Make the Mitten State your home with these 10 great cities.
All four seasons and beautiful natural attractions are part of life in Michigan, a place that features a number of nice communities to live and work. The state is home to the nation’s longest freshwater coastline, more than 100 state parks and thousands of miles available for hiking, camping and exploring. But it isn’t all just water and woods here. Michigan is full of amazing job opportunities, amenities and family-friendly activities.
Here’s a look at the best places to live in the “Mitten State.”
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 technology and the University of Michigan, with 48,000 students and 25,000 employees.
The city consistently ranks as a best place to live and it is easy to see why. In addition to the opportunities the city provides for hardworking academics and medical professionals, Ann Arbor is also a haven for creative types, seekers, and anyone who marches to the beat of their own drum. It’s home to funky thrift shops, galleries, new age bookstores and top-notch performance venues.
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 and provides residents with ample opportunities to get outside.
Though the city thrives in the winter months, there is plenty for residents to do year-round. Marquette has plenty of local brews on tap, miles of pedestrian paths and a thriving arts scene, even offering art-centric tours of the county. Additionally, the city is home to Presque Isle Park, the ultimate playground for outdoor enthusiasts, the iconic Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and Northern Michigan University.
With nicknames like Motor City, Motown, Hockeytown and Rock City, the city of Detroit wears many hats. Over the past several years, Detroit has undergone a major revitalization, including 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. Detroit has an amazing arts scene, a diehard fanbase for professional sports teams like the Detroit Lions and Red Wings and a thriving economy, thanks to employers like Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler.
With miles of freshwater beaches, sprawling vineyards and gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, Traverse City has become one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations. The largest producer of tart cherries, the city hosts an annual National Cherry Festival each July that welcomes more than 500,000 visitors to the area. Thanks to the large number of visitors coming through, Traverse City’s economy is primarily tourism based.
But there is so much more to Traverse City than tourism. For outdoor enthusiasts, the city is home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which offers 64 miles of sprawling views of Lake Michigan, several hiking trails and a 10-mile paved pedestrian trail. More of a foodie? There’s something for you, too. The city’s culinary scene is a mix of traditional American fare, ethnic eateries and plenty of farm-to-table dining options and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons hosts several shops, restaurants and a farmers market.
Traverse City Area Public Schools is the largest school district in the northwestern Michigan area and is consistently one of the best districts in the state, making the city an ideal place for families. And the cherry on top? The city has a great cost of living and is an affordable place to live!
This affluent Detroit suburb has evolved into a business and shopping destination, with numerous office buildings and deep ties to the auto and banking industries. The quality of life is unparalleled in Troy and residents can take advantage of several outdoor and recreational facilities, more than 900 acres of parklands and the upscale Somerset Mall Collection, which houses 180 stores. Additionally, the suburban city is very safe, has an amazing school system and is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the state. This year, Troy landed on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list.
Home to Kalamazoo College, Western Michigan University and a robust economy, Kalamazoo serves its population of nearly 76,000 well. Kiplinger recently ranked Kalamazoo as number four on their Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In list, noting affordable housing and the low unemployment rate (5%). The city’s commitment to serving its residents is apparent through the many amenities and programs offered, including the Kalamazoo Promise, which provides all Kalamazoo Public School system students with a 4-year scholarship covering tuition and fees for students attending in-state colleges.
For residents looking to enjoy the city, there are countless opportunities that make Kalamazoo a great place to call home. On the first Friday of every month, the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo holds an Art Hop, which is free and open to the public. Also, the city pulls in major entertainment acts at venues like Wings Stadium, the downtown State Theatre and WMU’s Miller Auditorium.
In recent years the city has become a major player in the American craft beer movement and there is plenty to drink here. Looking to get outdoors? Kalamazoo has that, too! The county is home to more than 80 public lakes and the city houses the Kalamazoo Nature Center and plenty of things to do along the Kalamazoo River. Additionally, the city was named on our 2022 Top 100 Best Place to Live list.
Grand Rapids may have once been known as “Furniture City” (and home to five of the world’s largest office furniture companies!), but the city is so much more. Located just 30 minutes east of the shores of Lake Michigan, the city’s economy is doing well, especially in industries like healthcare and manufacturing.
Bridges criss-cross town over the Grand River, which runs through the city. Residents can take their pick from museums, parks and more to explore, like the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which houses nearly 20,000 artifacts. Plus, theaters, a zoo and the bustling Downtown Market make it easy to enjoy the city. It’s no wonder that Grand Rapids landed a spot on the 2022 Top 100 Best Places to Live list.
Resting along the northern outskirts of the Detroit Metro area, Rochester Hills is picturesque and prosperous. Home to several higher education institutions, including Rochester College, Oakland University and Oakland Community College, the city has a low unemployment rate and a growing economy.
The city has no shortage of things to do, including the renowned Meadow Brook Hall, Yates Cider Mill and a historic district. Rochester Hills residents can also enjoy a variety of entertainment amenities, including the Meadow Brook Amphitheater, the Paint Creek Center for the Arts and an extensive pedestrian system that stretches the full length of the city. The cherry on top? Rochester Hills was on the 2022 Top 100 Best Places to Live list.
Established by Dutch Americans, Holland really lives up to its name and has embraced European culture. Nestled along Lake Macatawa, near the shores of Lake Michigan, the city offers miles and miles of freshwater coastline and Holland State Park, home to the notable Big Red Lighthouse.
Holland’s higher ed institutions, Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, are major employers and contribute to the city’s robust economy. The city still remains very affordable, with a median home value of $131,700 and is consistently rated as one of the safest mid-sized cities in America.
Residents can enjoy the annual Tulip Time Festival each May, tour the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory or visit De Zwann, “the only authentic Dutch windmill in operation in the United States,” at Windmill Island Gardens.
Consistently ranked as one of America’s Safest Cities, Midland combines peace of mind and affordability without skimping on things to do. With a growing economy, there are ample opportunities for job seekers in Midland. Located in the middle of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, the quality of life here is almost unparalleled. Several higher education institutes call Midland home as well as a Michigan State University research facility, which serves as one of the city’s major employers.
Dow Chemical Company, which was founded in Midland, has contributed to the community’s growth, including the 100-acre Dow Gardens, the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library and the architecturally rich Alden B. Dow Home and Studio. Most notably, however, is The Tridge, an iconic wooden pedestrian bridge that spans the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers near the city’s downtown district.