusual situation for Michigan -- unemployment is up (and has been for a while), so people just aren't buying much. It isn't terrible, I don't think, but we bought an almost 100 year old house, and it has some quirks that you either love & appreciate, or hate... I don't mind them, but if we're ever going to make anything on the house we need to do some remodeling -- which we don't have the $$ for right now.
I'm sure it isn't really terrible, but in general I hear icky things about Saginaw's crime rates, & when I drive around there I'm inclined to lock the doors, IYKWIM. I haven't really noticed areas of Midland like that. Of course, like I said -- Dow puts a lot of $$ into this town, so it looks nice -- they even have flowers lining several of the main roads in town every year.
The birth defects thing worried me a bit, but like I said, I wonder how many of the "increased incidences" were from people who actually worked with toxic chemicals regularly... and when I say the % is doubled or whatever, it's something like instead of 3 babies born with cleft palet (sp??) 6 are -- it isn't a blooming thing you see everywhere. I think I may have seen 2 down's children recently at the mall. I just wanted you to be aware so you could research it.
There's actually a mama here (although I've not heard from her lately) whose husband works for Dow. She says he wanted to make sure they were... 1 mile? away from the plants, "as the bird flies." And he was more concerned with old pollution than with anything ongoing.