Relocating to Grand Rapids: Here is why I believe Grand Rapids is America’s best place to live!

I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, when I was 16 years old. You can say I was very lucky that my parents chose Grand Rapids for me. However, many people are not as lucky and they have to go on a quest themselves to find just the right place to both support and raise their family. In this way, Grand Rapids has served my family well for many years. Not only do we love Grand Rapids, but it is also where all my rental properties are located, and there is a reason for it: I believe Grand Rapids is one of America’s best places to live!

And I am not the only one who thinks so. According to the US News and World report, Grand Rapids Michigan was listed as the 13th best places to live in America. Likewise, Reuters has named Grand Rapids a ‘superstar’ city, and Business Facilities Magazine ranked Grand Rapids as the No. 1 U.S. mid sized city for economic growth potential. This is because Grand Rapids offers a small town feel with access to all the big city amenities, and has a strong and healthy job market. Entrepreneurship is booming in our city with strong support from many economic sectors. In addition, housing is affordable and even though the average salary is below the national level, a dollar in GR goes much further than in more expensive states.

If you are someone who enjoys a good festival you will find it easy to immerse yourself into the arts and cultural scene! One of my favorites is ArtPrize. ArtPrize is a biennial event which awards over 500k in prizes to artists from 41 states and 40 countries. $200k is voted by the public and $200k by a jury of art experts. The artwork is displayed in over 165 locations around Grand Rapids. The festival is open to the public, free and attracts over 500,000 visitors making it the most attended art event in the world in 2014/15.

But, ArtPrize is just one of the many, we also have Grand Rapids Founders Festival, GRand Jazz Fest, Grand Rapids Pride Festival, Festival of Arts (where my wife Raquel and I painted the heart that is pictured above), and one of my personal favorites, the Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival.

With a booming cultural scene, Grand Rapids also satisfies the foodie’s tastebuds with local hidden gems all over the city. When Raquel and I feel like eating out, the options are limitless. If we want some european cuisine, Amore Trattoria is always our first choice for out-of-this-world Italian food. We hit Forty Acres when we feel like an authentic soul food restaurant with an upscale vibe. 

For Mexican fare, our city has so many fantastic options! We often find ourselves at Luna, Mexo, or Maya. For something a little more low key, but equally delicious, we often enjoy Tacos El Cunado, La Vencedora, El Granjero, Tamales Mary, La Casa del Pollo Loco, and El Toro Bravo just to mention a few.

For a Caribbean experience, we LOVE Danzon Cubano’s cuban cuisine. You have to try some of their mojo-braised pork paired with their specialty drink, “The Hemingway.” Your tastebuds will leave dancing! Another of our favorite, Chez Olga .  Chez Olga was recently renovated by the Food Network’s hit show Restaurant: Impossible. I have experienced real Caribbean heat and traditional Creole with every bite! And Rincon Criollo offers fantastic Dominican and Puerto Rican feasts. 

And lastly, the classic Yesterdog for good old fashioned hot dogs!  Featured in the movie American Pie, and enjoyed by many celebrities passing through, this 1930-40s decorated restaurant has won Grand Rapids Magazine’s Best Hotdog category every year since 1991!

If you prefer a drink after a bike, hike, SUP board session, The Score, Bar Divani, and Braans are our favorite spots. If you like beer as much as I do, you will be happy to know there are plenty of bars and breweries to choose from, after all, Grand Rapids is named Beer City US for good reason! Some of our favorite places to visit with friends are: Brewery Vivant, Creston Brewery, City Built Brewery, Founders Brewing, and Harmony Brewing Company.

We also enjoy dancing. Oh yeah, we can dance! And Grand Rapids has plenty of options. Swing dancing on Tuesdays at Rosa Parks is one of our favorites. When we want to dance the night out we hit Billy’s, The Pyramid Scheme, or any DJ Tony Banks’ dance parties that are rich with salsa, merengue, and reggaeton jams.

Last, but most certainly not least, my favorite thing about Grand Rapids is the diversity and warmth of it’s people. Our community is beautiful, caring, and actively involved in making Grand Rapids the best place to live and work. With a small town feel, it’s not uncommon for people to wave and warmly greet you as you walk past and treat you like family from day one. Every Grand Rapids suburb and neighborhood has a flavour of their own. Allow me to match you with a home and neighborhood where you can check all your ‘must haves’ off your list.