Renter's Guide to Grand Rapids
Furniture City is waiting for you!
Grand Rapids is Michigan’s second-largest city, though it's tiny compared to the next-biggest, Detroit, which is three times larger and 157 miles away. But what it lacks in size, Grand Rapids makes up for in snow.
Thanks to Lake Effect snow over Lake Michigan, the city averages about 75 inches of the fluffy stuff every year. Hope you like snow men!
The average January temperature is 30°F, but July’s average high of 83°F helps balance things out.
Even with all that snow, Grand Rapids managed to earn 13th place on the U.S. News & World Report ranking of Best Places to Live in the U.S., based on factors like cost of living, employment opportunities, good schools, and safety.
Even more impressive is that Forbes named it the #1 City for Raising a Family, and AARP ranked it one of its best places to retire for less money.
Grand Rapids, MI Demographics
- Total Population192,416
Female 94,079Male 98,337
- Median Age31.1
Cost of Living in Grand Rapids, MI
The cost of living in Grand Rapids is 26 percent lower than the rest of the country.
A dinner for two with three courses is around $50, while a cappuccino to keep you warm during the long winters will cost you about $3.49.
Utilities for a 915-square foot apartment – including water, electricity, and waste disposal – are a little pricey, at $254 per month. That’s more than $100 above the nationwide average, though most of the extra costs come from keeping your place warm during the frigid winters.
You can get around Grand Rapids on the Rapid, the city’s bus line. A single ticket is $1.75 for adults, while seniors and disabled passengers are 85 cents, and kids ride free. Unlimited 1-day, weekly, and monthly passes are also available.
Average Rent in Grand Rapids, MI
- Grand Rapids, MI Average Rental Price, January 2019$1,089/mo
Grand Rapids, MI Apartment Rent Ranges
- > $2,0002%
Grand Rapids, MI Rent Trends
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Living in Grand Rapids, MI
The numerous colleges in the city provide a lot in the way of diversity. The city also offers affordable housing and a comparatively low cost of living overall.
However, Forbes named it the second-worst city in the U.S. for Cities Where African-Americans Are Doing Best Economically. The ranking is based on the number of African-Americans in the city who are homeowners or self-employed, as well as the median household income for African-Americans.
Things to do in Grand Rapids
There are plenty of things to do in Grand Rapids.
For starters, the city hosts numerous annual festivals each year, like Celebration on the Grand, GRandJazzFest, Valent-ICE, Beer Week, LaughFest, Festival of the Arts, and more.
If you’re thirsty, Grand Rapids is a good place to be. In fact, it was named the Best Beer Town by USA Today because of its abundance of local breweries. For something a little more low-key, head to one of the city’s parks, like Millenium Park.
With more than 1,400 acres of nature viewing, trails, a beach, boat rentals, and picnic shelters, it’s an outdoor oasis in the middle of the city. Nearby Johnson Park offers fishing on the Grand River, as well as disc golf, ball fields, playgrounds, and sledding in the winter. And Richmond Park is the place for swimming and playing.
If you need something to keep the whole family busy, take a visit to the John Ball Zoo, which features zip lining, a ropes course, and a petting zoo, in addition to the animals on display.
Although there are no professional sports teams in Grand Rapids, several local minor league teams feed into Detroit. The Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team draws in its share of fans, and many players move on to play with the Red Wings.
The Tigers’ minor league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Whitecaps, have won five championships since 1996. College football games are popular attractions, as well.
Thrillist named Grand Rapids One of the best American Cities for Creatives, thanks to its artistic community, craft beer and music scene, affordability, and access to nature. It’s a healthy breeding ground for visual artists, with several museums and festivals to display their work.
The Grand Rapids Art Museum features the work of local and international artists. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum exhibits artifacts from the president’s life, as well as activities and lectures for the family. Then there's the Grand Rapids Public Museum, one of the oldest history museums in the country. And the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is the home of new and modern art and artists.
Employment and Economy
Grand Rapids got its “Furniture City” nickname from its furniture production during the early 20th century. That tradition continues today, with five office furniture manufacturers who still call the city home, including American Seating, Herman Miller, and Steelcase.
Future job growth in Grand Rapids is projected at an impressive 43 percent over the next ten years. Automobile and aviation manufacturing are also major industries within the city, and Spectrum Health employs more people in West Michigan than any other company.
Major corporations based in Grand Rapids include Amway, Bissell, Meijer Grocery, Wolverine World Wide, and MC Sports, Inc.
Grand Rapids, MI Households
- Total Number of Households73,026
Family 40,544Non-family 32,482
Children 21,177No Children 51,849
- Average People Per Household2.54
- Median Household Income$40,355
- Median Housing Costs Per Month$821
Education in Grand Rapids
Numerous higher education institutions call Grand Rapids home, including Calvin College, Aquinas College, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, ITT Technical Institute, Davenport University, and Grand Rapids Community College. Ferris State University is downtown, and Western Michigan University‘s graduate programs are also held in the city.
Grand Rapids is also an excellent place for public schools. City Middle/High School is ranked third in the state and 47th in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best high schools. Newsweek named East Grand Rapids High School the third best high school in Michigan, as well as the 99th nationally, and called Forest Hills Central High School 13th best in the state and 271st in the U.S.
Grand Rapids, MI Education Statistics
- No High School6%
- Some High School32%
- Some College27%
- Associate Degree6%
- Bachelor Degree20%
- Graduate Degree9%
Tips for Renting in Grand Rapids
If you’re ready to pack up some sweaters and move to Grand Rapids, there are a few things you need to know first.
Michigan landlords can’t charge more than a month-and-a-half's rent as a security deposit. Make sure you get that deposit back by filling out a move-in checklist, detailing any damages you see before you sign the lease.
Then give a copy of the list to your landlord, so when you move out, he and you will know what was there before you were.
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