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Old 07-18-2018, 11:08 PM
 
165 posts, read 239,708 times
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Hi all,

This is ostensibly a question about Milwaukee, but hoping for your input here because it relates to Chicago suburbs.

We currently live in Brookfield, IL but MIGHT be moving my family to the Milwaukee area next summer. MKE and Chicago area obviously vastly different cities with different underlying reasons (historical, infrastructural, economic, etc) for their housing landscape, but for those of you who are familiar with the Milwaukee area, could you please provide any insight into how some of the nice MKE suburbs compare to those in Chicago?

In particular, I would be working at Froedhert Hospital/Medical College of Wisconsin and my wife would be working in the heart of Downtown near City Hall. We are looking for a nice suburb with excellent schools and trying to minimize our commutes. Would like to keep the budget somewhere around 700-800k ideally. At this point, we have looked primarily at Brookfield, WI and Elm Grove. What Chicago suburbs would be most comparable to these two?. Of note, the North Shore suburbs of Milwaukee make for a longer commute than I would like to have.

To give you an idea of our preferences, my wife and I both grew up in Downers Grove and enjoyed the excellent schools, cohesive community feel, proximity to shopping/restaurants, and large lots. We have lived in Brookfield IL the last 5 years and like it here very much as well. We are 2 blocks away from downtown and train right now and although we do enjoy that, it is not a top priority to us and we understand most MKE suburbs do not have downtown cores and we would both be driving to work. If we were staying in Chicago with the same budget, we would probably look at Elmhurst, Riverside, Western Springs, La Grange, Downers Grove, etc, but likely wouldn't pay the premium to be walk to downtown.

Any experience or insights you have would be really helpful! Thanks so much!
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:28 AM
Status: "T.e.m.p. B.a.n.n.e.d" (set 28 days ago)
 
3,846 posts, read 2,462,234 times
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The larger lots with mature trees in EG/BF may be reminiscent of parts of DG. I also think of Barrington when I drive through some of the larger properties in BF. Hard to compare IMHO.

You can get a lot of house for 700-800k in MKE. However going for BF instead of Shorewood keeps your property taxes more reasonable. 5-10 minutes to the medical college too.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:49 AM
 
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I mostly agree with damba. Personally I like Elm Grove a bit better as it seems to have a little less of the "car centric" sort of fast food / strip mall places than Brookfield WI, which is significantly larger. There are lots of similarities between the two towns though the relative lack of a truly walkable core in either is negative and makes it kind of impossible to directly compare to anything in the Chicago region I tend to agree that the more "spread out" feel and larger lots of either town do have some features in common with not just Barrington but also the sorts of developments that some folks find appealing in south suburbs like Olympia Fields, Flossmoor, or Palos Park. The housing styles are VERY VERY similar with plenty of examples from the 50's through current custom built homes that you'd be hard pressed to tell any differences. That said, in my experience, mostly visiting relatives in the those areas, there are some perhaps sharper distinctions around recreational choices and such -- you can pretty quickly get a sense for the folks that prefer things that are more active / outdoorsy that involve boating / snowmobiles / ATVs because of the prevalence of such things parked in some areas vs the sorts of things that seem more common in suburban Chicago area like youth sports, golf, and travel. Not saying one is better than any other, just that there are socio-economic trends around things like manufacturing and such that is much healthier around Milwaukee than it is anywhere in Illinois...



Of course the biggest difference is lack of commuter rail transit. Though there are buses that link towns like Elm Grove & Brookfield to Milwaukee itself and the broader range of locations in that region the speed is every bit as slow as the worst buses in Chicago and that makes it hard to recommend to anyone that can use a personal vehicle as an alternative. Bus ride of 45+ minutes vs driving less than half of that in even peak rush hour is no brainer...


I'd also caution that though property taxes are maybe a bit lower in Wisconsin the impact of income taxes might offset any savings depending on your total income and deduction picture... That tends to make the elementary schools pretty uniform as there are not as much variance in spending compared to Chicago suburbs, I'd have no real issue with any public elementary school in the nicer Milwaukee areas.



High Schools are a bit trickier. The good news is that generally speaking there is not as big an overall difference in the "top rated" suburban high schools vs those a tier down compared to schools in the Chicago suburbs. That is somewhat offset by the wider range of kids / parents in each of the towns -- from talking to teachers in Wisconsin the suburban schools tend to have a strong contingent of parents who are not very progressive. The value of "traditional" approaches is preferred by large parts of the community. That is not by itself a bad thing, as rates of success on things like standardized tests and AP level course is quite solid but there may be bigger differences when it comes to things like art / music / theater etc... I believe Elm Grove in particular is sectioned off between several difference high schools in neighboring towns. Even Brookfield WI has two schools with rather different mix of parents...
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:42 AM
Status: "T.e.m.p. B.a.n.n.e.d" (set 28 days ago)
 
3,846 posts, read 2,462,234 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
I mostly agree with damba. Personally I like Elm Grove a bit better as it seems to have a little less of the "car centric" sort of fast food / strip mall places than Brookfield WI, which is significantly larger. There are lots of similarities between the two towns though the relative lack of a truly walkable core in either is negative and makes it kind of impossible to directly compare to anything in the Chicago region I tend to agree that the more "spread out" feel and larger lots of either town do have some features in common with not just Barrington but also the sorts of developments that some folks find appealing in south suburbs like Olympia Fields, Flossmoor, or Palos Park. The housing styles are VERY VERY similar with plenty of examples from the 50's through current custom built homes that you'd be hard pressed to tell any differences. That said, in my experience, mostly visiting relatives in the those areas, there are some perhaps sharper distinctions around recreational choices and such -- you can pretty quickly get a sense for the folks that prefer things that are more active / outdoorsy that involve boating / snowmobiles / ATVs because of the prevalence of such things parked in some areas vs the sorts of things that seem more common in suburban Chicago area like youth sports, golf, and travel. Not saying one is better than any other, just that there are socio-economic trends around things like manufacturing and such that is much healthier around Milwaukee than it is anywhere in Illinois...



Of course the biggest difference is lack of commuter rail transit. Though there are buses that link towns like Elm Grove & Brookfield to Milwaukee itself and the broader range of locations in that region the speed is every bit as slow as the worst buses in Chicago and that makes it hard to recommend to anyone that can use a personal vehicle as an alternative. Bus ride of 45+ minutes vs driving less than half of that in even peak rush hour is no brainer...


I'd also caution that though property taxes are maybe a bit lower in Wisconsin the impact of income taxes might offset any savings depending on your total income and deduction picture... That tends to make the elementary schools pretty uniform as there are not as much variance in spending compared to Chicago suburbs, I'd have no real issue with any public elementary school in the nicer Milwaukee areas.



High Schools are a bit trickier. The good news is that generally speaking there is not as big an overall difference in the "top rated" suburban high schools vs those a tier down compared to schools in the Chicago suburbs. That is somewhat offset by the wider range of kids / parents in each of the towns -- from talking to teachers in Wisconsin the suburban schools tend to have a strong contingent of parents who are not very progressive. The value of "traditional" approaches is preferred by large parts of the community. That is not by itself a bad thing, as rates of success on things like standardized tests and AP level course is quite solid but there may be bigger differences when it comes to things like art / music / theater etc... I believe Elm Grove in particular is sectioned off between several difference high schools in neighboring towns. Even Brookfield WI has two schools with rather different mix of parents...
More or less, agreed.

AFAIK, EG (Elmbrook schools) feed into BF East or BF Central.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:52 PM
 
1,688 posts, read 679,355 times
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Hi agallon --

My husband and I grew up in Hinsdale, and we had relatives in LaGrange and Brookfield. We lived for many years in 'Tosa and loved it there! Now, I realize your budget is ample and you can afford Elm Grove, which is lovely, but let me just tell you a few reasons why we loved 'Tosa.

First off, we lived in the eastern part of 'Tosa, and we loved the walkability aspect. We loved the variety of housing available, with neighborhoods ranging from the Highlands neighborhood with the large mansions, to the historical homes, to the bungalows, and even a few apartment buildings. The diversity of housing choices is a huge plus, in our eyes.

When we lived there, I took advantage of public transportation and took the bus to my job downtown. We loved being a one car family. We enjoyed visiting with the neighbors as we shoveled our snowy sidewalks. We lived close to the Washington School and kept the sidewalks promptly shovels for the school children who walked to the local school. One time, my husband had to make a quick run to the grocery store because we ran out of Halloween candy due to so many Trick-or-Treaters. We liked hearing the East 'Tosa high school marching band practice, we walked to the theatre [it is still open
but not used as a regular theater]. We could walk to the library and churches.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about our experiences. We loved Wauwatosa for it's inner-ring location and the wide variety in homes along the tree-lined streets. A perfect walking place.

If you do eventually move to Wisconsin, I wish you the best!
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:51 AM
 
Location: IL
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I mean, it makes sense to move from Brookfield, IL to Brookfield WI. Think of how much easier it will be when you do all of your change of address updates.
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Old 07-20-2018, 12:12 PM
 
165 posts, read 239,708 times
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Thanks so much for the advice! It fits well with our current understanding.

Hollyhockgarden - Tosa does seem great! It is very reminiscent of our current situation in Brookfield IL, which we really like. We will definitely keep it in mind, but likely will end up in a place where we can get a larger lot, which allows for "decompression" of the floor plan such as a larger kitchen, 2 story family room, etc. But we will see what happens, and will definitely at least visit the restaurants!

And yes, deeman7, it would be uncanny to move from Brookfield --> Brookfield!

Chet - thanks for your input as always. I agree with the majority of what you have said. The vast, vast majority of Elm Grove (and a big chunk of Brookfield) feeds into Brookfield East HS. The rest of Brookfield feeds into Brookfield Central. It's amazing (in a good way!) that although the neighborhoods in Elm Grove and Brookfield range from multimillion dollar estate to modest (but well-kept) ranches, the performance of the 5 or so different elementary schools and the two high schools is incredibly similar and top-notch. I am not worried about the public transportation if we are living in Elm Grove/Brookfield - my drive would be ~10-15 minutes to the hospital and my wife would have a ~25-30 min drive into downtown during peak times. The simplification of our life owing to MKE being a smaller city with less traffic is something we are very excited about.
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