• Photo by: Ashley Wright Slegers at The Coe Collective

Why Orange City: McKenzie and Michael Kuiken

How long have you lived in Orange City?

McKenzie was born and raised in Orange City, and Michael lived here throughout middle school and high school. We’ve lived here for almost two years since moving back from the Pacific Northwest.

Where did you move from?

Seattle, Washington

Why did you move to Orange City?

After growing up here, we were ready to move away and experience a different part of the country. We spent six awesome years in Seattle, where we really enjoyed living in a huge city surrounded by so much beautiful landscape. However, when COVID hit we quickly realized how much we missed being near close family and friends. We also recognized the value of small town opportunities like owning a home, starting a business, and knowing more of our community members – all things that were much harder to achieve in a big city. With our employment switching to remote status, we were able to take the leap to move back home and experience the best of both worlds.

How would you describe your lifestyle in Orange City (work, school, activities)?

Working remotely means we work out of our home, but we love getting out for walks, going out to eat, spending time with family, and enjoying town events like the Farmer’s Market and OnStage. We recently welcomed a baby, so we’re also exploring new things like story time at the library, and look forward to days spent at the park and summers at the pool! We spend a ton of time and energy renovating our 100-year-old house, a project that allows us to contribute to the upkeep of Orange City’s history. Michael was also instrumental in the recent redesign and renovation of Windmill Park Jewelers (owned by McKenzie’s mom), and we’ve started working on a new project downtown that we’re excited to share with the community soon!

What has surprised you the most about living in Orange City?

Growing up here means we know a lot of people, and a lot of people know us. What has been surprising, though, is rediscovering relationships and people through the lens of the experiences we had while we were away. We used to perceive Orange City as being just another small, conservative town, but we are now able to see more of its diversity and vibrancy, and we hope to continue to contribute to that!

What do you most enjoy about the community?

We most enjoy the amenities of the downtown! We live a block from Windmill Park, so we love walking over to shop, eat, and enjoy downtown events. We love seeing friends and neighbors out and about for walks or hanging out in the park. Our dog, Pippa, particularly enjoys the delicious smells from the downtown restaurants, and particularly Woudstra’s! 🙂

What makes Orange City unique from other places you’ve lived?

It’s pretty easy for most folks to recognize some differences between Seattle and Orange City (haha!) but for us, what makes Orange City unique is the opportunity we have to build the flexible life we want. Because of our work situation, we’ve been able to take on our home renovation (a longtime dream), grow our family, be near relatives and friends, and pursue a new business. It likely would have taken us many more years to be able to make all that happen anywhere else!

What should others outside of Orange City or those considering a move to Orange City know?

Orange City may be small, but if you put yourself out there you’ll see that it is so full of people, businesses, and ideas that make for a very special community. There really is so much opportunity to build the lifestyle you want!

Anything else you would like to add?

We are so happy to be back and are proud to contribute to this community!