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Hoping for input and lots of rambling from Michigan Permies

 
Marisol Dunham
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Location: Far South Coast, NSW
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Hullo! I'm in the process of educating myself as much as possible before my land search, and I'm hoping for input from Michigan permies (or anyone who can add to my knowledge base for there). Born and partially raised in Michigan, I know about the seasons/weather, but I'm not great on much else when it comes to Michigan growing/land.

My husband and I are looking to relocate and set up a homestead for ourselves. We're not as hardcore as some people - we want to be able to reach day jobs for him, and we don't need to raise ALL of our own food. We'd like to hopefully raise 80% (we want chickens and goats especially) and trade/pay for the rest. We're both keen to have an almost off the grid house - grey water tanks, solar passive/panel, 'green' house, and we are open to a wind turbine as well.

The problem is I haven't lived in the states for the past 5 years, so I'm not sure if there are any areas which would be great/terrible for this sort of lifestyle. We're hoping possibly for the Grand Rapids area (AKA somewhere about 30 minutes out), but are willing to go elsewhere. Hopefully there are some decent schools as well. I don't really want to live in the UP, as my hubby isn't as snow-savvy as needed.

Any areas we should look at other than Grand Rapids? I'm thinking around Alpine/Kent City-ish, but again, flexible. What other areas should we consider, and what can you tell me about them?

Thanks loads, really excited to be here.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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I can tell you that my wife and I have recently been through a search covering the Grand Rapids area and bought twenty acres of wooded land in Fennville.  It's further out than you want to be - more on the 45 - 60 minute range.  The western coast is known for fruit production, soils run acid and blueberries do very well. The Van-Kal Permaculture group on Facebook is a good bunch of people.  Some show up over here from time to time.

There are some very good deals to be had in real estate in the area. Lively seasonal activity along the lake shore, with places like South Haven and Saugatuck.  Good restaurants, active art community. 

Not sure what else to say, while my wife grew up in Saline, MI., I've got minimal time in the state   We're selling our NJ house and heading out to the Michigan land in little over a month.  I'm going to get a crash course in Michigan living
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 87
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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I concur with what Peter Sayes I'm in the south east part of the state however I have a cousin and wife who live in Fennville that is definitely the area of the state where you can grow the largest variety of plant types if you get close to Kent County Grand Rapids area property values will be a lot higher and they'll be less tight land available for a look at it.  Remember in Michigan we have a really large interstate highway network you don't have to live that close to a major city to get there in a short time if I was you I'd look a little bit to the south of Ken county area
 
Marisol Dunham
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Location: Far South Coast, NSW
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Peter Ellis wrote:I can tell you that my wife and I have recently been through a search covering the Grand Rapids area and bought twenty acres of wooded land in Fennville.  It's further out than you want to be - more on the 45 - 60 minute range.  The western coast is known for fruit production, soils run acid and blueberries do very well. The Van-Kal Permaculture group on Facebook is a good bunch of people.  Some show up over here from time to time.

There are some very good deals to be had in real estate in the area. Lively seasonal activity along the lake shore, with places like South Haven and Saugatuck.  Good restaurants, active art community. 


Nope, I'm open to that! I am flexible in spot because I need to be. As long as I'm near the region so I'm near my parents, I'm happy to move anywhere around there. Thank you for the idea, I'll start that on my list as well.

I just heard about the Van-Kal group as well. When I come back out to the US this year, I'm hoping I can meet some local permies. Here's hoping.

Ray Moses wrote: I concur with what Peter Sayes I'm in the south east part of the state however I have a cousin and wife who live in Fennville that is definitely the area of the state where you can grow the largest variety of plant types if you get close to Kent County Grand Rapids area property values will be a lot higher and they'll be less tight land available for a look at it.  Remember in Michigan we have a really large interstate highway network you don't have to live that close to a major city to get there in a short time if I was you I'd look a little bit to the south of Ken county area


Thank you for the reminder, I needed it. I've lived in a country too long that only has a handful of highways. Which seems great until you need just about anything. And I mean anything.

Then again, we are so much better about eco-friendly practices. Sigh. Tradeoffs.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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We worked with a realtor to find our property.  Actually, we tried to work with several realtors, but only one came through for us.  If you would like, I would gladly give you her contact information.  We were extremely pleased with her.
 
Marisol Dunham
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Peter Ellis wrote:We worked with a realtor to find our property.  Actually, we tried to work with several realtors, but only one came through for us.  If you would like, I would gladly give you her contact information.  We were extremely pleased with her.


That would be great! I would love her contact details.
 
Katy Rose
Posts: 28
Location: Ypsilanti, MI (zone 6a)
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Welcome back to the mitten! We're in the southeast (Ypsilanti area). There is a pretty good scene here of people interested in permaculture and homesteading. Land is expensive if you get close to Ann Arbor, but if you head further north/west it's not as pricey. Much less snow down in this corner than there is out west or up north, so that's another thing to consider if you're husband's not into tons of snow.   We love it here!
 
Marisol Dunham
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Katy Rose wrote:Welcome back to the mitten! We're in the southeast (Ypsilanti area). There is a pretty good scene here of people interested in permaculture and homesteading. Land is expensive if you get close to Ann Arbor, but if you head further north/west it's not as pricey. Much less snow down in this corner than there is out west or up north, so that's another thing to consider if you're husband's not into tons of snow.   We love it here!


Thanks, Katy! I haven't been to Ypsilanti in ages, although I'm an Ann Arbor baby by birth (parents met at college).

One of the primary reasons we're moving back is because I need some support with my son, who is 9 months old. Unfortunately my husband is struggling with depression and I need my community and family. So anything closer than Australia will work. And I want to have a community I can put into to build up with and give back and forth. So I'll make sure to add that to my list.

I saw a group that does building projects and whatnot over near Ann Arbor. I'm guessing they're part of that group you mentioned.
 
Katy Rose
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Location: Ypsilanti, MI (zone 6a)
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Oh man, this makes me want to give you a giant (non-creepy!) internet hug! I have a four-year-old, and I remember so vividly how intense and difficult that first year was. Do you have family and friends in Grand Rapids? If so, I'd prioritize that above all else. It is so critical to have a community nearby, especially given your husband's additional health struggles.

That said, please keep me posted if you end up in this neck of the woods! Ypsi is a great, quirky little town, with a wonderful community of young families doing cool green artsy sorts of things. We've definitely found our "tribe" of amazing like-minded people who have become family. There are a lot of great resources to take advantage of with being so close to Ann Arbor (e.g. I'm about to start taking beekeeping classes!), but that may be the case in GR too. Best of luck with your big move! What's your hopeful timeline?
 
Marisol Dunham
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Location: Far South Coast, NSW
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Yep, all the family on my mom's side except one aunt live in that area, so I'm going to be living there initially while we finish saving up for our bit of land, whereever that ends up. I want to pay cash for land so I can borrow against it for a house. (Maybe. I'm flexible).

As much as I love my family, I want to make sure we have a community with the same interests nearby, so I will definitely keep Ipsi in mind. I'm actually hoping to go back to college to get another degree (for better job matching purposes), and if I can I want to go to UofM. My motto is keep it flexible for finding that solution.

It's going to take awhile to finish processing my son's paperwork, so the goal is to get out this year sometime. I'm trying to decide if I want to take a permaculture certification I can get through TAFE (like a community college), which means it's accredited through the state, and it's then paid for. Also selling all of our stuff, getting a job, visa... blah. Long and short of it is kiddo and I will be coming probably around August, and husband as soon as we can get his visa processed.
 
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