I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, and after college, I moved to Chicago for five years where I worked at an ad agency. I think being away for five years and living in a really big city gives you a different perspective on where you grew up. I saw Grand Rapids and West Michigan in a different light. While I lived in Chicago, I rented a cottage in Holland, MI for a week each summer. It felt like such an escape, and I finally just thought, why can’t I feel like that all the time and get out of the concrete jungle of the city? So I sold my place in Chicago, and my sister and I moved into a cottage in Holland on Lake Macatawa.
My house sold faster than I expected, so I ended up moving to West Michigan without having a job in place. I left such a great job market in Chicago, I was a little concerned about finding a job, but I went on lots of job interviews in West Michigan. I think that’s a good sign that there are great job opportunities here. It took about five months to find the job I wanted working for one of the largest healthcare companies in Michigan, and I ended up with a much better job than I had in Chicago at much better pay. That was really surprising to me.
I think that having HelloWestMichigan.com as a resource really helped me find the right job. I had attended MichAGAIN in Chicago, where I talked to people from HelloWestMichigan about moving back to Michigan. When I moved back, I connected with Cindy Brown of HelloWestMichigan. I had already found a job I was interested in at one of HelloWestMichigan’s partner companies, and I attended HelloWestMichigan’s annual meeting at Haworth because I thought it would be a great place to network. That proved to be true because I connected with someone from the company where I now work. I believe it was the networking I did there, and the connections Cindy Brown had, that really helped me to get noticed and interviewed by my new employer.
As for living back home in West Michigan, I’ve found that living on Lake Macatawa is just really awesome. I went from hearing ambulances and sirens every night to hearing just the waves and the ducks. I can’t wait to rent a kayak from the place down the street this summer. I’m excited to try standup paddle boarding, or to go on the Holland Princess dinner cruise boat that takes passengers on Lake Michigan for sunset cruises.
I’m a runner, and I run in the Fifth Third River Bank Run every year in Grand Rapids. One of my favorite places to run is right near my house along the walking/bike path that lines the shore of Lake Macatawa. I run past marinas, the boats out on the water, and beautiful scenery. The path takes me all the way to Holland State Park and the Lake Michigan beach. I also work out at MVP Athletic Club and have taken spin classes, yoga, and other classes there.
Everyone here is so friendly, it’s been easy to meet people. Holland is a cute town with lots going on and some really unique shops and galleries. I love to go shopping for Michigan-made gifts. My sister and I love going to CityFlats Hotel for a drink, then walking over to Butch’s for dinner. We love the beaches, too. We’re just five minutes from the Holland State Park, where we go even in the winter to walk the pier when it’s covered with ice.
We’ve attended Tulip Time, which is great, and we’ve been to the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Titanic exhibit when that was here.
If you’re thinking about moving to West Michigan, we have a thriving medical community here with lots of job opportunities, and jobs in other industries, as well. People are extremely friendly, and it’s more relaxed than a big city. We have all the dining options, pubs and microbreweries, and theaters, and you just can’t beat the beaches.