15 Pros and Cons of Living in Milwaukee, WI Right Now

Top Things To Know Before Moving To Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Today I want to discuss the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee.

Whether you are moving to Milwaukee for a new job. Or, are just looking for a fresh start in a new place.

Either way, we have the facts. So you can make a good decision. About whether or not to move to Milwaukee.

So, get on board. Because this ship is ready to sail. And it’s sailing on Lake Michigan straight for the Brew City…

Pros And Cons Of Living In Milwaukee

Here is our list of the top living in Milwaukee pros and cons for your careful consideration…

  • Low cost of living
  • Diverse economy with modest unemployment
  • Availability of public transportation
  • Great location for getting away
  • A clean and walkable city
  • Access to Lake Michigan
  • Plenty of fun things to do
  • Changing weather seasons
  • Rough winters
  • Short springs and humid summers
  • Road construction and bad traffic
  • Lower household incomes
  • Excessive property taxes
  • High crime rates
  • Noticeable discrimination and segregation

I’m going to cover each of these points in greater detail. But first, let’s address the big question of the day…

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Is Milwaukee A Good Place To Live?

Yes, Milwaukee is a great place to live. Especially for anyone looking for a medium size midwestern city. Located directly on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.

What you will find is plenty of jobs, diverse neighborhoods, an active housing market, and friendly people. All are located in a clean, walkable city with solid public transportation options.

But before you start packing. I suggest we carefully examine the pros and cons of moving to Milwaukee.

Let’s do that now…

Low Cost Of Living

There are plenty of housing options. In a variety of neighborhoods. Where you can find a good home price.

So, you will learn that housing costs won’t break your budget. As median home values run about 45% less than the national average. Source: BestPlaces.net

Rents are also below average. And the other cost of living categories? They are similar to the rest of the country.

Since housing makes up the largest part of your family budget.  The average cost of living in Milwaukee comes in 15% lower. Versus the rest of the United States.

Some neighborhoods you may want to explore include:

  • Bayview
  • The Historic Third Ward
  • Juneau Town

…just to name a few.

Finally, make sure your credit score is in good shape. Before you buy or rent here. Or, anywhere for that matter.

You can check yours for free using Credit Karma.

Next up, is another one of the best things about living in Milwaukee…

Diverse Economy With Modest Unemployment

Lake Michigan a benefit of MilwaukeePin

For anyone who wants to work. You will be glad to know this city boasts a productive economy. With an active job market.

Several stable industries flourish here including:

  • Energy and power production
  • Food and beverage manufacturing
  • Health care
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Insurance and financial services

While some of the area’s top employers include:

  • Aurora Health Care
  • Ascension Wisconsin
  • Froedtert Health
  • Kroger Co
  • Kohl’s Corp
  • Quad/Graphics, Inc.
  • S.C. Johnson
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • WEC Energy
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Harley-Davidson

Finally, the breadth and diversity of employers result in an overall low unemployment rate. Typically in line with U.S. averages.

Then when it comes to getting to work or around town. You may find this next point to be one of the benefits of living in Milwaukee…

Availability Of Public Transportation

Because unlike so many places to live across the U.S. This city has a good public transportation system.

First, there is Milwaukee County Transit.

That runs the MCTS bus system throughout downtown and the rest of the county. Furthermore, they also run special shuttles to the summertime lakefront events.

Second, there is the Hop streetcar.

It connects some of the most popular neighborhoods and attractions. However, it runs just a 2-mile route.

But the transportation system gets even better. One of the great things about your potential Milwaukee lifestyle…

Great Location For Getting Away

Because you can get out of town easily when you need to. And all of us just have to get away sometimes for business and pleasure.

First, for getting around the lake. And over to the magnificent state of Michigan. There is the Lake Express Ferry.

It is an automobile and passenger boat. That links the Milwaukee area with Muskegon, Michigan.

Second, is the Intermodal Train Station. Offering train travel by Amtrak

It has multiple daily departures to and from Chicago. Plus convenient travel options into the first-rate state of Minnesota. Specifically for traveling in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Third, is Mitchell International Airport. A very convenient and easy-to-navigate option for air travel.

Next, when you need to get around the world. Realize there is Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Just a 90-minute drive from here.

After you cross the border into the proud state of Illinois. O’Hare International is not far off.

Finally, don’t underestimate the city’s central location. It makes getting around the Midwest. And around other parts of the country extremely convenient.

But you aren’t considering the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee. Because you want to leave and get out of town.

So, let’s get back to the advantages of living and staying here!

A Clean And Walkable City

Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward NeighborhoodPin

I like the Milwaukee quality of life partly because it is clean and tidy. Midwest neat I like to call it.

And it’s a very walkable city.

The 3-mile River Walk winds through downtown. But the other city blocks are easy to navigate too.

Plus this city’s neighborhoods here are great for walking. For people watching and checking out the sites.

Next, is probably one of the best reasons to move to Milwaukee…

Access To Lake Michigan

Because as long as you are out for a stroll, head to the park along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Since this amazing body of water has so much to offer.

Boating, fishing, swimming, or just sticking your toes in the sand at one of the neighborhood beaches. To enjoy on a hot summer day.

But there is so much more to do. Beyond experiencing lake-side living in this Wisconsin city.

So, let’s explore…

Plenty Of Fun Things To Do

First, there are lots of events. Also, many summer festivals that this city offers. Just to name of few of the options, consider…

  • Air and Water Show
  • Festa Italia
  • German Fest
  • Indian Summer Festival
  • Irish Fest
  • Brew Fest
  • Polish Fest
  • Summerfest

But my personal favorite is the Wisconsin State Fair. It’s the very best in the Midwest, in my opinion.

I like hanging out at the Public Market too. It has a cool urban vibe.

the downtown Public MarketPin

Furthermore, you can pick up some good things to eat and drink. Or, just relax. Have a beer and people-watch.

Next, you can cheer on a variety of college and professional sports teams:

  • Baseball’s Brewers
  • Basketball’s Bucks
  • University of Wisconsin’s Badgers
  • Marquette University’s Golden Eagles

And even though they aren’t a local team. Residents love to root for their beloved Green Bay Packers.

You can even get yourself a cheesehead wedge hat. Wear it around. And you will fit right in!

Okay. Here’s one last thing you are going to enjoy about the lifestyle in Milwaukee…

Changing Weather Seasons

Because if you are one of those people that has to experience the changing seasons each year. Then you are going to like life in Milwaukee.

From the warm summer days. Leading to the changing leaves and crisp fall temperatures.

Followed by a white Christmas (most of the time). And the always welcome springtime thaw.

The four seasons of weather here will be sure to delight. And provide plenty of variety. For those who require it.

Okay. That concludes the pros of living in Milwaukee.

But I want to present a balanced argument. Since not everyone likes living here.

And there are some definite cons of living in Milwaukee that you must consider.

Unfortunately, I’m not done with the weather…


Rough Winters

Because there is no getting around it. The winter weather in this city is less than desirable.

So, be ready for sub-zero temperatures. And plenty of snow.

If you will have a driveway to clear. Be sure to invest in a snowblower. To save yourself from an aching back.

Next, another one of the worst things about life in Milwaukee also pertains to the weather…

Short Springs And Humid Summers

Because every year it seems like winter drags on forever. Yes, the snow melts. But temperatures are slow to warm.

This is partly due to the proximity to Lake Michigan. As the lake’s cold temperatures keep the air cool well into the spring.

And when it does warm up. It usually happens in an instant. With little time to enjoy the moderate weather of early summer.

Then it gets hots. With plenty of Midwest humidity.

That makes it feel more uncomfortable. Versus the reading your thermometer indicates.

Next up, one of the worst things about moving to Milwaukee…

Road Construction And Bad Traffic

Because of the winter snow and ice. Plus salt is used to combat these elements on the streets. The roads are always being repaired.

So you have to get used to seeing orange cones and road repairs from the spring through the fall. A big adjustment for those of you yet to decide about living in the midwest.

Furthermore, be sure to know the locals say that there are only two seasons. The winter season and the road construction season.

What’s worse, is the construction can wreak havoc on getting around town. Making for slow traffic even when there aren’t many cars on the road.

Here’s another thing I want you to be aware of. Because you came here for moving to Milwaukee advice.

And I want to provide the complete picture…

Lower Household Incomes

Yes. On one hand, we have concluded that there are many excellent employers here. Supporting a robust job market.

On the other hand salaries and wages are on the low side. For example, according to the Census Bureau, the median household income runs about one-third lower. Versus the U.S. as a whole.

So, it’s a good thing the average cost of living in Milwaukee is moderate.

However, you may want to stretch your dollars a little farther. If so, make all of your online purchases using the online app from Rakuten.

Because by signing up and using Rakuten you get money back. On just about everything you buy online.

And it’s a good idea to make every dollar count. Especially when considering this next negative about Milwaukee living…

Excessive Property Taxes

Because real estate taxes are high here.

First of all, according to WalletHub. The usually enchanting state of Wisconsin, unfortunately, has one of the top 10 highest average property tax rates of all states in the country.

Furthermore, Milwaukee County has some of the highest rates in Wisconsin.

Thus, plan on paying more real estate taxes here. Versus other places. That you may be considering moving to.

And as a result, you should make sure your financial house is in order before the big move.  For this, I use the online tool from Personal Capital.

Because Personal Capital allows me to pull all of my spending, budget, and investments together in one place. Best of all, Personal Capital is completely free to sign up and use.

Unfortunately, I have a couple more reasons not to move to Milwaukee before I wrap up…

High Crime Rates

Every major city has crime. It just comes with the territory.

But some cities are worse than others. And “The Cream City” doesn’t grade out well in this regard.

For example, CrimeGrade.org scored the city a D+. Meaning crime is higher here. When compared to the average U.S. metro area.

So, you are probably asking. Is Milwaukee a safe place to live?

Well, there are plenty of people living in Milwaukee that feel safe. But just like finding a good school for your kids. It is location specific.

So, it’s important to research and select your exact neighborhood carefully.

Noticeable Discrimination And Segregation

Finally, as much as Milwaukeeans like to tout and celebrate the city’s ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity.

The sad fact is the city remains rather segregated. And there is a noticeable amount of discrimination. Unfortunately, you can feel the racial tension at times and in some places.

Okay. That concludes the advantages and disadvantages of choosing the Milwaukee lifestyle.

So, allow me to close with a few parting thoughts…

ladies enjoying the Milwaukee lifestylePin

Pros And Cons Of Living In Milwaukee

You came here to better understand the answer to this question:

How is Milwaukee to live in?

In my opinion, Milwaukee is an excellent place to live. But of course, it’s not for everyone.

When moving here, be sure to choose wisely from the different neighborhoods. Then get settled in. And enjoy all the wonderful things Milwaukee living has to offer.

Okay. That’s all for today.

Hopefully, I have given you some things to think about. So you can answer the question: should I move to Milwaukee?

On the other hand, if you see too many reasons not to move to Milwaukee. Then check out all of our great content about…

Where To Live And Why You Should

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Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

The Pros And Cons Of Living In Milwaukee Explained