One of the largest factors in determining where to buy a home is location. Quality of life is becoming so important for so many consumers. For some, location means close to the workplace, or close to shopping, or within a particular school district. But, on a larger scale, location is more about lifestyles than commuting choices.
Formerly from Chicago (a city that I love and hold dear to this day), I woke up one day with a longing for a change in scenery. I grew up in a major metropolitan area, with so much vibrancy and so many choices, and I was happy for a long time. But around age 40, my wants and needs started changing. I was no longer so interested in urban life, and longed for a life lived at a little more leisurely pace. I was tired of traffic and ridiculous commuting times (90 minutes each way on a normal day. Don't even ask about abnormal days!), and longed for the road less travelled. Life in a subdivision was nice, but I really wanted a larger piece of land.
I love the midwest, and the four seasons, so I knew I wanted to stay in this general area. After doing some research and some travelling, I determined what it was that I wanted in my new location.
Lower density population;
More leisurely lifestyle;
Lots of woods and waters, and lots of wildlife;
Small town charm but with a certain sophistication. ( I am, after all, an urban boy, so too much change could be a culture shock);
After much thought, and a great deal of trepidation, I finally made the decision to relocate from Chicago to Traverse City, Michigan. I went from a population of 8,000,000 to less than 100,000 in the whole 5 county area that makes up the greater Traverse City area. It was quite the change, but not overwhelmingly so. Here's why:
Traverse City is a tourist town. Located on the northeast shore of Lake Michigan, the area is rich with shops, restaurants, entertainment, culture, schools, and nightlife. We have 30 wineries in the area, and 4 breweries. We have 250 independent restaurants, from fast food to fine dining. We have Northwestern Michigan College, and the Interlochen Academy of the Arts, For a small town, Traverse City has an amazing depth and breadth to its culture. Yet, despite all the tourists, it still retains the small town charm that I find so compelling.
In the surrounding environs, when the sun goes down, it gets dark-- really dark. That leaves the sky completely unimpeded by light pollution, so the number of stars you can see is phenomenal. During the day, the air is so clean and pure it's like breathing pure oxygen. We are blessed with hundreds of thousands of acres of woods and forests, with countless inland lakes, rivers, streams, and creeks. We are blessed with gently rolling hills and gently winding roads. You're as likely to encounter a white-tailed deer or wild turkey on the country roads as you are another vehicle.
We are blessed with weather that supports outdoor activity year 'round. Summer months bring boating, swimming, fishing, and water slides. Autumn brings nature's magnificent color palette to the forefront, and leisurely drives become fascinating color tours de force. And winters, while snowier and longer than Chicago's, are actually more temperate. If you embrace the snow and cold, you can enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and even downhill skiing. There's something for everyone.
With a diverse economy, the Traverse City job market is more solid than most areas of the state. Growth is fueled more by entrepreneurs and small businesses, although there are several large employers here in the medical and insurance fields.
The people are friendly, and you're likely to get a friendly hello or handwave from passers-by. It's a little disarming at first, but you'll get used to it pretty fast. With its friendly people, leisurely lifestyle, small town charm, larger city sophistication, rugged beauty and vast natural resources, Traverse City is certainly a great place to live.
I sell residential real estate for Exit Realty Paramount. If you would like more information about this area, or information about our local real estate market, please feel free to call or email me and I'll be glad to help.