Grand Rapids rates among ‘best’ cities for creatives


The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, or UICA, in downtown Grand Rapids is a nonprofit center for contemporary visual arts, film, special events, education and community events. Photo by Michael Buck

A website on American culture considers Grand Rapids to be one of the “best” cities for creatives.

Thrillist, which focuses on “how to spend your time and money,” features Grand Rapids in its list of “The Best American Cities for Creatives (That Aren’t NYC, LA or SF).” It shared the post earlier this month.

The website says the cities are “great places” that allow “writers, musicians, painters and tinkerers” the ability to “find a vibrant life, in a home with room to sprawl, where you can cook or play music or just get friends together to conspire and collaborate.”

Thrillist evaluated cities’ artistic communities, access to nature and their food, craft beer, craft cocktail and music scenes, as well as affordability and housing statistics.

Grand Rapids

“Chicago has more glitz, Detroit has more grit, but overlooked in between the two, Grand Rapids has emerged as one of the coolest cities in the Midwest,” the post says. “In the past decade or two, Grand Rapids has undergone an impressive transformation from a rather dull town best known for making office furniture to a place young people are actually drawn to.”

Among the creative attributes the post highlights are the city’s breweries and downtown dining and drinking scenes, “classic housing stock,” art spaces and farmers markets, along with relatively “low rents” and “hardly any” traffic.

Grand Valley State University’s development in downtown Grand Rapids is also highlighted.

The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $830, according to Thrillist, citing data by Apartment List.

Thrillist’s “key stat” for Grand Rapids is the $500,000 prize money connected to ArtPrize.

“The Best American Cities for Creatives (That Aren’t NYC, LA or SF)”

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Nashville, Tennessee

Baltimore, Maryland

Bend, Oregon

Charleston, South Carolina

Grand Rapids

Austin, Texas

Fort Collins, Colorado

Las Vegas, Nevada

Madison, Wisconsin

New Orleans, Louisiana

Oakland, California

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Providence, Rhode Island

Richmond, Virginia

Salt Lake City, Utah

Tampa, Florida

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