Tell me about MICHIGAN! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 07-16-2010, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! We're looking to move to another state by the end of 2010, and Michigan is on our list.

I like Michigan for the homebirth, breastfeeding, homeschooling, and vax options.

I don't know anything about the best places to live as far as cost of living goes.

A bit about us... We're probably going to be on Medicaid, we have a 2.5 yo and a 6mo, and I'm looking into a VBAC for my next birth (whenever that will be ). We need to find a place in Michigan that's inexpensive (preferrably no more than $500 for rent) and has jobs available. A college nearby would be awesome also

ETA: Cultural diversity is also a big deal for my husband. He likes Chicago because there's great cultural variety here.

rainbow1284.gif Mama to DD1 (6) DD2 (4) and DD3 (1)
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#2 of 26 Old 07-16-2010, 07:52 PM
 
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It's not the best for cultural diversity (though not the worst in the world), and there are not many jobs anywhere in Michigan, but Berrien County has low rents in many of its towns and several colleges nearby (Notre Dame, St. Mary's, IUSB, Western Michigan U in Kalamazoo, Andrews U in Berrien Springs, a couple of community colleges too).
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#3 of 26 Old 07-16-2010, 08:09 PM
 
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What kind of job is you or your dh looking for, because that will determine what you can do there. Michigan is facing a huge amount of unemployment and the like because it's been very hard hit by the recession.

As for cultural variety, your best bets are likely Ann Arbor, Detroit, or the Grand Rapids area. However GR and AA are two of your more expensive areas of the state. Most of the rest of Michigan is fairly inexpensive to live compared to other places of the country, but that is because there are also not very many jobs at all....my family is from Hillsdale County, which is *very* affordable, has a college, but has no jobs (unless you are a farmer or doctor), and is 99.9% white. Detroit is diverse, inexpensive, has a college, but jobs are hard to find.

So, it really depends on your industry. Are you looking at farming, production, aerospace, teaching, retail?

We just drove through Michigan (I lived there 22 years though) and for real, we drove 3 hours on a highway and saw like 1 city the entire time. :

I love, love, *love* Michigan, and the only reason we're in Ohio instead of Michigan is because there is absolutely no place for DH to work there in his field.

~Brandon Michael (11/23/03), Jocelyn Lily Nữ (2/4/07, adopted 5/28/07 from Vietnam), Amelia Rylie (1/14/09), & Ryland Josef William (9/7/05-9/7/05 @ 41 wks). 
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#4 of 26 Old 07-16-2010, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH works in sales and automotive maintenance for now.. college will determine what happens later.

rainbow1284.gif Mama to DD1 (6) DD2 (4) and DD3 (1)
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#5 of 26 Old 07-19-2010, 12:21 PM
 
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I think that if I were to move to Michigan as a young person who was low-income, expected to make use of lots of supportive programs, and needed a job, I would move to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. The rent you have named is all but impossible to find unless the apartment is very small, but in Ypsilanti there are a reasonable number of apartments that would go for $600-$700 or so. Ann Arbor has some too, but they will be in the outlying areas. Service jobs are plentiful, but you'll compete with the students for them. Starting wages tend to be more like $8=10 per hour instead of minimum wage. It is pretty easy to start in-home daycares here too. If you are tolerant of a commute, you also have the possibility of looking at the western suburbs of Detroit for work (20-30 minutes away). You might consider trying to move before the school year starts because there are a lot of job postings that come up in August here anticipating more business when the students come back. If you can commute into the 'burbs then it matters less. The rental market is down here, so it is possible to find a place any time of year.

Ann Arbor is, I think, technically the least segregated city in the state, but that's not saying much. We have an amazing richness in terms of ethnic diversity in southeast Michigan, but people all too often live apart from each other.

The main reason why I mentioned our area over others, though, like Detroit or Grand Rapids is because the social services are very good here. Wayne County (where Detroit and a lot of working-class suburbs are) has been decimated by unemployment and foreclosures lately and the social services agencies are totally swamped. In Ann Arbor itself, you can get free classes from rec and ed, a discounted membership to the YMCA (I think you can use the Y if you live in Ypsi too, it's just further) , use of the excellent public libraries, free classes for kids under 3 through the school system, free pool passes, etc. Ypsi is smaller, but there are programs there too. There is supportive housing available too, but there are wait lists. There are very few places in either town where crime rises above drug dealing and property crimes. The WIC office and DHS aren't horrible to deal with and the Ypsi farmer's market takes food stamps. We have a couple of private colleges, a good community college and two big universities (Eastern Michigan University and UofM). There are a ton of homeschool groups here and I think there may be as many as 7-8 homebirth midwives who serve the Ann Arbor area.

Good luck!

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#6 of 26 Old 07-19-2010, 01:39 PM
 
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I love, love, *love* Michigan, and the only reason we're in Ohio instead of Michigan is because there is absolutely no place for DH to work there in his field.
Hee! I love, love, *love* Ohio, and the only reason we're in Michigan instead of Ohio is because there is absolutely no place for DH to work there in his field.

WindyCityMom, I would love to encourage you to come to Michigan. It is a beautiful state and for the most part, we are allowed to make parenting choices as we see fit. The homeschooling laws here are awesome. I can not imagine living in a state in which the government, by force of law and penalties, attempts to oversee my children's education.

But the economy here is in dire straights right now and has been for a while. We were in a "single state recession" for years before the rest of the country joined us. We will most likely be the last state to recover.

That doesn't mean that jobs can't be found. I would just urge you to have a solid one in place before you move here. (And I've seen some of your previous posts, hon, so I highly encourage you to move somewhere!)

Best wishes to you and your beautiful family.

Catholic homeschooling mom of two daughters and four sons... baby Mark born on 8/27/10. Kidney Disease Awareness
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#7 of 26 Old 07-19-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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Kalamazoo is a great town as far as affordability and access to higher education. The job market is not so great however. Keep hoping it will turn around soon.
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#8 of 26 Old 07-19-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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I agree that you'll be looking downstate - maybe Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids. We are in northern lower Michigan and while it's beautiful there isn't a whole lot for diversity and as we live in a tourist town the rent isn't as inexpensive as we'd like.

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#9 of 26 Old 07-19-2010, 03:39 PM
 
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DHs family is from Ludington (gorgeous, but a tourist trap) and most of them have had to move to the Grand Rapids area to find work.

His little brother had had a very nice job in Ludington for a while but it was short term, now he works with Fox 17 in Grand Rapids. His girlfriend was working at a deli in Pentwater but they had to scale back and now works at a Meijers closer to Grand Rapids.

So as far as I see... Grand Rapids seems like about the best bet for the western half of the state.

Artist, photographer, stay-at-home-mom and Marine wife. Mom to 4; a boy and three little girls.
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#10 of 26 Old 07-20-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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KalamazooMom, I Kalamazoo. I would move there in a hot minute if I had the chance. I love the weather (snowier than here) and the people and the reasonable cost of living and the city itself. Just no work for my dh and hard to uproot from where we are now.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#11 of 26 Old 07-20-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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We lived in Chicago (Boystown then Oak Park) for 12 years and moved here to MI on 2005. I just want to say that it was a really rough adjustment at first. Michigan is lovely and I have the best friends here in the world. But, for diversity, cultural events, free things to do with the kids, and job prospects- it can't compare to the Chicago area.

The biggest shock for us is that there are very few walkable areas here and we had to buy a second car just to go to playdates and events. So, if you are hoping to get by on 1 car, choose your neighborhood carefully. We live between Detroit and Ann Arbor, but I know that even in KZoo, you will be walking along, and the sidewalk suddenly disappears

~Shawnna~ Lucas 11/02 Wyatt 10/05
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#12 of 26 Old 07-22-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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KalamazooMom, I Kalamazoo. I would move there in a hot minute if I had the chance. I love the weather (snowier than here) and the people and the reasonable cost of living and the city itself. Just no work for my dh and hard to uproot from where we are now.
Ooooh, Stacia, come move here! And open a birth center! And do awesome home births! I'll help, I'll help!

Anyhow, I love Kzoo too. Job market here is better than most other spots in the state!
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#13 of 26 Old 07-22-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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Michigan is really pretty and we like the state, (though I haven't gone through a winter here yet!) BUT I find Ann Arbor to be really expensive compared to the other places I've lived, save Japan. Though I'd imagine COL in Chicago is quite high, so it might not be that different for you.

In the last few months we have spent a lot of time looking at apartments and housing rentals. For $500 I don't think you find more than a room in a shared house for students.

My dh is here to go to Uof M, but we arrived so early that he got a full time job in the interim. It was not easy for him to find one in his specific field (a certain type of electronics), and he actually ended up having to go with a job that involves more general electronics work, and lower pay. There were just not that many interviews available to him - 3 or 4, tops. I think Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the US though, so it wasn't unexpected. He commutes to work about 30 minutes away, and we spend 40$in gas a week, it's not ideal.

It is pretty though, and I think the public transit system in Ann Arbor is quite good, especially for such a suburban city. There seems to be a lot of diversity here to me, but I am currently surrounded by neighbors from other countries in student housing. If I were going to stay in MI and could choose the place, I would look west or north of Ann Arbor. It's less expensive and more rural. But rural isn't for everyone, I guess.

Also, from what I understand, medicaid here only covers CNMs. And I don't know that there isn't a way around it, but according to the MI medicaid website- requires vaxing for kids unless you get a religious exemption. I'm sure that some of the pp's on here would know more about that than I do though.

And where do I sign up for these free pool passes, Stacia?

Banana, doula wife to Papa Banana and mother to Banana One, Banana Two, Banana Three, Banana Four...

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#14 of 26 Old 07-22-2010, 12:59 PM
 
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My daughter is on medicaid and hasnt had shots according to the vaccine schedule. I just had a couple at her 3 yr visit and got a bill from the docs for $20. $10 each vaccine. Not sure why. Guess I should call? Technically she was due for them its just not at the typical age they do them. Still not bad considering the visit was free. I cant imagine how they would FORCE you to have your child vaccinated. Decline your coverage? I love her pediatrition. Its a wonderful office in Troy Beaumont. They say you're the parent its up to you to make the decision.

Janette - Mama to Adrianna born 2.27.07 and expecting another 2.17.11
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#15 of 26 Old 07-22-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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It's a vaguely worded paragraph at the end of the MA (Medical Assistance, ie Medicaid) requirements page from the MDCH website.

"Healthy lifestyles
We want all MA clients to live healthy lifestyles. This might include making a
commitment to: attend all medical appointments, exercise regularly, not smoke or use illegal drugs, and keep children’s shots up-to-date..
."

I'm sure when you have an understanding provider who also takes medicaid, it's a moot point. But I just wonder how it works in place where you don't have the choice of an understanding provider,kwim?

However this is part of the requirements for the Family Independence Program (Cash assistance)

"Children under age six must be immunized as recommended by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Your cash benefits may be reduced by $25 per month until your children are up-to-date on their immunizations.

A child is exempt from the immunization requirement if:

(S)he is under two months of age.
Immunizations are medically inappropriate for the child.
Immunizations are against the family’s religious beliefs
."

And I think that's really lame. If my family is in some kind of trouble and I could use a little help I have to lie about my religious beliefs, get a doctor to lie about vax reactions or get a deduction. If religious beliefs exempt you than personal beliefs should exempt you also.

Banana, doula wife to Papa Banana and mother to Banana One, Banana Two, Banana Three, Banana Four...

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#16 of 26 Old 07-22-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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And where do I sign up for these free pool passes, Stacia?
The application is long and you need a lot of documentation for it, but you can get it at any of the city pools (vets, fuller, buhr, etc.)

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#17 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 12:20 AM
 
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My children were on medicaid and I never had to have them vacinated. I recieved a sheet each year about getting them done but tossed it in the trash.

Casondra ~Jesus Loving wife to Christopher, Momma to my c-section babies Calvin(9),Catherine(5),Carolynn(4)and Chloe(2) expecting a new one August 2013.
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#18 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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I have a love- hate relationship with Michigan (we're in the Lansing area).

Love:
Our friends
Our church
Wonderful food options (great farmers market, wonderful meat and milk options)
The lakes!
Nature!
The walkability of our neighborhood
The diversity and tolerance of our neighborhood
The fact that we can easily be a one car family and that our buses are awesome
Our healthcare providers- we have excellent midwives and a wonderful family practice doc.
Free/inexpensive events connected with MSU
Wonderful, high quality preschool options

Hate (or dislike):
The economy
The defeated attitude of a lot of the people around here
The huge gap in haves and have nots here
Crime in our neighborhood (tons of prostitution and drug dealing)
How cloudy it is

We will be leaving Michigan next year because of my husband's job. I feel totally torn about this. There are some things that I completely love about life here and there are some things that I can't wait to leave. If we lived in a nicer neighborhood (we bought our house when we were in grad school and childless) I think I would probably love it here. One thing that I do love is how real the people are. I would totally come if you or your DH had a good job lined up. I would be really nervous expecting a job when you get here. DH and I both have advanced degrees and the job market is absolute crap for us in MI. We are looking at moving to Chicago because it has such better prospects for us both. Many of our friends are in a similar position.

Healthcare is a human right!
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#19 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 02:44 AM
 
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I'd say that an upper limit of $500/mo for rent is going to be difficult to find, unless maybe you're looking at studios. (Recently while looking for a new apartment, we actually had a couple landlords tell us that they wouldn't rent us their one-bedrooms. Because there are three of us. Not a big deal, because we wanted a two-bedroom anyways.)

You might be able to find around or below $600 in a few places that I can think of: Berkley, Ferndale (near Royal Oak) have lots of rentals; some areas of the Grosse Pointes have two- or four-family rentals for decent prices. Craigslist is a good place to look for rental prices, in my experience.

There is a birth center in Southfield, so the Royal Oak area might be good to look at, if that's what you want. I think there is an Oakland University extension campus there too? Honestly I think anywhere in Metro Detroit, you're not far from some school offering classes, it just depends on what courses you want/need. (Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties all have their community colleges, and then there's Oakland University and Wayne State University and then some).

I don't have any experience with Medicaid or with Wayne County, but I second a pp's thought about moving to a county that is less bogged down. For example, there are nice places in Wayne County of course!, but should I ever have to file for a birth certificate after a homebirth in Wayne County, I'm nervous after hearing that it can be difficult (due to overload, attitude, etc. of the gov't).

I love Michigan! Well, I wish there were more walkable areas, and I dislike our dear governor, and I could go on ... but the water and the blueberries and the homeschool/homebirth freedoms and the four beautiful seasons and our mitten-shape are all lovely things! I've lived here most of my life, so I don't have much to compare to anyways.

GL!
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#20 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 11:14 AM
 
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(Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties all have their community colleges,
So does Washtenaw County. My teenage son attends there and we've been very pleased.

Quote:
... and I dislike our dear governor,
She's on her way out!

Catholic homeschooling mom of two daughters and four sons... baby Mark born on 8/27/10. Kidney Disease Awareness
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#21 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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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.

Mama to Gabe 8-03 and Cyan 5-09
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#22 of 26 Old 08-09-2010, 11:03 AM
 
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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.
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#23 of 26 Old 08-13-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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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!

Rebecca, 25 year old SAHM to Nicholas, born Feb. 2009. Doula, normal birth & breastfeeding advocate, intactalactivist. We cloth diaper and yes, he's still breastfeeding... Planning a in April 2011
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#24 of 26 Old 08-13-2010, 10:34 PM
 
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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.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#25 of 26 Old 08-22-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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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.

                   
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#26 of 26 Old 08-31-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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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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