Renowned for its friendly atmosphere, accessibility, and eclectic style, Grand Rapids is a trendy city with rich Native American history. Located in the western part of Michigan, only about a 30-minute drive east of Lake Michigan’s shores, Grand Rapids offers a unique balance of busy city-life and tranquil nature. If you choose to move to this lively yet charming city, you won’t be disappointed.

From unique breweries and eateries to bohemian-style shops, Grand Rapids is a city that promises a good time. When you want to experience some urban culture, Downtown and Uptown are two places to explore, and once you’ve settled in, there are several art and history museums you’ll probably want to visit. For outdoor-lovers, Grand Rapids offers a variety of hiking and biking trails, is popular with fishing aficionados, and the Huron-Manistee National Forests are less than an hour north, offering a great place for family camping trips.

With so much to see and do, you’re sure to fall in love with this beautiful Michigan city. And why not get started by checking out this ranked list of the best moving companies in Grand Rapids.

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Living in Grand Rapids, MI: What to Know Before Moving to Grand Rapids

With a population of more than 200,000 residents, Grand Rapids, Michigan is the largest city in West Michigan and the second-largest city in the entire state. Nicknamed the “Furniture City” because of its history as a major furniture manufacturer, Grand Rapids is still known as a major office furniture manufacturing center. Also known as the “River City,” the Grand River flows south through Grand Rapids, establishing distinct east and west sides of the city.

Pros and Cons of Living in Grand Rapids

Whenever you decide to move, it’s important to know the benefits and detriments of living in a particular area. Here are some of the pros and cons of living in Grand Rapids:


  • High-ranking by US News & World Report: Grand Rapids, MI was ranked #13 by US News & World Report as “125 Best Places to Live in the USA”.
  • Strong economy: Low unemployment rate and many job opportunities.
  • Plenty to do: There’re a large variety of recreational and cultural activities to choose from, and Grand Rapids hosts many special events.
  • Unique menu items: Wet burritos and Coney dogs are just two of the delicious munchies you need to try when you move to Beer City.
  • Walker-friendly: You won’t always need a vehicle if you plan on living in this city. Many amenities are within comfortable walking distance.


  • Lack of diversity: The city’s population is primarily white, and there’s very little diversity among ethnicities, cultures, and cuisines.
  • Partisan atmosphere: Because the residents in Grand Rapids are mostly conservative, you may feel out of place if you take a different political stance.
  • Rough winters: While summers are hot and humid, the winters are known to be long, cold, and harsh.
  • Crime: Grand Rapids has more crime than most other Michigan cities, ranking only slightly less than the state’s capital, Lansing.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: In Grand Rapids, the average property tax is 1.696%. Although this rate is significantly higher than the national average property tax of 1.211%, it’s lower than the average Michigan property tax.
  • Sales Tax: When the total of state, county, and city sales tax rates are combined, the sales tax rate for Grand Rapids, MI is 6%. This rate is moderate compared to some states like Louisiana, which has a sales tax rate of 10%.
  • State Income Tax: Set at a flat rate of 4.25%, the state income tax is lower than other states that have a flat income tax rate, such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.

Housing Market

As of July 2019, the median home price in Grand Rapids was $174,900, and because of the city’s affordability, the majority of the city’s residents are homeowners. However, nearly 41% of the Grand Rapids population are renters, and if you’d prefer to rent, expect a median rental price of $750 for a one-bedroom apartment.

But sometimes newcomers are looking for affordable housing. For inexpensive places to live in Grand Rapids take a look at Cherry Run, Fuller Avenue, Westside Connection, and Alger Heights.

Cost of Living

According to, the cost of living index (out of an average of 100) in Grand Rapids is 92.7 – 7.3% lower than the national average. If you’re moving to Grand Rapids, expect transportation to be one of your bigger expenses, along with utilities and groceries. On the other hand, healthcare and housing will most likely be two of your cheaper budget items.

For a family of four, the Family Budget Calculator estimates that to pay the approximate $6,500 needed monthly for everyday expenses such as housing, food, childcare, transportation, healthcare, taxes, and other necessities, the family will need to earn $77,900 annually. The median household income in Grand Rapids is $61,300, compared to the Michigan median household income of $54,909, and $60,336 for the US.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Grand Rapids’ climate is humid continental, which means winters are cold and snowy while summers are very humid and warm. July and August are the warmest months where you’ll find average highs in the mid-80s. Once fall begins, the weather quickly becomes chilly and wet. With an average low of 18 degrees, January is the coldest month, followed closely by February.

Grand Rapids experiences an average of 38 inches of rainfall every year with September being the wettest month. The winters in Grand Rapids are notoriously cold and snowy. December and January receive the majority of the annual average snowfall of 76 inches.

Although the natural disasters in Grand Rapids tend to be infrequent, because the Grand River runs through the city center, the city is prone to flooding. In 2013, the river crested at 22 feet, causing thousands to evacuate. Natural threats can also include extreme snowfall and tornadoes. The Greater Grand Rapids Mitigation Plan informs residents regarding natural disasters and how to prepare for them. Be sure to check it out before you move.

Economy & Job Market

At 2.9%, Grand Rapids’ unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national rate of 3.7%. The job market has increased by 2.0% over 2018-2019, and things continue to look positive for the city. It’s projected that over the next decade there will be a 35.8% job market increase.

Grand Rapids is economically diverse with industries ranging from health care, education, information technology, automotive, aviation, and consumer goods manufacturing. In these respective fields, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Meijer are three of Grand Rapids’ leading companies. Known as one of the world’s leading office furniture manufacturers, Herman Miller and Steelcase are two of the largest furniture manufacturers in the city.

The Michigan Job Network is a great website to check out if you’re looking for a job in the Grand Rapids area.

Traffic & Transportation

Grand Rapids has a well-developed highway system. I-96 runs along the northern side of the city, connecting to Muskegon on the west and Detroit to the east. I-196 runs east-west through Grand Rapids and connects to I-96 a few miles east of the city. Hwy 131 runs north-south directly through the city center and connects with Cadillac on the north and Kalamazoo on the south.

Unless you live and work close to downtown, you’ll probably want a vehicle to commute to work or school. Grand Rapids has a rating of 55/100 for walkability and 49/100 for biking. Although the transit rating is low at 40/100, Grand Rapids does offer a few options for public transportation, including The Rapid and DASH bus systems.

What to Do

As a bustling Michigan city, Grand Rapids has much to offer. Whether you want to explore some of the city’s rich Native American culture and history, do some shopping, or take the kids out for a day of fun, there’s something for everybody. And with Lake Michigan only 30 minutes west via I-196, Grand Rapids promises to please the city-lover and outdoorsman alike.

One of the city’s most popular places to visit – and a kid-favorite – is the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and if you’re interested in learning about some Grand Rapids history, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is the place to go. The John Ball Zoo, Children’s Museum, and TreeRunner Grand Rapids Adventure Park are additional favorite family attractions.

For theater, live performances, and art, locals enjoy the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, African American Museum and Archives, Circle Theatre, Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids, Broadway Grand Rapids, Civic Theatre, DeVos Performance Hall, and Opera Grand Rapids.

River City is also a food lover’s paradise. Stop in at The B.O.B. for comedy acts to accompany your wood-fired pizza. You can also visit over 80 of Grand Rapids’ breweries along the Beer City Ale Trail. USA Today named Grand Rapids the Best Beer Town, and now the moniker Beer City, USA means Grand Rapids, MI.

If you’re looking for some after-dark fun, head to the downtown entertainment district where you’ll find live music venues, sports bars, cocktail lounges, wine bars, and more. Music lovers can check out the Grand Rapids Music Trail – the ultimate guide to local live-music venues.

Are you or your family sports fans? The Grand Rapids Griffins are one of the city’s most beloved sports teams. You can watch them face-off against their hockey rivals at Van Andel Arena.

Schools & Universities

Because of its size, there are eleven school districts in Grand Rapids. The largest is Grand Rapids Public Schools, which currently contains 48 schools and has over 16,200 students. The other districts are Forest Hills, Kentwood, Grandville, Wyoming, Northview, Kenowa Hills, Berrien Springs, East Grand Rapids, Kelloggsville, and Godwin Heights. According to, the majority of the public and private schools in Grand Rapids rank average or above average. Some of the best schools in the city include Breton Downs School, City High Middle School, and Northern High School.

Grand Rapids also offers a variety of colleges and universities including Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, and Central Michigan University. Several colleges, such as Calvin University, offer degrees in theology, and there are also options for students pursuing degrees in the medical, law, and culinary arts fields.


The violent crime in Grand Rapids is ranked at a 36.7/100 while the national average ranks at 22.7/100. On the other hand, the property crime rate is 36.7/100, which is only slightly higher than the national average of 35.4/100. When you compare Grand Rapids crime rates to the rates of surrounding Michigan cities, Grand Rapids is found to have significantly higher amounts of crime. Kentwood, Wyoming, and Forest Hills have lower crime rates, while the central area of the city has higher rates.

Utility Providers

Before moving day, be sure to set up all the necessary utilities in your new home. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of the primary utility providers in Grand Rapids, MI:

  • Gas service: With headquarters in Detroit, DTE Energy is responsible for servicing more than a million Michigan residents. You can learn more on their website, or you can call 800-477-4747.
  • Electric service: Consumers Energy is the leading electric service provider in the entire state of Michigan, serving 1.8 million customers annually. To start service, visit their website or call 800-477-5050.
  • Water service: Covering an area of 137 square miles, the City of Grand Rapids is the area’s primary water provider. You can start service here or contact the City of Grand Rapids at 616-456-3000.
  • Trash pickup/recycling service: Providing both trash pick-up and recycling services, as well as dumpster rental and composting options, Arrowaste will handle all of your waste management needs. To find out more information, visit their website.
  • Internet/Cable service: Several internet and cable providers are in Grand Rapids, but a few of the most popular choices include: AT&T, Xfinity, Dish, and DirecTV.
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Best Movers in Grand Rapids, MI


Kalamazoo, MI

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Two Men and a Truck is one of the leading moving companies in Kalamazoo, MI for both local and long-distance relocations. It has over 15... Continue Reading

Grand Rapids, MI

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Big Lake Movers is a professional full-service residential and commercial moving company serving Western Michigan. Founded a decade ago, the locally-owned and operated business has... Continue Reading

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Grand Rapids-based A&C Careful Moving navigates through any relocation challenge and takes away the stress on moving day. Operating for close to two decades, it... Continue Reading

Best Neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, MI

It’s always a good idea to get a sense of different neighborhoods’ pros and cons. Some of the most important factors you should consider are the location, population, atmosphere, safety, housing costs, and schools. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of eight of the best Grand Rapids, MI neighborhoods.


A quiet, family-friendly neighborhood that’s bordered between US-11 to the south and US-44 to the east, Ridgemoor offers a safe, close-knit community for young families and retired couples alike. With high-ranking schools and very little crime, this is a great neighborhood to consider if you have children. Housing in Ridgemoor tends to be more expensive than other neighborhoods since many of the houses are large single-family homes.

Located 16 minutes southeast of downtown, Ridgemoor offers plenty of things to do and places to eat. The intersection of Burton Street and Breton Road is one of the highlights of the neighborhood for shopping and dining options. While there, fill up on a tasty breakfast at The Omelet Shoppe before visiting the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

  • Population: 1,360
  • Home Price: $285,000
  • Rent Price: $900 to $1,000 a month
  • Schools: Breton Downs School (rating: above average), East Grand Rapids Middle School (rating: above average), Ottawa Hills High School (rating: below average)
  • Colleges: Calvin University, Grace Christian University, Emeritus College


Eastown is sandwiched between Fulton Heights to the north and Ottawa Hills to the south. As one of the four districts located in the city’s Uptown, Eastown is one of Grand Rapids’ trendiest neighborhoods. Eastown attracts young families and college students, possibly because of the more liberal political stance of residents. Much of the housing in this neighborhood consists of 20th-century homes such as Craftsman bungalows or Greek revivals that are in the process of being restored.

Eastown has its fair share of artisan shops, hip restaurants, and dive bars and is sometimes described as the Greenwich Village of Grand Rapids. When it’s time for some fresh produce, you can stop by the Fulton Street Farmers Market for locally-grown products. On a sunny day, Wilcox Park is a popular place to take the kids or a cold snowy day you can enjoy the Circle Theatre before heading over to Wealthy Street for some crepes at Brown Butter Creperie and Cafe.  With so much to see and do in this eclectic neighborhood, you won’t often need to make the nine-minute trip west to downtown.

  • Population: 5,370
  • Home Price: $200,000
  • Rent Price: $1,000 to $1,100
  • Schools: Congress Elementary School (rating: below average), East Grand Rapids Middle School (rating: above average), East Grand Rapids High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: Aquinas College, Western Michigan University, Calvin University

East Hills

With Fulton Street at the northern boundary and Wealthy Street at the southern, East Hills is located directly west of Eastown and is also one of the four districts in Uptown. East Hills is popular for its walkability and proximity to many recreational activities. The majority of its residents rent in this busy, up-and-coming neighborhood.

The Brewery Vivant, which was once an ornate chapel, is now a lively pub as well as a piece of Grand Rapids’ history. Just across the street is Furniture City Creamery, where you can enjoy some delectable homemade ice cream. And if you want to visit downtown, it’s located only six minutes west.

  • Population: 3,300
  • Home Price: $210,000
  • Rent Price: $900 to $1,000 a month
  • Schools: Martin Luther King Leadership Academy (rating: below average), East Grand Rapids Middle School (rating: above average), Ottawa Hills High School (rating: below average)
  • Colleges: Western Mi University, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College


Bordered to the north by I-196 and to the south by Fulton Street, Midtown is between the Heritage Hill and Fulton Heights neighborhoods. Downtown is only a seven-minute drive west from this relatively diverse community. Home to Northwood University, Midtown residents tend to represent a younger age demographic, and the area is one of the more affordable in Grand Rapids.

Offering some of the city’s most culturally diverse dining options, Midtown boasts Indian, Thai, Japanese, Italian, and French cuisine. Also, Houseman Field is located right off of Diamond Avenue and is where you’ll go if you want to watch the Grand Rapids Football Club in action.

  • Population: 3,940
  • Home Price: $200,000
  • Rent Price: $1,000 to $1,100 a month
  • Schools: Congress Elementary School (rating: below average), The Paris Academy (rating: above average), Ottawa Hills High School (rating: below average)
  • Colleges: Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College, Kirkhof College of Nursing

Heritage Hill

The houses in Heritage Hill make up the largest collection of 19th and 20th-century revival architecture in Michigan. Established homes are full of charm and character. Many sit on lots with beautiful mature trees and well-cared for landscaping. You can also find apartments and condos. The neighborhood retains much of its history and classic atmosphere and is becoming a popular area for young professionals. As a close-knit community, Heritage Hills hosts many events such as picnics and yard sales, and residents have developed a Crime Prevention Program to keep their neighborhood safe.

Nestled between Lafayette Avenue, Union Avenue, Pleasant Street, and Crescent Street, Heritage Hill is one of the US’s larger urban historic districts.  The neighborhood is only five minutes east of downtown but if you want to find things to do just outside your door, check out The Great Escape Room which promises fun for adults and kids alike, or ready your chopsticks for a bite at the Beijing Kitchen. You can also take a guided tour of the Meyer May House, which borders Heritage Hill on its southern edge.

  • Population: 3,420
  • Home Price: $279,000
  • Rent Price: $1,000 to $1,100 a month
  • Schools: The Paris Academy (rating: above average), Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center (rating: average), Gerald R. Ford K-8 Academy (average)
  • Colleges: Western Mi University, Grand Rapids Community College, Seidman College of Business

Belknap Lookout

Located directly north of downtown, Belknap Lookout is on the eastern shore of the Grand River. One of Grand Rapids’ oldest neighborhoods, Belknap Lookout has grown into a prime location for young professionals, both because of the colleges in the area and the vibrant nightlife. While you can expect homes on the western end of the neighborhood to be larger and more expensive, the eastern side offers more affordable options.

The neighborhood is home to six different parks where you can walk your dog or take the kids to play. In the evening, SpeakEZ Lounge is a great place to relax near the river while you enjoy a craft cocktail and some live music.

  • Population: 4,650
  • Home Price: $250,000
  • Rent Price: $1,200 to $1,300 a month
  • Schools: Coit Creative Arts Academy (rating: below average), Riverside Middle School (rating: below average), Union High School (rating: below average)
  • Colleges: Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Kirkhof College of Nursing

Michigan Oaks

Michigan Oaks is a suburban neighborhood and one of the more expensive areas in the city to live. Although it’s only nine minutes northeast of downtown, Michigan Oaks has a quiet, calm atmosphere. Many homes are beautifully maintained and sit on forested lots with gorgeous landscaping. The homes are generally older, and each retains a unique architectural style, ranging from Mid-Century moderns to two-story Colonial revival. A few apartment complexes are located throughout the community, and with its family-friendly atmosphere, many residents are couples in their 30s and 40s.

A major asset for nature lovers is that Michigan Oaks is home to three of Grand Rapids’ six lakes. If you’re into outdoor activities, this is a great neighborhood to consider. Also, because Michigan Oaks is bordered on its north and east sides by I-196, Lake Michigan is conveniently only 35 minutes away. Home to several churches, you won’t find restaurants or coffee shops here as the neighborhood is exclusively residential.

  • Population: 1,735
  • Home Price: $412,000
  • Rent Price: $1,100 to $1,200 a month
  • Schools: Congress Elementary School (rating: below average), East Grand Rapids Middle School (rating: above average), East Grand Rapids High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: Aquinas College, Emeritus College, Cornerstone University


Millbrook is bordered on its western side by Kalamazoo Avenue, its eastern side by Breton Road, and is 12 minutes southeast of downtown. Voted #5 on Niche’s “Best Neighborhoods to Raise a Family in Grand Rapids” list, Millbrook is a great place to consider if you have children. It’s a safe, quiet neighborhood and many residents are retirees. You can expect to find single-family homes – many built in the 1980s to 90s – condos, and townhouses. The Plaster Creek winds its way through the neighborhood and provides some lovely green space throughout the community.

There isn’t much to do in Millbrook itself, but West Millbrook is only a few minutes’ walk away. If you’re looking for a fun place to bring your kids, Ken-O-Sha Park offers hiking trails and a playground. There are also plenty of shopping and dining options available on US-11, which is only a six-minute drive north of Millbrook.

  • Population: 1,020
  • Home Price: $213,000
  • Rent Price: $900 to $1,000 a month
  • Schools: Bowen Elementary School (rating: average), Crestwood Middle School (rating: average), Ottawa Hills High School (rating: below average)
  • Colleges: Calvin University, Grace Christian University, Davenport University

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Courtney Barkley

Courtney has been writing professionally for about a decade, and writing for fun for longer than she'd like to admit.... Read More