Home > Moving > City Guides > 14 Things to Know About Living in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI skyline at dusk

14 Things to Know About Living in Milwaukee

Moving to Milwaukee? With a budget-friendly cost of living, plenty of education and employment opportunities, a vibrant cultural scene, and more—it’s no wonder so many people choose to call MKE home! Here are 14 things to know about living in Milwaukee.

Live in an Affordable Wisconsin City

A post shared by @instagram

Milwaukee’s affordability is one of its biggest draws! Though it’s the largest city in the state, the cost of living in Milwaukee is 10% lower than the national average and 6% lower than the Wisconsin average. The Milwaukee housing market has ranked second on the list of most stable markets in large metro areas in the U.S. And the city’s median home price currently sits at $185,000, while the average Milwaukee rental rate is around $1,402—considerably lower than the U.S. median home price of $408,732 and average rent of $1,702. And for those looking to buy a house, the Milwaukee Home Down Payment Assistance program offers grants of up to $7,000 to help you purchase!

Work in a Steady Job Market

A post shared by @instagram

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, Midwest city with plenty of jobs, moving to Milwaukee is a great idea. This industrious city has a steady job market—while the U.S. average unemployment rate is currently around 4.7%, Milwaukee’s is only 4.1%. You’ll find excellent opportunities in the manufacturing sector in particular, with leading employers like Johnson ControlsRockwell Automation, and GE Healthcare. There are also a number of jobs in the medical field, with Advocate Aurora Heath, Ascension Wisconsin, and Froedert Health ranking among the city’s largest employers. Other significant Milwaukee industries include air travel services, data processing, retail, and insurance—with major employers like Northwestern Mutual and Kohl’s headquartered in or near Milwaukee.

Immerse Yourself in Higher Education

A post shared by @instagram

If you’re looking to further your education, there are plenty of Milwaukee colleges and universities to choose from. Attend a nationally recognized undergraduate research university with programs in nursing and environmental science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Earn a degree in business or marketing at one of the top 100 universities in the U.S., Marquette University. Find affordable options at one of the best value colleges in the country with programs like education and psychology at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Study life-changing medicine while working to become a doctor or pharmacist at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Enroll as an undergrad or graduate student to study everything from mechanical engineering to bioengineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Or consider a degree in social work or international studies at the all-female Mount Mary University.

Prepare for Milwaukee Winters

A post shared by @instagram

While living in Milwaukee, you’ll get to experience all four seasons. However, that also means experiencing the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures of an Upper Midwest winter. Average temperatures in Milwaukee from December through February sit around 25 degrees—and that’s without the added wind chill from Lake Michigan. Milwaukee winters can see an average snowfall of around 49 inches, so get your shovel ready and give yourself extra time for commutes. When temperatures drop below freezing, the City of Milwaukee urges residents to remember cold weather safety guidelines—like limiting your time spent outdoors and driving on main streets when snow and ice are present. Nevertheless, winter in Milwaukee creates opportunities for fun, frosty activities! Ice skate or ice sled at Slice of Ice at Red Arrow Park, or take a wagon ride through Wisconsin’s largest drive-through light display with Country Christmas at The Ingleside Hotel.

Hop Aboard Public Transportation

A post shared by @instagram

The public transportation options in Milwaukee make it easy to get around! Ride through town and the rest of Milwaukee County on 44 different lines, and even track your route on your phone with the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). Visit some of the city’s most popular attractions and neighborhoods, including downtown Milwaukee, aboard The Hop Milwaukee Streetcar—which is free to ride! Travel directly to Madison, Chicago, Minneapolis, and other great destinations with Amtrak, via the Milwaukee Intermodal Station or Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station. Avoid the long trip around Lake Michigan when visiting Muskegon, MI, and save two hours by taking the Lake Express Ferry. Go green and cruise around the city with friends on Milwaukee scooters. Or explore on your own by renting a bike from one of nearly 100 stations around Milwaukee and neighboring towns with nonprofit Bublr Bikes.

Unwind With Outdoor Recreation

A post shared by @instagram

Milwaukee is on Lake Michigan, one of the best boating lakes in the U.S., so that alone should tell you this Upper Midwest city has plenty of outdoor activities to try! On top of that, 91% of Milwaukeeans live within walking distance of a park, making it easy to get daily fresh air and exercise. Hike or bike scenic trails, go boating on Lake Michigan or the Milwaukee River, and plan picnics at beautiful Milwaukee Parks like South Shore Park, Riverside Park, and Lakeshore State Park. Paddle a swan boat in the lagoon, rent a four-person surrey bike to take on Oak Leaf Trail, or buy a kite to fly at Veterans Park. Swim, play beach volleyball, and grab a treat at The Dock at Bradford Beach. Feed giraffes and moose at the Animal Encounters, soar on the zip line, and admire gorillas, alligators, snow leopards, and more at Milwaukee County Zoo. Discover new flowers, trees, and plant species in the Desert Dome, Floral Dome, and Tropical Dome conservatories at Mitchell Park Domes. Or see the city on foot via the Milwaukee Riverwalk, which runs along both sides of the river and takes you through popular areas like Downtown Milwaukee, the Historic Third Ward, and Beerline B.

Admire German Culture & Heritage

A post shared by @instagram

Throughout the 19th century, Milwaukee was a landing spot for many German immigrants, and Milwaukee’s German heritage is still celebrated nearly two centuries later. Connect with the culture every summer with authentic food, “bier,” and entertainment at German Fest, one of the largest German festivals in the U.S. Experience German customs year-round with plenty to see, do, and eat in Old World Third Street Entertainment District. Catch live music and grab a pint of imported German beer in a building modeled after the famous Hofbrauhaus Munchen at Old German Beer Hall. Try the Potato Pancakes or Butter Chicken Schnitzel at Mader’s Restaurant—which acclaimed chef Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel’s Delicious Destinations dubbed a “not-to-be-missed destination.” Snag a seat in the beer garden for Dunkels and Pilsners along with Jumbo Bavarian Pretzels and German-Style Bratwurst at Milwaukee Brat House. Or buy your own German-style meats like Summer Sausage, Brats, and Ham to cook up at home from Usinger’s Famous Sausage.

Get Pumped for Milwaukee Sports

A post shared by @instagram

It’s difficult to imagine sports in Wisconsin without thinking of the Green Bay Packers (who are just two hours away)—but while Green Bay is home to the state’s NFL team, Milwaukee has some amazing teams of its own! Watch the Milwaukee Brewers (MLB) play baseball every summer at American Family Field. Head to Fiserv Forum when basketball takes over in the fall to see the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA). Cheer on the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) as they take the ice, or catch a Milwaukee Wave (MASL) game for exciting indoor soccer action at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Attend a Marquette Golden Eagles (NCAA D-I) women’s volleyball game for fast-paced spikes and serves at the Al McGuire Center. Or support the Milwaukee Panthers (NCAA D-I) women’s basketball team as they dribble their way to victory at the Klotsche Center.

Find Plenty to See & Do

A post shared by @instagram

If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee, this Midwest city has an array of art and entertainment choices to keep you busy. See the superb architecture of the Quadracci Pavillion’s wings as they open and close, attend special exhibits like Knowledge Begins, and browse over 30,000 works of art in the permanent collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Connect with natural and human history with exhibitions like The Hebior Mammoth and galleries about anthropology, botany, and photography at The Milwaukee Public Museum. Roll into the history of a world-famous motorcycle manufacturer with exhibits like the Engine Room, Build a Bike, and Imagination Station at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Bring your kids to learn about the world in themed areas such as Let’s Play Railway, Be a Maker, and Science CITY at Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Tour the 74-foot historical lighthouse, see artifacts and artwork in the museum, and attend educational lectures at North Point Lighthouse. See the historical 19th-century mansion owned by Captain Frederick Pabst—the founder of the Pabst Brewing Company—while taking a specialty tour at Pabst Mansion. Or visit downtown Milwaukee’s creative hub to discover unique art galleries, performing arts shows, and annual events like the World’s Largest Coffee Break in the Historic Third Ward.

Experience the City of Festivals

A post shared by @instagram

There are a slew of fun, exciting Milwaukee festivals to check out—so many that some call it the City of Festivals! Join thousands of music lovers at one of 12 stages where major recording artists like James Taylor, Dave Matthews Band, and Lil Wayne have played at Summerfest. Honor Mexican culture with traditional food, Mariachi bands, and the Dia de los Muertos parade at Mexican Fiesta. Celebrate Irish music and culture with exhibits in the Cultural Pavilion, Irish authors and book signings, and live performances by the Academy of Irish Music, the Glencastle Irish Dancers, Inc., and bands like Boxing Banjo at Milwaukee Irish Fest. Experience Polish culture and traditions with vodka tastings, demonstrations in the Cultural Village, and authentic live Polka music at America’s largest Polish festival, Polish Fest. Explore Italian culture and cuisine with the best cannoli, sauces, and pizza for miles around, along with events such as Italian Idol and the Bocce Tournament at Festa Italiana. Or support the LGBTQ community at PrideFest Milwaukee, featuring a fireworks display, the Royal Drag King show, incredible DJs and performers, and more.

Relish Live Music

A post shared by @instagram

Living in Milwaukee means you get all kinds of opportunities to see live music, including local artists, up-and-comers, and mainstream bands. Grab a taco from Frida’s Cocina Food Truck, and watch both local and national indie acts perform at the Cactus Club—where famous bands like The White Stripes and Daft Punk played before they were big. Get tickets to see touring mainstream artists such as Chicago and Death Cab for Cutie as well as comedians like Pete Davidson at The Riverside Theater. Choose from several stages when attending annual events like Milwaukee Metal Fest, and catch shows from huge names such as Plain White T’s and All Time Low at The Rave/Eagles Club. Party outdoors when favorites like Styx and Charli XCX take the stage at BMO Pavilion. Sip a cocktail and enjoy live jazz and blues in an intimate setting at Caroline’s Jazz Club. Or order a Mocha and sit to enjoy musical acts at themed events like the After Work Latin Party at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.

Celebrate Cheese In Cream City

A post shared by @instagram

The state of Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland. Though Milwaukee earned its nickname of “Cream City” due to the cream-colored bricks used in its architecture, it’s no surprise that many assume it’s dairy-related! The city is a major cheese producer, making it a great place for cheese-lovers. Shop hundreds of cheeses including Limburger, BellaVitano, and Juusto, as well as salami and sweets to pair with them at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart. Stop in where varieties like Quark and Chevre are made fresh daily for both restaurants and individual customers at Clock Shadow Creamery. Enjoy a Fixed Gear IPA or Bierzeit Kolsch paired with Cheese Fries in the beer hall or Cheese Curds from the Curdwagon at Lakefront Brewery. Attend Music Bingo every Thursday while munching on the Parmesan Chicken Sandwich and Fresh Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Curds at AJ Bombers. Plan an elegant date night with dozens of wine options and French fare like the Grand Plat de Fromage and Salade au Roquefort at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro. Or fill up on a Three Cheese Omelet or Grilled Cheese before browsing Wisconsin cheeses like goat cheese and cranberry cheddar at the West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe.

Let Your Inner Foodie Thrive

A post shared by @instagram

Milwaukee’s restaurants are full of unique options for foodies and classic favorites for every palate. Indulge in breakfast all day with Johnny Cakes, the Wulfundido, or A la Carte with choices like Toast, Two Eggs, Sweet Potatoes, and more at Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern. Duck behind the “TV and Repair” sign of a “hidden” speakeasy-themed joint for ten-cent Martinis every Thursday, the Birria Breakfast Burrito, or a Wisco Butter Burger at Don’s Diner. Try dishes from the French and Italian Riviera such as Soupe au Pistou, Bistecca, and Caramel Pots de Creme for dessert at Lupi & Iris. Sample ever-changing menu items like past favorites Red Braised Firm Tofu, Lamb and Potato Pierogi, and the Without Borders cocktail at Odd Duck. Bring a date to enjoy a lovely meal of Hashbrown Royale, Oysters, or Bread with Cheddar Bay Butter at Third Coast Provisions. Or shop from various vendors selling meat, wine, olive oil, and more, and take cooking and baking classes such as Bread Basics at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Discover a New Beer in Brew City

A post shared by @instagram

Casual beer fans and brew masters alike have been heading here for an outstanding Milwaukee beer for over two centuries, thanks to famous brands that got their start here—namely, Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. The tradition continues today, as Milwaukee is still one of the U.S.’s best beer cities and is considered the beer capital of the Midwest! Choose from four nearby locations for a Milwaukee-brewed Elusive Memory IPA or Atomic Lemon paired with Boneless Wings at Good City Brewing. Join the fun at events like Tuesday Trivia and the annual Ice Bear Fest while sipping craft beers such as the Happy Place pale ale and Frog Weiss fruited sour at Third Space Brewing. Take a Miller Brewery Tour to explore the famous underground caves, see the bottle packaging process, and try samples of rotating beers at Miller: The Brewery. Find your new favorite beer, sign up for a German Stein hoisting contest, and take in live music and dance performances at Milwaukee Oktoberfest. And don’t miss out on savoring other alcohol types by touring the distillery to learn about the distillation process and tasting samples of spirits like Rehorst Citrus Honey Vodka and Roaring Dan’s Rum at Great Lakes Distillery.


Planning a move to Milwaukee? Extra Space Storage can make your move easier with plenty of storage facilities located throughout the Milwaukee metro. Find self storage near you!

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.