Are you a fan of late 90s and early 2000s sitcoms? Then you must be familiar with “Hello Wisconsin”, shouted at the end of the awesome theme song for the hit TV series, That 70’s Show. Just like the show, the state has a lot to offer, with Lake Superior to the west and Lake Michigan to the east. Wisconsin is home to a multitude of diverse communities, with each one seemingly different from the last.
Rich in natural resources, great for education and people that are the definition of friendly and down to earth. This is just the beginning of this article but it’s best that we mention this now. If you happen to be lactose intolerant, then you must appreciate the poetic irony in settling down in Wisconsin. If you have not guessed why, then keep reading our guide on moving to Wisconsin and it will dawn on you.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Wisconsin?
Wisconsin is part of America’s heartland, with the city of Madison as the capital. The state is estimated to house 5.9 million residents with many of the cities being ranked as one of the best cities to live in the United states. Remember how we said the city would not bore you? Well with the number of festivities and activities like music and food festivals, there is always something or the other to do with your friends, family and loved ones.
Speaking of families and loved ones, if you have kids or plan to settle down and make a few, this state is known for its great schooling and importance on education. Madison is considered one of the best college towns in the country. Remember how we mentioned you would appreciate the poetic irony of settling down here if you are lactose intolerant? Well that’s because Wisconsin is one of the top dogs in America when it comes to dairy production.
The state is fondly known as the badger state. No, it’s not because of an abundance of badgers that exist there. There is a more interesting reason for this nickname. Many a moon ago, Wisconsin miners used to build shelters and temporary homes by digging caves into the hillsides. The similarities between this and a badger digging a hole was not missed by many, so these miners got the name, ‘badgers’ or ‘badger boys’. Over time the miners brought the name back to Wisconsin and voila, the nickname was born. It also does have badgers though.
If you’re someone who loves outdoor activities, you will enjoy zipping around on speed boats across the numerous lakes in the state. Want to crank the levels of thrill down a notch? You could always just relish fishing or paddling and swimming around in the many rivers of the state.
Crime Rate In Wisconsin
The good news is Wisconsin has one of the lowest crime rates in the region. In fact, the violent crime rate in the state is below the national average of approximately 3.7 incidents per 1,000 people, by 22%. The second bit of good news is that the rate of property crime in Wisconsin is 30% lower than the national average of around 21 incidents per 1,000 people.
Rest assured, the overall crime rate is lower than the national average. With the population being the walking definitions of “welcoming” and “down to earth”, you have very little to worry about with regards to criminal activity.
And hey, if you want to know the safest cities to live in Wisconsin, we have listed down 5 of these cities. Keep in mind these are in no specific order and are in general the safest cities in the state.
- Oconomowoc Town
- Grand Rapids
- Geneva Town
Wisconsin celebrated 4 beautiful seasons throughout the year. They get spring, summer, autumn and winter. As amazing as that sounds, it’s the summers and the winters that usually catch people’s attention. Well mostly the winters.
Wisconsin is a state that has lakes, rivers, parks and people who love outdoor life. Spring for them is literally the great thaw that they all wait for, with temperatures averaging between 60°F to 70°F during the day and 38°F to 48°F through the night. Trails clear up for the hikers and bikers, the birds come back and migrate for those bird watchers, and the plants seem alive again for the enthusiastic gardener.
But that’s not all. With the coming of spring comes the coming of festivities. By festivities, we mean outdoor concerts, food festivals, music festivals and any other type of festival you can think of. Start your own festival and people will come, because this is a state where the population thrives to be outdoors.
As it always does, it brings with it high temperatures averaging around 81°F at its peak during the month of July. The hottest recorded summer had a temperature high of around 114°F. But the summer is not a bummer in this state. Summers in Wisconsin can be humid, and a little muggy at times, but it’s not all that bad really.
Wisconsin summers take what spring started and turn it up a notch. What better place to get soaked than in the home of the waterpark capital of the world? Wisconsin Dells, which is a collection of over 20 indoor and outdoor waterparks, is the place to be during summer!
Autumn in Wisconsin brings you into a cozy embrace. With temperatures averaging 45.7 °F, many residents here claim autumn to be their favourite season. It may not be filled with adrenaline and activities to tire out a kid high on sugar, but it brings with it a sense of comfort and home.
Being a state filled with parks and trees and wildlife, you will see the season change before your eyes. Leaves go from rich colours to warm loving yellow and orange. The grass and the path you walk on the weekdays and hike on the weekends are all covered in crisp dry brown leaves.
In Wisconsin, the autumn season is colorful. And you will not just see the change, but you can experience the change in the season. It is not cold, but you will welcome a sweater and a brisk walk. Relax with a book and a drink at home or out on a bench or a cafe.
Winter in Wisconsin comes with its own reasons to step out of the house. From skiing to ice fishing, a frozen landscape is just a different environment to enjoy and spend time with nature. Don’t let this fool you though, as winters here can be quite frigid. Like we said, the northern regions are colder than the southern regions. In the north, the temperatures can drop as low as -30°F.
The state has 4 seasons but it’s really just 2 seasons. It’s an old joke but it can still hold true at times. You have winter as one season and construction as the second season. Winters can really ice and mess up the roads, so once the cold leaves, the machines are put to the task of repairing the roads. All just to be ready for the next winter to take a cold bite off the road.
Is It Expensive To Live In Wisconsin?
There are many things that you consider when you talk about affordability. This includes your monthly expenditure, your monthly income and even the city you live in. Living with your family or in a house will lead to different costs as opposed to living alone or in an apartment.
The tax also plays a part in this. The property tax in the state is one of the highest in the country at around 1.7%. The state sales tax is around 5% and the combined state and local sales tax can come to around 5.6%
Cost Of Living In Wisconsin
According to their own website, Wisconsin claims to have a cost of living that is 6.5% less than the national average. If you look at factors like food, energy, housing, healthcare, transportation and a few other factors, then almost all the major cities in Wisconsin have a lower cost of living compared to the national average. We have listed a few of these below, along with the cost of living compared to the national average.
- Milwaukee: 3.0% below national average
- Kenosha: 3.6% below national average
- Oshkosh: 6.4% below national average
- Appleton: 5.6% below national average
- Green Bay: 7.1% below national average
Similarly, we’re sharing below the cost of living index of Wisconsin for certain expenses. Do keep in mind that the national average is always set at 100. Overall, Wisconsin has a cost of living index of 94.7. Here’s the breakdown:
- Grocery: 97.4
- Housing: 88.7
- Utility: 98.2
- Transportation: 100.3
It is estimated that the average cost of a health plan for a 40 year old individual is $461 in 2021, compared to the average cost of $486 in 2020. This is approximately a 5% decrease in the cost from the previous year. The cost can vary depending on the age and number of people. If you are a family of three, two adults 40 years of age and a child, then your average health insurance will cost you approximately $1,380. For a family of four, with the same demographic but with a second child, the health insurance will put you approximately $1,700 out of pocket.
It is also worth mentioning that usually, the plan is more expensive when the child is above 15 years of age. Another point to note is that depending on your employers you may not have to shell out the estimates we quoted as they can provide you with benefits.
Buying A House
As per Zillow, the price of houses have increased by 11.4% over the last year, bringing the average price of a home in Wisconsin up to $222,738. It goes without saying that this price does vary from city to city and neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
Renting A House
It is believed that renting in Wisconsin is cheaper than buying a house here. What reinforces this is a 1.6% drop in the rent. This would make Wisconsin one of the top 10 states where renting a home would be more affordable.
As shared by HomeSnacks, the average rent in Wisconsin is $1,200 per month for an average apartment size of about 1,215 sq ft. HomeSnacks also shares that $0.988 is the cost per sq ft in the state.
Wisconsin is one of the less expensive states when it comes to utility bills, averaging a cost of $327 a month. Breaking that down, its electricity bill on average is estimated to be around $94 to $98 a month, while water and gas are approximately $70 and $50 respectively.
Wisconsin Employment Opportunities
As of January 2021, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate had dropped to 3.8% from the 4.0% in December 2020. Overall this is a far lower rate than the national average of 6.3%. The minimum wage in Wisconsin is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
But what are the industries that the state of Wisconsin thrive in? Well to be fair, they have a lot of farmland and so one of their major industries would be agriculture. According to their website, the food and beverage industry are prominent here too. The state is also booming in the healthcare and manufacturing sector.
But that’s not all, Wisconsin has seen a rise in the biohealth industry and the water industry too, which include water energy, control and power. In recent years, they have also seen a rise in the finance, information technology and tourism industry as well. Wisconsin is also called the dairy state of America. In fact, they are the largest producers of cheese in America.
We did mention earlier about how the state gives importance to education with numerous good schools and colleges. If you are someone who works in the field of education, then this may be an industry for you.
The state is growing and welcoming more and more outsiders every year. With Madison being a college city and with a large number of youth going to college in the city, there are new industries popping up every year to peak the interest of every new graduate.
Wisconsin is a state that takes pride in their great education system. Ranking 11th in the US, their public education is in the top 25% in the country. The state capital, Madison is a college town and home to the best colleges in the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is the state board and based on a student’s home address they assign a district to the student. Most families and parents generally opt to send their children to that particular school. However, if their parents prefer to choose a school themselves, they can find information regarding this on the state board website.
Private school tuition in Wisconsin costs around $4,500 per year. The average college tuition and fees for a Wisconsin resident is $6,308 and $11,681 for students who come from other states.
Also Read: Average College Tuition Costs By State
Getting Around Wisconsin
One of the many things to get used to in Wisconsin, is the measuring of distance using time. For example, they would say a certain place is 80 minutes away, rather than saying it’s 90 miles away. This is probably a by-product of the absence of hour-long traffic jams in the state.
It is relatively easy to move around most cities in Wisconsin thanks to the bus transit system. However, it is worth mentioning that across the state, in different cities, the public transportation experience varies, from some having confusing bus routes and timings to others not having access to easy public bus transport. Depending on where you want to settle down, the bus transport service can either be welcoming or downright horrible.
For example, you can get by with buses in the city of Hayward, while the infrequent buses in Madison may get you to work late.
Though the different bus services vary from city to city, below are a few of these bus services.
- Amtrak Thruway Connecting Service.
- Indian Trails.
- Jefferson Lines.
- Autobuses Mares.
- Badger Bus.
To travel even further across the state and between cities, you can use the train system available with METRA or Amtrak passenger rail service.
Wisconsin has a total of 8 commercial airports spread throughout various cities. Appleton International, Austin Straubel International in Green Bay and General Mitchell International in Milwaukee are three international airports in the state. The other airports that operate commercial flights in the state are Central Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley Regional, Dane County Regional, La Crosse Regional Airport and Rhinelander-Oneida County
Taxi And Cab Travel
For those of you that prefer it, Lyft and Uber are available as well as general yellow cabs. It’s good to keep in mind that some of these taxi services are specific to certain cities and you won’t find them in other cities. But don’t fret, as there will be another taxi service available.
Being a state with numerous lakes, it’s no surprise that ferries operate to transport passengers in the state. There are Six ferries that you can avail to travel by water.
- Cassville – in southwest Wisconsin on the Mississippi River
- Lake Express – in southeastern Wisconsin on Lake Michigan
- Lake Michigan Carferry – in eastern Wisconsin on Lake Michigan
- Madeline Island Ferry Line – in northern Wisconsin on Lake Superior
- Merrimac – in south central Wisconsin on the Wisconsin River
- Washington Island Ferry Line – in northeast Wisconsin on Lake Michigan
If you do have a car, it is without a doubt a blessing. The state is not known for its traffic jams and its 14 US highways and 5 Interstate highways make it comfortable and easy to drive in and between cities.
Also See: Wisconsin DMV Change of Address
Best Cities To Live In Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a beautiful state with incredible places to settle down. Honestly this list could be long, but we will keep it to three and in no specific order.
Located just outside Green Bay, in Brown county, the city is known for its safe communities and excellent homes. Being a suburb in the larger Green Bay metropolitan area does not stop this city from having great shopping and nightlife.
The city is just 15 minutes south of the Green Bay area and relatively close to Lake Michigan. The lake and The Fox River which runs through the heart of the city makes the summer life pleasant and fun.
The welcoming and down to earth community, along with balance of urban life and the country life coupled with the low crime rate and great schooling make the city ideal to settle down with your family. A home conveniently located between the urban and more rural country. What more could you ask for?
- Population: 25,000
- Median home value: $206,966
- Average market rent: $1,072
This suburb in Milwaukee is ranked among the top places to live in the state. Arguably the best place in the badger state to raise your family.
Located right on Lake Michigan, the area boasts over 80% of its residents being home owners. Yes the prime locality results in it being one of the more pricey areas to settle down in, but if you can afford it, it’s worth it.
The easy access to Lake Michigan, gives rise to opportunities for fun and frolic all year round. Strip malls located in the area can satisfy all your shopping needs and the low crime rate gives you a sense of safety and family. With the expensive price tag, comes access to amazing schools for your kids and an amazing view with a relaxed atmosphere. Who wouldn’t want to live like on vacation?
- Population: 14,000
- Median home value: $449,091
- Average market rent: $1,555
Well, we couldn’t just leave out the capital of the beautiful state of Wisconsin now, could we?
This city was built for millennials, from its colleges to its amazing infrastructure. The city has amazing job opportunities and is home to numerous parks and libraries.
Sporting the nickname “the city of four lakes”, Madison is a host to numerous festivities and outdoor activities that make life far from boring. For being such a big city, it has low unemployment and crime rates.
What this city gives you is an opportunity to experience a simple life with big city amenities. Madison is great for families with its schools being one of the best in the state.
In Madison, there will always be somewhere for you to go. “Been there, done that” is a phrase rarely uttered here.
- Population: 254,000
- Median home value: $310,275
- Average market rent: $1,391
Also See: 5 Best Moving Companies in Madison, WI
Is Wisconsin A Good Place To Live?
Short answer, yes.
If you are looking to move to a new state with your family, very few would seem as welcoming as Wisconsin. The state has an amazing education system and year round recreational activities and festivities, numerous parks and lakes. The cost of living is relatively low with rent being cheap compared to the rest of the country. The state is also extremely attractive to millennials, who flock to many of its cities like Madison for the great colleges and numerous job opportunities and maybe even for the unbelievable varieties of cheese. We wouldn’t blame them.
Wisconsin thrives in nature and welcomes you to live in it. From its numerous lakes to beautiful flora and fauna, you really can not go wrong in the state. Even during the harsh winter, you somehow find yourself enjoying the atmosphere, relaxing and somehow eating cheese.
The state mysteriously manages to blur the lines between the city and the simple life and urban and rural life, giving you the ability to experience different communities and cultures no matter where you live. All this, while you munch on cheese curds. They really do have great cheese.
Well the one downside would be the public transport sector. It does require a lot of work to be dependable. If you decide to move and have a car, bring it with you. Oh and make sure to leave your lactose intolerance behind.