Best Places to Live in Michigan

Attractive communities include Ann Arbor, Marquette, Rochester Hills

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The basketball arena at the University of Michigan

Courtesy of Ankur Sohoni under a CC 4.0 license.

All four seasons and beautiful natural attractions are part of life in both Lower and Upper Michigan, a state that features a number of nice communities to live and work:

Ann Arbor

With a branding slogan of “Doing Life Different,” Ann Arbor offers a robust arts and entertainment scene highlighted by an annual Ann Arbor Arts Fair that draws 500,000 visitors each July. The local economy centers on high technology, and the most famous aspect of Ann Arbor remains the University of Michigan, with 43,000 students and 25,000 employees.


This affluent Detroit suburb has evolved into a business and shopping destination, with numerous office buildings and an upscale Somerset Mall Collection that houses 180 stores. The quality of life in Troy includes several lakes, woodlands, open spaces and recreational facilities.


The most populated city in the Upper Peninsula is Marquette, a major iron ore shipping port on Lake Superior. Known for lake trout, salmon, whitefish and brown trout fishing, Marquette is often listed among the top places in America to retire. Attractions include Presque Isle Park along with Northern Michigan University.


With nicknames like Motor City, Motown, Hockeytown and Rock City, Detroit has undergone revitalization in recent years that includes re-energized Midtown and New Center districts. Young professionals seek downtown residences because the city is still a business, cultural and financial center, and the city remains a vital port on the Detroit River to connect the Great Lakes with St. Lawrence Seaway.


Kalamazoo River offers excellent fishing and boating opportunities, while Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College both call this city home. Major concerts are staged at venues like Wings Stadium, the downtown State Theatre and WMU’s Miller Auditorium, and the city has become a recent major player in the American craft beer movement.

Grand Rapids

Known as “Furniture City” and home to five of the world’s largest office furniture companies, Grand Rapids is 25 miles east of Lake Michigan and prominent in both the healthcare and microbrewery industries. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum features 20,000 artifacts and serves as burial site for the 38th president and his wife, Betty.

Rochester Hills

This prosperous city at the northern outskirts of Detroit houses higher education institutions such as Rochester College, Oakland University and Oakland Community College, plus a renowned Meadow Brook Hall entertainment center and its annual Meadow Brook Music Festival. Many recreational amenities grace Rochester Hills, including a pedestrian/pathway system that stretches the full length of the city.

Traverse City

As the largest producer of tart cherries in the nation, Traverse City hosts an annual National Cherry Festival each July that welcomes 500,000 visitors. Most of the city’s economy is tourism based, with attractions like multiple freshwater beaches and downhill skiing resorts. Traverse City ranks high on many lists that recognize top cities to retire.


Established by Dutch Americans, Holland sits on Lake Macatawa near the shores of Lake Michigan and accommodates thousands of vacationers each summer. Hope College and Western Theological Seminary are here, and the city hosts an annual Tulip Time Festival each May. Holland is rated one of the safest mid-sized cities in America.


Residents of Midland enjoy a healthy quality of life, with 72 parks that include seven designated as regional parks because they span more than 200 acres. Recently named as one of the Best Small Cities to Raise a Family, Midland is also ranked as one of America’s Safest Cities.


Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for ... more

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Wed, 02/28/2018 - 21:22