The Allure of West Michigan: An Affordable Cost of Living
When it comes to finding the ideal place to settle down, one crucial factor that has to be considered is the cost of living. While bustling cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago may hold considerable allure, the financial strain can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Midwest that offers an attractive alternative: West Michigan. As any Eastbrook homeowner could tell you, West Michigan far outpaces cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Austin, and Atlanta when it comes to affordability and family-friendly appeal.
Housing Costs: Where West Michigan Reigns Supreme
The price of a home is a foundational consideration in evaluating the cost of living, and both Lansing and West Michigan provide an accessible option for both buying or building a house. This is especially true when you consider the average housing costs around the country.
New York City: The most affordable neighborhoods in NYC have an average housing cost of around $680,000, with most houses costing upwards of $900,000.
Los Angeles: The average cost of an LA home sits at around $950,000 and that’s after home prices dropped over the past few months.
Chicago: A townhome in the Windy City currently goes for about $600,000, and those prices have been steadily climbing in 2023.
Portland: Portland has one of the most affordable housing markets on the West Coast, and even there the median cost of a home hovers around $550,000.
Seattle: The iconic Pacific Northwest city carries an average housing price of over $800,000.
Austin: Going south doesn’t alleviate the high cost of housing, as it’s hard to find a home under $550,000 in this bustling Texas city.
Atlanta: The last few years have seen the Atlanta cost of living skyrocket, and housing costs are up to an average of around $500,000 and rising.
Lansing and West Michigan: From centrally located Lansing to the shores of Lake Michigan, housing costs in Michigan are accessible for individuals and families, like this Grand Rapids home, costing less than $400,000. Even prime locations near the lakefront offer affordable homes well below the price of other major urban centers. That’s to say nothing of the fresh air and open space that even the most expensive homes in New York or Los Angeles couldn’t provide.
Other Cost of Living Considerations
Food and Dining
The buying power of every dollar is immensely stronger in West Michigan than it is in cities like Chicago, Seattle, or New York when it comes to both basic groceries and dining out. The rural farmland of Michigan makes fresh produce more accessible, even in cities like Lansing and Grand Rapids. Fresh fruit that costs $1.00 in West Michigan might cost up to $2.00 in a city like Los Angeles. Even in Atlanta, one of the more affordable major cities, a simple trip to the grocery store easily costs a third more for the same produce than in West Michigan.
Dining out also becomes prohibitively expensive in Austin, Portland, Chicago, and the like. Those high housing costs apply equally to commercial leases, meaning restaurants have to charge more per dish just to afford their rent. A night out at one of Grand Rapids’ fabulous local restaurants, for example, would cost 30% more at a similar restaurant in Austin, and twice as much in New York.
There’s no shortage of exciting leisure and entertainment opportunities in Lansing and across West Michigan. It’s easy to find affordable family-friendly activities or, in the case of those that take advantage of Michigan’s natural beauty, outdoor adventures that are completely free! Such escapes are difficult to come by in New York, for example, where tickets to an off-Broadway musical for a family of four can quickly balloon to several hundred dollars. Austin and Atlanta have also seen their live entertainment industries grow in recent years, causing demand – and prices – to shoot upward.
Even trying to get away from the expensive city centers of Chicago or Portland can cost a pretty penny as well. It can be a significant transportation expense just trying to get out of the dense urban sprawl of the city and into the outdoors, whether by train, car, or bus. By contrast, the Grand River runs right through the heart of Lansing and Grand Rapids before flowing into Lake Michigan, offering easily accessible watersports, parks, and riverside relaxation without having to shuttle yourself outside the city.
Making Your Home in West Michigan
While the likes of New York, Austin, LA, Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, and Chicago undoubtedly offer unique experiences, the financial strain of their costs of living are prohibitively expensive. West Michigan, with its affordable housing costs, family-friendly environment, and easily accessible entertainment is a much more affordable place to put down roots.
Whether you’re seeking a move-in ready home or want to build your own, Eastbrook Homes is here to help you find your ideal community. Come enjoy West Michigan’s low cost of living in a custom-built home that will let you and your family take advantage of all the affordable urban and outdoor activities the area has to offer. Connect with us today to start your home-buying journey!
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