17 answers

Moving to Grand Rapids Area

My husband was offered a job yesterday that would move us to the Grand Rapids area this summer. What can you ladies tell me about your community? My husband wants to look at Holland and Grand Haven, and I'm leaning more towards Grand Rapids, but I know nothing about the area. Is the kindergarten cut off really in December? What can you tell me about the school system? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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you've gotten some good advice. I say meet halfway (between holland and gr)and go for Jenison, Hudsonville, Byron Center on the outskirts south of Grand Rapids or coopersville, allendale and walker area.

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Hi J.,

Good luck on the move and congrats on the promotion/offer. We moved here about two years ago for our jobs as well. Grand Haven and Holland are both nice, but with gas prices I would recommend you look closer to GR. I don't know about the school deadlines because I have a 3 month old.

We live in Caledonia (just south of GR), which has nice neighborhoods and a great school district. There is Ada and Lowell, which are east, that are good. All within 15 minutes of GR. Grandville is nice too - they have a 2 story mall :). Jenison and Hudsonville are quaint and they are closer than Holland and Grand Haven.

I hope this helps you.

Welcome! Take a look at Rockford! It has highly rated schools, strong parent involvement and a great community. The town is very charming with the square and the dam, there is much to offer with many community festivals, farmers market, white pine trail and shopping. It is close to downtown GR. There are many opportunities for families and kids programs.
We moved from Illinois many years ago and finally settled in Rockford. We love it as do our children.
Good Luck in your move!

I strongly agree with the other gals. Stay out of Grand Rapids Public. There are a lot of great schools in the surrounding areas of Grand Rapids. I don't know anything about Holland or Grand Haven schools, but if your husband is going to be working in Grand Rapids, he is going to have a very long commute, especially during the winter. The roads can be horrendous with the lake effect snow.

sounds like you have heard it all already. We live in Cascade which is in Forest Hills schools and have been very happy with our location. Everyone is right on about being close to everything with the feel of privacy in a wooded area too. I just wanted to be sure to let you know about the young 5's option if you feel your little one isn't ready for kindergarten but still technically meets the Dec. cut off - it is a great program. In addition, for preschoolers Grand Rapids has Bright Beginnings which is such a wonderful program with playgroups throughout the grand rapids and KISD school area. Hope your move goes well and good luck househunting!

Hi J.... I used to live in Grand Haven and can tell you that while it does have that nice "small town" feel to it, I too recently relocated to Ada and absolutely love it. The only thing that I really miss from my old area is how much quicker I was able to get to the beach! Grand Rapids is a fun spot and there there is always something to occupy your time with. The Childrens Museum and Frederik Meijer Gardens are great locations for an afternoon of fun with the kids, and there are plenty of spas and gyms for you to enjoy your free time!! It is all within a decent driving time, and depending on where you decide to buy/rent... the bike paths are GREAT! We are either running or biking almost everyday over here on Ada Rd, Cascade and Thornapple River Dr! I do recommend that you enroll your children in East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills, Rockford, or Lowell Public Schools. We are currently in the Forest Hills school district and they are outstanding with the kids. Well, hopefully this will entice your husband enough! Good luck!

you've gotten some good advice. I say meet halfway (between holland and gr)and go for Jenison, Hudsonville, Byron Center on the outskirts south of Grand Rapids or coopersville, allendale and walker area.

I live in the city of Grand Rapids and have a daughter entering Kindergarten in the Fall. Yes, the age cut off is 5 by December 1, and they do NOT have a young 5's program. If your son turns 5 after December 1 they do have a Pre-School program through the Michigan School Readiness Program - but you have to meet 2 of 25 qualifing criteria to get in. Most of them are geared towards low income, but not all. My oldest is in the program this year and will be moving to Kindergarten in the Fall. However, we opted to put her in a Charter School, as Grand Rapids Public Schools is not one of the best in the area. There are other local communities around the GR area that have better school systems - East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills (Ada), Byron Center, Jenison, Grandville, Hudsonville are just a few. However, there are also a lot of good Charter and Private schools in the area so that's always an option as well.

Hello J.!!

Let me first offer an early "WELCOME" to the mitten state! Some of my favorite things about West Michigan are the beautiful seasons, the amazing lakes and all of the destinations that are an easy afternoon carride away (Chicago, Mackinac Island, Detroit, etc., etc.). The Grand Rapids area also offers a friendly, wonderful community of neighbors. It's a very nice place to be!

As far as schools, I think you are smart to do your research. Fortunately, the Grand Rapids surrounding area has a lot to offer and several districts offer award winning schools, including Grandville, Rockford, Forest Hills, and East Grand Rapids.

In deciding where to look for housing, I would consider looking at the southern end of Grand Rapids. A few years ago the south beltline (M-6) was completed and it is a wonderful highway, offering easy access to Lake Michigan, the aiport, downtown GR, other highways (including I-96 or US-131) and a quick travel route to the east (Lansing, Detroit, etc.). Also, there is a great deal of growth and development along the new highway, including new, state-of-the-art hospitals, universities and lots of shopping, dining and entertainment.

Michigan has seen a significant increase in the number of foreclosures (as have many mid-western states), but as a buyer it an amazing time to be shopping! You can get a lot more house for a lot less money.

My husband and I are both REALTORS and are very happy to be living and working in West Michigan. Please feel free to send an email or contact us if we can help you with any part of your relocation. My email is ____@____.com

On a more personal note, we lived in Rockford for three years and now live in the Grandville/Wyoming area (Grandville School District). Both are wonderful cities with a lot to offer. Rockford is more rural, but truly an amazing community. Grandville is a great location. I am literally moments from a gallon of milk or a new pair of designer shoes - it's all right here! Also, if we want to enjoy a picnic on the beach or go watch the sunset, the lakeshore is less than a 20 minute drive. Where ever you decide to settle down, I'm sure you will enjoy a wonderful sense of community. Keep us posted and let us know if we can help show you around some of our favorite family friendly spots once you're in town. Good luck!!

I know you will get a ton of advice - great time to find a house in the area. I personally like Grand Haven and Spring Lake (not Holland or Muskegon for school districts) if you want to live on the lakeshore. In the summers anything along the Lakeshore will be very touristy and busy. In GR area the Jension, Grandville, Cascade, Forest Hills, Rockford school districts are really good. I would stay away from Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Alger districts. Around the city is pretty good communities and living, and in the center of the city there can be issues. If you live on the W side of the city in the Grandville, Jenison, Hudsonville communities are you close to both GR and Lake shore.

You definitely want to stay out of the Grand Rapids Public School district. My kids go to Kenowa Hills Public Schools in the Walker area and I am happy with them. Also, Northview, Rockford, and Sparta are good school districts. Your child will have to be 5 by December first to be enrolled in kindergarten. If you go with Grand Haven/Holland area it will be about a 1/2 hour drive (with good traffic) into Grand Rapids. I don't know anything about GH/Holland school districts.

J., may I recommend a website? It's www.michigan.gov/mde.
That's the michigan department of education's site. There you can find every school's state test results. That is a pretty objective way for you to determine quality of schools. My kids attend a National Heritage Academy charter school, by the way. We love it. If you are interested in learning more about them, I'm sure you could google National Heritage Academy to find out more. Welcome to the area!

We live in the Rockford Area which is considered Northeast Grand Rapids. We moved here 3.5 years ago. Upon moving here we lived in a rural community where the school was in number of 560 students K-12. Yes, one building complex housed the entire student body. When we moved to Rockford it was considered one of the best School districts and community areas to live in West Michigan. Rockford Public School is a large district. It was a shock to have the new elementary school for our daughter have more students than the entire student body we had just left. We have adjusted quite well with small struggles along the way(to be expected with a move.) If you are concerned about the December Kindergarten cut off it is handled with a developmental Kindergarten (DK) as the parent's first choice for their child and then Kindergarten the next year. We also have charter and christian schools which handle the kindergarten's differently. While Michigan is not the only state to have a later birthdate cutoff for Kindergarten, the educational system considers the need of the child first and offers many solutions. I hope this helps in your pursuit of happiness.

I would stay out of GRPS if you could. Some of the schools are good, but the majority are not. I would look in surrounding communities like Northview or Sparta. I lived in GR most of my life and went to many of the alternative schools to avoid the public schools. When it came time for my daughter to enter Kindergarten, we moved to Sparta. Small town with very strong schools. Rockford is good to, but absolutely HUGE!! Feel free to email me if you would like specific information.

The cutoff is December 1.


Where are you moving from? Please reply directly to my e-mail: ____@____.com

Welcome J.,

You can be assured that you are moving to a wonderful area. Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas has so much to offer you and your family. I do understand the overwhelming number of issues and concerns involved in such a move, not to mention the emotions you must be going through. I work in the relocation department of the 2nd largest real estate company in Michigan and we specialize in helping families like yours. The best part is our service is free. We will take you on a tour of the communities you may have an interest in (that includes the Grand Rapids area and Holland and Grand Haven), arrange a visit to schools in those areas, set up an appointment with the principal (if that interests you) and, if appropriate at this time, show you homes. If you are not in the market for a home at this time, we can help you find a rental property (house or apartment) that will meet your needs. Again, this is a service that is offered to you at no charge. I'm not sure if your husband was offered a relocation package with his company, our company is a preferred provider with most relocation companies and we would love to service you through them. Whatever your needs, we would love to help you. Feel free to email me and I can get a package out to you tomorrow with any information you might need about our area. My email is ____@____.com. I would love to help you out in any way. In the meantime, check out this website on West Michigan. http://www.rightplace.org/live/ It is a great place to live.

The best to you and your family of 4 little ones. I know the next few months will be busy. I moved to Grand Rapids with 4 children under 7 so I can relate.


Grand Rapids is a wonderful area. I moved here 7 yrs ago and love it. Holland and Grand Haven are nice but I prefer living in the GR area and visiting those places. I love the southwest side of town, Byron Center, Grandville, Caledonia. It's the new up and coming area. Lot's of building going on here and new restaurants and business' and housing developments. I have a 14 month old son and chose to build a house in Byron Center because it has good schools. It'a also right by the M6 highway which makes it easy access to Holland. I would stay away from Grand Rapids public schools, kentwood, and wyoming. Good luck.

There are great schools within 20 minutes of Grand Rapids. My children go to Kentwood and I love it!!! There is Rockford, Forest Hills (ada area) Grandville and Byron Center or Caledonia. Depends on what exactly you are looking for. December is the cut off for almost all of the Kindergarten programs.

Good luck

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