Moving to Milwaukee? With an affordable cost of living, great employment opportunities, family-friendly activities, and a dining scene centered around cheese and craft beer, it’s no wonder that Brew City is one of the best places to live in the U.S. Here are 13 things to know about living in Milwaukee!
An Affordable Place to Live & Work
Why do people want to live in Milwaukee? The city’s affordability is one of its major draws! The cost of living in Milwaukee is 11% lower than the national average and 7% lower than the Wisconsin average. Brew City has also been named one of the most affordable metros for first-time homebuyers, offering a median home price around $115,500. In addition, Milwaukee has a steady job market with a 3.8% unemployment rate and excellent opportunities in the manufacturing sector with major employers like Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls, and Rockwell Automation. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly Midwest metro with plenty of jobs, Milwaukee might be the spot for you!
Higher Education Is All Around
Milwaukee is an ideal spot for college students, as there are three major colleges and universities within the city limits! Get a liberal arts education in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee at Marquette University, which has been recognized among the top 100 universities in the country, thanks to its top programs in marketing, business, and biomedical sciences. Engineering students don’t have to go far to get a great education when they attend the private Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), which offers degrees in everything from architectural engineering to software engineering. There’s also the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a highly-rated school that’s ideal for those who plan to study manufacturing, behavioral health, sports psychology, and more!
Winter Is Coming
One great thing about moving to Milwaukee is that you get to experience all four seasons. But it also means you have to experience the heavy snowfall and freezing cold temperatures of an Upper Midwest winter. Average temperatures in Milwaukee from December through February hang right around 20 degrees—and that’s without the added chill from the winds coming off of Lake Michigan! On top of that, the city can see an average snowfall of 47 inches throughout the winter, meaning you need to be ready to shovel at home and give yourself extra time during your work commutes.
German Heritage Is Hard to Miss
Throughout the 19th century, Milwaukee was a landing spot for many German immigrants. Nearly two centuries later, Milwaukee’s German heritage is celebrated every year at the city’s annual German Fest in the summer and during the free Christkindlmarkt in the winter. But you don’t have to wait for festivals to experience the city’s German background. Just head to Old World Third Street anytime! Grab a pint inside the Old German Beer Hall, which was modeled after Munich’s Hofbrauhaus. Enjoy traditional Bavarian food like Liver Dumpling soup, Rheinischer Sauerbraten, or Wiener Schnitzel at Mader’s Restaurant, which opened its doors back in 1902! You can also visit Usinger’s Famous Sausage or the Milwaukee Brat House to pick up some delicious handmade sausages for home!
Milwaukee Is Harley’s Home
A defining characteristic of Milwaukee is its connection to Harley-Davidson. The world-famous motorcycle manufacturer is one of the city’s largest job producers—not to mention, Milwaukee serves as home to Harley-Davidson’s headquarters, which still operates out of the same building it started in over 100 years ago. The history of the company is on display for all to see at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Families and motorcycle lovers alike can come see special items like Serial Number 1—the oldest known Harley-Davidson motorbike—or take a tour of the past through photos to see how the motorcycle giant went from its humble beginnings inside of a shed to the top American motorcycle company!
Check Out the Family-Friendly Attractions
Not only does Milwaukee have one of the best downtown areas for raising a family, but it also has a vast amount of kid-friendly activities readily available! The Milwaukee Public Museum offers free admission to all patrons on the first Thursday of every month, giving you full access to view the research and collections housed on-site! Spend the day at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum playing on the indoor playground, learning about science, and making music. If your family loves art, the Milwaukee Art Museum offers rotating exhibitions throughout the year, so you’ll rarely see the same piece twice! Brew City is also filled with tons of public parks, trails, and playgrounds—such as Lake Park, Kosciuszko Park, West Milwaukee Park, South Shore Terrace, and Lakeshore State Park—so you and your family can enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice!
Experience the City of Festivals
One of the best things about living in Milwaukee is the incredible array of festivals held throughout the year! The annual Milwaukee PrideFest honors the city’s LGBTQ community with events for everyone, including a parade, concerts, and drag competitions. Celebrate different cultures from around the world at yearly events like Polish Fest (which is America’s largest Polish Festival), Festa Italiana, Irish Fest, and Mexican Fiesta! Love BBQ? The Big Pig BBQ Fest is a great event for Milwaukee residents to enjoy the last bits of summer with amazing barbecue from local vendors. You can also join thousands of music lovers in Milwaukee by heading to Summerfest, where major recording artists like Thomas Rhett, Brandi Carlile, and Styx have taken the stage. No matter what kinds of festivals you’re into, Milwaukee has what you’re looking for!
Music Lovers Unite
Summerfest isn’t Milwaukee’s only music outlet. In fact, the city has tons of music venues where you can touring artists, indie up-and-comers, and mainstream bands. The Rave is a hot spot to see both underground artists and huge names like Jack White and Laura Jane Grace. There’s also The Back Room @ Colectivo, a small coffeehouse that’s home to some of the best indie shows you can find in Milwaukee. Of course, you can’t miss shows at Riverside Theater, where touring mainstream artists like Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Ben Folds pass through. But there’s no better room in the city than The Cactus Club, which has seen bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Death Cab for Cutie grace the stage before they were big!
Teams for Every Sports Fan
It’s hard to imagine sports in Wisconsin without thinking about the Green Bay Packers, but while Green Bay might be home to the state’s NFL team, Milwaukee is home to some of the top teams in the MLB and NBA! Baseball lovers unite each summer to watch the Milwaukee Brewers (MLB) over at Miller Park. Come winter, basketball takes over, and fans start heading to the Fiserv Forum to watch the Milwaukee Bucks. If professional sports aren’t your thing, another fun thing to do in Milwaukee is to cheer on the Marquette Golden Eagles! Their women’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams are usually ranked in the top 25, continually giving fans hope for their first National Championship since the ’70s!
Cheese Is King
If you’re moving to Milwaukee, just know that you might become a cheese head! While Wisconsin in general is well known for its love of cheese, Milwaukee is no slouch. You can find several shops and restaurants around town with excellent cheese. Head to the Wisconsin Cheese Mart to pick up handcrafted cheeses and incredible cheese curds! Make your way into the heart of Downtown Milwaukee to visit West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe for the perfect meat and cheese pairings. Pay a visit to Clock Shadow Creamery, which not only creates some of the best cheese in the area, but offers one of the few cheese factory tours in Milwaukee as well! Here, you can learn about how cheese is made and get answers to pressing questions like “Why are cheese curds squeaky?” from the masters!
Let Your Inner Foodie Thrive
Finding a new favorite restaurant can be difficult when getting settled in a new city. Fortunately, Milwaukee is full of options for foodies! Over at Odd Duck, you’ll never try the same thing twice, as they update the menu with Milwaukee’s changing seasons. If you’re looking for a new twist on seafood, Third Coast Provisions is your best bet with their Blue Crab and Pimento Croquettes or their Lobster Potholes. Snack Boys is your home for, as they say, high-brow snacks for low-brow folks, such as Fried Bologna Sammy, Dilly Wings, and Chips Toodaloo. Kick off your day at Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern with the Wolfundito or some Pineapple Inside-Out French Toast. And if you’re looking for a more relaxed lunch, don’t miss out on 10-cent martinis with a Naughty Angel Burger topped off with a boozy milkshake over at Don’s Diner!
Find Your New Favorite Beer
Casual beer fans and brew masters alike have been making their way to Milwaukee for decades, thanks to Brew City’s well-known beer brands: Miller, Pabst, Sprecher, and Leinenkugel’s! But while the old staples are great, it’s the small craft breweries in Milwaukee that have helped make the city one of the nation’s best beer cities. To get the full Brew City experience, head to spots like Third Space Brewing to try their Unite the Clans Rye Ale, or grab a Radar de Stout over at Urban Harvest Brewing. IPA fans should check out Good City Brewing to try their Spare Time Hazy IPA. Or if you’re willing to get a bit creative with your beer, join thousands online and come up with a new beer flavor by voting for crazy flavors like Pinkies Up, Sour Catch, and Field of Creme at MobCraft!
Celebrate Beer Every Year
Visiting Milwaukee’s local breweries is great, but you don’t have to wait to get a taste of everything nearby when you attend the Milwaukee Brewfest, which is held annually on the shores of Lake Michigan. The event gives Milwaukee residents an opportunity to try beers, ciders, and hard seltzers from more than 100 local and national craft brewers. There’s also Milwaukee Oktoberfest! Open to the public, the city’s Oktoberfest celebration has delicious German fare from local restaurants, as well as a number of German biers that the 21+ crowd can sample from souvenir mugs!
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