Author Topic: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???  (Read 4240 times)

Holyoak

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Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« on: June 24, 2017, 03:36:02 PM »
Hi everybody,

Seems a viable choice for what I want; relatively low cost homes/real estate, lots of outdoor activities, parks, national forests, fishing, shooting...  How would you rate the tax burden, general healthcare, and vibe of the area?  West central areas of the state look very nice, as does the U.P., but not sure if the U.P. might be a bit too much to chew as a permanent resident.  I have lived in areas of very heavy snow, but the roads were well maintained.  I wonder too about internet access, in these areas...  Bet you have to be pretty close to sizable towns, to get cable internet?  How about airport locations for major carrier domestic, and even international flights (Grand Rapids?)

A few things of concern I have read is vehicle insurance is very steep, the roads are in rather poor condition, and handguns have to be registered.  Is this handgun registration done by yourself, simply completing forms, and returning, or does it involve a shop/visit to the courthouse?  I also wonder about healthcare insurance; I'm on the ACA, and have seen plenty of increases, and will have to see what MI charges.  Thank you very much for the help.






Trifele

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2017, 05:00:56 AM »
Posting to follow.  We love Michigan, and plan to spend significant time there once we FIRE.   

samsonator54321

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 09:31:28 AM »
I've lived in Grand Rapids for the last 25 years and we love it here.  There are great places to hike the dunes in the northern lower peninsula and there is great hunting and fishing all around the state.  I suggest the forums on https://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/ to help with the best areas for outdoor activities.

Tax Burden: Can't help you here. Michigan taxes are all I know so can't compare.
General Healthcare:  The healthcare at the hospitals downtown Grand Rapids is really good in my opinion. The Devos, Van Andel, and Meijer families have helped in that department. 
Vibe: Grand Rapids has really changed in the last ten years. There has been a ton of new restaurants and breweries. We won beer city USA a couple years back and the art prize in the fall is awesome. I like the vibe. It's a very conservative and religious part of the state. We are more liberal and non religious but we fit in just fine so I would say the "vibe" is great. 

Grand Rapids airport is a nice small airport. However it's not international in the sense you are thinking. You'll have to connect to Detroit or Chicago for most flights.  They do have some cananda flights but they don't have a big customs area or anything. I've heard talk that they have the space in the basement and some people are trying to ge them to become truly international.

The roads are bad. The lake effect snow gets us. But the last two winters have been really really mild.

You may find some places without internet. But if you move to a neighborhood you should be good. We found a couple remote single homes without high speed when we were looking three years back. But these were remote homes who just hadn't paid the money to run a line out. Any neighborhood will have high speed.

Michigan is a no fault state. I'm guessing that's why the car insurance is high? We pay 1200 a year through progressive. That's full coverage on a 2012 Camry worth 10-12k and pl/pd on a 2007 ford worth 3k. 

When I bought my handgun I had to go to the local sheriffs office within a week (maybe 2) and fill out a form that said I had the handgun. If you don't have a concealed weapons permit you have to get the form before you buy.  But it was just a quick in/out at the sheriffs office. I just filled out a form and I believe I brought the gun in so they could write down the serial number. Took 5 minutes.

Can't help you with the ACA as I get insurance through my job so have no knowledge about ACA.

I'd recommend looking in the suburbs of Grand Rapids.  The further north the more rural you will get. Some area within 30 minutes of downtown Grand Rapids are: Rockford, Cedar Springs, Sparta  are north and more rural. Kentwood, Wyoming are more south and more urban.  Forest Hills and Lowell  are east. Lowell is more rural but affordable. Forest Hills/ Ada area is pricey.  If you go west of GR you have Jenison and Hudsonville area that are also nice.





« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 09:47:49 AM by samsonator54321 »

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 04:37:13 PM »
Thank you very much Sam, very helpful, and I appreciate the help.  I think I am going to drive up (about 400 miles) soon, and have a look around.  I saw where GR was in the top five fastest listing-to-close areas in the US, and as much as I hate to do so, rent for the time being if everything clicks.  Thanks too for informing me about the airport situation; I saw Gerald R. Ford International Airport south of GR, and thought it was larger than I now know it is.

I have to say, if I go a bit further N from GR, I was shocked at how far your housing $$$ goes, even in this crazy market.  Also nice too, is it seems the housing stock is much better quality for a given price, then where I am currently.  Again, thank you.   

kendallf

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2017, 06:11:46 PM »
We have a daughter in Lansing (just graduated from MSU).  I love that area if you can cope with the winters.  For the past couple of years I've ridden the DALMAC from Lansing up into the UP to the Canadian border so I can vouch for the crappy condition of Michigan's roads!  The scenery and the small towns are great, though, and I've enjoyed finding the little bars and restaurants in the towns we stop in.

A few noteworthy areas from those trips: there are some beautiful areas up around Petoskey and Torch Lake, and Lake City's waterfront is great.   St. Ignace is just spectacular with the waterfront and access to Mackinac Island.

We regularly fly into Grand Rapids on Allegiant; you can get to Sanford (Orlando) on a direct flight, often for under $100 one way.  Lansing has a decent airport as well but less discount flight options.  Up near the Mackinac Bridge Pellston has a large runway in a tiny town with a few flights out daily and a great airport bar.  You could buy a house in Pellston for something like $20k a couple of years ago, but you'd better love the winter and outdoors, because there's nothing else going on.
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MBot

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2017, 07:44:40 PM »
I'm on the Canadian side of the border at the top of the UP, and I can only chime in about what it's like to travel through central Michigan regularly.

One thing I always notice is the VERY variable highway/road maintenance/snow removal in central Michigan.  Good/flush municipalities keep things pretty clear, but I cannot imagine living in an area that can't afford to maintain/plow the highway well in winter. It may be something to look into for your area.

That said: there's serious money to be made on the Michigan side in rental properties, but I'm not yet set to do cross-border logistics on that.

Aminul

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2017, 08:25:49 AM »
There are some beautiful small towns on the east side of Michigan between Detroit and Port Huron.  Think Algonac, Marine City, St Clair, etc...  The homes are reasonably priced, the river is beautiful, DTW is an hour away, and you can bike (or walk) to Canada.  As a Canadian myself, I can't really comment on the specifics (tax, healthcare, etc..), but the area sure seems ideal for ER.

Fishindude

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2017, 08:35:47 AM »
We have a lake home on a big chain of lakes east of Traverse City.   This would be a great place to retire in my opinion, if you like outdoor activities and don't mind some snow and a real winter.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2017, 05:50:57 PM »
Thanks everyone, really appreciate the help.  I have really been looking over the state, and much of it looks very nice.  I really had not considered the NE part of the state, but I am now.  I saw the NE area has a lot of wind turbines; I can't really say living in a very windy area would be ideal for me, but perhaps it is not too bad? 

I'm trying to figure out where I want to end up, and perhaps MI is it.  I need to figure out a road trip, accommodations, etc.  It's funny, when I was married and 35, situations like this would have seemed (and were) exciting.  Now alone, 50, and ER, it seems very daunting, and I wish I could get that excited feeling again, about relocating...  Man, having so much freedom, can really mess with your head.  Take care everyone.

neverrun

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2017, 07:04:34 AM »
I'm currently in the process of moving back to GR on a work transfer.  If I were looking for FI I'd totally be moving to Rockford, great central downtown, very affordable, on the outskirts you have Meijer's for grocery's and what not close by.  But I will be working in downtown and that area has the worst "commute" into downtown GR so it is out for me. 

As far as airports, Detroit is about 2.5 hours by car.  Chicago is about 3 with the option of taking Amtrak from downtown GR, I also have friends who drove to Milwaukee at 4.5 hours for a cheap flight.  Regionally in addition to GR, Lansing and Muskegon have decently sized airports that will connect you to the hub airports.

Tax burden, it's lower than NY, higher than GA but not outrageously so IMHO.

Health care I've only been on employer plans but overall I don't think the ACA plans are higher or lower than other states.

ETA:  Grand Rapids is not Middle Michigan it is West Michigan, Middle Michigan is Lansing. 


Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2017, 01:08:19 PM »
Thanks neverrun for the Rockford suggestion, and other helpful tidbits.  Seems the RE market in the area is booming...  Great for sellers, stinks for finding modest, small homes at a fair price.  I am enjoying reading these replies about how nice folks find MI.  I know nowhere is absolutely ideal, just the same if I can get a good majority of what I want, I think that will be fine.

Seems everyone mentions winter, and I think I'm pretty OK with it, at least where I am with regard to age and general health.  I have lived in many places where very heavy snow and cold were the winter norm (near Erie PA and Provo UT), so I'm guessing even the snowier parts of MI, can't be all that much worse.  No worries about a commute, so this just might be doable.  Now just gotta figure how to get the parts in place, and moving. 

aceyou

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2017, 07:47:10 PM »
Fellow Michigander here.  Yeah, you can get a LOT of house in middle michigan.  There's a lot of options for you.  If you want to be near the big lake or a small lake, or a river.  If you want forested area or to be in small or midsize cities.  All of it is pretty affordable.  Property taxes seem fair IMO.  We have a state income tax, but if you are retired, that shouldn't provide much of a burdon on you. 

Maybe do an airbnb tour of the state in the different seasons to see what there is to do in each area at different times of the year.  That could be a productive and fun use of a couple thousand dollars? 

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2017, 09:59:58 AM »
Thanks ace, do you have any locations/towns I might consider?  I'm with ya on the airbnb - I looked around, and think I found one for now, I might consider.  Never have done airbnb, so this too will be something new.

rpr

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2017, 11:16:45 AM »
DW and I would love to be close to a big university town as we like more cultural activities and events. Any suggestions.

FIence!

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2017, 04:19:33 PM »
By Middle Michigan, do you mean the middle "band" (as opposed to Northern or Southern Michigan) and not only the dead center of the state? If so, that would take you over to some nice towns on the coast of lake Michigan which are a little less frothy real estate wise right now than the city of GR, and would have most of what you're looking for. Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, etc. For one thing, it you like fishing and parks, you are right on the lake, there are also smaller lakes in the area, and the state parks are pretty nice. You are still close to GR for the airport, bigger hospitals, etc.

How you feel politically should have some bearing on where you might land. There are some VERY conservative areas in West MI (usually due to religion), and then some areas that are a little more in the Blue Dog Democrat camp. There are a lot of blue collar towns (Muskegon is one of them), which can be good if the neighborhoods you like are stable and you want to buy cheap.

For the ACA, go to healthcare.gov, then scroll down the page to the bottom white band and click on "For Researchers" under Resources. Then click on "Find prices and plans for your area." Just to get you started, you can use the zip codes 49503 for GR, 49441 for Muskegon, 48906 for Lansing, and see what kind of plans are out there for this year. The estimates are VERY accurate, our plan for this year was exactly what the estimator said it would be.  Of course, who knows what the 2018 numbers will be, but you can compare to your current state anyway. Obviously, you are somewhat in control of your income, so play around with those numbers too. Look at http://rootofgood.com/affordable-care-act-subsidy/ for Root of Good's info about subsidy cliffs when punching in your numbers.

As others have mentioned, I have not been unhappy with Spectrum. I have had some very unsatisfying experiences with Mercy Health. You will find that some Blue Cross ACA plans will only cover certain hospital networks. I would avoid a plan that locks you into Mercy Health if at all possible; that said, I currently have such a plan and it's ok. These two companies seem to be taking over the whole West Side of the state, which is why I single them out.

Yes, there is a lot of snow, which creates a lot of ice. It can be bad. Winter car accidents are very common. If you get into a car accident involving ice, you will be called "At fault," despite it being a "no fault" state. Both drivers will likely be ticketed and get points on the license. Being retired will allow you to simply not drive on the worst of days, so there's that. They use salt for the roads, and it will eat an even remotely older car.

MI is the most expensive state I have ever insured a car in, and I also have the lowest coverage I've ever had for the higher amount (liability only on one car). Brush up on your knowledge of "No fault" car insurance. It's a complete CF.

I have lived in Grand Rapids, but not for a few years, and grew up on the coast in West Michigan and know more about that area. Husband is from the Detroit suburbs. If you have other questions about the far West and far East sides of the state, we could try to answer them!

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2017, 09:42:18 AM »
Thanks FIence! for your reply, and bringing up questions for me to ponder.

I wrote middle, because I don't think being near the SE part of the state is what I'd like.  I kinda figured draw a horizontal line say around Lansing/Grand rapids, go to the tip of the mitten, and consider this area be it eastern/western/central, an area that might be OK.  The UP seems fantastic, but for whatever reason too far out.  I'd love to find a small home/cottage with a garage, on maybe an acre or two, but I don't want to be in an impoverished area, and/or one that has a very redneck vibe.  I'm not trying to seem a class snob, only that areas I have lived in before/worked in that were like this, I found uninviting, clannish, depressing, and your stuff wound up stolen.  One example that might fit was White Cloud MI. 

I just happened to see some home listings in the area, and they were very nice and tidy, seemingly what I might like to purchase.  I did a youtube search, and a lot of it was mudding, 4 wheeling, arm wrestling, etc.  I'm totally live and let live, but just the same the vibe of a certain area can really make or break how you like being in a certain place.  On the other end, I don't want to be in an HOA type place, with all of what that entails... *sigh*.  I'm trying to not let the ideal, kill the good enough, and I'm thinking being outside of GR, or other largish town/city may be the best way to do things.  I would love to live in an area that is walkable, as remote of a possibility that would be, with my desire for space and privacy.  The upper NE end of the mitten is an area I have not looked into, but it would seem very nice, and perhaps less lake effect snow?  One thing I can't believe, is how clear the water is in Lake Michigan...  Amazing.

Glad you brought up religion and politics.  I'm not religious, and not political, again, live and let live - Be respectful of me, I will do the same for you.  I have lived in the south, and places in the Midwest (S. IN) that were very religious, and folks were very open to asking what church do you go to, etc.  Never liked that, as it is a fishing question, to put an indelible value on you.

Looks like the ACA will be a bit more expensive, and I see medical marijuana is in the state...  Wonder how long until recreational is passed?  Thanks for those links, looks like a lot of good help, and for your personal insight on providers.  The auto insurance does seem to be a serious CF.  Thanks for the offer to answer further questions; I may very well take you up on it.  Happy 4th to you, and to all of my fellow Mustacians.

 

YoungGranny

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2017, 11:54:10 AM »
I've lived in the Lansing area most of my life and it might fit your bill quite well. We have the joy of being an hour from GR and Detroit airports plus have our own small airport. The pro of a small airport is sometimes there's really good deals on flights because they get subsidies. There's also a shuttle that goes over to the Detroit airport so I've been able to get over there easily enough when needed. Our housing market is still very cheap and while competitive, not quite as bad as GR is right now. With having MSU nearby there's always a lot going on. East Lansing is actually a nice, fairly walkable/bikeable town. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have about Lansing :)

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2017, 07:27:27 AM »
Thanks Young Granny.  I had not considered Lansing, but will add it to the list. 

justaguy

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2017, 08:08:20 AM »
Hello Holyoak – I grew up in the ‘Irish Hills’ of Michigan – a bit farther south than you mentioned but I believe it fits most of your boxes.  I LOVED all of the small lakes and friendly neighbors.  It’s changed a bit since I was young but I still go out and visit when I can.  If you have some time, take a look at: Brooklyn, Devils Lake, Lake Colombia, Clarklake, Onsted and other areas if you google: Irish Hills of Michigan.  A lot of small lakes, rivers, cottages, and close-ish to UofM and MSU. 

CashNoCharge

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2017, 11:01:12 AM »
NE side of the Lower Peninsula is poor.  Not a lot of income, high food prices - thinking Alpena, Cheboygan, Tawas areas.  We live in Kalkaska County work in Traverse City.  35-40 minute drive to work, grew up driving in snow, roads are better kept in the winter up here than when we lived in metro Detroit.   Traverse City area has HUGE market for rentals by the week, month or year.  Doesn't have to be waterfront to be bringing in $1500-$6000 week in the summer.   Mancelona & now Bellaire have toxic water issues = stay away.  Petoskey, Charlevoix, TC, Elk Rapids, Torch Lake, Frankfort, Suttons Bay, Interlochen all are nice places to live.  Fife Lake, Grawn, some of Kingsley not so good (think tar paper shacks).

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2017, 08:31:54 PM »
Thanks justaguy and CashnoChange, for adding to the possibilities of my search.  I'm especially pleased to see "friendly" mentioned often.  I'm an ambivert; I can be insanely introverted, and yet extremely outgoing, but one constant is I do much better around friendly folk.  One thing I forgot to ask.  Does MI do an annual assessed value tax on vehicles, and is there an inspection/inspection emission testing program?

FIence!

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2017, 10:09:49 PM »
Does MI do an annual assessed value tax on vehicles, and is there an inspection/inspection emission testing program?

Your car registration will vary based on the initial value of your car, so there is some variance there. The cost goes down for a few years, but then flattens at a point and stops going down. So the more your car cost new, the more it will cost to register it. But registration is not very expensive compared to other states I've lived in, and the range is minimal. $100-ish seems to be typical for Mustachian vehicles; we had an '02 Civic that was about $80 a year. (Also, you can add $11 to your plate as a park pass and this will get you day entrance to the state parks by showing your registration all year.)

There are NO inspections whatsoever, and I don't see them coming soon. Michigan lifers can't wrap their heads around the fact that other states require this. You'll get pulled over and given a fix-it ticket if a light is out, and you're required to have at least a pine board for a bumper, and that's about it. :)

neverrun

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2017, 05:01:04 AM »
I'd add in Howell and Brighton to your considerations.  They are between Lansing and Detroit and could be considered a "exurb" for Detroit but are far enough away from the city for it to not really be a factor.  Smaller core towns where you can get land for a decent price not too far out.  From there you are looking at Detroit Metro or Ann Arbor (U of M and U of M hospital) in an hour and Toronto 5 hours (give or take with boarder security).  I've found sometimes you can get great deals fly from a Canadian city.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2017, 03:36:08 PM »
Thanks FIence, and again neverrun.  PA registration is only about $36/yr, w/o any tax, but insp/insp emission can run about $50-60, and is a PITA.  I like the $11 add-on for MI parks, smart.  Nice tip with cheaper Ca airfare, never thought of that. 

DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2017, 03:07:54 PM »
There are a lot of great state parks in Michigan and just a whole lot of natural areas with great beauty.
I love living in Ann Arbor, but it would be very expensive at this time to buy a home here.
However, you got so many suggestions from the other Michiganders about more affordable locations.
For example, as mentioned, you could move to areas north or west of Ann Arbor, like Brighton area, Howell, Pinckney, Jackson, Milan etc. and find nice homes, at lower prices, and as a result the property taxes would be lower.
In Michigan once you buy a place your property taxes won't go up more than the inflation rate.
I think the nice thing about living near any of the major cities in Michigan such as Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids  and even Flint is that there are a lot of cultural events you can go to, music, art museums, theater, restaurants and all kinds of social organizations.

If you are out more in the country then you're likely to have well water.  If you're in more of a suburban location you'll be hooked up to the city water supply. You should know whether the water utility has reasonable rates. Prices in Ann Arbor are very reasonable.
But ironically, if you were to buy in Flint, your water rates would be astronomical.
So keep water rates in mind.

If you live in the country then you might not have a hookup to natural gas for heating in the winter, and propane heating is insanely expensive. You should keep that in mind in terms of where you would buy a house. I don't pay much to heat my house with natural gas. It's a great deal.

The weather the last two winters was very mild, but the two winters before that were very snowy. So winters can vary at least in the southeast.

Each county in Michigan is going to have a different offering of health insurance products on the ACA.
My health insurance on the ACA exchange is very affordable, partly because I get subsidies because I keep my Adjusted Gross Income low by putting a lot of money in tax deferred vehicles, 401k, tIRA, HSA, etc.
The hospital systems in the Ann Arbor metro area are really good.

You mentioned about guns?  Do you hunt?  There's a lot of deer hunting and you can get a deer processed for not that much money and have a whole lot of meat that would last you a long time. Cooking with deer meat will probably require some know how as it can taste gamey.



« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 03:11:31 PM by DavidAnnArbor »

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2017, 04:32:14 AM »
Thanks David.  Ann Arbor, from what I have seen looks very nice, and would probably be a good fit in many ways...  Aside from the HCOL.  Also saw your annual "Hash Bash" - Whoa, not in Kansas anymore, Mazel Tov!  You mention cultural events, and I would love to be able to balance relative closeness to this, yet have privacy/a quiet place to live.  I would love to find the company of bright, caring people to converse with, share ideas, and even perhaps develop a relationship.  I know this will become exponentially more difficult, the more rural the location. Truth be told, I could live in the heart of any city, if the accommodations were private, quiet, and neighbors were considerate...  My respite from hectic, busy, noisy, etc.  I love the idea of having sidewalks for good exercise, public transportation, having a bike to get around, but typically areas including all of this have you on top of neighbors, unless you spend $$$$$$$.


I think for any move I make, I would have to rent first, to make sure the area is a fit, but I can't do the apt/condo/shared wall duplex living anymore.  Finding decent rental homes for a good rate, seems very hard to do, at least what I have experienced so far.  I agree about Nat gas, and would love to be able to have it in my home, but understand the more rural, the less chance of it.  Having good internet service is another concern.  Could you share what ACA plan you have, under what criteria, and its cost?  I'd love to see how it compares to my current ACA costs.

Lastly, I used to hunt a lot, but I'm mostly now a shooter and cartridge reloader, specializing in military arms.  I have an 03 federal firearms license, but have been selling off some of my collection...  When you have packed a moving truck 10 times in the last four years by yourself, reducing the load, and pending dread of each move helps.  Venison; I have prepared it where everybody said "what a fine beef roast this is ;)".  I agree, it sure can taste unpalatable, especially if as you know, with poor post harvesting processing. 

DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2017, 07:53:31 PM »
It sounds like you might like living on the outskirts of Ann Arbor.
My ACA plan is a Blue Cross one that I believe would cost me $330 a month but because of subsidies I only pay $110 a month for it.
It's a Health Savings Account plan, which I max out of course.
I hardly use any healthcare, it's really there if I have an emergency in my mind.
 
I max out my solo 401k, both as employee and employer, I have a 457 plan with another part time job, I max out the HSA, and the traditional IRA so that's why I'm able to get so much subsidy money.

Lski'stash

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2017, 09:37:30 PM »
Grand Rapidian here...

I guess I'm not sure what you mean by 'middle' Michiganders tend to think of the 'middle' as the Lansing area, Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Holland is West Michigan area, and Detroit and suburbia of Detroit is east side. Anything north of Rockford is'up north';)

As far as West Michigan goes...you are right that the low cost of goods homes is excellent, although the real estate market is super hot right now because people are catching on, just as you have. The under $200K market is particularly booming right now and is hard to get into, but if you know where to look and are a bit patient, it can definitely be done. The market is also completely dominated by school district. Bottom line, if you care about the school, you will pay more for your house...

The roads are pretty bad, as others have mentioned, as far as upkeep goes. There's a joke that Michigan has two seasons, winter and construction! A news article recently came out too that Michigan spends less that most other states on roads. The insurance is also the highest of the 50 states because of the 'no fault' law and because insurance liabilities are not capped by the state, so people can sue for enormous amounts of money because of road accidents. They are probably not as bad as you might be thinking though. We have two full-coverage cars for $180 a month.

Internet- Grand Rapids and the surrounding suburbs have great internet. When you start to get REALLY into the country, you might be in trouble. My parents live REALLY in the country. They use a mobile hot spot for their internet- around 20 gigs a month. It's pricey, but it works for them.

Finding international flights from GR International Airport usually means a connecting flight to Chicago or Detroit. It's about an extra hour onto the time and $100 per person. There are lots of domestic flight options directly from the airport though.

General tax burdens are pretty easy. I think I paid an extra 4.5% income tax this year? Health care is EXCELLENT, at least in the GR area. Health care is the current business to be in around here with Spectrum Health ever-expanding. Nurses find jobs before they are out of college, and finding a job in the health field is easy. Spectrum is working tirelessly to get their specialties all nationally top tier, and are mostly there. Long story short, there are an abundance of doctor's offices and hospitals in the area, probably disproportionate to most cities of it's size.

Handgun registration is currently done by filling out some paperwork. There's also a course to take if you want to conceal and carry, but there's actually legislation going through to get rid of that right now...

General good points about West Michigan include LOTS of fun festivals in the summer, and lots of really good beer to go with them. Grand Rapids is nicknamed 'Beer-City USA' because of its extremely high number of craft breweries. Grand Rapids Community College even has a 'Brewmaster' course people can take now if they want to work for a brewery! There's also a lot of really excellent food to go with that beer:) There's also lots of outdoors things to do year-round- hiking, biking, swimming, boating, etc... It's really hard to beat Michigan's weather in the summer. If you could suggest more specific activities that you are thinking of, I'm sure the Michiganders here can point you to the right town for you:)

General bad points- The weather in the winter, I think, is why most people shy away from retirement here. Fall and Spring can be really beautiful, but the weather during them is really unpredictable. I will have to use the air conditioning and the heat in the same day sometimes... There's a lot of snow. But if you enjoying skiing, it could be for you. The roads are also pretty bad.

Lski'stash

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2017, 09:46:01 PM »
Does MI do an annual assessed value tax on vehicles, and is there an inspection/inspection emission testing program?

Your car registration will vary based on the initial value of your car, so there is some variance there. The cost goes down for a few years, but then flattens at a point and stops going down. So the more your car cost new, the more it will cost to register it. But registration is not very expensive compared to other states I've lived in, and the range is minimal. $100-ish seems to be typical for Mustachian vehicles; we had an '02 Civic that was about $80 a year. (Also, you can add $11 to your plate as a park pass and this will get you day entrance to the state parks by showing your registration all year.)

There are NO inspections whatsoever, and I don't see them coming soon. Michigan lifers can't wrap their heads around the fact that other states require this. You'll get pulled over and given a fix-it ticket if a light is out, and you're required to have at least a pine board for a bumper, and that's about it. :)

True story. I had no idea this was a thing in other states. If it starts, you can drive it here. I rode around with my brother the other day in an old truck with the doors taken off.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #29 on: July 10, 2017, 05:15:17 AM »
Thanks Lski for sharing so much information.  GR proper, I read was the top 5 in the US for speed of home listing to close...  That's insane, and whoa, prices (even rents) are rather high.  I'm not much for frenzied hive activity, and finding suitable housing anywhere, has always been a challenge.  I'd want to rent a free-standing home anywhere I might settle, and they seem really $$$$$ around GR.  I have been looking for areas outside of GR, but some have what seems a very rednecky vibe.  No beef with how others live, just the same when I have lived in these types of areas, I did not really enjoy it very much.

Can you share the general area where your parents live?  Bad roads and high vehicle insurance...  Yuck, but I have experienced similar.  Thanks again for the help.   

Lski'stash

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #30 on: July 10, 2017, 04:50:32 PM »
Thanks Lski for sharing so much information.  GR proper, I read was the top 5 in the US for speed of home listing to close...  That's insane, and whoa, prices (even rents) are rather high.  I'm not much for frenzied hive activity, and finding suitable housing anywhere, has always been a challenge.  I'd want to rent a free-standing home anywhere I might settle, and they seem really $$$$$ around GR.  I have been looking for areas outside of GR, but some have what seems a very rednecky vibe.  No beef with how others live, just the same when I have lived in these types of areas, I did not really enjoy it very much.

Can you share the general area where your parents live?  Bad roads and high vehicle insurance...  Yuck, but I have experienced similar.  Thanks again for the help.

Can you tell me what your price range would be for a house? That would be helpful to let you know where to look.

I meant it when I said the home prices are dominated by the schools. EGR, Forest Hills/Cascade/Ada area, Caledonia, and Byron Center are easily the highest priced areas around Grand Rapids. If you don't have school-age kids, it's probably not worth it to live there. For the most part, though, house prices are still extremely affordable compared to other markets in the country. For example, my DH and I bought our 1400sq ranch fixer-upper (with full basement) with the inside main area updated for $170,000. The gargantuan mansions in the area go for around $350,000. The only place where this isn't true is in EGR and Ada (Where the Devos' and Gerald Ford are from).

I probably wouldn't travel too far out into the country if you are looking for a non-rednecky vibe unless you are thinking about lake property. I had to laugh when I read that comment;) Without giving too much away, I will tell you that my parents live in Allegan county, the county south of Kent (Where GR is). If by rednecky, you mean lots of conservative people with guns and trucks, it's pretty accurate:) If you want to stick to a more liberal-swaying area, Kentwood, Grand Rapids City, and especially Eastown and Heritage Hill would be where you want to look in Grand Rapids.

I will say, in defense of Allegan County, there's a lot of really nice people:) Grand Rapids was known for a long time for its conservativeness (hurray Devos's...), it's really not anymore, though. It's like anywhere else- The city sways more liberal, and the country sways more conservative.

Here are a couple descriptions of some of the different neighborhoods I found.http://www.designsponge.com/2011/06/grand-rapids-city-guide.html
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g42256-s204/Grand-Rapids:Michigan:Neighborhoods.html
https://www.experiencegr.com/about-grand-rapids/towns/- this one I really like- basically just avoid the southwest region if your going for more liberal.

Not sure what you have been using to look for homes, but Grar.com is the best site to look for homes in the area, hands down.

Lady SA

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #31 on: July 10, 2017, 07:45:50 PM »
Chiming in as I lived in the UP for a few years and loved it, however I was there for university so I don't have much experience in the ways of taxes and health care and what not. But I would LOVE to retire back to the UP, the Keweenaw peninsula in particular.

Because of the surrounding great lakes, the UP is generally quite temperate during the winter (almost never gets down below 0 in the parts I lived in) and you just get loads and loads of snow. So much fun! They do a fantastic job of maintaining the roads for drivability during the winter, but it's impossible to keep up with the constant snowfall; so they simply scrape the fluffy stuff off the top, pack it down, and add sand. In spring, you'll have a few feet of solid, packed snow on top of the roads in town (not on highways). Most people either had 4 wheel drive or snow tires or both and were just fine.

Cost of living is negligible. I could live comfortably on much less than $1k per month. Lots of surrounding gorgeous landscapes and outdoor activities (cross country skiing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, etc) and outdoorsy, practical people. It is quite remote, though. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but if you like adventure, I wouldn't cross the UP off your list.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 07:48:39 PM by Lady Smartass »
https://www.earnest.com/invite/lillian2 --> Use this referral to refinance your student loans with Earnest and get a $200 bonus!

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2017, 09:47:11 PM »
Thanks Lski and Lady S.  Those links gave me a nice run-down of the area, and there seems to be so much going on.  As for home spending, I'd really like to keep it under $150K, Even lower would be great.  I know, not much; all I want is modest, but well built, dated is OK, simple roof line, nothing fancy, etc.  Since I would probably like to rent first, I'd like to find a modest stand alone home, for no more than $1000/mo.  It's just me, so chasing top flight schools is not an issue.

When I read about the UP, I have to say it makes me smile, especially about the snow in town.  I have lived in places like this, and never really found snow to be a big deal, if you are prepared.  How were the bugs in the UP?  I would think skeeters and black flies could be pretty thick?  I really wish I were 20 years younger, and I know without doubt, the UP would be veryy, very tempting, and right up my alley.  I especially like the LCOL, self-reliance, and the practical people aspects.

Maybe real soon I'll be packing up the Matrix, and heading west to MI, to see this beautiful state for myself.

Again, thanks for your help.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2017, 03:35:27 PM »
Wanted to ask the folks from Grand Rapids, about nice areas to consider outside the city/suburbs using N/S/E/W to guide me.  Also, what areas would you not suggest/that I avoid, and why?  Be nice to know this too, as I plan my visit to MI, and will help cut through the deadwood.  Like it seems with everybody else, that good balance of affordability, safety, while still wanting privacy and not on top of my neighbors.  Thank you.

Lski'stash

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #34 on: July 14, 2017, 02:19:46 PM »
Wanted to ask the folks from Grand Rapids, about nice areas to consider outside the city/suburbs using N/S/E/W to guide me.  Also, what areas would you not suggest/that I avoid, and why?  Be nice to know this too, as I plan my visit to MI, and will help cut through the deadwood.  Like it seems with everybody else, that good balance of affordability, safety, while still wanting privacy and not on top of my neighbors.  Thank you.

How far outside are we talking here?

There are a few breathtaking lake shore communities with affordable housing- Holland/Saugatuk/South Haven- Saugatuk and South Haven both swing a quite a bit more liberal than Holland does.

Walker/Allendale to the West and Rockford/Cedar Springs/Northview/Kenowa Hills to the North sound like they might be good spots for you. They are closer to more of the outdoorsy things and the Lake (Lake Michigan), while having things to offer in their small towns too.

Here's what $150,000 will get you around them:
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17020896
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17018960
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17034166
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17024823
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17034488
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17034438
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17023006
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17034554

To the East there's Alto/Middleville/Lowell that you might also like-
http://www.grar.com/property/mls/17034554


DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #35 on: July 14, 2017, 02:30:12 PM »
Saugatuck and Douglas are nice.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2017, 05:50:44 AM »
Thanks again Lski and David.  So much good stuff to go through and consider - now the tricky part to formulate a plan into action...  Shame MI was not the size of Rhode Island; could do the whole state in a weekend :). 

Lski'stash

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2017, 08:53:30 AM »
Thanks again Lski and David.  So much good stuff to go through and consider - now the tricky part to formulate a plan into action...  Shame MI was not the size of Rhode Island; could do the whole state in a weekend :).

Have fun!

DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2017, 12:05:26 PM »
I think every state in this country has beautiful areas to consider. If you like Michigan, then you probably would also like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana.

neverrun

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2017, 05:34:17 PM »
Thanks again Lski and David.  So much good stuff to go through and consider - now the tricky part to formulate a plan into action...  Shame MI was not the size of Rhode Island; could do the whole state in a weekend :).

Have fun!

Make sure you aim to hit Marquette while doing this.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #40 on: July 16, 2017, 09:25:02 AM »
Thanks everyone.  I agree wholeheartedly David, and have seen many of the beautiful places our great country has to offer, and even in some of the states you mention.  Marquette...  Whew, what a magnificent, magical area from what I have seen, and speaking with a fella from there.  It really seems to speak to me especially the slower pace of life, inexpensive housing, but I wonder if you do not live in the city proper, if getting around when snow falls would be a huge issue?...  Avg seasonal snow fall is 12 feet! 

I have always lived in, and enjoy very snowy regions of the US, but this seems crazy, even for me...  Maybe I'm making something out of nothing, but it gnaws at me with doubt...  Then I look at the scenery, and I'm in love.  My God, you would hardly know you weren't in the PNW, Maine...

 

DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2017, 01:13:59 PM »
Wow those are beautiful pictures. I love hiking in nature.

JetBlast

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #42 on: July 16, 2017, 03:05:50 PM »
Chiming in as I lived in the UP for a few years and loved it, however I was there for university so I don't have much experience in the ways of taxes and health care and what not. But I would LOVE to retire back to the UP, the Keweenaw peninsula in particular.

I used to fly into Houghton/Hancock a lot with my previous employer. The Keweenaw peninsula is absolutely gorgeous. My wife loves snow and if it wouldn't be a really hard commute for my job I could see us living in Houghton or Hancock.

neverrun

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #43 on: July 16, 2017, 03:08:55 PM »
The UP outside of cities.  I think one has to consider having a snowmobile as backup transportation

MDM

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #44 on: July 16, 2017, 03:53:29 PM »
I guess I'm not sure what you mean by 'middle' Michiganders tend to think of the 'middle' as the Lansing area, Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Holland is West Michigan area, and Detroit and suburbia of Detroit is east side. Anything north of Rockford is'up north';)

Reminds me of (from Yankee - Wikipedia)
Quote
A humorous aphorism attributed to E. B. White summarizes the following distinctions:[citation needed]
        To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
        To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
        To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
        To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
        To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
        And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

E.g., years ago I happened to go through St. Louis, MI which has (had?) a sign proclaiming itself "the middle of the mitten". :)

Trifele

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #45 on: July 17, 2017, 03:51:58 AM »
Thanks everyone.  I agree wholeheartedly David, and have seen many of the beautiful places our great country has to offer, and even in some of the states you mention.  Marquette...  Whew, what a magnificent, magical area from what I have seen, and speaking with a fella from there.  It really seems to speak to me especially the slower pace of life, inexpensive housing, but I wonder if you do not live in the city proper, if getting around when snow falls would be a huge issue?...  Avg seasonal snow fall is 12 feet! 


It's doable.  I lived a long time in an area that got nearly that much (11 feet a year) and much of that time I did not even have AWD.  (AWD helps for sure, but 4 snow tires are the key.)  In my experience, the areas that get that much snow deal with it in a very businesslike manner.  There were a few times we had an extra-heavy snowfall and I couldn't get to work, but if you are ER who cares?  If you like snow, I wouldn't take Marquette off your list.

Holyoak

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #46 on: July 17, 2017, 06:48:23 PM »
Appreciate the continued help folks.  I watched a video on the  Houghton/Hancock area, and it along with so much of the U.P. is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and that goes for the Porcupine mountains too.  It really speaks to me a lot.  The snow thing I had rationalized too as no big deal for an E.R. fella as far as roads, but now with my bad rotator cuff as of late, I'm concerned about getting my home area/roof cleared.  I have never owned a snow-blower, having shoveled any snow over 1", anywhere I have lived...  Some of it was because sidewalks had to be cleared, while I lived in UT in particular. 

As an example when I lived in the Laurel Highlands, I shoveled my 165' drive by hand, even when around 30", and many other places over the years too...  I don't know why I'm so anxious/irrational about U.P. snow?  I guess getting older, and loosing my abilities sucks.

One last ahh $%*& surprise...  I received a notice today for jury duty...  Damn, always the worst timing, especially this time while I was trying to plan a trip to MI.  Jury selection is from Aug 21-25, and who knows after that.  Civic duty I know...









   

DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #47 on: July 17, 2017, 06:53:18 PM »
You can get a snow service to clear your driveway.

Ideally, you'll want a garage to park your car in so that you won't have to do much snow clearing off of the car.

Regarding a rotator cuff injury I do recommend doing therapeutic Iyengar yoga.

Trifele

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #48 on: July 18, 2017, 04:37:32 AM »
Yeah, a snowblower is a necessity.  And not a little one either.  2 stage, 11-14 hp will do the driveway fine.  They are easy to use, and you should be able to do it even with a bum shoulder.  Or, hire a guy with a pickup with a blade on it. 

Lski'stash

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Re: Anyone E.R. to middle Michigan???
« Reply #49 on: July 18, 2017, 07:31:45 PM »
I guess I'm not sure what you mean by 'middle' Michiganders tend to think of the 'middle' as the Lansing area, Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Holland is West Michigan area, and Detroit and suburbia of Detroit is east side. Anything north of Rockford is'up north';)

Reminds me of (from Yankee - Wikipedia)
Quote
A humorous aphorism attributed to E. B. White summarizes the following distinctions:[citation needed]
        To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
        To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
        To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
        To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
        To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
        And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

E.g., years ago I happened to go through St. Louis, MI which has (had?) a sign proclaiming itself "the middle of the mitten". :)

It sure does look like the middle, looking at it on the map!