Advice about Muskegon, MI
March 2, 2013 2:48 PM   Subscribe

My SO has a really good job offer lined up in Muskegon, MI and we are in the process of deciding if we should move there. What is great about Muskegon?

What sort of advice/experience/opinions can you share with us about the area? I currently do not have a job lined up, but work in healthcare. How is the local economy? Should he/we commute from Grand Rapids (a city we love!) or from somewhere in between? We had a very short visit for his interview and wasn't able to get a good feel for the city/area, so we appreciate any advice you would like to share.

About us: We are coming from the south but grew up in the snowy north, so the issue of winter weather doesn't bother us; I know a lot of people are going to chime in with SNOW MY GOD, but we are fine with it. We in our early 30s and have no kids, but will probably try soon. We enjoy the outdoors, parks, art, culture, running, music, and local farm markets. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Frauenthal and the Beardsley Theatres, without a doubt!
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:01 PM on March 2, 2013

you'll be really close to the lake, which is awesome.

i am a former michigander and wish i still lived there but have to settle for an occasional visit. but you have to know that mi was having some hard times even before the recession and is having hard times still. there are lots of things shuttered in muskegon just like everywhere else. there are good parts and bad parts just like everywhere else. the government is a little ridiculous right now. but the state is filled with good people, great lakes, great parks, and pasties (though you have to go a little farther north).

muskegon certainly has little treasures, but from what i remember from my last visit a few years back, it is also a big box store utopia.

but move to michigan. the feeling is forever.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:26 PM on March 2, 2013

Seconding the local theatres - I have friends and family who do community theatre in Grand Haven and Muskegon, and it's a surprisingly robust community, if you're in to that sort of thing.

I'm from GH originally, and my brother and his family now live in Muskegon. I'm not terribly fond of MKG overall, as the local economy has definitely seen better days. Tier one auto manufacturing (the guys who make the parts for the "big three") and office furniture were the big game in town twenty years ago, but much of that has long since left town. I suppose what Muskegon has going for it is cheap housing (I presume), access to the lake (though I think the beaches are better as you go south), and proximity to both GR and camping/rustic destinations north.

If I were to land a(nother) job in Muskegon (I once worked in an office park near the airport), I'd almost certainly live in Grand Haven, but I'm biased having grown up there. If you're looking to alternatives, my anecdotal advice:

- For a commute, both I-96 to/from GR and US-31 to/from GH/Holland are usually promptly and well-taken care of, even on the worst of the winter days, but it's still sometimes a fairly harrowing drive. Think two lanes, you're going two-track in your Altima doing 40 MPH in a 55 because it's slick, yet you still have F-350s roaring by at 70 throwing slush on your windscreen. It's tough, some days, is all I'm saying.

- GR is definitely as close to a city life as W.MI offers. If that's something you need or something you'll miss with this move, consider GR strongly.

- Many of the (let's call them) outer suburbs/small towns outside of Muskegon have an interesting blend of young family growth and old guard hickville going for them. I'm thinking specifically of places like Eastmanville (closer to GR/Allendale) and Fruitport, both of which have pop-up subdivisions that are less than ten years old near those same old double-wides that have been propped on two acres since time began. Culturally, it's an interesting mix I guess, but I'd want to investigate the schools in the area pretty thoroughly to ensure I was living somewhere with enough of a tax base to support the community.

- If you're into farmers markets, I don't exactly have a recommendation other than to say there's enough agriculture nearby that you can eat local (if you can find it) with high-quality product. Blueberries in the summer are all over the place and particularly wonderful.

- Clover Bar in Grand Haven makes the best pizza on the planet, and I will not accept Fricano's as a valid argument. I'm not sure this is relevant to your question directly, but it becomes Hatfield/McCoy territory if you choose to live in/near Grand Haven, so I thought I'd at least try to steer you in the right direction.

Good luck!
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:36 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm from Kalamazoo and my wife is from Grand Rapids. I don't know Muskegon well, but a few things in the area that are nice:

P. J. Hoffmaster State Park - Lake Michigan swimming, sand dunes, camping

Lake Express ferry: fast passenger/auto ferry to Milwaukee. Visit Milwaukee or head west without having to drive south through the awful traffic jam that Chicago has become.

The Hart-Montague Bike Trail State Park.

There's a lot of other outdoor recreation a short drive/bike ride from Muskegon, too.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:56 PM on March 2, 2013

Feedback from my little brother (who has spent his whole life in GH/MKG):

The beaches are family friendly in Muskegon and easy to park and don't get too crowded unlike GH, and I also feel cleaner swimming up here rather than by the Grand River (GH State Park). Muskegon feels dirty to me... If I had to buy another house here it would be in Norton Shores (a lakeside town just outside Muskegon to the south), but I wouldn't be happy. (My family) and I will be moving to Spring Lake as soon as humanly possible for the schools and to be north of the bridge (the bridge on US-31 on the north edge of Grand Haven). Tell them to look for houses west of Henry south of Sherman in either the Roosevelt Park neighborhood or Norton Shores... but advise to live in GH or SL.
posted by GamblingBlues at 4:12 PM on March 2, 2013

I lived in Grand Rapids for a bit and definitely know people who commute (and carpool) between Muskegon and GR. The people I knew in Muskegon lived there mainly to be on the shoreline; I always got much better vibes about living in GR than in Muskegon, which has areas that are known for crime. But it's a huge perk to be that close to the water, and Muskegon does have some cute places and things to do.

I second PJ Hoffmaster State Park, and the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is pretty awesome in the winter.

From what you describe, though, I think you might enjoy living in GR, which is really a vibrant up-and-coming place (and has quite a lot of cool art going on) more than Muskegon.
posted by Ms. Toad at 7:10 PM on March 2, 2013

Grew up in Manistee, went to school in Holland. Muskegon always had rougher parts, and my folks just confirmed that's still true or worse. GR, Grand Haven and Holland might offer nicer living places.

That being said, it ain't the south Bronx circa '77. Sure it's nostalgia, but I love the climate and environment up there and you're not impossibly removed from bigger cultural opportunities.

It's a greying state. Jobs in health care shouldn't be that hard to come by. Muskegon has some decent hospitals-- my grandmother had her successful brain tumor surgery there.
posted by stevis23 at 7:36 PM on March 2, 2013

USS Silversides
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:44 AM on March 3, 2013

On reflection, I think you'd probably be happier living in GR or Grand Haven and commuting. Much of what's nice about the area around Muskegon applies to Grand Haven, too, and it's only about a 15 minute commute. Grand Rapids would be 45 minutes or so each way; personally, I wouldn't want that long a commute, but I know a lot of people are OK with it.

If you're looking at Grand Rapids, the Heritage Hill neighborhood is nice. Much of it used to be pretty rough, but it has gentrified enormously in the last 20 years. Depending on where you're coming from, you might find real estate prices to be ridiculously low.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2013

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