TRAVERSE CITY — Rachel Jarosz and her husband lived in the Detroit metropolitan area, but when they learned their family would expand, they knew they wanted to settle elsewhere.
“After looking at other locations throughout the country, we realized there’s no place quite like Traverse City,” Jarosz said.
Jarosz’s husband, Brent, grew up in the Traverse City area and the couple often visited his parents here. They also believed a Traverse City lifestyle would allow them to expose their children to the outdoors and find a balance between work and other aspects of their lives.
Jarosz is not alone. Far from it. The Grand Traverse region is one of the few areas in Michigan to experience population growth from 2012 to 2013, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.
About 850 people moved to Grand Traverse County in the 2012-2013 year, and pushed the county’s population to 89,987, according to Census Bureau estimates. Another 157 more people were born than died in the county.
Grand Traverse County experienced the third-highest rate of population growth in Michigan during that period, at 1.15 percent, trailing only Ottawa and Kent counties, which experienced 1.25 and 1.24 percent growth respectively. But Grand Traverse tallied the most growth of any area in the state from 2010 to 2013.
Much of that can be attributed to people who migrated here, and not to a natural population boom.
“I do think northwest Lower Michigan continues to compete at a state and national level on the basis of place,” said Matt McCauley, director of regional planning and community development for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. “Given our surroundings, small town charm and the lake, we are seen as a very desirable community for people to migrate to.”
Many people who move to Traverse City already have a local connection, said Laura Oblinger, chief operating officer for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.