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Do you live in Paradise? How’s it going?Those are questions we want to explore this fall on IPR News Radio in our series, Which Way to Paradise: Struggle and Promise Up North.Parts of northern Michigan are booming and we are constantly told Traverse City, in particular, is a top 10 place to live, work, and play. Who is coming here and why? How has the region changed and who's missing out on the boom?

Which Way to Paradise: 'Lifestyle' migrants seek refuge in northern Michigan

Vanderbilt University Press

Some people move to northern Michigan to get a fresh start in life. Brian Hoey, an anthropologist at Marshall University, calls them "lifestyle migrants." He’s studied this phenomenon in northern Michigan for years.

Hoey’s newest book is called Opting for Elsewhere and profiles people in their prime working years who choose to move to places like Traverse City.

“When I say lifestyle migration, I’m emphasizing migration that’s done for non-economic reasons,” Hoey says. “That people are moving for reasons that might be considered more about identity and what they feel is important in order to live a certain lifestyle to reemphasize things like family or community.”

Lifestyle migrants see northern Michigan as special. It’s partly something to do with the land itself, many of them say. Hoey says they think of the area as a place of refuge.

One important character in the book is Mike Busley, who runs Grand Traverse Pie Company.

Hoey says his story of migration is iconic.

“His is especially important in that he is a local businessperson,” Hoey says, “and his story of starting over is really a powerful one in that he gave up a lot and worked very hard to build up a business.”

Are you a lifestyle migrant? What’s your story?

Tell IPR News all about it by calling 231-276-4441, or by leaving us a message on Facebook.