Michigan is famous for being the bedrock of America’s auto industry, but the Great Lake State is as perfect a state as they come. Leave the harsh long winters aside, although you could start looking at the glass half full if you lived here long enough.
For starters, Michigan has such an abundant natural beauty that is hard to match.
No other state lays claim to such a wide stretch of freshwater shoreline as Michigan and its 3,000 miles of shore, with a million-and-one family-friendly attractions naturally built to encourage an active, outdoor lifestyle.
Everyone here happens to live within six miles of either a stream or a lake, but this should come as no surprise given the state has an astounding 11,000 inland lakes.
From millions of acres of forests, to thousands of miles of scenic trails, golf courses and ski areas, 100 parks and recreation areas less one, and close to 10 million acres of public land, Michigan has it all.
Even Popular Science magazine has given it a seal of approval by noting that Michigan will be the best place to live in America by the year 2100.
But its draw extends beyond the natural charm.
Well-paying jobs and high-quality education are a recurrent theme in Michigan. The 13th largest state economy by GDP is home to the University of Michigan, ranked fourth best public university in America by the U.S. News & World Report.
This is a state not short of well-paying jobs in sectors such as technology, professional and business services – trade, utilities, construction and transportation – not to mention leisure and hospitality.
Add one of the lowest cost of living in the Midwest to that equation, and it is not hard to see why Michigan remains a hot destination for tourists and potential residents alike.
Here then, are the 15 best places to live in Michigan for anyone looking to relocate in/to the Water Winter Wonderland.
1. Ann Arbor
It is at Ann Arbor that the eminent University of Michigan is based. But the city of 116,000 residents located in Washtenaw County is famous for more than that.
The 130-mile Huron River also lies here, and the area is also known for its nature areas and bountiful parks, a vibrant economy, low crime, a progressive culture, regular festivals and free outdoor music.
Throw in first-rate schools, beautiful neighborhoods and a happening downtown to that assortment, and what you have is the best place you can possibly live in Michigan.
That’s right, the livability of Ann Arbor hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rankings that be because this, this is the no. 1 Best City to Live in America, according to the 2017 rankings by data company Niche.
Some of the accolades the area has received recently include the country’s most educated city, one of the best cities for liberals in America, one of the best places to live for singles (families too), as well as the top travel destination in the Midwest.
And to think you could get a decent home at the average price of $240,700 almost sounds implausible. Only that it’s not.
Okemos was another Michigan city that appeared in a separate 2017 list by Niche, coming in at #4 in the Best Places to Live in America.
The little city of just 22,000 draws many to its shores in Ingham County for a top-notch school system that is, for many, the main reason they choose to stay here.
The quality of life is excellent, and housing is way cost effective. Median home value is $194,200 – it is possible to own a typical four-bedroom two-bath mansion for just $230,000.
There are many safe parks in Okemos where children can run free for hours; a nature centre with several hiking trails and even a historical village that comes complete with a chapel that hosts weddings, a general store and fishing pond.
Okemos is also conveniently located within close proximity of many small farms that produce all the fresh produce recommended by your nutritionist.
3. East Grand Rapids
The Grand Rapids is widely regarded as one of the best places to live in the Wolverine State, and the 2017 U.S. News & World Report ranked it #19 in Best Places to Live in America (dropping from #13 in 2016) and the fourth best place to retire.
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.
Homes are valued at an average $270,100.
If you are a family man, this Detroit suburb located in Oakland County is more ideal to raise your kids than Beverly Hills, California.
The five public schools in the city of 20,500 are known for churning out some of the sharpest tools in the Michigan shed, with test scores averaging 21% higher than the national.
More than three-quarters of the residents in Birmingham are college educated. And they earn pretty decent too, averaging $108,135 per household annually.
Unemployment rate is 48% lower than the national average, and the city is safer than 83% of all American cities.
The only blot on Birmingham’s perfect resume seems to be housing. Median home value is $410,700, which is on the higher end of the Michigan spectrum.
Speaking of Beverly Hills…
5. Beverly Hills
Michigan also happens to have its own version of Beverly Hills.
Nestled in Oakland County, the Beverly Hills of Michigan is smaller, less swanky than its California counterpart, but the best thing about this village of 10,500 residents is that it has a soul. It is less plastic, with a welcoming community whose charm is hard to miss.
Living here is a safe choice, and the chances of you being the victim of property crime is a paltry 1 per cent.
The village is speckled with numerous stately craftsman properties, with plenty of Cape Cod style homes and Colonial style houses.
And the good thing is that unlike its Californian namesake, a home won’t cost you a fortune, with the average going rate in the area sitting at an attractive $285,500.
The Riverside Park provides great picnic and fishing grounds, with Beverly Park certain to appeal to bikers and hikers.
And if the need to dine out on occasion strikes your fancy, there are plenty of nice restaurants along Southfield Road, along with numerous specialty stores and brand name retailers.
Sure, with an annual $106,161 income per household, on average, there is plenty of cash to spare, or rather, splash around.
Novi is a suburb of close to 58,000 residents in Oakland County, a highly desirable county with some of the best places to live in the state.
It sits about the halfway point between Detroit and Ann Harbor, making it just the perfect spot anyone looking for a suburban lifestyle with urban convenience.
As with all other places on this list, Novi ranks highly for education, income levels and safety.
Residents take home a combined $82,587 per household annually, and the odds of you falling prey to violent crime is one in a little over 1,500.
Novi is one of the fastest growing cities in Michigan, and it continues to attract a number of top employers, including the likes of Magna International and Ryder.
And oh, it is quite diverse too, boasting the highest Japanese population of any city in the Great Lake State. They number more than 2,600.
Troy is another town in Oakland County found roughly 25 miles north of Detroit.
What has mostly appealed to the 82,600 residents living here is the low crime rate in the area and reasonably-priced housing, with homes averaging $230,400.
But Troy also boasts a vibrant economy, and commute times average a little under 25 minutes.
If these factors rank high on your agenda, along with top-rated schools, beautiful homes, world-class dining and plenty of attractions, then the affluent town of Troy is just the ideal place for you.
There is also a historic village area in Troy which offers classes in log cabin cooking (talk about prepping!) woodcarving and blacksmithing.
8. Farmington Hills
Farmington Hills is one of the most naturally striking places in Michigan, and that is quite a statement in a state largely famed for its sheer, immaculate beauty.
But the upscale Detroit suburb of 80,971 residents is not just looks without substance.
53% of residents hold a college degree at the minimum, with five great public schools whose average test scores blow the national average out of the water.
You can rent a place for $1,026, and the median home value is $207,200. But with families earning more than most nationally ($71,609) they are well cushioned against the slightly higher cost of living, with great perks to boot.
In addition to the aforementioned, there are multiple art galleries in the area, a vintage cinema and vibrant downtown.
What’s more, the overall crime rate is 66% lower than the national, and the area is safer than 80% of the cities in the United States.
While still speaking Farmington, the similarly named suburb of Detroit is smaller than Farmington Hills, with a population of 10,500. It has firmly grabbed a spot on Niche’s Best Places to Live in Michigan, ranking #22 (Farmington Hills follows closely at position 26).
Farmington is famed for its historic district, Victorian-style homes and high-performing schools, factors that have all contributed to CNNMoney featuring it several times in its Best Places to Live survey.
The cost of living in Farmington reflects what is best about Michigan: such a high quality of life in relation to living costs.
Median home value in Farmington Hills is $158,300, $20,000 cheaper than the national average. Same case with the rental prices ($911 vs. national’s $928).
Which means the annual household income of $62,261 goes a longer way here in Farmington, considering the national average is $53,889.
There is so much to love about this gorgeous suburb.
Midland is a town of 42,000 residents located in Midland County.
If you are on the hunt for a perfect setting that guarantees the benefits of city life without the stratospheric costs that go with it, Midland is just the place for you.
Most of the residents here ply their trade in the white collar sector, and that alone should give you a hint of the kind of place you can expect.
However, what goes contrary to expectation is the low cost of living in Midland. Like awesomely low.
Median home value is $140,900, which is about the cost of a decent three-bedroom three-bath single-family home! Rent itself averages $731, shaving 200 dollars off the national average. Well, almost – $197 to be exact.
Some of the biggest employers include Chemical Bank and Dow Corning, both of which are headquartered in this county seat.
Add a low crime rate to that mix and you will understand why Forbes named Midland, Michigan as a best small city to bring up a family.
The uniquely named Kalamazoo is a town of 75,500 residents and the seat of Kalamazoo County.
The bustling town is situated near Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, within close proximity to both Grand Rapids and Lansing.
It is a favourite among families and professionals looking for the best that Michigan has to offer, yet cost-effective at the same time.
Homes here fetch at $96,600 on average. The nightlife is buzzing, partly due to the presence of Western Michigan University.
The dining scene features everything from out of the way cafes, to the oldest microbrewery in the state, with a vibrant art scene as characterized by the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts which houses over than 3,600 works.
You will also find an indoor amusement park and aviation museum at Air Zoo, where you can get a good feel of how a WWII bombing mission would be like.
If you are looking for a home on the outskirts of Detroit with a small community feel to it, you can’t do better than Northville.
The little suburb is home to just 6,000 residents, although the wider Northville Township homes more than 28,000 people.
Cost of living in Northville is a wee bit high (houses go for $271,500 on average) but this is characteristic of small communities with everything to offer.
Top-class schools, low crime, beautiful surrounds, plenty of attractions and high salaries to match.
For its part, Northville is a gorgeous historic suburb ranked the 20th best place to live in Michigan by Niche.
It presents a wide array of choices for homebuyers, ranging from stately Victorian homes, to modern townhouses and condos, with residents taking home $95,478 on average.
The Northville Art House will appeal to arts and culture enthusiasts what with its gallery exhibits and public classes. The city parks are well maintained and guarantee enough room for outdoor recreation aficionados who are into things swimming, biking or hiking; fishing even.
Rochester is a town in Oakland County that is home to 12,900 residents.
The community is made up of several distinct neighbourhoods, and the 3.8-sq. mile Rochester was recently named one of the Best Places to Live of Small U.S. Cities by Time Magazine.
Residents here enjoy a high income that amounts to $75,043 on average per household, with 57% of them having a minimum of a college degree.
The area scores a strong A+ for education on Niche.com, A- for jobs, A- for outdoor activities and A- for nightlife.
Crime is not as low as one would ideally want it to be, but there is a reason Rochester scores A+ on the “Good for Families” category.
Overall, it is a beautiful and amazing place, with plenty going on to keep its residents happy.
Berkley is a suburb of Detroit that is home to 15,000 people.
The town is known for its classic car parade that runs through the city along 12 Mile Road, an area awash with amazing dining, shopping and nightlife options.
Coldwell Banker ranked Berkley as a best place to live for reasons aplenty.
The city suburb provides homebuyers with ample housing options that include cottage, Cape Cod and craftsman style properties. And the icing on the cake is that the cost of homes around here is as affordable as it gets, with the median value standing at $150,800.
The overall cost of living is also low in Berkley, and this must be music to the ears of the residents who take home an average $73,111 each year, as they are guaranteed a dollar bill here stretches a long, long way.
With a number of high-performing public schools and low crime, it is no surprise that many families choose to settle in this beautiful corner of Michigan.
Rounding off our list of 15 best places to live in Michigan is Plymouth, a Detroit suburb with a population of about 9,000 people that you will find nestled in Wayne County.
Plymouth has some highly rated public schools that are one of the main draws to this area. It also boasts plenty of outdoor attractions for a town its size.
The scenic Hilltop Golf Course is a popular playground for golf lovers, while the Plymouth Riverside Park provides impeccable grounds to unwind or go for a stroll. The weekly farmers market is a great spot to congregate with neighbours.
Plymouth also hosts several events to keep everyone entertained, including the Taste of Plymouth and Art in the Park, not to mention posh boutiques and delightful eateries.
It is a beautiful community to be a part of; a community where homes sell for $224,300 on average.