So You’re Looking to Move to Marquette from a Big City

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With several members of our team here at Make It Marquette having some experience in moving to Marquette from various big cities, we thought that made us uniquely qualified to put together a small collection of things that you may expect from… well, let’s just say a similar moving situation (you’re moving here, right?!). That adjustment period can be a little surprising, and there’s definitely some things that you’ll need to be prepared for as you roll into town. So, whether you’re doing some initial research, looking for an amazing place to ground a new remote working situation, or even if you’re already half-way here in your moving truck… let’s talk about what you can expect from your adventure to Northern Michigan, in Marquette.

Marquette Transportation

One of the most important things you’ll need to get figured out before you make your move into Marquette, is making sure you have a driver’s license & a vehicle. That may sound like a no-brainer, but depending on which large city you’re moving from, and how long you’ve lived there, there’s a chance you’ve never driven a vehicle before in your life! Public transit is a staple service in many large cities like Chicago & New York City, so there’s a chance that the thought hasn’t quite yet crossed your mind, but just so it’s up front and center; unless you’re ready for a ton of walking and/or biking, you’re going to want to make sure you have a vehicle. While there is a public transportation bus system here in Marquette, keep in mind that it only runs a single route along our major roadways, so you’ll need to be prepared to walk or bike further into residential or side street areas. Speaking of biking, it’s also worth mentioning that Marquette is incredibly well-suited for it all year round! It’s numerous, integrated bike paths throughout town are a true luxury, but like we said… you’ll be biking a lot. However, if you’re in need of a door-to-door bus service with accessibility features, the city of Marquette does proudly run a number of those busses for our community members to use, you’ll just need to make sure you request those services in advance. You can find more information on Marquette’s Public Transportation System website.

Some Marquette Community Perks

In case you weren’t aware, Marquette is a college town! Northern Michigan University, through its ambitious students & expert faculty, has played an integral hand in our rich community development over the years. NMU’s capacity to routinely churn out impactful new community members is why Marquette chooses to effortlessly integrate the university into our everyday. Marquette’s become the epicentre of where outdoor lifestyle meets rich culture & history, arguably, throughout the entire state of Michigan as a result. If you’re coming from a big city, this mutually beneficial system is going to be a very familiar one for you, but it’s worth noting that NMU’s influence is fascinatingly potent here in town. For whatever reason, many of NMU’s students often explore Marquette with a creative, opportunistic eye, and as such, have a steady reputation for becoming successful entrepreneurs and business leaders here following their academic careers. A few well known local establishments like: DIGSNorthern HydroponicsBarrel & Beam and Innovate Marquette SmartZone, just to name a few, have all benefited in incredible ways from this cycle of local influence. And while NMU may be the only university in Marquette, the Upper Peninsula as a whole is uplifted by a healthy assortment of different universities & community colleges.

moving to marquette

Authentic, Local Business

Undeniably, one of the best perks in Marquette is the integrity of our businesses, and our ability to shop local. From restaurants and art galleries, all the way to bike shops & dealerships, there’s a real sense of authenticity here in Marquette. Whereas in a larger city, there’s seemingly endless choices & supremely uneven customer experiences, here in our small town, every single one of our businesses is respectable, trusted & actively involved in the community. Marquette is a place for collaboration, innovation & a respectable amount of friendly competition. It’s also a place where our entrepreneurs not only create new ideas for businesses, but also rework old ones. The Delft Bistro, located right downtown, is a great example of that phenomenon. The Delft was once a cozy movie theater, but after closing down a number of years ago, has found a new life as a freshly renovated restaurant. The new owners even found a way to keep the original marquee by weaving the building’s history into their restaurant’s theme… and yes, they still play movies.

Explore The Outdoors

The perks of living in Marquette don’t just end at our businesses, they extend into the outdoor culture here as well. Boasting one of the best natural environments for scenic, outdoor activities, Marquette is quite literally a breath of fresh air when compared to any of the big cities in America. Spread along the rolling Lake Superior shoreline, at the foothills of the Huron Mountains, Marquette’s natural landscape has something unique to offer within each of its acres. Having all four seasons also means that there’s reusability & maneuverability in almost every one of our regular outdoor activities: Biking & Cycling in the snow? Absolutely. Surfing in the winter? Done that. Cross-country skiing in the summer?! We’ve found a way. The point is, the outdoor culture in Marquette is quite unlike anything you’ve ever experienced in any city, and offers more ways for you to be active year-round than almost anywhere else in the country.

Risk with Reward – Respect Mother Superior

The rewards of such a compelling outdoors scene, however, are usually met with some risk. Just like in a large city, Marquette also has some of those looming dangers, but they’re a lot less unpredictable so long as you’re paying attention. If you were to ask around town you’ll hear locals say the phrase, “don’t mess with Mother Superior” and they shouldn’t be ignored. The “danger” here in Marquette is, quite frankly, in underestimating just how powerful the natural environment here can be. Lake Superior, in particular, should be respected at every opportunity, especially when there appears to be no risk at all. Longshore & rip currents are both present along our slice of the Lake Superior shoreline, and are such a concern that there are active efforts to remind residents & visitors of those dangers at every opportunity. Generally, it’s going to be in your best interest to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions for anything that you’re doing outdoors here in Marquette, as well as throughout the greater U.P.. The outdoors can be totally exciting and all-consuming, and while we don’t think there’s anything wrong with that excitement, we encourage you to be careful with it. We recommend checking out places like Travel Marquette which can be great resources for planning some outdoors activities.

Learn more about surfing in Michigan (and Lake Superior) from our friends at EZMoments.

Getting To Know Your Neighbors

The absolute best way to make new friends & acquaintances in Marquette is to just inject yourself into whatever you’re passionate about. There’s a friendly, welcoming community here for pretty much everything! Play fantasy card & board games in tournaments at Taiga Games, join a local artist group called The Marquette Artist Collective, or even audition for some summer theater at the Lake Superior Theater! There’s space for everybody here in Marquette, and if there’s anything that we’re most proud of, it’s our inclusivity. You’ll hardly have to do any work at all, just move in and we’ll practically come knocking on your front door. Once you’ve found your footing, getting out into our local restaurants, coffee shops, breweries and annual festivals can be an excellent way to meet some fun, interesting people in town. If you’re itching for some professional connections, consider checking out Connect Marquette, which is an organization literally designed with professional networking & development in mind within our local business community.

moving to marquette

Fur Friendly Community

If you’re bringing your furry companion in from the city, there are some amazing opportunities here for your small pack in town as well. Replacing those small, over-crowded dog runs & parks littered throughout your city, are some incredible scenic pathways, beaches & outdoor trails that many of our residents are quick to take advantage of. We’ve seen members of our community out on runs, on rollerblades and even longboarding alongside their dogs as a way for everyone to get some healthy exercise, all of which would have been nearly impossible in a big city environment. If you don’t know quite where to get started with walking your dog yet, try getting them around downtown, or in the nearby Lower Harbor Park for your best chances for some spontaneous meet-and-greets! This can also be a great way to explore downtown Marquette, but chances are, you’ll also land an invitation for some kind of spontaneous canine adventure, or at the very least, gather up some excellent local recommendations for pet-friendly trails & experiences.

How To Find Housing in Marquette

While we’ve previously written about some of the best neighborhoods around Marquette to live, we haven’t quite captured what it’s like to actually find housing in those neighborhoods. Admittedly, there’s been some scarcity in the housing market here, which is likely the result of so many eager people trying to make their way into our northern territory! One of the best ways we’ve found to break into the market is by starting with a rental property. Places like Zillow or Apartments.com can sometimes be worth looking into for a rental, however we recommend keeping tabs on our local Facebook Marketplace or various Facebook Groups for the widest variety of options. From there, we recommend getting a real sense of the different neighborhoods around town and then establishing yourself with a local realtor.

Kristin Johnson, who’s currently balancing her time between Chicago and the U.P., has been working remotely out of the Marquette area recently and is now seeking out purchasable properties in town with her partner. We connected with Kristin recently to ask about her current experience with this process, and she had this to say:

“Growing up here in the U.P., like many other high school students, I had dreams of going away for college to have a change of scenery and experience something different from what I had known my entire life. After attending college at Lewis University, a small, private school south of Chicago, I moved to the city to start my career in marketing and advertising. During my 20s and early 30s, I experienced new and exciting things, made great friends, and met Justin, my soon-to-be husband. Needless to say, Chicago has treated me well.

When my career took me back to Marquette, Justin and I were ecstatic. Luckily for us, Justin's employer, which is headquartered in Chicago, has been very accommodating and is allowing Justin to stay in his current role and work remotely in the U.P. We’re also very fortunate that my family has been allowing us to stay with them until we bought a house and got settled.

Originally, we had planned to start house hunting in the Fall. We’re getting married in July so we wanted to get through that major milestone first. However, with interest rates being so low, it felt like it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up and decided to jump right in. 

I expected it to be a long, drawn out process – mainly because I am indecisive by nature – so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it happened rather quickly for us. Stephanie Jones, our buyer’s agent was fantastic. She really prepared us for the current marketplace which, in case you haven’t heard, things are moving fast! Between losing out to all cash offers or throwing our hat in the ring for homes we hadn’t even seen in person, it was a bit of a roller coaster to say the least! However, Stephanie never made us feel pressured to make any rash decisions. She was simply there to support us, advocate for us along the way, and answer all our questions.

For those of you moving to Marquette and starting the home buying process, I have three tips:

  1. Leverage the experts: They (unlike me!) know what they are doing so buyer’s agents and realtors are your friends. 
  2. Don’t get discouraged: It is a tight marketplace so it will likely take time (and several viewings!) before you find the home that is right for you. Buying a home is a big investment so know your ‘must haves’ and know that you may need to be flexible on some of your ‘nice to haves.’
  3. Enjoy the ride: I’m speaking for a friend, obviously…but you’ll likely shed a few tears, first out of frustration but then hopefully tears of joy! This is an exciting time in your life; don’t forget to see the big picture.
I always knew (or hoped) that I would find my way home. Whether you're born here or stumble upon the U.P. during your travels, it is easy to see that this place has so much to offer. Between its natural beauty and outdoor recreation to the warm, friendly community you get in our small towns, I couldn't stay away from the U.P. for too long. It's like a gravitational pull - my compass was always pointing me North.”

If you’re in the market to buy a home and interested in contacting Stephanie you can visit her website stephaniesells.com.

A day in the life

Since moving to Marquette, we’ve collectively noticed a drastic improvement in work-life balance. While city life is active & engaging, you sort of tend to get lost in the hustle, and important things like your mental health will slowly drain you of your motivations to explore the aspects of the city that got you excited about living there in the first place. City living can also be isolating. It’s rare to travel outside of city limits, because it can often feel like every second spent outside of town is time spent rolling backwards in your career’s momentum. Obviously, there are benefits to living in a large city, but not necessarily the benefits we ended up caring about. Marquette has been delivering on the work-life balance that we’ve craved, it’s been accepting of the different lifestyles that our collective community proudly supports.

Your everyday life here in Marquette will be exactly what you want it to be, and there’s something powerful about that sense of control that’s just not present in big cities. Those cityscapes are straight-up marketed as places that will “mold you”, but is there really anything enjoyable about that? That’s up to your individual self to decide, but here in Marquette, there really is a fluidity in how you want this town to grow around you. Stay in…go out…either way, Marquette expertly balances that metropolitan feel with rural outdoor lifestyles & experiences. When all that stands between a nice dinner downtown and literally hiking through the mountains is just a few minutes, you really start to appreciate what makes Marquette unique. Over time, that impact & flexibility has given our residents a real, tangible sense of loyalty to this area, and because of that, they’ve shaped one of the richest, most active, uplifting communities you can find in our state.

You can take advantage of those amenities from day one of your arrival here too, which is what we love the most: Grocery shop through one of our local co-ops or farmers markets, enjoy a stroll through our completely locally-owned downtown, go for an evening bike ride along one of those bike paths, connect with one of our local business consulting services to work through your next big idea, shift gears to remote work through use of one of our public co-working spaces, decorate your new home with pieces from your own local artists, sip on your morning coffee knowing that it’s ethically sourced & fairly traded and just shape your day…your way.

A place with Limitless Potential

The key benefit of living in Marquette, which we’re hoping you’re gathering an acute sense for, is that it’s grown to support a plethora of different lifestyles. Our most ambitious residents also happen to be key leading members of our community, who’s visions for new businesses, mutual growth & exciting new opportunities drive us forwards in every avenue. That means that there’s a collective effort to not only sustain but accentuate the lifestyles of even the youngest entrepreneurs in our community. Marquette has never been a singular experience with a singular purpose, so why limit ourselves now? While taking care to maintain a deep level of appreciation for the members of our community who’ve played integral roles in our foundations, we’re working in tandem to cultivate growing relationships with a number of remote workers, digital nomads, creators & influencers here in the Marquette area. Working from literally anywhere has never been so possible before, and we’re striving to ensure that that’s a sustainable facet of our community as we continue to grow in this exciting digital age.

Take your work, as well as your leisure, to new beginnings in Marquette.

Make it Marquette.