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Renter's Guide to East Lansing
East Lansing, Michigan is perhaps best known for being the home of Michigan State University. But it's a great place to live for non-college students too. According to NerdWallet, East Lansing is the 25th Best City in Michigan for young families, based on factors like family friendliness, quality of education, prosperity and growth, and home affordability. Wallethub also named it the 41st Safest City in Michigan.
The city is 14 square miles, which is three times smaller than Lansing, the state capital. Speaking of Lansing, it's just 5 miles away, while Ann Arbor is 64 miles, Grand Rapids is 71 miles, and Detroit is 89 miles.
The weather in East Lansing is a little chilly, to say the least. Average winter snowfall is 36 inches, a full 10 inches more than the national average. But things warm up a bit in the summer, with average highs of 82°F in July.
East Lansing, MI Demographics
- Total Population48,281
Female 23,757Male 24,524
- Median Age21.3
Cost of Living in East Lansing, MI
The cost of living in East Lansing is 10% higher than the state average, but still 2% lower than the rest of the country. NerdWallet even named the city the 2nd Most Affordable Medium-Sized Metro Area for Home Ownership.
Dinner out for two with appetizers and dessert will set you back about $42.50. Cap off the evening with a cappuccino for another $3. Meanwhile, amonth of utilities for a 915 square-foot apartment costs an average of $163.80, and covers electricity, heat, water, and waste disposal.
The CATA (Capital Area Transportation Authority) provides bus transportation for East Lansing and its surrounding cities. Fares for adults range from $1.25, for a one-way trip, to $2, for round-trips. Discounts are available for students and seniors, and kids less than 42 inches tall ride free. If you'd rather pedal to work or school, the Northern Tier Trail pedestrian-bicycle path connects the northern part of East Lansing, and the Lansing River Trail connects pedestrians and bikers to downtown Lansing and Michigan State.
Average Rent in East Lansing, MI
- East Lansing, MI Average Rental Price, January 2020 $1,281 /mo
East Lansing, MI Apartment Rent Ranges
- > $2,0009%
East Lansing, MI Rent Trends
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Living in East Lansing, MI
Since East Lansing's a college town and is close to the state capital, it's a very diverse city with plenty of opportunities to be active with your neighbors. Another big advantage to living here is there's no city income tax.
Of course, Michigan's state tax is 91% higher than the national average, which will tend to offset much of your savings. East Lansing also spends much of the year covered in snow, meaning you may want to consider moving somewhere else if you don't love shoveling or building snowmen.
Things to do in East Lansing
Between the local MSU campus and the city's proximity to the capital, there are plenty of things to keep you busy here.
Wallethub.com named East Lansing the 5th-best city for football fans, mostly due to the town’s ravenous love for the Michigan State Spartans. There's also another premier college football team just an hour away in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan Wolverines.
But even if you’re not a sports fan, you'll still find tons of entertainment options.
Annual events, like the East Lansing Film Festival, make the city come alive. You'll definitely want to check out the two-day Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, a summertime celebration of national and local jazz musicians.
For family fun in East Lansing, head to one of the 25 neighborhood parks. John M. Patriarche Park features a 1.2-acre playground, baseball fields, a basketball court, tennis courts, and picnic tables.
Pet lovers will enjoy the Northern Tail Dog Park, which offers two acres of off-leash fun – along with a water station and plenty of shade trees to help keep cool. In the summer, head to the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center for water slides, wading pools, and a splash zone.
For those cold winter days, head indoors to Pinball Pete’s ten thousand square-feet of pinball games, or take in a MSU Spartans hockey game at Munn Ice Arena.
There's fun to be had in some of the neighboring cities too, like the Potter Park Zoo and Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing. Or take a short road trip to Detroit and catch a pro sports game, whether it's the Detroit Pistons, Red Wings, or Tigers.
Culture is a big part of any college town, but especially so in East Lansing. The Wharton Center for Performing Arts brings dance, music, and theatrical performances to the city. Or you can take in the talents of Community Music School students during recitals at the College of Music, then get a glimpse of contemporary art at the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum.
Then there's the annual Great Lakes Folk Festival, three days of music, culture, and dance hosted in conjunction with the Michigan State University Museum and its Michigan Traditional Arts Program. If you have room on your calendar, be sure to make it to the East Lansing Art Festival as well, the best-selling art fair held every year before Memorial Day.
Employment and Economy
MSU is key to the area's economy, providing a large number of jobs in education-related fields. Tech jobs are also in demand in East Lansing, due to places like the university’s National Superconducting Cycolotron Laboratory, which is a hub for acceleration tech. In fact, MSU plays a big role in making Michigan the 4th-largest tech employer in the nation.
Michigan State’s Supply Chain Management program is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 2nd-best program of its kind in the country. Nearby Lansing is home to the General Motors’ Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, making the region a fertile ground for automotive jobs.
East Lansing, MI Households
- Total Number of Households13,585
Family 4,576Non-family 9,009
Children 1,763No Children 11,822
- Average People Per Household2.36
- Median Household Income$37,433
- Median Housing Costs Per Month$1,011
Education in East Lansing
MSU is a big draw in East Lansing. In fact, it’s the largest education institution in the state, and the 7th-largest in the country. But nearby Lansing also has the country’s largest law school, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, as well as Davenport University and Lansing Community College.
The East Lansing Public Schools district includes six elementary schools, one middle school, and East Lansing High School, which U.S. News & World Report ranked as the 17th-best high school in the state.
East Lansing, MI Education Statistics
- No High School1%
- Some High School26%
- Some College10%
- Associate Degree5%
- Bachelor Degree31%
- Graduate Degree27%
Tips for Renting in East Lansing
Clearly, East Lansing is a great place to move. Before you do though, there are a few things you should know about renters’ rights.
In Michigan, you have the right to end your lease early if you're ever the victim of domestic violence and need to move to a safer location. It’s also important to know that landlords in the state can only charge as much as one and a half times the monthly rent for a security deposit.
If you haven't caused any damages and don't owe any back rent, you're entitled to get that money back upon moving out.
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