What's it like to live in Grand Rapids, MI?


Anna Gustafson

Profile written by local expert:

Anna Gustafson

Grand Rapids has an affinity for public art, and its craft brewery scene is one of the best in the nation. A scenic spot perched on the Grand River – Michigan's longest waterway – Grand Rapids has evolved from its 19th-century roots as a hub of furniture production to the modern-day metro area that is attracting college students and young families with its healthy job market, affordable housing and outdoor recreational activities.

From the doctors and nurses working in the region's booming health care industry, to the strong LGBT community that hosts the much-feted annual Grand Rapids Pride event, to the numerous artists and musicians, the region is home to people from all walks of life. Grand Rapids' neighborhood associations are incredibly active, bringing the metro area's population together for community events such as the Eastown Street Fair, which draws people to the artsy neighborhood for food, music and more.

Midwest friendliness is no exaggeration in Grand Rapids, which, despite being the second largest metro area in Michigan, exudes small-town warmth. Walk down almost any residential street in Grand Rapids, and you'll often be met with a wave and a "hello" from people caring for their lawns or hanging out on porches.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Grand Rapids, Michigan is ranked:

#12 in Best Places to Live

#6 in Best Places to Retire

7.1

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.5
  • Value
    8.1
  • Job Market
    6.6
  • Quality of Life
    7.7
  • Net Migration
    6.3

Read how we rank places

Grand Rapids, MI Quick Stats

  • 1,028,173

    Metro Population

  • $43,610

    Average Annual Salary

  • 57.9° / 40.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.5

    Median Age

  • $166,608

    Median Home Price

  • 38.3 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.4%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $786

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.7 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Grand Rapids, MI?

The cost of living in Grand Rapids is noticeably lower than in other major U.S. metro areas. While the city's average annual income falls short of the national average, you'll find you can stretch your dollar further in the region. Housing costs are below the national median, though prices are rising. And Grand Rapids residents spend less on daily necessities – such as groceries and health care – than those who live in other parts of the country.

Value Index

Index Score: 8.1 /10

How we calculate this.


Grand Rapids offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Grand Rapids
$166,608

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Grand Rapids, MI.

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What's the weather like in Grand Rapids, MI?

Of course, there are the infamous cold and snowy winters in Grand Rapids. Meanwhile, summers are often warm and humid. During the fall, the region's many hardwood trees display colorful foliage.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

26.8°F


Winter

47.4°F


Spring

70.6°F


Summer

51.3°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.5 in


Winter

4.0 in


Spring

3.8 in


Summer

4.3 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Grand Rapids, MI?

During the warmer months, many residents pedal their way along the numerous bike lanes, and others walk the many pedestrian-friendly neighborhood streets. When it gets cooler out (or for trips between downtown and the suburbs), Grand Rapids residents frequently opt to drive their own cars.

There is also The Rapid, which operates bus lines that travel throughout downtown Grand Rapids and the immediate suburbs. The Downtown Area Shuttle, or the DASH, is another option and offers transportation to and from designated parking lots throughout the downtown area. Although it's free to ride the shuttle, you do have to pay to park in the lots.

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (located in the southeastern suburbs of the region) connects Grand Rapids to the rest of the country, with approximately 300 arrivals and departures on any given day. The region is also serviced by Amtrak and by several charter bus companies, including Greyhound. 

Commuting in Grand Rapids, MI

Means of Transportation
Driving
91%
Above national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.7 minutes

4.4 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Grand Rapids, MI?

Thanks in part to Grand Rapids' significant investment of resources in education and jobs, more and more people are wanting to call Grand Rapids home. The metro area is one of the fastest-growing areas in Michigan.

About half of the people who live in the Grand Rapids area affiliate with a religion. The area is home to large Evangelical Protestant and Catholic communities.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Grand Rapids as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Grand Rapids, MI?

Grand Rapids' more than 1,200 acres of city-owned parks provide the setting for scenic walks and community kickball games, while the Lake Michigan shoreline (less than an hour's drive from downtown) becomes a popular gathering spot in the summer.

Locals can get a taste of the metro area's love for the arts at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, while families learn together at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. In the evenings, residents enjoy performances by the Grand Rapids Ballet – the only professional ballet company in Michigan – and other comedy and theater troupes.

The metro area is also home to a noteworthy craft beer scene; the Beer City Ale Trail leads to dozens of breweries offering tours and tastings.