Moving to a new city is always exciting, but it’s also a little bit scary because there are so many unknowns.
I remember this well because I relocated to Milwaukee about 12 years ago in 2008, right at the beginning of the mortgage crisis, and there was just not much going on here.
Quite frankly, I could have thought of a number of cities that I would rather have moved to than Milwaukee in the Midwest. But, as the US economy started recovering and Milwaukee started recovering, something very interesting happened.
Milwaukee has started to completely transform and reinvent itself and you can see that today when you go downtown or when you go at the lakefront.
After 6 billion dollars spent just alone in the downtown area, Milwaukee is becoming actually kind of cool.
The other thing that I have noticed in the last two years is there’s more young people moving to Milwaukee. When I ask them, “Why are you moving here?” they usually say something like, “Well, we visited here last summer and we liked it and it’s cool so we wanted to live here.” So this inspired me to make this video and tell you a little bit more about my personal story and my personal experience with Milwaukee, what I love about Milwaukee and the things that are maybe not that awesome.
First of all, to me, it’s the perfect size city. It is big enough that it feels like a big city. It has all the entertainment, culture, concerts, bars and restaurants, plenty of festivals, especially in the summer, universities, so everything that you would expect from a big city, but it’s still small enough and easy to get around. To give you an example. I live in Mequon, which is on the North side, outside of Milwaukee and it takes me about 20 to 25 minutes to get all the way downtown.
If I want to cross the city entirely from North to South and get down to Mitchell Airport, it’s going to take me about 45 minutes. Chicago O’Hare is about 90 minutes and that’s one of the largest airports in the US that connects you to literally anywhere in the world. Speaking of transportation, public transportation does exist in Milwaukee, but car is definitely the way to get around.
The next thing to talk about is Lake Michigan. Milwaukee is located right on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan, which is part of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes system account for approximately 20% of the fresh water in the world. When you see Lake Michigan for the first time in person, it’s actually hard to believe that this is a freshwater lake because it looks very much like an ocean.
You cannot see the other shore line. You just see water all the way to the horizon. There’s plenty of ships and boats going around. You hear seagulls on a windy day. You have a good sized surf going, and there’s a number of beaches in Milwaukee. It’s also interesting to note that Lake Michigan is a cold water lake so, because of that, it provides a nice refreshing breeze in the summer when it’s hot and it’s also home to a lot of different species of landlocked salmon and trout. So if you’re into fishing, you definitely should check out the salmon and trout fishing in Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is also originally the reason why Milwaukee developed its famous beer brewing industry, which brings me to the next topic, food.
Food was one of my big concerns originally when I relocated here. Admittedly, I’m a foodie and that does depend on good groceries, because I love cooking at home and good restaurants. The good news is we’re safe on both accounts. We have plenty of good grocery stores around here and the prices for groceries are very reasonable compared to the rest of the country.
The other thing is restaurants. Milwaukee has a bustling restaurant scene, lots of new restaurants popping up competing with each other. You can have very casual dining or you can also enjoy fine dining.
The next thing would be people. People in the Midwest are generally known to be very friendly, and I’ve found this to be true in particular for Milwaukee. People in Milwaukee are very friendly and very inviting.
The downside of this is when you are invited to a party and it’s time to go home, it can take forever to say goodbye.
When you look a little bit into the history, you realize that Milwaukee grew a lot in the late 1800s and early 1900s through immigration from Europe. There’s a lot of people from Italy, from France, from Poland, a lot of Germans who have moved into Milwaukee.
Here’s the connection to the beer brewing again, and I think that still echoes today in the culture in Milwaukee. You will find that people are just very friendly, very down to earth. Business, in many cases, is still done with a handshake, and I think that’s a fantastic quality.
Let’s talk about the weather. Wisconsin is experiencing a full four seasons and winter is definitely not the reason why anybody would want to relocate to Milwaukee. It’s just something that you have to learn to deal with and make the best out of it. Winter usually starts right after Thanksgiving, with the first snow fall, and we usually have temperatures in the twenties, thirties, and forties with an occasional blast of really cold, Arctic air hitting us from the North. Then it can get really bitter cold for a week or two weeks.
We usually have snow on the ground, so from a realistic point of view, people here are used to snow shoveling on a regular basis. They know how to deal with an occasional frozen pipe and winter usually keeps dragging on until March and April and sometimes even beyond. Spring, usually arrives in May and it’s normally quite short so it’s sometimes feels like we’re turning the heat off in our houses and a week later we have to turn on the air conditioning. Temperatures rise very quickly into the seventies, eighties and then in summer we sometimes have these really hot and humid days into the nineties, but that’s more the exception than the rule.
Summers are usually gorgeous around here and people are making up for all the time they have been cooped up into houses and they organize a whole bunch of festivals. Milwaukee has a festival in summer, I would say almost every weekend, and there’s lots of things to do and enjoy outside. There’s always something going on.
Fall is usually really nice and beautiful. We have a wonderful Indian summer here in September and October when the leaves are turning and the weather is usually pleasant and nice with temperatures in the mid-sixties and mid-seventies. So the weather is kind of a mixed bag. Winter is definitely not my favorite thing in Milwaukee. Another big negative, at least in my book, is the absolute lack of mountains around here. Milwaukee is a pretty flat state. We do have some bunny hills, but if you enjoy skiing and snowboarding, as much as I do, you’re pretty much out of luck and you either have to fly out West or hop on a plane and go skiing in the Alps in Austria, which is typically what I do.
So what are people doing around here in the winter? Snowmobiling is a really big thing in Wisconsin and we have actually 25,000 miles of marked snowmobile trails. You heard correctly, 25,000 miles. So snowmobiling is a big thing.
If you don’t want to purchase your own snowmobile and maintain it throughout the year, it’s very easy to rent a snowmobile, get an Airbnb for the weekend, and just have some fun on a snowy winter day. Another big thing around here in the summer is going to a mystical place called “Up North”.
So Wisconsinites cannot really agree where Up North actually begins, but most will agree that it starts where cell phone service ends. It usually involves a cabin on the lake, some boating, maybe some fishing, and a couple of beers. And if you’re telling your boss that you’re going to be Up North next week, then he pretty much knows that you’re going to have a good time and you will not be able to check emails.
Last but not least, let’s talk about major sports. Football is hard to get away from in Wisconsin and obviously you will see Green Bay Packers signs literally everywhere. If you have never been to Lambeau Field, you will be surprised how many fans there are hours before the game in bitterly cold temperatures, having a blast, tailgating, grilling brats and drinking beers, and getting excited for the game. So football is a big thing here. If basketball is more your thing, you might have some fun with the Milwaukee Bucks, which are a real treat to experience in the brand new Pfizer Forum, which has been inaugurated, I would say, two years ago now so that’s a really good way of spending a weekend.
During the summer, there is baseball and the Milwaukee Brewers are always good for an nice game here in Milwaukee.
We should also talk a little bit about housing and about real estate in Milwaukee. Home values have been going up over the last four to five years as Milwaukee is gaining popularity, and the housing market is quite competitive. The good news is that Milwaukee offers such a broad range of different options, neighborhoods, and lifestyles that regardless what your preference is, you will probably find more than one neighborhood that feels right for you.
Whether you’re looking for an urban condo that’s overlooking Lake Michigan, or you like a single-family downtown, maybe house hacking in a duplex or a larger single family home in the suburbs in a subdivision, there’s always plenty of options in neighborhoods to choose from. In terms of values, the median, single family home price for Milwaukee for the city is about $185,000.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more upscale, and you want to go more into the nicer areas, you’re looking at about 300 to $500,000. New construction typically starts just under $500,000 and goes up to into sixes and low seven hundreds and 700 to about one and a half offers a good selection of luxury properties if that’s what you’re looking for. So there’s plenty of options to choose from in Milwaukee, but generally speaking, Milwaukee is still one of the more affordable housing markets compared to many other parts of the country.
So there you have it, this was my personal take on relocating and living to the Milwaukee area. I would be so excited to welcome you in Milwaukee someday!