Ann Arbor, Michigan

Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Photo by Brad West on Unsplash)

The state of the Great Lakes offers some exceptional locations to live for those wishing to move to the upper Midwest portion of the United States. It has fantastic cities, bountiful nature and it’s one of the most uniquely shaped states. If you’re looking to make a move to the Wolverine State, you may be wondering what are some of the best places to live in Michigan. 

The “Mitten State” is surrounded by world-famous lakes. Redfin points out that “Michigan is known as the Great Lake State for a reason. Residents can enjoy the natural lakeside attractions year-round, with four of the Great Lakes bordering Michigan. Although the lakes are a popular attraction between residents and visitors alike, other natural attractions are just as special. Explore the Eben Ice Caves in the winter or wander through the trails in the Canyon Falls and Gorge; there’s an adventure for any occasion.”

With so many stunning views at your doorstep, research shows this can actually do more than just make for an Instagram-worthy post. Researchers from Washington State University report living closer to both green spaces (outdoor areas, parks, forests) and blue spaces (bodies of water) may reduce the risk of experiencing serious psychological distress among older adults. This also reduces the chance of developing dementia. 

Ready to make the move? StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites to put together this list of the best places to live in Michigan. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!

The List: Best Places to Live in Michigan, According to Experts

1. Ann Arbor

Unless you’re a diehard Ohio State fan, this city takes the number one spot of all the places to live in Michigan! Home of “Go Blue” that gave the state one of it’s nicknames, the Wolverine State, if you’re looking for the best place to live, you’ve found it according to experts. 

Law quad dining hall at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
Law quad dining hall at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (Photo by Brad West on Unsplash)

My Michigan Beach explains it clearly, “Ann Arbor is easily one of the most desirable places to live in Michigan – and for good reason. Full of art and education, Ann Arbor is an exciting city with a culture unlike any other. This university town is home to the University of Michigan which gives it a unique lively atmosphere that separates it from its metropolitan neighbor, Detroit, which is only 45 minutes east. Downtown Ann Arbor is pedestrian-friendly with a bustling dining scene and active nightlife that appeals to young Michiganders. Although living in Ann Arbor can be pricey, residents can take advantage of stellar schools and amenities offered by living in a larger city.”

“You can lounge by the Huron river, enjoy a picnic at one of the numerous bountiful parks, stroll through its vibrant pedestrian-friendly downtown or attend some of the festivals held here regularly, the activities to do are endless,” says Nomad Lawyer.

Ann Arbor has beautiful neighborhoods, vibrant arts and culture, and excellent schools. The city hosts many festivals and events throughout the year including free outdoor concerts and the annual Ann Arbor arts fair,” adds Life in the USA. “Ann Arbor is one of the best places to live in Michigan for creative thinkers and artists. The city has a vibrant arts scene with many galleries and interesting shops. There are also a lot of beautiful parks in Ann Arbor and plenty of spaces to enjoy nature.

2. Grand Rapids

This river-side town is full of life and sits beside the Grand River. Touropia says, “Once a historic furniture-making center, the city is now mostly known for its booming craft brewery scene. Asides from trying out its dozens of magnificent microbreweries, you can also stop by its art galleries and museums, theaters and parks. Heritage Hill, east of downtown, is unmissable for all its impressive architecture.”

The Ledyard Building in Grand Rapids
The Ledyard Building in Grand Rapids (Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash)

This city has one of the best areas in the whole state according to The Crazy Tourist, “Suffice to say most of this West Michigan city is a great place to call home. But zeroing in on a particular area, the East Grand Rapids suburb in Kent County got the nod from Niche, ranking it the third best place to live in Michigan. The suburb of 11,000 residents is known for its excellent everything – some of the best schools in the state, steady, high-paying job market with median household income averaging $112,000 (double national average), low crime rate and a high quality of life.”

If you love a good brew, this could be your stop! “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,” writes U.S. News.

3. Okemos

This is the urban part of the state capital, Lansing. UpHomes mentions: “This area is located near the campus of Michigan State University and offers its residents many different restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. However, many young people do live in this area due to its location near the school. On the plus side, the cost of living here is lower than the national average, which people always consider when moving to a new place. You can not miss out on all the fun things to do here and experience the excellent education it offers!”

“Okemos, another Michigan community, was ranked fourth on Niche’s Best Places to Live in America list in 2017. Many people flock to this little city of 22,000 people in Ingham County. They do so because of its excellent school system, which is the main reason they choose to stay,” says Termaine Real Estate.

Morse Moving echoes the above statement, “A much smaller city than Ann Arbor, Okemos came in at the 4th best place to live in America in 2017. The city’s housing market is very cost-effective and, on top of the availability of the best schools in the area, makes it very appealing to families. Sporting free parks, a nature center, and hiking trails, Okemos is conveniently located close to farms where you can purchase fresh produce.”

4. Kalamazoo

While this city is number four on our list, it has to be number one in fun names to say. This southern city is home to all things nature and science with amazing trails to explore. HomeIA says, “Kalamazoo is located in the southwest region of the lower peninsula and has a population of around 75,000 people. The city is home to one of the larger public universities in the state, Western Michigan University. Its economy is diverse, ranging from breweries and distilleries to life sciences, industrial design, and research. Anyone who appreciates culture will love the opportunities offered in Kalamazoo. There’s an ‘Art Hop’ on the first Friday of every month, featuring a multitude of downtown businesses and galleries. The downtown features plenty of music, exhibitions, restaurants, festivals, and museums.

Kalamazoo State Hospital Water Tower
Kalamazoo State Hospital Water Tower (Photo by Robert Vergeson on Unsplash)

Speaking on it’s incredible name, here’s some history about it from UpNest, “The name Kalamazoo comes from Potawatomi origins and reflects the indigenous peoples who first lived there. However, the name sounds exotic and playful to many Americans, who don’t realize there is a real city in their country with this name. You can buy t-shirts in the city that say, ‘Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo’.”

Get ready to shop ’till you drop, “As it was home to the first pedestrian mall in America, it is often called ‘Mall City’ with all kinds of local shops and restaurants still occupying its walkable downtown. While K’zoo boasts thriving arts, dining and nightlife scenes, it is also noted for its numerous parks and peaceful riverside walks. Aside from the students of Western Michigan University, plenty of young professionals and families live in the city for its high quality of life and low cost of living,” adds Touropia.

5. Troy

This city is located in Oakland County and is the 13th most-populous city in the state and is considered a suburb of Detroit. It sits to the north of the major city. Diversity and education is important inside this city, “Troy is one of the best places to live in Michigan if you’re looking for diversity. The area in and around Troy is more ethnically diverse than most other areas of the state. A lot of people choose Troy for its excellent schools. According to a US News report, Troy High School is listed as one of the best high schools in Michigan. Visitors come to Troy for good shopping opportunities like the upscale Somerset Mall with 180 stores,” says Life in the USA.

Credit Donkey talks about it being a reasonable place to move to, “the city of Troy’s appeal is based largely on its low crime rate and moderate housing prices. This affluent community of 82,000 is consistently ranked one of the top places to live, thanks to the strength of its economy and numerous attractions. Commute times are a little longer, averaging just under 25 minutes, but if you’re looking for beautiful homes, top-rated schools and world-class dining, Troy is the place to be.”

“An affluent town, Troy boasts of exquisite homes, highly rated schools, world-class dining, and a plethora of entertainment options. The town has a low crime rate, a vibrant economy, and residents here enjoy a short commute,” says the Nomad Lawyer, “If you’re a history buff, you’ll love the historic village area in this charming town which provides classes in woodcarving, blacksmithing, and log cabin cooking.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


About Winston McDaniel

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Hyedi says:

    I’m a Upper Michigan (Yooper) Native and it’s bewildering to me how half of Michigsn gets overlooked. Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids has nothing on Marquette Michigan or Houghton Michigan.
    No crime, leave your doors unlocked, and the friendliest people you will ever meet.
    But maybe your on to something by leaving the U.P out..less people up here equals peaceful and less pollution.

  2. Colleen curtisbodnar says:

    Who writes this crap. All of the cities you listed are full of crime and most recently homeless camps. Not one mention of the beautiful cities and towns in the UP of MI. I know some forget that we exist but that SOME. are missing out on many of the best and most beautiful places in MI. Expand your research.

  3. Charlie says:

    This honestly is super biased. Clearly it is based on opinions of youth (18-24) that are still in college. Kalamazoo is a terrible place to live. Especially with the lack of jobs. I would say the same about GR but at least they have jobs. Ann Arbor or Lansing would be good places if the towns weren’t so politically based. I couldn’t even walk down a street in Ann Arbor without a protester asking me questions. Overall, this is a poorly written article. It could be better if the writer actually lived in these cites that are listed

  4. David Sinka says:

    Most people don’t want to live in a city…..yuck

    1. Rally-for-the-Win says:

      According to demographic data, 83% of Americans live in “urban” environments. Seems like “most” people, to me.

  5. Mary Ann Palamarchuk says:

    You forgot about the breathtaking Upper Peninsula where u could touch the sky, stars and moon with your fingertips. To see the Milky Way galaxy with your naked eye as if you were flying past it in a space craft. So breathtakingly beautiful and amazing. I never want to leave the Upper Peninsula again! I’m in love with the UP 🥰♥️🌌🌠☄️

  6. Angie says:

    Most these cities are trash kalamazoo may be fun to say but lock your doors and drive fast through there its right there with flint no clean drinking water homeless everywhere poverty guns and drugs dont know why its on this list your gunna get people killed.

  7. Jo says:

    Truthfully alot may not realize But Flint is not so bad. It just depends on where in Flint you live.

  8. Rick says:

    Growing up in Grand Rapids. The idiot who wrote this has obviously never been to Michigan or they are a bigger idiot than I thought. City punk obviously