Milwaukee, the city, has quite the reputation when it comes to its beer and baseball. It is not just the perfect weekend getaway, but also a perfect place to raise a family or spend your bachelor days in. Did you know that the ‘Brew City’ is also called the ‘Cream City’? While the former name is self-explanatory, the latter is due to the creamy yellow-coloured bricks from the 1800s that make up the foundation of the city. Allow us to explain more about the city and give you a lowdown on whether moving to Milwaukee would make sense for you.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Milwaukee?
Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin and is the fourth largest city to be situated along the great lakes. To be precise, it falls on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The city is spread over an area of 96.81 miles2 (250.75 km2) and is at an elevation of 617 ft (188 m). The population of the city is 590,157, as estimated in 2019.
Milwaukee has a strong drinking culture. That combined with the amazing cultural diversity makes sure that one would never lack conversation, whether they are alone or part of a group. The city also has a vibrant restaurant scene, some of which serve excellent coffee.
Speaking of food, Milwaukee serves German, Italian, Russian, French, Serbian, Polish, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Middle Eastern and Ethiopian cuisines. The food is nothing short of an entire culinary world tour.
Milwaukee also happens to have quite the music scene, what with musical theatres and an yearly musical venue called ‘Summerfest’. The city has produced some notable musical talents like Steve Miller, Liberace, Les Paul, Andy Hurley and Fall Out Boy.
You will enjoy being here if parks and recreation is your thing, and we don’t mean the show. You can go for picnics or indulge in some sunbathing and grilling. Then in winters, you can enjoy some leisurely ice-skating. There are also some nature centres in the parks that are a true treat for the eyes.
Milwaukee Crime Rate
The chances of being the victim of a violent crime in Milwaukee is 1 in 74. The crime rate, when measured against a group of 1000 people is 13.53, as per NeighbourhoodScout. Concerning property crime, the rates are 26.3 with the chances of being a victim standing at 1 in 38. While the statistics do show that you would need to watch your back and keep insurance handy, it is also true that Milwaukee is safer than other cities like it. In terms of crime, it is not the best, but it is also not the worst.
Milwaukee’s weather is affected by its location along the Great Lakes Region. The climate here is termed as being ‘humid continental’ with the winters being snowy and windy. On the other hand, the summers here are warm and humid.
Summers are easy here, being more warm than hot. The highest temperature is recorded in July, at 71.80F . Afternoons in summer experience a lake breeze, from the proximity to Lake Michigan. It is possible that the temperatures might be higher in the evening than the afternoon, due to the ‘land breeze’, another phenomenon experienced by places close to water bodies.
Winters are cold, but the lake takes care of breaking down the extreme cold winds. The coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 22.30F . When it comes to snow, Milwaukee has less than 1 inch of snow per year, so this makes Milwaukee the poster child for the average winter.
The city mostly experiences mild rains and the occasional thunderstorm. It is these thunderstorms that are usually responsible for the rains of summer in Milwaukee.
Is Milwaukee Expensive To Live In?
The first point of contemplation when moving to a new place is to evaluate the effect and change it will bring in your financial situation.
Milwaukee has consistently been one of the most affordable cities to live in. Starting with the taxes, the city has a progressive income tax model, which means that the income tax you pay will depend upon your income, which happens to be a good news of sorts, especially for a lot of lower income households. The sales tax rate is 5% and the county sales tax 0.5%, while social security is not taxed. Even retirees would find the situation quite tax-friendly.
1. Cost of Living in Milwaukee
You definitely are not likely to end up spending much in the supermarkets of Milwaukee, due to the low cost of things. A litre of milk would cost you $0.72 and a loaf of bread $2.35. A dozen eggs cost $3 and a kilogram of potatoes $3.52. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant would be about $13.50 and at a moderately priced one would be $70, for two people.
Healthcare prices in Milwaukee, have been observed to be slightly higher than the national average, but are still within the average spending capacity of a middle-class American.
Transportation is easy on the pockets with a one-way ticket costing $2.38 in the local transport and a monthly pass being $72. If you take a cab, the base fare is $2.88 and the price per kilometre thereon is $1.55. If you have your own vehicle, a litre of gas costs less than a dollar at $0.59.
As per Numbeo, a family of 4 would need $3,622 per month, excluding rent, as expenses for a month. A single person could make do with about $1,010. This is typically within spending limits as the median household income of a family in Milwaukee is $41,838, as estimated in 2019.
2. Buying a House
The median price of a house in Milwaukee is $137,000 according to Trulia. It is one of the most affordable places in the US to own a house and ranks 2 out of 10 in the housing affordability index. It is also a great place for people to invest in real estate, with housing prices having grown by 47% in the last decade.
3. Renting a House
The rent for a two-bedroom house in Milwaukee is $1150, on an average, which is the lowest in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metro area. The rent would differ based on the neighbourhood, but Milwaukee stays one of the most affordable places to live, in terms of property or rental prices.
4. Utility Bills
The hidden expenses of daily life, utility bills like electricity, water, garbage, heating and cooling cost a mere $139 for an average apartment in Milwaukee. An unlimited internet plan should cost about $63. And the transportation expenses, as mentioned before, are also on the lower side.
Milwaukee Economy And Employment Opportunities
Milwaukee has an interestingly solid but diverse economy. A number of international Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the city. Some of them are Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls, Rockwell Automation and Northwestern Mutual. There are quite a few other companies as well, like Sensient Technologies, Rexnord, A.O.Smith, GE Healthcare and MGIC Investments. The list is long. There are also a lot of firms that specialise in financial servicing, particularly mutual funds and transaction processes. The service industry is the fastest growing segment of the city’s economy, with a huge number of managerial jobs.
A surprising industry that makes up 27% of the city’s jobs is the healthcare industry. An interesting aspect of Milwaukee’s economy is its beer industry. The city is known for its beer and breweries, which constitute a significant portion of the economy. Despite a loss in its status as the world’s leading beer producer, its brewing capacity is still one of the greatest in the US, if not the entire world. And recently, owing to the craft beer movement, the city has seen a resurgence in microbreweries.
Milwaukee is perfectly located as a port city, it was originally a hub for wheat production and distribution, before the business was dominated by Chicago. But its access to Lake Michigan has ensured that Milwaukee has been coveted by manufacturing, stockyards, shipping, rendering plants and heavy industry. Flour mills, railways, packing plants and tanneries also have planted themselves firmly as drivers of Milwaukee’s economy. You sure wouldn’t be lacking a choice in the type of job you would prefer if you’re moving to Milwaukee.
Of all the residents in Milwaukee, 86.9% have finished high school and 29.7% have a bachelor’s degree or more.
The school district in Milwaukee is the largest in Wisconsin and the thirty-third in the US. It has an enrolment rate of above 100,000 and employs 20,000 full-time and substitute teachers. These schools offer specialized courses for individuals, be it arts or academics. Washington High School, Riverside University High School, Rufus King High School, Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School, Samuel Morse Middle School for the Gifted and Talented, Golda Meir School, Milwaukee HighSchool of the Arts, and Lynde & Harry Bradley Technology and Trade School are some of the magnet schools in Milwaukee. There are also a significant number of parochial schools, at all levels, should you prefer that for your child’s education.
Milwaukee also has a number of colleges for higher education like Bryant and Stratton, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Mount Mary University, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Herzing University, Marquette University and others.
Getting Around Milwaukee
There are two airports in Milwaukee. First is the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (KMKE) which is responsible for the handling of the region’s commercial traffic. The second is Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport, which is popularly called the Timmerman Field. Mitchell is the largest airport in Wisconsin and the 34th largest in the US. It connects to 90 cities and there are some 250 arrivals and departures each every day at the airport. This airport is also served by Amtrak train service, with access to Chicago and downtown Milwaukee.
Amtrak Hiawatha Service serves Milwaukee. It runs between Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Chicago Union Station, while making a stop at the Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station, Sturtevant, Wisconsin and Glenview, Illinois.
The bus service in Milwaukee County is provided by the Milwaukee County Transit System. The Badger Bus station provided the service from Milwaukee to Madison.
Milwaukee also has a streetcar service, called The Hop, that connects Milwaukee Intermodal Station, downtown Milwaukee and Ogden Avenue on the Lower East Side. It started operating as recently as November 2, 2018 and there are plans in process for future development.
Port of Milwaukee handles almost 2.4 million metric tons of cargo through its port, a huge chunk of which are salt and pepper. There is a Lake Express high speed auto and passenger ferry that runs between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee. It usually runs through late spring to early fall.
Bicycles are quite the popular mode of transport in Milwaukee. The city has more than 105 miles (16 km) of bicycle lanes and trails, a lot of which run along Lake Michigan. There are also some 250 miles (400 km) of streets on which bike lanes can be fit, and there are plans for future expansion. The city has installed some 700 bike racks, partly as part of its initiative of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force and partly due to a settlement of an asbestos lawsuit.
Since 2014, Milwaukee also has a bicycle sharing system in place, called the Bublr Bikes. The city is on a roll with its green initiative, which is extremely desirable and practical, considering the affordability, ability to relax the traffic congestion and the environmental impact.
Your legs are the vehicle for your body. And Milwaukee is the 15th most walkable state in the US, especially some of the population dense areas. The ratings for it range from ‘very walkable’ to ‘a walker’s paradise’. This is a great place to meet your daily step count goals.
Best Neighborhoods Of Milwaukee
1. The East Side
One of the bigger neighbourhoods in the city, it’s quite a charming place, with its residents comprising college goers, working professionals, families and retirees alike. The East Side carries quite the vintage feel in parts, with its cute restaurants, tiny stores and single-screen movie theatres.
Whether you are looking for love or are having the time of your life by yourself or with friends, there’s an option for you. Be it game nights or days, dive bars, coffee or live music, your entertainment is sorted here.
The average price of a house here would be $400,000 and the cost of renting one is $1,200, as per Zillow.
2. Bay View
This neighbourhood is one of the trendiest in the city and has been described as being perfect for ‘hipsters and first-time home buyers’. Bay View is quite the haven for food and cocktail lovers. You will find here all kinds of food here – Mexican, Indian and European – both authentic and otherwise. There are amazing cocktail bars, the background of which is striking enough to soar your Instagram.
The average price of a house here is $140,000 and if you rent one, you would be paying $1150 per month, as per Zillow.
3. Third Ward
The residents of Milwaukee would say that Third Ward is the most cosmopolitan part of the city. The area is one of the most striking neighborhoods, probably due to the fact that a lot of the old warehouses have been converted into lofts and apartments that are quite high-end, giving the neighbourhood quite the earthy, rustic feel.
Local restaurants and other retailers like Starbucks, Anthopologie and Warby Parker have set up base here too. And with the public market next door, grocery and food shopping has never been easier for its residents. But that’s not all – Third Ward is also along the lake here, and the Summerfest is organised every year in the warmer months.
A two-bedroom apartment here would cost you $500,000 or more and renting one would be $1,400, as per Realtor and Zillow, respectively.
Is Moving To Milwaukee A Good Idea?
It is a good idea to move to a place when it ticks the factors of affordability and a good quality of life provided. Fortunately, Milwaukee offers both these two. Not only are there ample job opportunities with incredible scope for growth, but also a low cost of living that makes it feasible for the average American.
Not to mention the amazing and vibrant culture of the city that is accommodating of singles and families alike. Life can be peaceful here, or exciting if you prefer that. And the ability of Milwaukee to offer such a choice is what makes moving here a decision you just might end up feeling really happy about.
After an objective assessment of your needs and the city’s ability in meeting them, you can make your move, though it is quite hard that moving to Milwaukee will really be a regretful decision, unless you don’t factor in everything we mentioned above.