Living and working on Mackinac Island is a dream come true for so many! The first step to living on Mackinac Island for the summer, is to get a job or employment on the island. In order to keep business running smoothly Mackinac Island employees over 5,000 summer workers. I have worked and lived a total of 9 summer seasons on Mackinac Island.
Jobs and employment are typically from 2-6 months, starting in April/May and ending November 1. Employment may also be flexible for student workers; I was able to attend college while working on Mackinac Island. After August, I would move downstate to Central Michigan University and come back to work the weekends until the Labor Day or later, when business slowed.
Finding a Job
Flashback to 2004, my very first summer on Mackinac Island! This is when it all started. That Spring, we saw ads in our local newspaper that Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island was hiring employees for the summer. The job posting had me intrigued!
I started looking for more jobs on the island. I applied for a few different jobs and positions on Mackinac Island that Spring. A couple weeks later, I got a call, and I was hired for a clothing store, and they asked me to begin work on April 24!
After a month on Mackinac Island, I got a 2nd job at Doud’s grocery store where I continued to work each summer through 2006. Mackinac Island’s summer season is 6 months, so I always approached the summer with a “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality. It isn’t uncommon to have 2-3 jobs.
Some of the jobs I have had on Mackinac Island:
- Tracking Yachts for the Races (2005)
- One-day beer tent bartenders (2005)
- Teaching Art Classes (2015)
- Silver Mine (2005-2007)
- Shirt Tales (2007)
- Island House (2014)
- Bicycle Street Inn & Suites (2014-2016)
- Grand Hotel (2015)
- Mackinac Resorts (2017)
- Sunset Condos (2017)
Finding a Home
Typically, your employer provides your housing as well, so that is why it is key to have employment first. The clothing store provided housing in a multi bedroom historic home next to Haan’s 1830 Inn, perfectly located near downtown on Main Street. When I worked at Doud’s, I lived in an apartment above downtown and at Grand Hotel, it included 3 meals a day, but my housing was 2 miles up hill in Harrisonville.
Basically, what I am saying is – each employer is different with what is offered/included for housing and meal plans. Most housing is dorm style, with a weekly rent deducted from your paycheck. Some employers may even cover the cost of a ferry pass for employees living off island.
You will more than likely have roommates assigned to you, 2+ to a room and most often on bunk beds. Roommates and coworkers can turn into some of the best friends you meet in your life!
Seasonal work, like Mackinac Island, might be a bit more attractive for those folx with freedom to move and temporarily relocate. Mackinac Island’s seasonal worker population is mostly comprised of college aged workers, over 1,000 international workers and retiree aged workers.
My favorite perks of working on Mackinac Island:
- Island worker discounts at local businesses
- Meeting people from all over the WORLD!
- Working/living where everyone else vacations
- Michigan’s UP is right next door!
- Ability to travel up to 6 months a year
Working on Mackinac for 9 summer’s, introduced me to A LOT OF PEOPLE!
The friends I met were from places I had never heard of, but later learned to love! I visited island friends all over the world, I went to Philippines to see a coworker from Grand Hotel, I went to Jamaica and saw many coworkers there. I visited Florida, California, Hawaii, Dubai, and more with friends I met on Mackinac Island!
Every day OFF on Mackinac Island was like a vacation! Aside from catching up on laundry and sleep, days are filled with bike rides, beach bonfires and sunsets! It’s like living at the Disneyland of Michigan during the day and becomes a totally different world at night.
We would take day trips to Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point and kayaking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on our days off. If you love being outside and nature, Mackinac Island is perfect!
What to do in the Winter
Many island workers would work seasonal in the Winter as well. Employers would hold hiring events at Mackinac Island hotels to recruit for winter season positions at resorts in Florida, Utah, Colorado, California and more. Many friends would travel in between seasonal jobs or take winters off to catch up on life. A great place to look for other seasonal positions is Coolworks.com.
During the winter, Mackinac Island isn’t exactly ideal conditions for a vacation so tourism pretty much stops. The island population drops down to 500ish people. Almost all businesses close, with the exception of Doud’s grocery Store, Mustang Lounge and a few lodging options.
Islander’s like to take it easy in the winter and spend time together. Summer is so busy; it doesn’t allow for community events. Winters on Mackinac Island include a lot of family time, bingo, street hockey, skiing, and Euchre.
We all dream of travelling the world and getting paid to do it. But… in the real world, we have bills and jobs that get in the way of our day dreams.
If I had nickel for every time someone has asked me how I afford to travel, I’m pretty sure I would have enough nickels to pay for my next flight.
What’s my secret? Well it’s not really a secret at all, but it’s #3 on this list of jobs for travelers.
Did you know you can visit Mackinac Island in the winter too? It is everything you love about Mackinac Island, plus so much more. Imagine downtown without the crowds, no bicycles, just peaceful and quiet.
To really get the biggest bang for my buck, I like to travel on a budget. I like to save a little where we can and really have a great experience. Here are 22 tips for saving money when visiting Mackinac Island.
1. Weekdays – Hotel rates during the week, Monday-Thursday are usually
As soon as you arrive to Mackinac Island, a map will be your best friend. They’re easy to find at the Visitors Center, Tourism Bureau, your hotel front desk/concierge, stores and restaurants. Unless you’ve lived on the island your whole life, you’re going to be lost without a map. I highly recommend getting one before you head out.
I grew up in a big family, so we’ve been traveling with kids for years! Here are my 10 favorite cities to visit, so far! Any cities you would add to the list? I’m always looking for new destinations!