Is Michigan a Good Place to Live? (15 Pros and Cons)

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Must Things To Know Before Moving To Michigan

Is Michigan a good place to live? Before you pack up and move, let’s explore this question and closely examine the pros and cons of living in Michigan.

Is Michigan A Good Place To Live?

Affordable housing, scenic beauty, access to the Great Lakes, outdoor recreation, four weather seasons, and an active college and pro sports scene make Michigan a great place to live.

Local real estate professional Kevin Irwin echos the great things about Michigan living but highlights that the harsh winters, infrastructure issues, lake effect weather, and dependence on the auto industry create some challenges (source).

With so much to consider, I recommend you carefully examine the following pros and cons of Michigan living.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Michigan: Side-By-Side Comparison

Living in Michigan ProsLiving in Michigan Cons
1. Lifestyle choices9. Harsh winter weather
2. Modest cost of living10. Poor road conditions
3. Scenic beauty11. Inconsistent economy
4. Four weather seasons12. High cost of college
5. Outdoor recreation13. Suspect governance
6. Festivals, arts, culture14. Excessive taxes
7. College and pro sports15. Costly auto insurance
8. Excellent higher ed
Table 1: Pros and Cons of Living and Retiring in Michigan

Next, let’s dive deeper into the good and bad points about your possible Michigan lifestyle.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros Of Living In Michigan

1. There Are A Variety Of Lifestyle Choices To Select From In Michigan

Michigan has something to offer every lifestyle choice. Your options range from country living to big-city life and everything in between.

Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, is enjoying increased popularity. The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metropolitan area is home to more than 4 million people.

Grand Rapids is Michigan’s second-largest city. The city is often cited for its overall high quality of life.

Michigan has hundreds of small towns. So, you can relax and settle down in a smaller community.

Consider the state’s upper peninsula (UP) for outdoorsy types that prefer remote living. It is a heavily forested region extending out from the northeast border state of Wisconsin.

Finally, Michigan has some excellent college towns:

  • Ann Arbor (University of Michigan)
  • East Lansing (Michigan State University)
  • Kalamazoo (Western Michigan University)
  • Mount Pleasant (Central Michigan University)

2. Michigan Offers Residents A Reasonable Cost Of Living

Michigan residents benefit from the modest cost of living.

First, the median home value is about 40% less than the comparable national figure. (Source: Redfin and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

For renters, the state’s average rental is nearly 20% lower than the national average. (Source: World Population Review)

Food, healthcare, transportation, goods, and services run close to the averages across the country. (Source: RentCafe)

Finally, here are several tips for maximizing your money in Michigan and beyond.

Pro money tip #1: Use the cash rebate app from Rakuten to save money on all of your online purchases.

Pro money tip #2: Try the online tool from Empower. It’s free and an excellent app for pulling your expenses, budget, and investments together in one place.

Pro money tip #3: States with the lowest cost of living.

3. Michigan Has Tons Of Scenic Beauty And A Unique Landscape

Michigan’s landscape is different than other areas in the Midwest.

First, the state is surrounded by vast amounts of water from the Great Lakes. Thus, living in Michigan is similar to living by the ocean.

benefits of living in MichiganPin

Furthermore, the state’s coastline borders four out of the five Great Lakes, most of any state in the Midwest.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula have just one side of their land connected to the lower 48 states. First is the Midwest state of Indiana, south of the Lower Peninsula. Second is the state of Wisconsin to the southwest of the Upper Peninsula.

Otherwise, Michigan’s peninsulas are landmasses that shoot out into the Great Lakes, providing some of the Midwest’s best beaches and waterfront living options.

Michigan is also home to more than 11,000 inland lakes. Tell that to the residents of Minnesota, known as “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”.

As a result, you will find access to over 3,000 miles of waterfront coastline, second only to the vast coastal state of Alaska.

Finally, other points of interest for Michigan outdoor explorers include:

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • The Black Rocks of Presque Isle Park
  • Fisherman’s Island State Park
  • Tahquamenon Falls
  • Mackinac Island
  • Porcupine Mountains
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore

4. Four Season Living In Michigan

Living in Michigan means you will enjoy the state’s four weather seasons.

Spring temperatures thaw the winter chill. And bring the lush forests and countryside to life.

Summers are warm and inviting. They provide the opportunity to visit beaches along the Great Lakes.

Autumn is a beautiful season. The temperatures turn cool and crisp. The leaves turn vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange.

Finally, winter arrives, bringing snow for your white Christmas and ushering in the new year.

5. Outdoor Recreation Opportunities In Michigan

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Michigan has many options for outdoor enthusiasts. Consider these possibilities:

  • Kayaking
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Hunting
  • Skiing
  • Ice skating
  • Snowmobiling
  • Golfing

So, if you’re an outdoorsy type, then it’s tough to find a better place to enjoy rugged outdoor adventures in one of the best Midwest states for living.

6. Michigan Has Festivals, Arts, And Culture

Consider Michigan’s other recreational and cultural options when you tire of outdoor pursuits, including:

  • Tulip Time Festival in Holland
  • Grand Rapids Art Festival
  • Henry Ford Museum
  • Detroit theatre district
  • Motown

Finally, try the Lake Express ferry in Muskegon, MI. It will take you across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. There, you can explore the Milwaukee metropolitan area and beyond.

7. College And Professional Sports Are Alive And Well In Michigan

In Michigan, Detroit is home to several pro sports teams.

  • Tigers: Major League Baseball
  • Pistons: National Basketball Association
  • Lions: National Football League
  • Red Wings: National Hockey League

Collegiate sports are also a big attraction. The annual Michigan vs. Ohio State football game is a classic example. OSU, their arch-enemy, calls Columbus, Ohio, home.

There is one thing the college sports fans in Michigan can agree on. Specifically, no one has much use for any sports teams hailing from Ohio State University.

Finally, the University of Michigan versus Michigan State rivalry is hotly contested, too. It is one of the fiercest intra-state feuds you will find.

Speaking of college, higher ed is another area that falls into the pros of living in Michigan.

8. Michigan Offers Excellent Higher Education Opportunites

pros and cons of moving to MichiganPin

Michigan’s university system is top-notch for the educational opportunities it offers.

I’ve mentioned several of the schools previously. But here are a few examples in summary form according to U.S. News:

  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • Michigan State University – East Lansing
  • University of Detroit Mercy – Detroit
  • Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant
  • Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo
  • Wayne State University – Detroit

Okay. That concludes my list of advantages of living in Michigan. Now it’s time to balance this conversation and cover the disadvantages of living in Michigan.

Cons Of Living In Michigan

9. Cold, Snowy, Cloudy Winters

Michigan has harsh winter weather.

First, the state gets a lot of lake-effect snow. The snow comes from cold air moving from the north and passing over the warmer Great Lakes.

So, the large annual snowfall here is measured in feet, not inches. Most schools and businesses will not close because of a snowstorm. So, you will need to adapt if you are moving from a state where a dusting of snow shuts everything down.

Michigan experiences many dark winter days. The state often has cloudy skies and limited hours of Midwest daylight.

Finally, Michigan’s cold winter temperatures will get your attention. For example, high temperatures seldom crack above the freezing point from December through February. At the same time, low temperatures will often go below zero.

To summarize, prepare for long, dark, harsh winters after moving to Michigan. Stock up on warm clothes, ice scrapers, and snow removal equipment. Or, move to a warm-weather state!

10. Poor Transportation Infrastructure Throughout The State Of Michigan

The Wolverine StatePin

Michigan drivers experience less than the best conditions.

First, the roads are generally poor (Source: Consumer Affairs). Extreme seasonal temperatures and snow cause cracking and potholes. Road repairs are not always done on a timely basis.

Michigan locals joke that there are only two seasons here. First, winter. And second, road construction season!

Second, access to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is limited. Only one significant highway (Interstate 75) heads north into the UP. After arriving, rural country roads are prevalent. So, plan some extra travel time.

Finally, there is the Michigan left turn. You will discover the streets are designed differently here. Drivers must turn right before making a U-turn to go in the opposite direction.

11. Michigan Provides Spotty Economic Opportunity

Michigan’s economy has traditionally been cyclical because it relied heavily on the automotive industry. Furthermore, the state’s unemployment typically runs higher than the U.S. average.

On the other hand, the economy has become more diversified since the Great Recession of 2008 through 2009 took a heavy toll.

12. You Will Pay The Price For A College Degree

Michigan has some excellent universities, as I mentioned earlier. However, the price tag for a degree is high.

The cost of a college degree is rarely cheap, no matter where you attend school. On the other hand, some states offer higher education at more affordable prices than others.

For example, the southwest state of New Mexico has some of the lowest in-state tuition rates.

reasons not to move to MichiganPin

13. Questionable State And City Governance

Michigan’s governance has come under scrutiny in the past. Please let me provide two examples.

Detroit came under the microscope in 2013 as the most prominent American city to declare bankruptcy.

Flint, MI, had a public health crisis in 2014. The city’s drinking water was contaminated with lead and bacteria. Unfortunately, many areas of the state struggle to provide this essential service.

14. Plan On Paying A Lot Of Taxes After Moving To Michigan

Living in Michigan means you won’t catch a break on taxes here.

First, Michigan has a flat income tax rate of more than 4.25%. Some local communities also collect an income tax.

Second, Michigan’s property tax rate is one of the highest in the country. On average, locals pay about 1.5% of the assessed value of their property annually.

Finally, sales taxes take a toll, too. They grab another 6% on top of your purchases of goods necessary for your Michigan lifestyle.

Michigan’s high taxes and winter weather are a couple of strikes against anyone considering the pros and cons of retiring in Michigan.

15. Residents Pay A Steep Price For Auto Insurance

Michigan has high auto insurance rates compared to other states in the country.

The excessive cost is partly due to legislation related to the No-Fault Car Insurance System and Compulsory Personal Injury Protection.

Okay. That’s all I have for you today about life in Michigan. Please allow me to wrap up with some parting thoughts.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Michigan – A Good Place To Live?

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I hope this discussion has helped you to address these critical questions before moving to Michigan.

  1. What is Michigan like?
  2. Is Michigan a good place to live?
  3. Should I move to Michigan?

Most importantly, best of luck wherever you choose to settle down.

More Reading About Living In Michigan And Beyond

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Michigan Explained