Traverse City, Michigan

Small Town Vibe, Big City Dreams

Front Street, Downtown
Front Street, Downtown
Boardman River
Boardman River

15,521

Population

Sunny Days: 205
43100 Affordability
90100 Schools
25100 Diversity
78100 Safety

Our Favorite Things About Traverse City

Small Town Vibe, Big City Dreams

#1 Favorite Thing
A lot of people will argue that the outdoor lifestyle of Traverse City should be #1 but heck there are plenty of cities in the mitten with amazing outdoor experiences. What sets Traverse City apart more than anything else is the town itself. It’s a legitimately fun city, in a small package, that punches way above its weight socially with great restaurants, upscale bars/breweries, wineries, cafes, boutique shopping, and seriously excellent culture. This includes the historic City Opera House, live & cinema theater experiences at State Theatre & Bijou By The Bayand the Old Town Playhouse. Pound for pound you can’t do better in the midwest for a city that feels like an escape but also has a ton to do.

#2 Favorite Thing
Ok, you also can’t overlook the outdoor experiences in and around Traverse City. It’s an integrated part of the lifestyle with in-town beaches, urban bike trails, a single track for you racers, some of the best golf courses in the country, kayaking/canoeing, skiing and access to Sleeping Bear Dunes rated one of the 20 best beaches in the world. Seriously, if the outdoors is your thing you probably already know that Michigan is for real, and you can’t go wrong for direct access to the best of it in Traverse City.

#3 Favorite Thing
Traverse City already has a lot going on, as noted above, but there’s even more on the way. A major development plan for the waterfront called Your Bay, Your Way includes a new expanded farmer’s market, a new riverbank/riverwalk, a redesigned pedestrian bridge and two new pedestrian bridges over the river, and a new naturalized riverbank. All this means that not only is TC a great place to live now but it's also a great investment as a result of all that’s on the way.

Schools in Traverse City

The Traverse City Area Public Schools are excellent. They rate an "A-" on niche.com and score particularly well for academics, quality of the teachers, and preparation for college. The student to teacher ratio is 20 to 1.

There are excellent public, charter and private options including top elementary schools like Central Grade School, Willow Hill, Tcaps Montessori, and Woodland School, a public charter.

At the high school level there are wonderful options with Central High and West Senior among the best in the region. It should also be noted that the downtown neighborhood of Traverse City has been zoned for schools and a local Montessori has plans to locate a middle school in the area.

Worklife Opportunities in Traverse City

Traverse City has a surprisingly diverse employer base for a small city. Munson Healthcare and healthcare in general are big business in Michigan and Munson is one of the largest employers in the area. Traverse City also has plenty of employment in entertainment/hospitality, with Grand Traverse Resort, Interlochen Center for the Arts and tons of smaller outdoor lifestyle companies continuously hiring during their particular service seasons. The city is also experiencing growth in niche areas like Hagerty Insurance that insures classic cars, and plenty of new tech and consulting businesses emerging to serve Northern Michigan and national client bases.

There are hundreds of job openings in Traverse City at companies like:
-Baker Hughes, a global leader in global leader in the energy industry
-Siemens Healthineers, a pioneer in fighting the world's most threatening diseases
-Interlochen Center for the Arts, a magical Arts Camp with a particular focus on music.

For specific job opportunities check out the Michigan Career Portal.

The Traverse City area is growing as fast any in the midwest and the job opportunities combined with the city and outdoor lifestyle experiences make it a dreamy spot to consider.

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Living in Traverse City

Living in Traverse City

I hope I can help with some insight.

I'm 43. I was born in TC and raised in the area. I have never lived anywhere else. I have always felt safe.

Traverse City still has a bit of a small town feel with big city dreams. There's not only low crime, but also extremely low violent crime. You'll mostly find petty theft, breaking and entering, and similar occuring here and there in and out of the city limits and surrounding area.

The cost of living has skyrocketed here, but it has pretty much everywhere. There is a bit of an affordable housing crisis going on. If you expect to need to rent a house or apartment, you better jump on it soon cause everywhere has a waiting list and they are long. You can usually find cheaper housing outside of the city and into neighboring counties. That does also mean a smaller school but there are options available for your kids to attend other schools outside of the district you reside in.

There's a hefty population of older people and retirees. Quite a few are "snowbirds" and leave for the winter. Traverse City was listed as the #1 retirement town in a national magazine, so I only expect the number to rise.

The winters can be pretty harsh. Especially January and February. It's not just the onslaught of winter, but the typical January can have less than 15 minutes of actual sunshine for the entire month and both months you can expect to see negative degree temperatures in the overnight at some point. And it's not just cold, but bitter cold. Highs in the single digit and teens cold. The lake effect snow that occurs can be pretty unpredictable at times. There's no snow predicted, but it will be coming in off the lake and dropping like crazy in some spots and nothing in others.

Summers are beautiful, but feel quite short. The leaves begin to show signs of changing in the middle to end of August. There can be heat waves and stretches of hot weather, but it's usually the humidity level that will destroy you. There's water everywhere so it's not difficult to go swimming. The influx of traffic can be overwhelming. You can watch the increase happen overnight on Memorial Day weekend and slow down Labor Day. The beginning of July is even worse during Cherry Festival week and even worse the years the Blue Angels are here.

I can't really give much perspective on the kids side as my journey into that realm has only just begun. I do know there are festivals galore all over, the fair, and beautiful mother nature to enjoy!!

Neighborhoods in Traverse City

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Downtown Traverse City

Young Professionals/Empty Nesters/Retirees

Downtown is where the action is so if you want to be a short walk to the shops, restaurants, and entertainment, then Downtown Traverse City is the place for you. Front Street is the center of the Downtown scene and the brick sidewalks and 19th-century Victorian storefronts are a big draw for locals and visitors. State Theatre is on Front, as are many of the best restaurants, pubs and cool shops. You also have direct access to Clinch Park, that sits on West Grand Traverse Bay and is perfect for a quiet afternoon or a summer festival. Housing in Downtown includes a mix of historic homes, modern apartments, and condos, all within walking distance to the city's social and cultural experiences.

Good options for apartments/condos for young professionals or empty nesters include West End Loftsand TC Lofts, both of which offer Bay views and easy walking to everything Downtown has to offer. Median rentals for Downtown average just below $2,000 and median listing price for homes is $350,000.

Old Mission Peninsula

Families/Retirees

If you want to take it down a notch from living Downtown then Old Mission Peninsula is perfect. Incredibly serene and scenic, you are surrounded by vineyards, orchards and have breathtaking views of Grand Traverse Bay, but remain a short drive from Downtown.
Locals appreciate the slower pace of life, with opportunities for wine tasting, hiking, and boating. Homes here range from cozy cottages to sprawling estates, many with waterfront access or panoramic vistas.

The median home list price for homes in the area is $350,000.
Schools in the neighborhood include Eastern Elementary and Central High School, the #1 Rated Public High School in the area.

Central Neighborhoods (Slabtown, Oak Park, Boardman)

Families/DINKs/SINKs

Central is a collection of several neighborhoods, often grouped together due to proximity and the Neighborhood Association that supports the area. This support includes running the beloved Porchfest Music Festival each September, along with a number of other summer and yearly events. These Central neighborhoods run along the waterfront and offer a mix of beautiful housing options, including historic homes to modern developments. Slabtown, known for its eclectic charm, features trendy cafes, art galleries, and boutique shops. Oak Park boasts tree-lined streets and spacious parks, perfect for families. Boardman Neighborhood is close to the Boardman River, offering opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and picnicking.

Median Home price for Central is $630,000 and kiddos attend several highly rated schools including: Central Grade School, Willow Hill Elementary, and Central High.