Photo of the Michigan Statehouse in Lansing, MI at Dusk.

12 Things to Know About Living in Lansing

Thinking of moving to Lansing? Michigan’s capital city is home to fantastic entertainment, affordable housing, and incredible outdoor recreation. Check out these 12 things to know about living in Lansing!

An Affordable Place to Live & Work

Aerial View of Downtown Lansing, MI and the Michigan State House. Photo by Instagram user @drewmason
Photo via @drewmason

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to live in Michigan, L-Town might just be the spot for you! Lansing’s cost of living is 17% lower than the national average, and its cost of housing is a whopping 47% lower than the national average, with a median home price of $100,115 and a median rent around $850! Michigan’s capital also has a 2.9% unemployment rate and plenty of job opportunities with top employers like General Motors, Sparrow Health System, Two Men and a Truck, and Michigan State University.

Michigan State University Is the City’s Treasure

Photo of Beaumont Tower on Michigan State University Campus in East Lansing, MI. Photo by Instagram user @zafiephotography
Photo via @zafiephotography

Founded in East Lansing in 1855 as the pioneer land grant university, Michigan State University (MSU) is a top research college that offers over 200 programs of study ranging from business administration and chemistry to journalism and education technology. In fact, MSU is ranked in the top 8% of best four-year universities in the U.S. And with the Division I Spartan athletics program, Michigan State offers all kinds of college sports for Big Ten athletes, including volleyball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and football!

Make the Most of Michigan’s Winters

Outdoor Snow Covered Stairs. Photo by Instagram user @danpricephoto
Photo via @danpricephoto

The weather in Michigan is fairly moderate throughout the year, but the winter is something you’ll need to prepare for if you’re coming from somewhere with a warmer climate. Lansing gets an average of 46 inches of snow annually with an average temperature low around 16 degrees in January. Though Michigan winters can be long and cold, there are plenty of outdoor activities for you to enjoy during the season! You can sled or cross-country ski at Burchfield Park, go snow tubing and ice fishing at Hawk Island Park, or hit the slopes at the scenic Mt. Brighton ski resort just 45 minutes outside of the city!

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Use Public Transportation to Travel Around the City

Lansing Michigan CATA Bus in Front of the State House. Photo by Instagram user @ridecata
Photo via @ridecata

Traveling around Lansing is easy, thanks to its many public transportation services available for residents. Hop on the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) to beat commuter traffic and take advantage of convenient bus routes throughout the Greater Lansing area. Make your way around Downtown Lansing’s entertainment district by using the Grab & Go Express. Or take the Michigan Flyer-AirRide to commute to East Lansing or Detroit. If you’re looking to travel farther, leave your car at home and take the Michigan Amtrak train service to get to cities like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids—and even to Chicago!

A Michigan City Built by Cars

Oldsmobile Super 88 Inside of the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. Photo by Instagram user @_justparker
Photo via @_justparker

Lansing is well-known for its car manufacturing roots. The REO Motor Car Company was Michigan’s first operating car company in 1905, and the Oldsmobile brand was founded in Lansing. Today, L-Town continues the tradition of auto manufacturing in Michigan. It’s home to several General Motors plants, and GM has added about 1,200 jobs in the Lansing area. If you’re an auto enthusiast, be sure to check out Lansing’s Car Capital Auto Show to see popular cars, motorcycles, trucks, and bikes. And don’t forget to visit RE Olds Transportation Museum to see an impressive collection of over 65 cars made in Lansing that date back to 1886!

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Person Sitting on a Bench in Frances Park in Lansing, MI. Photo by Instagram user @byefalysha
Photo via @byefalysha

One of the best things to do in Lansing is to get outside and enjoy the green space throughout the city! Visit the Lansing River Trail, a 13-mile stretch along the Grand River and Red Cedar River that’s perfect for a scenic jog or walk with the dog. Stroll through Crego Park, a 200-acre park that offers fun activities like fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Let your dog roam off-leash and play in the pond at Soldan Dog Park. Take the whole family to Frances Park for a breathtaking view of the Grand River and stroll through the picturesque rose garden. Make your way to Fenner Nature Center to hike on the trails or to take part in the Apple Butter Festival. Go fishing, play softball, or have a family picnic at Grand Woods Park near the Grand River. Or stop by Louis F. Adado Riverfront Park for a relaxing evening stroll along the riverfront.

Visit Charming Old Town Lansing

Old Town General Store in Old Town Lansing, MI. Photo by Instagram user @oldtowngeneralstore
Photo via @oldtowngeneralstore

Public art, eclectic local shops, excellent dining, fun community events—these are all things you can find in the beloved Old Town Lansing district! Find one-of-a-kind jewelry, cards, and gifts at Bad Annie’s Sweary Goods. Appreciate the photography, handcrafted goods, and woodwork of local artists at Great Lakes Art & Gifts. Shop everything from blouses and jackets to jeans and accessories at women’s clothing boutique Retail Therapy. Order the Pork Ribs, Smoked Chicken Wings, or Made-to-Order Mac & Cheese at Meat Southern BBQ. Try cocktails like the No Regrets or the Mysty at Unicorn Lounge, where all drinks are doubles. And don’t miss out on community events like arts and craft festival ArtFeast or Blocktober Party—Michigan’s best block party!

Embrace Your Love of Music

Halsey Performing at CG Music Fest in Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing. Photo by Instagram user @cgmusicfest
Photo via @cgmusicfest

Lansing is full of entertainment for music lovers! Catch live music at The Loft, a popular venue that’s hosted a variety of artists like Walk the Moon, Twenty One Pilots, and Bastille. Get tickets to Downtown Lansing’s Common Ground Music Festival, an annual week-long festival in July that attracts over 50,000 people and showcases rock, pop, hip hop, and R&B artists from around the country. Attend a concert at Ten Pound Fiddle, where you can join in for contra dancing, square dancing, and more. See metal, punk, and electronic bands at Mac’s Bar. Support local musicians as they perform in Valley Court Park at East Lansing’s Farmer’s Market. Or go to the Lansing City Market for its annual summertime concert series Blues on the Grand.

Fun Activities for the Whole Family

Dakota the African Male at Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Instagram user @potterparkzoo
Photo via @potterparkzoo

Both parents and kids will love the many family-friendly activities that Lansing has to offer! Make your way to Potter Park Zoo, where you can find over 160 animal species like pandas, rhinos, and snow leopards. Bring the kids to play in the Build Zone, Bubble Experience, and Nuclear Adventure interactive exhibits at Impression 5 Science Center. Plan a fun day filled with trail hiking, wildlife watching, and hands-on nature activities at Fenner Nature Center. Take in the beautiful scenery at MSU’s 4-H Children’s Garden, where you can embark on a plant tour with a colorful selection of flowers and trees. Snag some hot dogs and catch a Lansing Lugnuts (MiLB) game at Cooley Law School Stadium. Or surprise the family with tickets to family-friendly shows like Disney’s Frozen or Seussical at Wharton Center for Performing Arts.

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Get to Know the Local Arts & Culture Scene

Art Installation at the Lansing Art Gallery. Photo by Instagram user @lansingartgallery
Photo via @lansingartgallery

Lansing has tons of museums, art galleries, and public art murals throughout the city that you should check out! Stroll through MSU Museum, where you’ll find great archives and historical collections that focus on Michigan and its relationship with the Great Lakes, the world, and beyond. Visit Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center to view works of art from local and regional Michigan artists. See everything from visual art exhibits featuring poets and musicians to sculpture work from contemporary artists at Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art. Sign your kids up for art education classes or take a course on molding clay at the nonprofit REACH Studio Art Center. Or spend an afternoon finding the unique public murals in Downtown Lansing, Old Town, and REO Town!

Find Incredible Food Anywhere

Boursin Cheese Flatbread from State Room Lounge. Photo by Instagram user @stateroomrestaurant
Photo via @stateroomrestaurant

Whether you’re searching for sushi spots or Italian restaurants in Lansing, you’re bound to find a place with amazing cuisine! Visit Soup Spoon Cafe for comforting house-made soups like the Seafood Chowder or specialty dishes like the Cafe Benny. Enjoy a house margarita with some Steak Fajitas or Mole Enchiladas on the rooftop at Mexican favorite El Azteco. Order a Santa Fe Omelet or a Smothered Breakfast Burrito for a hearty brunch at Beggar’s Banquet. Try the Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi, Chilled Blackened Scallops, or Quinoa Cakes at the State Room Restaurant. Get a Shrimp Tempura Roll or an Eel Cucumber Roll at Japanese restaurant Mikado Sushi & Grill. Settle in for a savory Filet Mignon in a rustic space at Bowdie’s Chophouse. Pick up Middle Eastern fare like a Chicken Kabob Sandwich or Falafel to go at Sultan’s Express Lansing. Or stop by family-owned DeLuca’s Pizza to fill up on Barbecue Chicken Pizza or Hawaiian Pizza.

Check Out Lansing’s Nightlife Spots

Howler of Beer from The Grid Arcade & Bar in Lansing. Photo by Instagram user @thegridoldtown
Photo via @thegridoldtown

Looking for fun things to do in Lansing at night? There are plenty of bars, lounges, and clubs in L-Town to keep you entertained! Have a Salted Caramel Martini or a Canyon Oaks Moscato at trendy cocktail bar The Exchange. Sip on a Guinness while attending an open mic night at Moriarty’s Pub. Dance the night away and enjoy specialty cocktails like the Vodka Gimelet or Cinnamon Apple Whiskey at LGBTQ-friendly nightclub Spiral Dance Bar. Catch the big game on TV while digging into a plate of nachos and throwing back some brews at sports bar Art’s Pub. Try local craft beers like the Amber Cream Ale or Velvet Villain Porter at Lansing Brewing Company. Head over to the oldest bar in Lansing, Stober’s Bar, to listen to live music on Tuesdays and Sundays. Or hang out at The Grid Arcade & Bar, where you can play classic arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man and choose from a selection of 40+ beers on tap.

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12 Things to Know About Living in Lansing via @extraspace

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