“I don’t have any winter clothing” seems like a pretty good excuse not to move to West Michigan from your warm home in Austin, Texas. But that reason didn’t fly for Gigi, whose husband wanted to relocate to West Michigan for his custom home building business. “We moved back in January and I didn’t want to leave my house,” said Gigi.
Born in Michigan and raised here and in California, Gigi returned to Michigan to get her second bachelor’s degree and this is where she met her husband. For several years she worked as a school teacher in the Wyoming Public School district, and then transitioned to teaching adults in a corporate setting conducting training and development for Amway. In 2007, her husband decided Austin would be a better place to grow his business, so they picked up and moved the first time.
“Austin is bigger than Grand Rapids so it was a good opportunity for my husband’s business,” said Gigi. “I loved it there. It was a great city.”
But it didn’t take long for Gigi to warm up to our cold climate. Moving back to Michigan for the second time would be an easier transition than a whole new city. “I had a lot of family and friends here which made it easier. In some senses though, it still feels like a whole new city because it is so different than when I left,” said Gigi.
What really won Gigi over was the fact that her daughter would now get to know her grandparents better. “This is a family-friendly place. When we lived here before, we didn’t have a child. Now that we do, I look at Grand Rapids through a different lens.” Giving her daughter new opportunities to see things she wouldn’t get to otherwise has been a true delight of relocating to Michigan. Recently, Gigi and her family visited an apple orchard and her daughter enjoyed playing in the grass. Austin doesn’t have orchards or grass. “Well, they have grass—if you can call it that—but it’s not soft like it is here,” said Gigi.
Gigi’s advice for people interested in relocating to West Michigan is to talk to as many people as they can. “Ask what they think about the area, what there is to do, what it offers for family and kids. That was really helpful for me.” Getting connected with community resources was especially helpful for Gigi. She found a school with a Spanish immersion program for her daughter through grkids.com and her new position at Haworth through Hello West Michigan.
Now that Gigi is settled in her new home, she is ready to enjoy a West Michigan winter with her new winter wardrobe.