Greater Lansing is improving
I first moved to Lansing in the early 2000s for grad school @ MSU, went away and returned after several years. I must say, the area has improved VERY significantly during the past generation, and I have grown to appreciate it more and more.
First off, Greater Lansing is not flashy. As others have indicated much of downtown Lansing and newer parts of MSU are 'Soviet chic', and the roads are probably worse than the developing world (though slowly they're getting better).
Nevertheless, there the area has a certain style and attitude: very down-to-earth, approachable and sometimes gritty, the latter common in the City of Lansing itself.
For instance, I have met scores of MSU professors, many world renowned, who are approachable and friendly, not snobby, and are just regular, everyday folks in the community. Being a Spartan fan is something that unites people across cultural and economic backgrounds - though it is also amazing how many U of Michigan fans there are, too! If only America could get along like MSU & U of M fans manage to do!
The mix of people in the different parts of Greater Lansing is interesting. One way to see the different flavors of the area are to visit the different Meijer superstores located throughout the region. In South Lansing you'll see and feel the vibe of the city's dynamic African American community. In West Lansing you'll feel a more buttoned down, more prosperous suburban vibe but still diverse and interesting. In East Lansing you'll see MSU students from every corner the world. In Okemos you'll probably see the most prosperity but no less diversity, e.g. MSU faculty and staff from all over the world, professionals of Indian descent, MSU students, etc. (Of course you see much more than this, but each place does have a different flavor.)
Besides the above, I have found just a super interesting mix of people, whether they work for GM or an auto supplier, are immigrants/refugees from Africa, Asia or the Middle East seeking a better life, government workers (in environment, IT, social services, etc.), current MSU students, previous MSU students who put down roots, MSU profs/staff, etc. Given the small size of the area, the mix of people is quite incredible. Probably because of the international 'coverage' of MSU, it is totally normal to encounter people from every corner of the globe.
Otherwise, there is a building boom happening, especially in East Lansing, which has changed drastically. New high rise apartments/condos are going up downtown and near campus, and cool new restaurants and businesses are coming with them. The contrast of the stately, bucolic historic part of the MSU campus on one side (way better than the aforementioned Soviet Chic part), and the dynamic collegetown across the street is dramatic.
This collegetown vibe and MSU's outreach - which is also awesome for sports, activities, events, etc. - are unique. You get all of this with very minimal traffic, and it is easy to get out of town. Within the area, there are lots of great regional parks, trails, etc. These assets exist because a faith in the importance of useful services continues to exist. Tax measures to fund libraries, schools, trails & parks, bus service, community health and the like almost universally pass with strong majorities.
The health systems are strong, which I have seen due to family members needing advanced specialty care. The fact that the MSU School of Medicine partners with the large hospitals helps to make Lansing a great regional healthcare magnet.
As noted in the profile, winters can be long and dreary, but the summer by far makes up for it.
Uncover the layers and you will discover amazing things in Greater Lansing!
Cult | East Lansing, MI