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moving to michigan?

1477 Views 59 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  kelleyssil
Hi, I'm living in Seattle, and have never been anywhere near Michigan. My husband grew up there, and we've been thinking of moving back. We want to be near things we're used to here, but also no more than 1 or 2 hours away from the in-laws (alpena).

I'm very into GD, cloth, extended nursing, and natural foods and the like, so I'm trying to find cities/towns that are friendly to that. Also my eldest is a little punk monkey, and both of us parents are much tattooed. I know the whole state isn't straight laced, but the only 2 people I know are.

Hee, I'm rambling...sorry!

Any help would be great!

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Crunchy in MI is pretty much Ann Arbor and Royal Oak/Ferndale. Near, not much crunchiness up there that I've ever seen.
I second Royal Oak. Very open to pretty much anything.

Originally Posted by tie-dyed
Crunchy in MI is pretty much Ann Arbor and Royal Oak/Ferndale. Near, not much crunchiness up there that I've ever seen.
Yup, I would agree with that. Maybe a college town, like Mt. Pleasant? I think that's more than 2 hours from Alpena though.
You could do Traverse City, which is somewhat cool during the summer months... though you might feel isolated during the off season. I recommend Ann Arbor. East Lansing is a bit closer to Alpena, but there's not much happening there for non-students.
Thanks for the suggestions! I think I know what area to look now. to figure out financing and logistics for such a big move in time to get the kidlets settled for school next year...


Originally Posted by nubianamy
You could do Traverse City, which is somewhat cool during the summer months... though you might feel isolated during the off season. I recommend Ann Arbor. East Lansing is a bit closer to Alpena, but there's not much happening there for non-students.
What about Bay City? It looks like it may be more in our price range. We be poor, and running away from the rental prices here. Ann Arbor seems about as high.

They ARE high. Many places in MI are. The places that aren't are really far away from Alpena. I'd seriously consider Ypsilanti or Royal Oak.
ann arbor is very high! that's why we live in ypsilanti. it's a hop, skip & a jump to ann arbor but about 1/4 of the price. of course, it ain't as pretty...
Mmmm-hmmm. Yup, I'd look AROUND the places mentioned. For instance, Brighton or Ypsi for the Ann Arbor area, and Ferndale for the Royal Oak area. You can find houses the same size for significantly less in the areas right next door to the more "popular" or "chic" zip codes!
most of those are just as high. We need to stay fairly under 1200. It's starting to look as if we can't live in a decent area. and fancyness is so not a factor for us. Maybe I'm just looking at the wrong ads?

Dearborn is approximately 4 1/2 hours from Alpena. It is unfortunately NOT a very AP-friendly city, but there are some of us lurking around. There are some decent neighborhoods in your price range. One good thing about the city is there is easy access to freeways to get to other places--like Royal Oak or Ann Arbor. Good luck!
some small crunchy places in northern michigan, and not horribly far from alpena are petoskey, boyne city and charlevoix, even Gaylord. as long as you don't mind winter, it's awesome up there!

east lansing is pretty crunchy too (college town). good luck!
I would definitely avoid the tri-city area (Bay City/Midland/Saginaw). *Very* not crunchy except for some isolated communities--there's a crunchy Catholic community in Bay City, for example, but that doesn't sound like quite what you are looking for. For the most part this area is pretty heavily *******.

I agree that Traverse City is probably as crunchy as it will get up north, really from TC along the coast up to Boyne City/Petosky, but those are pricier. Benzie County is rural and *******, but immediately south of Grand Traverse County, much, much, much cheaper and a popular vacation spot as well. Pretty close to TC--like less than a 1/2 hour drive.

I'm not a fan of the Brighton area in general. Some Ann Arbor type folks, but mostly McMansion Hell. If you aren't into McMansions I would avoid Western Oakland County and much of Washtenaw County.

I agree that Ypsi is a good place place to look. Also as far Royal Satellites go, yeah, you'll not find anything inexpensive *in* Royal Oak, but look not only at Ferndale but also Pleasant Ridge, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Clawson, Berkley.

Ferndale is known for it's strong LGBT community and relatively inexpensive housing. It is adjacent to Detroit and gets a bit rough immediately adjacent to 8 Mile--lotta strip joints on 8 mile--but mostly it's cool. Pleasant Ridge is tiny bedroom community kinda between Royal Oak/Ferndale. Clawson is north of Royal Oak, a bit pricier but not as much as Royal Oak. Oak Park is the Orthodox Jewish corner of Metro Detroit--it can be a neat place and lots and lots of kids, but it's a fairly insular community too. Nice people though, and cheap. I grew up there, tucked into the corner of ten mile and greenfield. Oak Park as a whole is a *very* diverse city, and some great Arab groceries. Madison Heights is where my in-laws live. Very nice, family friendly. Very large Chaldean community in Madison Heights. Berkley is another bedroom community just west of Royal Oak. A bit pricier there I believe.

As far as schools go, the Oak Park schools are pretty bad, the Madison Heights ones are good, the Berkley ones are good, the Ferndale ones are mediocre, and the rest I don't really know about.

If you look at a map of the area it will look like I-696 runs right through most of these areas. Don't let that put you off too much. The freeway runs through a deep cement ditch with lots of bridges and parks built on top of it. Actually some very nice parks right on top of the freeway.

The Lansing area is mostly surprisingly cheap too, but I think you'll find that East Lansing is *so* overwhelmingly student oriented that it can get wearying. MSU is something of a party school to a degree--or at least it seems like it much of the time. Good school and all that, but huge and an enormous percentage of students there to party their way to a degree. Not nearly as college-towny is a positive, intellectual way as Ann Arbor/Ypsi.

The prettiest bit of the Lansing area and the crunchiest seeming (just things I've heard though, I've been there only a few times) is Haslett. Phenomenol schools though I've been told. Might be pricier. The suburbs south of Lansing are more rednecky, the ones East to North-East are crunchier.
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I've lived in both Traverse City and Ann Arbor and I'd definitely go with Traverse City. Very affordable, very beautiful and crunchy enough. My daughter was born at home there and there's a great group of people to connect with.

You gotta like snow though.........
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This side of the state has reasonable prices on housing and pretty good schools. Would be quite a haul up to Alpena however.
I grew up in Okemos and lived in Haslett, and I'd avoid both unless you like suburbs. It's pretty dull.

When you say under 1200, do you mean monthly rent or monthly mortgage?
I'm in Lansing. We have a three bed room house in a funky neighborhood and our morgage is about $800 (that includes everything but utilities). Our neighborhood is pretty diverse (ethnically, economically, religiously and sexually)and the houses are old. Everyone is pretty laid back with a kind of anything goes attitude. We like to brag that we have the most lesbian headed households per capita outside of San Fran. There are a lot of trees and people are pretty cool. It is pretty safe and there are trails and parks near by. We are about 2.5 miles from MSU's campus, which is great.

The downside is that it is hard to find jobs here if you're not affiliated with MSU or the state government. It is also pretty cloudy, which was a big adjustment for us when we moved here. The schools are hit or miss too, so you might have to do some negotiating to get into a good one, but they are there. There are also a lot of benefits and if you can find a job, I would encourage you to think about the Lansing area- it is (relatively) easy to live comfortably on not that much money here.
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I live in ann arbor but before that I lived in ypsi because the rent is cheap and it is very close to ann arbor. there are some really cute places to live in ypsi (historic district) where the rent is not that much higher and the houses/apt are really cute and have alot of character. you can walk/ride your bike to many places. I lived next to prospect park in ypsi for 3 years,we rented a really nice 2 bedroom with a basment and large backyard for 750.00 amonth granted that was 5 years ago so the rent has probably gone up quite a bit. But I loved it. I rode my bike every where,to the co-op,bank,post office and my little girl rode on the back. there are some really nice parks in ypsi. I love ann arbor but the rent is high and you get a cute but small place. outside of ann arbor you can find good deals-saline,whitmore lake,plymouth,chelsea,dexter, and of ypsilanti. I also LOVE Royal Oak(very crunchy and artsy,& punk rock stores galore),you can find some deals,but slim pickins, it can pricey as well. So Ferndale would be my pick if I wanted to live near Royal Oak,it is right next door. and plenty of affordable housing lots of really cute shops,downtown shopping district,vegetarian/healthfood restaurants. I also really like Detroit,very cool spots in the city with of course plenty of affordable housing,diverse culture,good food,life, but not everyone likes that city. ok hth!
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By the way, MSU has a vibrant intellectual community. There are 45k students there and they are not all "partying their way to their degrees". We have three med schools, a law school and many nationally ranked grad programs so you can find a lot of smart, interesting people around. My husband and I are grad students who came to MSU b/c of its outstanding programs in our disciplines. Yes, there are areas with young students and lots of parties, but it certainly doesn't define the whole city.

During the summer there are great art and music festivals. There are parks near by with swimming in the summer and skiiing in the winter. The city of East Lansing throws free family movie parties in the parks. There is a lot of free (and sometimes bad) theatre as well. We have a great co-op. There are lots of CSA's. There is an East Lansing Film Socity that holds a yearly film festivals for children and adults.

Lansing and East Lansing are a lot more working class than Ann Arbor, but that doesn't mean that they aren't intellectual or "crunchy". Sorry if this sounds defensive, but I get really tired of the stereotypes many in the state have against Lansing. Ann Arbor is great, but it is also expensive and not a place where everyone can live. We go there a lot for concerts and Zingerman's and certain kinds of shopping. That is another good thing about living in Lansing- we can easily go to Ann Arbor or Detroit for a concert or to visit a museum.
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