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Kalamazoo Moving Guide

April 15, 2022

Everything You Need to Know When Moving to or Around Kalamazoo, MI.

There are few cities north of Oklahoma that strike the sweet spot between a small town and a big city the way Kalamazoo does.

Everything is a delicate balance in Kalamazoo. From its small-town feel, big-city life, and an equidistant 150 miles from both Detroit and Chicago, nuance is the best word to define Brewery City.

If Kalamazoo has been on your mind for some time now and you're concerned that you don't know that much about it, we here at College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving created this guide specifically for you.

What You Didn't Know About Kalamazoo, MI

Kalamazoo is the perfect blend of American city tropes. It's a college town, a small town and an art center all at the same time. 

Just by walking from one of its streets to another, you get to experience different aspects of American culture.

Here are some quick facts about Kalamazoo and the people that come together to create this amazing community.


Brewery city is a melting point, and diversity is one of the first things you'll notice when you visit or relocate there. And the residents have never been more proud.

According to Census Bureau, the demographic distribution of Kalamazoo is:

  • White( alone) -68.2%
  • Black or African American (alone)- 22.2%
  • Natives. 0.2%
  • Asian 2.1%
  • Hispanic/Latino- 7.6%

City Population

Kalamazoo is a small city in a much larger county that goes by the same name. According to the Census Bureau, the population of Kalamazoo is estimated at 76,200

The population density of Kalamazoo is estimated to be around 3082 people per square mile. That's enough people for the town to seem neither abandoned nor overcrowded.

Weather and Climate

Apart from its chilly winters, you'll be mostly hearing good things about the weather in Kalamazoo. 

The city experiences all four seasons (summer, autumn, winter, spring) with a smooth transition from one season to another. 

Summers there are warm and cloudy with the winters, on the other hand, being freezy, windy, and cloudy. On that premise, the temperature in Kalamazoo varies from 18°F to 83°F.

What is the Cost of Living in Kalamazoo Like

Recovering from the pandemic, everybody would wish for a location where their dollars go further; Kalamazoo fits that description like a glove.

According to Best Places, the cost of living in Kalamazoo is 20% cheaper than the national average. 

Yes, you read that right. Moving to Kalamazoo from Chicago is the equivalent of a 20% raise alone. For that, it's been cited as the coolest place to live with the lowest cost of living.

If you think that's impressive, wait until you look at the distribution. It gets even better:

  • Housing- 50% cheaper
  • Groceries- 10% cheaper
  • Transportation- 9% cheaper

Average Rental Prices

At sub-1000 dollar rent, the national rise of rental prices, like inflation, seems to have skipped Kalamazoo altogether.

The city offers some of the most affordable housing in the MidWest for both college students and families.

According to the Census Bureau, the median gross rent is estimated at $795 for 2015-2019.

However, recent studies show that the rent is currently at $1070, a 6% increase from the previous year. Regardless of the year the average is taken, it's still significantly lower than the national average rent of $1463.

Average Home Price

There's good news for you if you're planning to join the 44% of Kalamazoo residents who are homeowners.

Owning a home in Kalamazoo is ridiculously cheap, at least going by what it costs to put a roof above your head in other large cities.

With a median home price of 106,600, the dream of owning a home is within reach in Kalamazoo for more Americans than elsewhere in the nation.

What About the Kalamazoo Job Market

The high quality of education, a culture of innovation, a heritage of biotechnology, and supportive legislation come together to give Kalamazoo a healthy job market.

Unemployment Rate

According to bls.gov, the unemployment rate in Kalamazoo county stands at 4.8% in April 2021. 

This is quite impressive for a city (and state) that had one of the strictest lockdowns in the nation.

That's not all. Kalamazoo still managed to beat the May 2021 average national unemployment rate of 5.8%  by 1%.

Largest Employers and Where to Work in Kalamazoo

The residents of Kalamazoo don't like tooting their horns that much. However, they'll be glad to tell you that Pfizer calls their city home.

At 4,000 employees, Pfizer is first in a long list of innovative companies that Kalamazoo residents get the chance to work for. Other major employers in the city include:

  • MPI Research– 1600 employees
  • Stryker– 1792 employees
  • Bronson Medical Health Center– 3729 employees

Median Income

Now that you've seen how affordable Kalamazoo is, you're probably wondering how much its residents make.

Well, the median household income in Kalamazoo, according to the Census Bureau, is 41,774. Given that it's a small affordable town, being a few thousand dollars shy of the national average of $62,843is quite commendable.

How do the Residents of Kalamazoo Commute

Have you been thinking about moving to or visiting Kalamazoo? If so, bring that Ford or Chevy with you; the city remains the quintessential American car town, something that won't be changing anytime soon.

Best Places has the distribution of Kalamazoo residents as follows

  • 75.6% - drive to work
  • 8.2% - Carpool with others
  • 3.7%- Work from home
  • 3.1%- Take mass transit

Public Transportation Cost and Availability

If you're moving from Chicago or New York, one thing you'll miss is the subway: Kalamazoo has none. 

Apart from a few mentions of the K Metro, there isn't a lot to write home about public transit in Kalamazoo at all.

Metro Transit runs busses in Kalamazoo city, Portage, and its neighborhoods. The fares for an adult are $1.50 and a $60 monthly subscription. The busses run from 6 am to 10 pm on weekdays, and 8 am to 6 pm on weekends.

Traffic/ Average Commute Times

Spending lots of time in traffic is one less thing to worry about once you move to Kalamazoo. The average one-way commute in Kalamazoo takes 18 minutes. That may not sound as impressive until you learn of the national average commute time, which is 27.6 minutes.

Parking in Kalamazoo

For the most part, parking in Kalamazoo is readily available. Downtown Kalamazoo has more than 400 free 90-minute parking spaces. Also, you can purchase your monthly parking tickets here.

Besides a few traffic here and there, the roads in Kalamazoo are mostly good. Howevre, during winter months, snow may raise a few issues. You can get your Kalamazoo road updates here.

What Living in Kalamazoo is Like

Kalamazoo is one of those cities that's neither too slow nor too fast. The city puts you in the driver's seat; If you want history, take a walk around the old 1900s architecture of Vine Street.

Similarly, If you want the hustle and feel of the city, drive downtown and savor its outdoor mall vibe, and if you want peace of mind, get lost in the nearest nature trail.

Restaurant Scene

Whether you're a foodie or just a regular person who savors culinary excellence and good food, Kalamazoo has you covered.

If it's anything to go by, the food trucks that punctuate downtown Kalamazoo, the restaurants farming fresh farmed dishes, and the diverse cuisines in its hidden gems, Kalamazoo is a food town.

Any skepticism you may have will be cured by the chicken nachos at Shakesphere's pub. By the time you're done with the Italian food at Comensoli's and the pizza at Bimbos Pizza, you'd be convinced that you'll never run out of good places to eat. 

Bars and Clubs

Kalamazoo offers quite a nightlife for a medium-sized college town. Is it locally crafted beer, grilled barbecue, or some wine that gets you going? You'll find all of that and a little bit more in Kalamazoo.

If you're a beer lover, the Give A Craft Beer Trail is the closest you'll ever get to Disneyland. You get to walk a trail from brewery to brewery, sampling some of the best beer in Michigan. Does it get any better?

Historical clubs like the Old Dog Tavern and Bell's eccentric cafe also don't disappoint for those Friday evenings when you could use some live music and locally crafted beer. 

Access to Public Parks and Libraries

Once you relocate to Kalamazoo, most of your weekdays will be spent working. For Fridays, you may have the breweries and restaurants at your disposal, but what about the Weekends?

Fortunately, Kalamazoo has a broad range of museums, nature trails, theaters, parks, and libraries to keep you busy during the weekends.

Some of the places you can visit when you're not paddling the Kalamazoo river or fishing in its 83 lakes include:

  • Kalamazoo Valley museum
  • Kalamazoo Nature Center
  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Then there's the Kalamazoo Art fair. It takes place every first weekend in June and is the second-oldest community art fair in America.

Outdoor Activities in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo experiences all four seasons. Above that, it has 83 lakes with public access which gives its residents an endless supply of fishing and kayaking places.

However, most Kalamazoo residents enjoy its nature trails and parks for family picnics, biking, hiking and nature trails.

Where to Live and Schools in Kalamazoo

The nuance and balance in Kalamazoo spill into its neighborhoods. This makes them an almost perfect blend of everything you may ever want in a community. 

Where else in America can one get excellent schools, diversity, family-friendly neighborhoods, a small-town feel, and a wealth of history in the same place?

Schools in Kalamazoo

Michigan as a state leads the nation in education; Kalamazoo is no exception. The public schools in Kalamazoo are ranked some of the best. This is not only in the country but also in the state.

Some of the schools you should consider once you move to Kalamazoo include:

  • Woodland Elementary School
  • Portage Central High School
  • Portage Northern High School
  • Lake Center Elementary School

Note that all these education centers are in the top 10% of schools in Michigan. As a result of its impressive education System, Kalamazoo has one of the most educated populations.

At 33.8% for people with college degrees, Kalamazoo is at par with the nation, with a national average of 36%.

Then there's the Kalamazoo Promise, a scholarship funded by local companies such as Pfizer that offers post-high school scholarships to students who go through K-12. Two words, free college.

Best Neighborhoods to Move to in Kalamazoo

Some of the neighborhoods you should consider as in your relocation to Kalamazoo include:

1. Downtown Kalamazoo

Downtown Kalamazoo is a go-to for young singles straight out of college. It has a slew of modern homes and developments punctuated by historic and eclectic Victorian-style apartments.

However, what many are attracted to is its energy, downtown being the "heartbeat" of this small city.

Living in downtown Kalamazoo, you'll always be a walk or drive from the shopping centers, live music, a thriving art scene, and restaurants.

2. Oakwood

Oakwood is a small hidden gem right in the center of Kalamazoo. Many of its residents say it "hides in plain sight."

This small and quiet neighborhood is a favorite for young new couples looking forward to starting a family.

It's safe, within reach of grocery stores and restaurants while being within some of the most coveted school districts in the nation.

3. Milwood

Milwood is yet another family-friendly neighborhood in Kalamazoo city. Many of its residents come for its good schools like Greenwood elementary school and Amberly Elementary School.

However, they stay for its warm, welcoming residents, the cute mom and pop stores, and the neighborhood's love for dogs and pets.

In one review, one resident jokes about Milwood's many dogs and their love for the equally abundant squirrels.

Pros of Living in Kalamazoo

Very few people regret their move to Kalamazoo. This is because relocating to Kalamazoo comes with a lot of benefits. These benefits include:

  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Some of the best schools in the nation
  • All four seasons
  • Access to endless pubs and restaurants
  • Free city bus rides for students

Cons of Living in Kalamazoo

However, like any other place, Kalamazoo is far from perfect. Living in Kalamazoo comes with its fair share of disadvantages. These include:

  • Poorly maintained roads
  • Rising crime in some neighborhoods
  • Harsh winters that will mostly be spent  indoors

Considerations for Interstate Relocations to Kalamazoo

However appealing the thought might be, moving to Kalamazoo from another state is a lot harder than packing your bags and driving there.

We all wish it would have been that easy, but there are still a few considerations and processes before you make that dream come true.

Some of these include:

2. Transferring Your Out-Of-State License

To permanently relocate to Michigan from another state, you need to have a Michigan driving license. To transfer your license, you need to:

  • Visit your nearest SOS office and apply for a Class O driver's license
  • Submit your required documents and ID
  • Receive a temporary driver's license
  • Receive your Michigan driver's license within four weeks

2. Submitting a Change Of Address

Another requirement for long-term relocation to Kalamazoo from out of state is changing your address.

You can submit a change of address in the following ways:

We Can Help

Moving to a new location can be pretty hectic and tiring. We at College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving are here to help you make it easier for you. 

Our teams have spent the past decade making the process of moving for individuals and families less of a hassle. 

For more information, contact us today, and we will be more than willing to help.