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Grand Rapids
  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $812   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1396   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  northeast US)

79% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
snow
cheapest rent, commutable to more expensive cities 6
hipsters trying too hard, MLK hood, the 1% live here, ramblehood, dive bars, older Christians, white Christianville are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Grand Rapids roommate rundown:

Probably most importantly for most is Grand Rapids is smaller, more navigably compact, more family-friendly, more neighborly, less expensive, with lower crime and better air quality . . . but still close enough to travel regularly to both Chicago and Detroit.

Not many commute round trip several times a week for work, but a few times a month for the cultural amenities exclusive to the largest urban areas? That's a good time for many roommates.

But what's to love when you're home in Grand Rapids?

It's lovingly and variously nicknamed: "Furniture City" (as the home of 5 leading office furniture companies), "River City" (the Grand River) and "Beer City" (there are about 40 popular craft beer spots right in the urban area).

Hopefully you'll also love all the seasonal weather. Grand Rapids' humid continental climate means humid warm summers, cold snowy winters, and enjoyably mild but short spring and fall seasons. Grand Rapids is one of the country's most snowy cities, with an average of 75 inches a year.

And hopefully you'll enjoy some of that seasonal weather outdoors. About 75% of residents live within a few minutes walking distance of a public park! You may also love the proximity to freshwater beaches, plus the two large urban nature centers totaling over 300 acres?

You may not love the lack of professional sports teams (they're all playing in nearby Chicago and Detroit), but it would only make sense to learn to love local ice hockey.

Grand Rapids is also well-known as a center for Christian publishing and excellent fruit. They particularly love their locally grown apples, peaches, and blueberries.

The rest of the Grand Rapids roommate lowdown:

  • Grand Rapids was developed on the banks of the Grand River, 25 miles inland from Lake Michigan, where there was once a set of rapids above sea level that ships used for navigation. Grand River still flows through the center, but the rapids were long ago eradicated by dams.
  • You will definitely need both heat and air conditioning for all the seasonal weather.
  • second largest city in Michigan with about 200,000 within the city limits and about 550,000 in the surrounding county
  • You can tell which quadrant of the city is referenced by its street address, they mostly have NW, NE, SW, or SE after the street name. East to west roads are usually called "Street." North to south roads are usually called "Avenue."
  • There are connected bike routes, and "The Rapid" bus service has routes throughout the city. DASH buses ("Downtown Area Shuttle") provide free rides to and from parking lots designated as loading areas. But most of the time, especially during winter, you'll probably want a car. Convenient free parking is available most places outside downtown, and even downtown parking is not usually enforced evenings and weekends.
  • home to several colleges and universities, including Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, the Kendall College of Art and Design, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and Western Michigan University
  • Heritage Hill is one of the largest urban historic districts. You and your roommates could stroll by over 1300 structures representing over 60 architectural styles, all within one neighborhood directly east of downtown.
  • center for Christian publishing companies and several private religious schools
  • known as a center for apple, peach, and blueberry farming



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Grand Rapids':

  • Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park: An outdoor sculpture park and the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan, plus an amphitheater with concerts in the summer
  • Grand Rapids Ballet: If you and your roommates enjoy ballet, don't miss Michigan's only professional ballet company
  • Blues on the Mall: Every Wednesday during the summer at Rosa Parks Circle. It's the best for summer downtown people watching.
  • ArtPrize: Sculptures, murals, paintings, and performances! All in downtown Grand Rapids, and all competing for a cash prize of at least $200,000. Some say it's the world's largest art prize decided by public vote.
  • home to two large urban nature centers, the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve, and the Blandford Nature Center, in total over 300 acres of nature trails, wildlife preserves, an animal hospital, and their "heritage village"
  • Grand Rapids Symphony: The largest performance arts organizations in Grand Rapids. Since 1930!


Here's the city of Grand Rapids' official .gov Downtown Commuter Resource Guide, including a helpful map of bike trails.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.