15 Pros And Cons of Living In Milwaukee, WI

Are you considering moving to Milwaukee? You’re in the right place.

With a population of over 600,000, Milwaukee has its own set of advantages, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

I’ve been living in Milwaukee for over 3 years and have been asked to share my insights. So, I’m here to give you a real look at the joys and challenges of everyday life in Milwaukee, based on my personal experiences.

As you go through this list, remember that these are my own views on the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee. Not everyone may agree.

Is Milwaukee A Good Place To Live?

Milwaukee is a great place to live for people who enjoy a mix of city excitement and Midwestern friendliness, all at a more affordable cost compared to larger cities.

The city center and nearby areas are quite friendly and you can find really good healthcare here. The economy is getting better, there are plenty of chances to learn, and you won’t run out of fun things to do.

But, living in Milwaukee might not be for everyone. Not all people find that the city’s good points work out for them.

So, get on board as we give you a tour of some pros and cons of living in Milwaukee! 

Pro: Economic Living Costs!

You will be delighted to know that living costs in Milwaukee are significantly lower compared to the other major metropolitan areas of the United States. 

When planning a budget, housing costs take up the highest compartment. Luckily for you, housing costs in Milwaukee are very affordable! According to Best Places, the median home values in Milwaukee are 45% lower than the national average. 

Pro: A Great Town for Athletic Spirits! 

Milwaukee is a town full of lively people. As you move to Milwaukee, you will explore plenty of fun activities, especially if you are a sports fan. 

Milwaukee is home to two major league sports teams, namely, Milwaukee Brewers in Baseball and Milwaukee Bucks in Basketball. You can expect to enjoy a thrilling basketball or a baseball game, depending on your preferred sport. 

Apart from sports, Milwaukee has tons of other activities too. TourScanner has a vast list of activities for activities in Milwaukee, with the best ones as follows: 

  • Milwaukee County Zoo 
  • Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
  • Basilica of Saint Josaphat

Pro: Diverse Food Options 

Being the 35th most diverse city in the country, it doesn’t take much to conclude that the population of this city is very diverse. 

A diverse population in a city means a well-connected community and a better society improving the quality of life. Besides a better community, diversity means a wide range of food options too! 

Get a chance to explore food from all over the world as you choose to move to Milwaukee. It’s safe to say that you will never run out of restaurants to try! 

According to Eater, some essential Milwaukee Restaurants include: 

  • Kopp’s Frozen Custard
  • Sherman Phoenix
  • Lakefront Brewery

Pro: No Health Care Concerns 

Wisconsin is one of the few states in the US that offer top-notch healthcare, and being a part of Wisconsin, Milwaukee offers good healthcare. 

Milwaukee holds significant value as a leader in research and medical training. The city houses health facilities such as Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and the Medical College of Wisconsin. 

Pro: Vast Employment Opportunities

Milwaukee is home to many businesses, including the worldwide famous Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Seeing the presence of businesses and Fortune 500 companies in Milwaukee, it’s easy to conclude that the job market in Milwaukee is robust. The dominant healthcare sector also procures a variety of jobs. 

Pro: Quality Education

Education-wise, moving to Milwaukee can be an excellent move for your children or yourself as a student. 

The Milwaukee Public school district currently has approximately 160 school options, including 19 in the 1,000 top high schools in the US News & World Report of 2022. 

If you prefer private institutions, Milwaukee has those, too, in huge numbers.

Pro: Proximity for Travel

Whether you’re traveling for work or fun, Milwaukee’s location makes it a good place for traveling around. It’s near Lake Michigan, which is handy for boat trips. The Lake Express Ferry goes from Milwaukee to Muskegon in Michigan, and it’s a nice way to travel across the lake.

For flying out, there’s the General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. It’s easy to use and gets you to many places. If you need more flight options, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is only about an hour and a half drive away. O’Hare is one of the big airports, so you can fly almost anywhere from there.

Milwaukee is also in a good location in the Midwest. It’s easy to drive to other big cities nearby and there’s a train station with Amtrak trains that go to Chicago and places in Minnesota, like Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Pro: Clean and Walkable City

The downtown area, in particular, is well-maintained and tidy, often described as having a “Midwest neat” feel to it.

There is the 3-mile River Walk, which winds through the downtown area. This pathway connects various neighborhoods and attractions, adding to the city’s overall walkability.

Cons: Crime is a serious concern! 

No city is crime-free. But some cities are worse than others in this regard, including Milwaukee. 

A crime report from Crime Grade gave a D+ rating to Milwaukee in terms of security. This rating depicts the protection offered in a city. Compared to other US cities, Milwaukee could fare better in terms of safety. 

However, there are regions in Milwaukee where crime is almost non-existent. Before moving to Milwaukee, make sure you will move to a safe area. Safe and affordable neighborhoods in Milwaukee are: 

  • Bay View
  • Walker’s Point
  • East Town 

Con: Milwaukee has Boreal Winters! 

Milwaukee has plenty of sights, facilities, and outdoor activities. However, you need to get some extra winter apparel to get through the bitterly cold temperature of the city! 

As the temperature drops to -10 to -15, and the average annual snowfall is up to 46.9 inches, people often complain about shoveling snow and extra cold temperatures.

The cold weather lasts a while since it starts in October and continues till April. 

Con: Tough Road Conditions

As the city is covered in snow for a better half of a year, roads in Milwaukee wear out sooner than roads in warmer cities. 

Even during the spring season in the city, the government is busy fixing the roads incurred by the cold season. 

Before you move to Milwaukee, let me tell you that you will see orange cones more than usual.

Con: High Poverty Rate

The poverty rate in Milwaukee is notably high. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 24.6% of the city’s population lives in poverty. This rate is one of the highest among the top 50 most populated cities in the United States.

The impact of poverty in Milwaukee is compounded by factors like deindustrialization, which occurred in the 1970s when well-paying manufacturing jobs were lost, and the city’s high level of segregation.

Black residents make up the largest portion of those living in poverty in Milwaukee at 43.2%, followed by white residents at 22%, and Hispanics at 17%.

Con: Taxes

The state of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, are not known for being tax-friendly. In Milwaukee County, the median property tax is $3,707 annually for a home with a median value of $165,700. This represents about 2.24% of a property’s assessed fair market value.

Milwaukee County’s median property tax rate is among the highest in the United States, ranked 89th out of 3143 counties.

Con: Lower Median Household Income

Compared to the national average, the median household income in Milwaukee is lower.

According to the latest census data, the median household income in Milwaukee was $48,985.

This figure represented a slight increase from the year before when the median income was $48,867. Compared to the U.S. median household income, Milwaukee’s median income was about 65.66% of the national average.

Con: Traffic Issues

Although Milwaukee isn’t as big, you can still get stuck in traffic, especially when there’s a big event in town or during the busy commuting times.

I’ve found myself stuck in traffic in Milwaukee so often that it feels almost like I’m living in Chicago, not Milwaukee.

What Do Other People Say?

So, what do other people think is Milwaukee a good place to live? Let’s check different Reddit threads for an answer.

Here’s what people on Reddit say about the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee:

  • Been here about 3 months but visited a lot in the 4 years prior that I lived in Chicago… Pros: relatively inexpensive to dine out and the food is generally underrated – plenty of good restaurants that are on par with Chicago but at a fraction of the price access to the lake is much better than Chicago people are genuinely nice! summerfest Cons: Petty crime is high; we have had our car broken into twice and witnessed a shooting it is still the Midwest – the weather is bad from Jan – April a lot of people who live here also grew up here – it can be hard to break into socially – GreenWaveJake said.
  • Pros? So many awesome restaurants and bars, the summers are incredible. The lake is incredible. The theaters and sports are great- Brewers, Bucks, Admirals. There’s a great concerts almost every weekend. Cons- the crime. I moved from Central Illinois- the reckless driving still makes my head spin 10 years later. Red lights mean nothing, lane markers mean nothing, speed limits mean nothing. If you don’t have indoor parking your car will probably get broken into. (Police response is non existent) The property taxes are INSANE. But I still love it here and you will too! – MKE1969 added.
  • There’s maybe like, two months of great weather throughout the year (thinking 60-80 with low humidity). Noticeably cooler in the summer by the lake. Rains are getting heavier and we have some decent thunderstorms, but more severe weather tends to stay in rural areas. Bay View is great for a night out drinking, the east side/downtown have stellar dining options (Bay view has some really good places, too). Lots of parks, some public pools. The art museum downtown is really nice, and if you have kids, I’ve heard great things about the Betty Brinn museum. Public museum and the zoo are pretty nice, too. The Africa exhibit at the zoo is awesome. Job prospects are pretty good, depending on the industry, of course. Traffic gets bad on the freeway from about 7-9 and 4-6, so check on your potential commute if that affects you. City is pretty segregated in some parts. South side has a large Hispanic population, west side has a growing Muslim community and north side is largely African American. Wauwatosa has a lot of YUPpies. LGBT community and bars around Walker’s Point/north Bay View. Politically speaking, the surrounding suburbs lean conservative, especially West Allis, but there are some messed up people there. Tosa/Bay View/ Riverwest are pretty liberal, but theft is rampant in Riverwest, and panhandlers are all over the city. City is gerrymandered like you wouldn’t believe, so it’s best not to expect too much from state reps and up. Really depends on which neighborhood you’re planning on living in, I suppose. If you’re a sports fan, the stadium formerly known as Miller Park is nice. No NHL team, but the Admirals are an IHL team and those are always fun. Bucks play at the Fiserv forum, but with most of these, it’s best to smuggle in booze unless you’re fine with paying $10 per beer. The Milwaukee Milkmen are a semi pro team playing in Franklin and that park is great. – bill10351 concluded.

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