Downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. Editorial credit: Paul Brady Photography /

7 Best Places To Live In Michigan In 2024

Michigan has shorelines on four of the five Great Lakes, more than earning its nickname as the Great Lakes State. Along with its stunning natural beauty, Michigan is also known for former industrial powerhouse cities like Detroit. There is no shortage of great towns and cities to visit, but what if you are thinking of moving to Michigan? In that case, check out seven excellent towns and cities to live in for 2024.

Ann Arbor

University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The economy, culture, and history of Ann Arbor are closely tied to the presence of the University of Michigan—the population has more than doubled (to nearly 125,000) since 1950, mirroring the growth of the university into a world-renowned institution. Thousands of residents are directly employed by the university or its affiliated health system, and thousands more jobs in technology, medicine, research, tourism, and retail exist because of U of M. The population is more highly educated and ethnically diverse than comparable Michigan cities, and Ann Arbor overall has a distinctly youthful vibe, including a lively arts and culture scene.

Grand Rapids

Aerial View of Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan
Aerial View of Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, with nearly 200,000 residents, and benefits from an ideal location in the west center of the state’s Lower Peninsula. Several popular Lake Michigan beach towns are less than an hour away, but the city also offers plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities on and along the Grand River. Grand Rapids still has a strong industrial base and is nicknamed “Furniture City” due to the presence of several furniture manufacturers. Grand Rapids is also nicknamed “Beer City,” reflecting its numerous craft breweries and lively nightlife and cultural scenes. No wonder Grand Rapids continues to see solid population growth while other midwestern cities see declines!


Aerial view of Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Aerial view of Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Many towns throughout Michigan carry the influence of their early immigrant settlers, but Frankenmuth showcases its distinctive Bavarian heritage like few others. Not only does Frankenmuth look like a southern German village, but it also hosts authentic Oktoberfest and Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) celebrations and is home to a famous German-style holiday store (Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland). The fall foliage views are even more perfect when standing near the town’s classic wooden covered bridge, and the area is great for outdoor exploration all year round. Frankenmuth’s population is fairly well-educated, the poverty rate is under 5%, and tourism is the main economic engine.

St. Joseph

Ariel view over St Joseph, Michigan.
Aerial view over St Joseph, Michigan.

The picturesque town of St. Joseph occupies the meeting point of the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan. The downtown corridor sits on a lakeside bluff that offers spectacular sunset views and also bustles with a classic main street lined with shops and eateries. Along the lakefront, Silver Beach offers a sandy beach, an old-time carousel, a spray park, and more. St. Joseph also has some quirky spots, like the House of David Museum, which recalls an apocalyptic religious group that sported a barnstorming baseball team. St. Joseph’s population has slowly declined in recent decades with the loss of industry, but that fact has helped with home affordability.


Aerial view of Petoskey, Michigan at sunset
Aerial view of Petoskey, Michigan, at sunset.

Located along Little Traverse Bay near the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Petoskey has been a popular travel destination for over 100 years. This tourist popularity is evidenced by the busy downtown area and highly-rated resorts like the Hotel Walloon, yet Petoskey is also a great place to live as well. The town has had a stable population for the past century, a good age distribution, available housing stock, and—most appealing—the fantastic natural environment that draws in tourists. Locals and visitors alike comb the town’s lakeshore for samples of Petoskey Stone, the official stone of Michigan, which is actually 400 million-year-old fossilized coral with distinctive hexagonal patterns.

Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor, Michigan. 
Copper Harbor, Michigan. 

Established to serve the once-booming mining industry in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Copper Harbor is the northernmost community in the state. Living in Copper Harbor is not for everyone: it is a tiny village at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and the entirety of Keweenaw County has only 2,200 residents. But for those who feel most at home in the great outdoors, Copper Harbor is ideal. The hamlet is perfect for boating, fishing, ice fishing, hiking, skiing (at nearby Mt. Bohemia), and more, and is the best place in Michigan to witness the mesmerizing natural spectacle in the sky known as the Northern Lights (aurora borealis).


Former Carnegie Library in Niles, Michigan
Former Carnegie Library in Niles, Michigan. Image credit: Paul R. Burley via Wikimedia Commons.

Niles earned its unique nickname as the “City of Four Flags” some 200 years ago when an important fort at the site kept changing hands among competing powers. Niles’ location is still very appealing (for other reasons) today—25 miles to Lake Michigan at New Buffalo, 90 miles to Chicago, and only 6 miles to South Bend (Indiana) and the University of Notre Dame. But people live in Niles for reasons beyond the many great day-trip possibilities. Downtown Niles has lots of historic charm, including the 1884 Chapin Mansion and 1892 train station, and the town sits along the picturesque and popular Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail. Recent revitalization efforts have begun to bear fruit as well.

From the isolated northern reaches of the Upper Peninsula to the Detroit metro area in the state’s southeast, Michigan covers a large and varied landscape. With more than 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline and ample forests, the state offers ample options for outdoor recreation and exploration for visitors and residents alike. Michigan also boasts numerous towns and cities that are full of history, diversity, and charm, making them great places to live in 2024 and well into the future.

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