7 Things We’ve Learned From Living & Working in Northern Michigan

living in northern michigan

Most likely, just like you, many of us at DBS grew up in Northern Michigan or were early transplants to the area. And we have to say that there’s a lot that makes this place such a unique and desirable area to live and work in, from the endless lakes and scenic landscapes to the friendly, warmhearted people that reside here.

While we could go on and on about what makes this such a special area of the state, here are just a few of the things we’ve learned from working and living in Northern Michigan.

1. “Community” is at the Heart of Northern Michigan

No matter where you go in Northern Michigan, it feels like one small, tight-knit community after another. This is not only showcased in the “small town” feel of each town but also through the personalities of those that live there. From pitching in to volunteer with local charities or school events, to celebrating through themed events like Alpenfest, the National Cherry Festival and Tip-Up Town, Northern Michiganders have a unique way of making everyone feel connected in such an widespread area.

tc rotary

Photo credit: Traverse City Rotary Club

2. Welcoming to Newcomers

As both a destination for travelers and a hotspot for new businesses to take up root, Northern Michiganders have always stood with open arms to new faces and businesses. There is a high sense of value that goes with living in this area, and people take it very seriously to make out-of-towners feel welcome and integrated into the community. This has become increasingly obvious in recent years as new businesses have been steadily moving into the area.

3. Northern Michigan Has the Best Lakes in the State

Can anyone really argue with that? From the small, private lakes to the large open bodies of water, Northern Michigan has some of the most serene and action-packed lakes in the state, if not the country. Being surrounded by this beauty at, what feel like every turn, makes living and working in this area all the more spectacular. 

I mean… look at Torch Lake.

michigan lakes

Photo credit: Indianapolis Monthly

4. Tradition Runs Deep

The Northern Michigan communities have been built on deep tradition from the start. Much like Gaylord’s origins, each town has a unique personality and its own traditions that set it apart from other areas and can be seen weaved throughout every aspect of that town. For some areas, you can see it through the architecture of its buildings (like Gaylord’s Swiss-themed downtown), and for others you can see it through the culture of those that live there and the festivals and activities that people flock to that area for (such as the snowmobile trails in Grayling or the Venetian Festival in Charlevoix).

gaylord alpenfest tradition

5. Northern Michiganders are Tough!

Everyone knows that Northern Michigan is extra special because it has five seasons, not just four – winter, spring, summer, autumn and winterrrr. This inevitably has produced extra resilient and tough residents. When it comes to getting stuff done, getting to work on time, taking the kids to their sport games, etc. a blizzard pounding down eight inches of snow in one hour is no problem for Northern Michiganders. Life goes on, even in the midst of the craziest weather!

northern michigan snow blizzards

deer hunting northern michigan6. The Area Shuts Down on Deer Hunting Season Opening Day

Don’t try to meet with friends or clients. Just don’t do it. They won’t be there! They’ll be silently sitting 15 feet up in a tree for 10 hours waiting for that perfect shot.

We take our hunting season very seriously around here.

7. Northern Michigan Towns are Small But Mighty

We’ve also learned that the small things in Northern Michigan like small businesses often bind together to create larger things that make a big difference. For instance, one of the cool ways we see this in action is how small Northern Michigan chambers bind together in the Northern Michigan Alliance to create a larger organization, which functions as a prominent voice in Lansing advocating for issues that affect the area.

These are just a few of the things we’ve learned while living and working in Northern Michigan. What are your favorite parts of the area? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!