What's it like to live in Kalamazoo, MI?

Profile written by local expert:

Raine Kuch

Kalamazoo is as fun and quirky as its unusual name suggests. Its theaters, museums and live music venues make the city an arts and culture hot spot, and its craft brewery scene attracts visitors from around the region. 

Community events such as chili cook-offs, vintage fairs and farmers markets make this metro area a place where residents never find themselves without something to do.


U.S. News analyzed 150 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.

Kalamazoo, Michigan is ranked:

#46 in Best Places to Live

#38 in Best Places to Retire

#3 in Best Places to Live in Michigan

#16 in Cheapest Places to Live

#25 in Best Places to Live for Quality of Life




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Kalamazoo, MI Quick Stats

  • 336,845

    Metro Population

  • $47,060

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.7

    Median Age

  • $154,142

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.6%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $780

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.1 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Kalamazoo, MI?

Shoppers can explore the Kalamazoo Mall, the nation’s first outdoor pedestrian mall, or The Crossroads in Portage. 

Hiking trails and green space throughout the area, including Asylum Lake Preserve and Portage Creek Bicentennial Park, provide recreation opportunities for nature lovers.

The local arts scene in Kalamazoo is thriving. The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo hosts Art Hop, a free event displaying the work of local artists all around downtown, once a month. Theater lovers will find plenty to enjoy at The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, which features local and youth performances, and Miller Auditorium, which hosts touring Broadway shows. The State Theatre hosts touring music acts as well as interactive movie experiences. 

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Gilmore Car Museum, and Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum offer hands-on exhibits on topics from history to cars and planes. Art lovers can visit the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts to view exhibitions or take advantage of the art classes and programs the museum offers.  

It is impossible to talk about what the metropolitan area has to offer without mentioning its craft breweries. Bell’s Brewery and Eccentric Cafe is a popular hangout in the area.

What's the cost of living in Kalamazoo, MI?

One draw of Kalamazoo and the nearby city of Portage is that the median housing cost is below the national average. Income and sales taxes in Michigan also are relatively low. At the same time, though, the average household income falls below the national average.

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.9 /10

How we calculate this.

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

Housing Costs 2019



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 Kalamazoo, MI and Portage, MI.

What's the weather like in Kalamazoo, MI?

While technically the state experiences all four seasons, Michiganders joke it actually has only two: winter and construction. 

Due to lake-effect weather, west Michigan has above-average snowfall, which residents can expect from November to April. Construction cones line the streets during warmer months to repair damage caused by the snow. Kalamazoo has very little humidity during the summer, while spring and autumn bring temperate weather and vibrant colors.

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

Though the majority of residents choose to drive as their primary mode of transportation, the Kalamazoo Metro bus system runs throughout the city and surrounding townships. 

Located at the edge of the city, the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport has direct flights to major Midwestern cities, including Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis. An Amtrak station in downtown Kalamazoo allows residents to hop on a train and be in Chicago in fewer than three hours.

Commuting in Kalamazoo, MI

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.1 minutes

5.5 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 Kalamazoo, MI?

The Kalamazoo metropolitan area is an attractive place to live for families, largely because of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship. The Kalamazoo Promise grants free college to Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates who have been in the school district four years or more. Eligible students receive money to attend a participating school of their choice.

Higher education also attracts young adults to the area, which is home to Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Creative types are attracted to Kalamazoo’s rich music scene. The Vine neighborhood’s house music venues host local and touring bands. 

At the same time, poverty is an issue in Kalamazoo, and the city has a growing number of homeless residents.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Kalamazoo as national average

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