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Living a College Town Lifestyle in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids is one of the most prosperous and dynamic college cities in the State of Michigan. With a population just under 200,000 it has an exceptionally strong cultural presence for a mid-sized city. Grand Rapids is home to several private colleges including Calvin College, Acquinas College, as well as the Grand Rapids Community College. Nicknamed the "Furniture City," Grand Rapids has a diversified industrial base, although currently unemployment is near 15%.  Grand Rapids is in western Michigan about 30 miles from Lake Michigan. The Heritage Hill District is one of the largest urban historical districts in the nation. 

Photo of Gerald R. Ford Museum courtesy of and per license of Wikipedia and Kent county.

Where to Retire in Grand Rapids and Home Prices

There are many active adult and 55+ communities in or near Grand Rapids. Median home prices are well below the national median, and were at $315,300 during the 2nd quarter of 2022 (NAR) in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area.

What Is Special about Grand Rapids

Home of former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford and the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.  Exceptionally strong cultural presence with museums like Van Andel Museum Center and theatres including the Civic Theatre and the Wealthy Street Theatre. The Heritage Hill residential district is unusually large with over 1000 victorian homes. Homes are inexpensive compared to the national average.

What Is Not Special about Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is one of the snowiest places in the U.S. (72" per year on average).  It also gets an unusually large amount of rain.

Climate and Physical Environment

Grand Rapids is located on the banks of the Grand River about 30 miles east of Lake Michigan. The average July high temperature is 82 and the average January low is 16. The wettest month is September (4").

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Cuturally speaking Grand Rapids is very strong. There are theatres and performing arts venues like the Civic and DeVos Hall, the Van Andel Arena, the Royce Auditorium, the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center. The Van Andel Museum Center is among the oldest history museums in the United States. The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has 125 acres of world-class botanical gardens and artwork from such sculptors as Mark di Suvero, Alexander Calder, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Rodin. This facility also has an amphitheatre for performing arts. There is a planetarium and the Gerald R. Ford Museum.


The crime rate in Grand Rapids is well above the national average.

Medical Facilities

There are 5 hospitals or medical centers in Grand Rapids, including the Michigan State U. medical school.


Grand Rapids boasts the Gerald R. Ford Airport as well as bus service via The Rapid Transportation.  Grand Rapids is about average for walkability when compared to other  cities.

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