Living in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo is a great place to work and to live.

  • It was recently named one of the 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2020-21 by U.S. News and World Report and ranked the No. 1 Coolest Place in the U.S. with the lowest cost of living.
  • The Kalamazoo-Portage Metro ranked as the lowest cost of living in the country in the first quarter of 2022, according to the Cost of Living Index (COLI).
  • It's the home of the Kalamazoo Promise that guarantees college tuition to graduates of the Kalamazoo Public Schools, the largest program of its kind anywhere.
  • It's a major international pharmaceutical and life sciences center; it's the original home of the Upjohn Co., Stryker Corp, Gibson Guitars, Checker Motors and Bell's Brewery, among many others; the Kalamazoo Gazette is the second oldest newspaper in Michigan; and a century ago, Kalamazoo was so famous for one crop, it was known throughout the country as the Celery City.
  • In 2017, the American Institute for Economic Research ranked Kalamazoo among the best small metropolitan areas on its listing of top college towns.
  • Abraham Lincoln spoke in the village of Kalamazoo in 1856, four years before he was elected president, his only public address in Michigan.

Kalamazoo is midway between Chicago and Detroit on I-94 and offers commercial transportation by train, bus and major airline at the Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport.

Kalamazoo is a 40-minute drive from Lake Michigan beaches at South Haven and slightly farther from beaches at St. Joseph and Saugatuck.

Michigan's ski country, considered the best skiing in the Midwest, is three to four hours north, and excellent local skiing is only 30 minutes away.

Originally a railroad line connecting Kalamazoo and South Haven, the 33-mile Kal-Haven Trail is popular for bicycle riding, hiking and cross country skiing. In 2008, the eastern end of the trail was extended into Kalamazoo as part of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. When completed, the two trails will create a 70-mile bike path from South Haven to Battle Creek.

Day or weekend trips by train to Chicago, the nation's third largest city, are popular and even more convenient with the continuing development of high-speed rail connecting the two cities.

With a population of more than 325,000, Kalamazoo is the sixth largest metropolitan area in Michigan and among the 150 largest in the country. It's large enough to support all the amenities and entertainment found in larger cities; and yet, you can be in the heart of farm country in 20 minutes, and Kalamazoo supports a thriving Farmers Market downtown May through November. Downtown Kalamazoo is a vibrant, exciting place to be!

Local festivals, featuring live music, arts and crafts, food and drinks -- many of which are held at Arcadia Creek Festival Place downtown -- attract crowds in the tens of thousands. The Kalamazoo Art Fair, held annually on the first weekend in June, is the second oldest community art fair in America and attracts 60,000 visitors over two days.

WMU's Miller Auditorium, the historic State Theater and a variety of local clubs offer a complete array of concerts featuring every kind of music and popular entertainment. Kalamazoo is a frequent stop for many of today's top comedians, musicians and other entertainers.

Learn More

Check out the latest videos from Discover Kalamazoo to learn more.