The Great Lakes State has long been a treasure trove of natural beauty and urban charm.
For anyone thinking about relocating to Michigan, it can be hard to zero in on your new town with so many stellar options filling the state. Still, some spots shine a tad brighter than others. Whether it’s the allure of serene lakesides or the hustle and bustle of a burgeoning metropolis, the best places to live in Michigan offer rich experiences in tight communities.
From the cultured streets of Ann Arbor to the rejuvenated spirit of Detroit, and the coastal charisma of Traverse City to the northern mystique of Marquette, this article takes a dive into the must-consider locales of Michigan so you can rest assured you’ll settle down in the right place for you.
- Population: 119,980
- Average age: 27.7
- Median household income: $65,745
- Average commute time: 18.8 minutes
- Walk score: 50
- Studio average rent: $1,713
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,963
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,060
Known for its tree-lined streets, friendly neighborhoods and welcoming community, Ann Arbor boasts a unique blend of small-town warmth with big-city amenities. This is a place where you can stroll through serene parks during the day and attend a world-class performance in the evening, all while breathing in that fresh Michigan air.
Often called the “Athens of the Midwest,” Ann Arbor’s commitment to education is evident. Home to the renowned University of Michigan, the city pulses with an intellectual vigor that attracts brilliant minds from all over the world. But it’s not just about higher education—the local public schools are some of the best in the state, ensuring that learners of all ages have access to quality education.
With the university at its heart, there’s a robust job market in education and research in Ann Arbor. Additionally, the thriving tech scene has earned it the nickname “Silicon Valley of the Midwest.” Biotech, healthcare and various startups also offer ample employment opportunities, making Ann Arbor a hotbed for professionals seeking growth outside of a large city.
Beyond its professional allure, Ann Arbor is rich in cultural attractions. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is one of the most celebrated events of its kind in the country. For film enthusiasts, the Michigan Theater offers an old-time cinema experience, while the diverse eateries reflect a truly global palate. And let’s not forget the Wolverines. Football Saturdays at the ‘Big House’ turn the entire town maize and blue.
For nature enthusiasts, the Huron River offers a serene escape and the city’s numerous parks and trails invite year-round exploration. Meanwhile, those who appreciate bustling nightlife will find no shortage of bars, music venues and theaters to quench their thirst for entertainment.
- Population: 33,366
- Average age: 34
- Median household income: $54,167
- Average commute time: 24.7 minutes
- Walk score: 47
- Studio average rent: $N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,115
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,282
Holland radiates a unique charm, characterized by its harmonious blend of historic allure and modern comforts. Its streets, with well-maintained Dutch architecture, invite leisurely walks, while the wafting scent of tulips in spring is enough to enchant anyone into feeling they’ve stepped into a European fairy tale.
As with many of the best places to live in Michigan, Holland places a strong emphasis on education. Hope College, a private liberal arts institution, stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to academic excellence. Local public schools also provide high-quality education, ensuring that young minds are nurtured and well-prepared for the future.
Holland’s economy is diverse. From manufacturing to tourism, the city offers a range of employment prospects. Companies like Herman Miller and Haworth have put Holland on the map in the realm of furniture design and production. Additionally, the healthcare and education sectors provide ample opportunities for professionals.
The annual Tulip Time Festival is a riot of color and a celebration of Holland’s Dutch roots, drawing visitors from near and far. Windmill Island Gardens, featuring the authentic working windmill “De Zwaan,” offers a glimpse into traditional Dutch scenery. And then, there’s the gorgeous Holland State Park, a favorite for its sandy beaches and iconic red lighthouse, providing residents and tourists alike an open space to bask in Lake Michigan’s splendor.
The city’s downtown district is a treasure trove of boutiques, eateries and breweries, making it a hub for daytime exploration and evening entertainment. And as the seasons change, Holland ensures there’s always something to do, be it ice skating in the winter or boat rides throughout summer.
- Population: 198,401
- Average age: 31
- Median household income: $49,201
- Average commute time: 20.4 minutes
- Walk score: 57
- Studio average rent: $1,295
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,150
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,401
Grand Rapids offers a rhythm of life that suits the bustling city-lover and the laid-back homebody. With the Grand River flowing through its heart, the city’s landscape is adorned with lush parks and scenic spots ideal for relaxation and recreation. Its neighborhoods, each with its distinct personality, ensure there’s a niche for everyone, whether you fancy urban chic or suburban tranquility.
Among the best places to live in Michigan, Grand Rapids stands tall with its commitment to education. With institutions like Grand Valley State University and Aquinas College, the city fosters an environment of intellectual curiosity and growth. The public and private K-12 schools are also commendable, nurturing the next generation with a blend of tradition and innovation.
Historically a furniture manufacturing hub, today’s Grand Rapids boasts a thriving medical research industry, thanks to establishments like the Van Andel Institute. The craft beer industry, technology and finance sectors further diversify the employment landscape, making it a hotspot for professionals across different fields.
No overview of Grand Rapids would be complete without a nod to its artsy vibe. The city comes alive each year with ArtPrize, an open art competition that transforms its streets and parks into a dynamic art gallery. The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a harmonious blend of botanic beauty and artistry.
Beer enthusiasts, rejoice! Often hailed as ‘Beer City, USA’, Grand Rapids boasts a healthy community of breweries for the casual sipper and the connoisseur alike. Culinary delights are also aplenty, with a dining scene that’s diverse and delectable. And for those seeking retail therapy, the city’s shopping districts offer everything from high-end boutiques to quirky local stores.
- Population: 15,500
- Average age: 40.1
- Median household income: $53,000
- Average commute time: N/A
- Walk score: 85
- Studio average rent: $N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,200
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,700
Situated on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, life in Traverse City feels like a continuous vacation. The city brilliantly balances the serene charm of lakeside living with the conveniences and vibrancy of urban life. Its neighborhoods, characterized by historic homes, modern condos and waterfront properties, cater to diverse tastes and lifestyles.
Traverse City’s commitment to education is apparent thanks to its status as one of the best places to live in Michigan. With a range of quality public and private schools, the city ensures a solid foundation for its younger residents. Northwestern Michigan College further complements the city’s educational ecosystem, providing excellent higher education opportunities.
The city’s economy, though rooted in tourism and agriculture, has diversified over the years. The healthcare, education and technology sectors have seen significant growth as of late, offering a plethora of opportunities for professionals. Plus, with the city being Michigan’s top producer of tart cherries, the agriculture sector remains a strong employer.
Traverse City’s attractions are as diverse as they are delightful. The annual National Cherry Festival celebrates the city’s agricultural heritage with gusto. And for the outdoorsy types, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a majestic landscape waiting to be explored.
Traverse City’s culinary scene is a delightful exploration in itself. From farm-to-table restaurants to buzzing breweries, the city is a gastronomic paradise. Downtown Traverse City, with its boutique shops and vibrant arts scene, promises endless hours of leisure and discovery.
- Population: 639,111
- Average age: 34.8
- Median household income: $30,894
- Average commute time: 26.4 minutes
- Walk score: 53
- Studio average rent: $947
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,320
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,589
Detroit’s storied past has sculpted its vibrant present. From the upscale living spaces of Midtown to the historic charm of Corktown, Detroit offers a diverse range of neighborhoods to suit every taste. The waterfront along the Detroit River provides a peaceful respite from city life, while the rhythm of Motown music reverberates in the hearts of its residents.
Detroit’s commitment to education is undeniable. Institutions like Wayne State University anchor the city’s higher education aspirations, while efforts are continually underway to strengthen K-12 public education. Various charter and private schools also offer myriad choices for families.
As the birthplace of the American automobile industry, Detroit remains a hub for engineering and manufacturing. But it’s not just about cars anymore. The city is experiencing a tech boom, with startups and established companies alike calling Detroit home. Healthcare, finance and the arts also contribute significantly to the employment landscape.
Detroit’s attractions resonate with its history and its revival. The Detroit Institute of Arts stands as a testament to the city’s appreciation for culture. The Motown Museum offers a trip down memory lane, celebrating the city’s rich musical legacy. And for sports enthusiasts, Detroit roars with pride for its Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons.
Detroit’s culinary scene is a delightful fusion of its multicultural roots. From mouth-watering coney dogs to high-end restaurants, there’s a dish for every palate. The Eastern Market, the largest historic public market district in the U.S., teems with fresh produce and local crafts. Additionally, the burgeoning nightlife, with theaters, bars and music venues, ensures that the city never sleeps.
- Population: 21,000
- Average age: 41.5
- Median household income: $100,000
- Average commute time: 22.5 minutes
- Walk score: 60
- Studio average rent: $N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,372
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,510
Life in Birmingham is like stepping into an idyllic painting. With tree-lined streets, manicured parks and picturesque neighborhoods, it offers residents a serene and upscale environment. This city seamlessly merges the quaint charm of a small town with the cosmopolitan allure of a modern urban center.
Birmingham’s commitment to education is both deep and evident. The Birmingham public schools district consistently ranks among the top in the state, with accolades for academics and sports. Several private institutions in and around the area further ensure that families have high-quality choices for their children’s education.
While Birmingham is primarily residential, its proximity to Detroit and other business hubs provides residents with a ton of employment opportunities. From automotive to technology, healthcare to finance and more, the surrounding areas cater to professionals across a large number of sectors.
Downtown Birmingham is a shopper’s paradise and a diner’s delight. With a blend of high-end boutiques, elegant eateries and cozy cafes, it promises an experience rather than just a visit. The Birmingham Historical Museum offers insights into the town’s rich history.
An active lifestyle is easy to maintain in Birmingham. The city boasts numerous parks, golf courses and walking trails. Seasonal events, like the Birmingham Winter Markt and the city’s farmers market, further enrich the community spirit and offer delightful experiences for residents and visitors alike.
- Population: 13,000
- Average age: 39.3
- Median household income: $80,000
- Average commute time: 27.6 minutes
- Walk score: 87
- Studio average rent: $N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,985
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,770
With its quaint downtown, scenic parks and inviting neighborhoods, Rochester offers residents a unique blend of small-town warmth and modern sophistication. The city, with its well-preserved historic buildings, creates an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and contemporary, making daily life a delightful experience.
Rochester’s dedication to fostering bright futures is evident in its educational institutions. The Rochester Community Schools district is renowned for its academic excellence and comprehensive programs. Nearby colleges and universities also ensure that higher education opportunities are easily accessible for locals.
While Rochester exudes a small-town vibe, its employment prospects are anything but limited. Its proximity to Detroit and other commercial hubs provides a healthy selection of opportunities in industries ranging from automotive to healthcare to technology to finance and more.
Downtown Rochester is a treasure trove of boutique shops and delectable dining spots. Rochester Municipal Park, with its serene trails and beautiful waterways, offers a tranquil escape for nature lovers. Meanwhile, the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm provides fascinating glimpses into the area’s history.
Community spirit shines bright in Rochester. The city hosts an array of events, from the Art & Apples Festival celebrating arts and local produce to the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade, Michigan’s largest Christmas parade.
- Population: 59,000
- Average age: 35.3
- Median household income: $70,000
- Average commute time: 24.5 minutes
- Walk score: 57
- Studio average rent: $2,310
- One-bedroom average rent: $2,794
- Two-bedroom average rent: $3,344
Royal Oak has a uniquely harmonious blend of serene neighborhoods and bustling streets. From its tree-canopied neighborhoods to the lively downtown, the city promises a lifestyle that’s as tranquil as it is enticing, catering to families, young professionals and newly minted retirees alike.
Royal Oak’s dedication to education shines brightly with its array of reputable public schools. The Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools consistently garner praise for their holistic approach to education. Additionally, a number of private institutions and nearby colleges offer a well-rounded educational environment.
While Royal Oak itself is teeming with local businesses, its strategic location near Detroit provides residents with an expansive spectrum of employment opportunities. From the healthcare sector to automotive and from media to technology, career prospects are as diverse as they are abundant.
Downtown Royal Oak is a hub of activity, offering a medley of boutique shops, eclectic eateries and pulsating nightlife. The renowned Detroit Zoo, situated in Royal Oak, promises delightful experiences for the young in age and the young at heart. For artsy types, the Royal Oak Music Theatre hosts an impressive array of performances, while the city’s multiple events, like the annual Arts, Beats & Eats, celebrate the fusion of art, music and gastronomy.
Royal Oak is a city that loves to celebrate. From the lively summer farmers market to the spectacular holiday parade, there’s always something to look forward to. Nature enthusiasts can explore the multiple parks dotted throughout the city, while those looking for a taste of the cosmopolitan can indulge in the city’s dynamic coffee culture, innovative restaurants and chic bars.
- Population: 5,700
- Average age: 42.3
- Median household income: $45,500
- Average commute time: 17.2 minutes
- Walk score: 86
- Studio average rent: $N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $800
- Two-bedroom average rent: $825
Life in Petoskey feels like a beautiful interlude from a bygone era. With its Victorian architecture, serene lakeside vistas and friendly neighborhoods, it offers a tranquil retreat from the frenetic pace of big city life. The seasons transform the city — ensuring that residents are perpetually surrounded by nature’s splendor.
The Public Schools of Petoskey are well-known champions of quality education. With a strong focus on academics, sports and extracurricular activities, the schools collectively nurture holistic development. North Central Michigan College further provides higher education opportunities within the city itself.
While tourism undeniably drives a significant portion of Petoskey’s economy, there’s more to its employment landscape. The healthcare, retail and education sectors offer a lot of opportunities. Plus, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives here, with many small businesses and artisan shops scattered throughout the city.
Petoskey is nature’s canvas. Petoskey State Park is a paradise for those who love the outdoors, offering everything from hiking to sunbathing on its sandy shores. But there’s more than just natural beauty. The Gaslight Shopping District is a haven for anyone looking to indulge in retail therapy or sample local delicacies.
Petoskey’s events calendar is always buzzing. The annual Festival on the Bay celebrates the town’s lakeside heritage with music, food and family-friendly activities. And when winter rolls around, residents and visitors alike indulge in skiing, snowmobiling and other snowy delights.
- Population: 21,000
- Average age: 28.6
- Median household income: $42,500
- Average commute time: 18.5 minutes
- Walk score: 47
- Studio average rent: $N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $ 600
- Two-bedroom average rent: $575
Living in Marquette is akin to embracing a life where nature and adventure beckon at every corner. The city combines the comfort of a tight-knit community with the excitement of the untamed outdoors. Whether it’s the vibrant hues of autumn, the crisp white of winter or the verdant bloom of spring and summer, each season paints a unique canvas, enhancing the life of its residents.
Marquette is a hub of academic excellence in the Upper Peninsula. Northern Michigan University anchors the city’s educational scene, offering diverse programs and acting as a catalyst for cultural events. The Marquette Area Public Schools also ensure that younger residents receive a top-notch education.
While Marquette’s foundation was laid on mining and shipping, today, its employment landscape is anything but singular. Healthcare, led by the UP Health System-Marquette, education and tourism are major employers. The city’s entrepreneurial spirit is also palpable, with numerous local businesses and startups adding to its economic dynamism.
Nature is Marquette’s grandest attraction. From the panoramic views at Sugarloaf Mountain to the tranquility of Presque Isle Park, the outdoors beckon endlessly. But there’s more. Downtown Marquette offers a melange of boutiques, restaurants and social venues. For history buffs, the Marquette Maritime Museum provides a deep dive into the region’s rich nautical past.
Whether it’s mountain biking, skiing, kayaking or hiking, Marquette offers it all. And for those moments of reflection, the serene beaches of Lake Superior offer a perfect escape. The city’s festivals, like the UP Fall Beer Festival, are also a testament to its vivacious spirit and community bond.
Find where you’ll live in the Great Lakes State.
In the heartland of America’s Midwest, Michigan’s cities and towns have carved out niches that speak to the diversity and dynamism of its residents. From the college vibes of Ann Arbor to the historic charm of Rochester; the lakeside beauty of Holland to the bustling streets of Royal Oak, there’s a place in Michigan that resonates with every soul.
Finding the best places to live in Michigan involves more than just reading a list; it requires a willingness to experience the multifaceted spirit of a state that melds the old with the new. Whether seeking arts, adventure or a secluded place to sit on your own, one thing is for sure: Michigan has a corner, street or shoreline waiting to be called home.
Ready to settle down? Find your next apartment in your favorite Michigan town right here.
Rent prices are based on an average from Rent.’s available rental property inventory as of July 2023. The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.