U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S. > City vs. City
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
View Poll Results: Which city is better for someone like me?
Milwaukee 11 61.11%
Ann Arbor 4 22.22%
It's about equal between them. No clear winner. 3 16.67%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 03-09-2015, 09:42 PM
 
1 posts, read 1,155 times
Reputation: 10

Advertisements

I know these two cities are very different, but as it turns out I am considering jobs in both of these cities and would like some totally unbiased opinions about how they compare and which you actually think is better for someone like me.
Here's my situation:
My husband and I are in our early 30s.
We don't have kids yet, but plan to start having kids in the next 1-2 years, so we're at the point in our life where we would prefer to live somewhere that is family friendly.
I am a healthcare professional who has an advanced degree. My husband never finished college but is very intelligent, well informed on current events, and enjoys an intellectual atmosphere.
We are "foodies" to some extent. I am a vegetarian and appreciate having access to veg-friendly restaurants.
We enjoy the arts.
We enjoy being in an area with a lot of nice natural scenery. We like to hike and take photos.
We like being involved in civic/community issues.
We prefer being conveniently close to large cities for the amenities (like major concerts and a large airport with many flights available) but prefer not to live in an area where coping with a lot of traffic congestion/crime would be a daily problem.

Any opinions welcome!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-09-2015, 10:05 PM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 6,777,377 times
Reputation: 3595
It's a comparison between a midsize city and a small college town. Ann Arbor is good, but has limited options due to its size so I'm not even sure it's an option worth considering unless you just really wanted to be in Ann Arbor.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 01:13 AM
 
2 posts, read 2,209 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mittenbrew View Post
We don't have kids yet, but plan to start having kids in the next 1-2 years, so we're at the point in our life where we would prefer to live somewhere that is family friendly.
That really depends on what you envision as "family friendly", but you can probably find neighborhoods to your liking in both places if your "family friendly" is newer suburban developments with big yards, or leafy established single-family-home neighborhoods where you can follow sidewalks to schools and parks. The city of Milwaukee proper has a large, relatively troubled urban public school district so you may want to stick to burbs if private/parochial school is not in the cards, however many suburbs (of varying types of neighborhoods) have very good schools.

Quote:
I am a healthcare professional who has an advanced degree. My husband never finished college but is very intelligent, well informed on current events, and enjoys an intellectual atmosphere.
Career options are obviously quite a bit better in a larger city. As for the intellectual atmosphere, a college town like Ann Arbor probably can't be beat for per-capita intellectuals. However metro Milwaukee public and non-profit universities have about 65k students, plus about 30k more in technical colleges and two-year schools so there's certainly intellectual life to be found. Pockets of the Milwaukee metro are definitely skewed this direction, but not in the pervasive way some place like Ann Arbor is.

Quote:
We are "foodies" to some extent. I am a vegetarian and appreciate having access to veg-friendly restaurants.
We enjoy the arts.
Bigger city probably wins -- undoubtedly there are some good restaurants and some excellent arts opportunities which the university community supports in Ann Arbor, but it's very tough for a smaller city to compete with a significantly bigger one.

Quote:
We enjoy being in an area with a lot of nice natural scenery. We like to hike and take photos.
Both are in relatively similar physiographic regions so it's not like one has mountains and the other has canyon deserts. Milwaukee is right on Lake Michigan, is a difference from Ann Arbor.

Quote:
We like being involved in civic/community issues.
Definite opportunities in both places -- you likely just have to look for certain areas because there are engaged, active communities in most cities of any size, as well as areas which are much more insular and inactive.

Quote:
We prefer being conveniently close to large cities for the amenities (like major concerts and a large airport with many flights available) but prefer not to live in an area where coping with a lot of traffic congestion/crime would be a daily problem.
Both Ann Arbor and Milwaukee have somewhat similar positions in this regard, though to a different degree. Ann Arbor is not very large and lacks a fair number of things, but most anything it lacks can be found 25-45 miles away in metro Detroit. Milwaukee has quite a few more amenities than Ann Arbor by virtue of being a larger city, and most anything it lacks can be found 70-90 miles away in metro Chicago. So there's quite a bit less need to go to the big city, but the big city is definitely closer for Ann Arbor but not prohibitively far foe Milwaukee.

You mention concerts, crime airport and congestion specifically. Milwaukee does see most major tours but does see some bypass due to closeness of Chicago. Milwaukee undoubtedly has some areas which are worse for crime than the worst of Ann Arbor but there are plenty of places to live to avoid that. Milwaukee has a decent-sized airport of its own with 6.5 million passengers and around 120 daily flights to 36 nonstop cities, and O'Hare is about 70 miles to the south. Congestion and traffic are definitely more notable in the bigger city, however Milwaukee reliably ranks near the top of shortest commute of larger cities. So you'll definitely see more congestion in Milwaukee but it's not like many large cities experience.

Bottom line is it really comes down to what's most important to you, and that includes what's a deal breaker versus what's "good enough". For example it sounds like the arts are important to you, and the larger city has more opportunities and institutions than the smaller one. However are they arts adequate in Ann Arbor or are they somewhat lacking? Is the food scene interesting enough in Ann Arbor or are you looking for the sort of vitality, options and movement that a larger city brings? Or is that even important enough to factor?

Whichever one you choose, be mindful that the bigger the city the more important it is where you choose to live. There's undoubtedly difference in Ann Arbor between student-heavy campus areas, working or professional-class neighborhoods farther from campus, and green field subdivisions on the periphery. However Ann Arbor is small enough that your access to restaurants, arts, etc. isn't too hindered by distance. In a larger city the distances are greater and (for example) a walk home from dinner and drinks is a way of life in some areas and impossible in others. If you want to build a new home in an acre-lot subdivision it's not going to be a ten minute drive from the opera companies in Milwaukee, but it might be in Ann Arbor. It really depends on what you're looking for. Yet keep in mind we're talking two Midwestern cities a handful of hours apart -- this isn't Ann Arbor versus Miami or Milwaukee versus Barcelona.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Miami Beach, FL/Tokyo, Japan
1,699 posts, read 1,495,461 times
Reputation: 699
Ann Arbor is a very small city, but it's in Detroit's backyard (40m). People keep forgetting that. Milwaukee is bigger, and while close to Chicago is still too far for regular commutes (2 hours).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 6,777,377 times
Reputation: 3595
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDPMiami View Post
Ann Arbor is a very small city, but it's in Detroit's backyard (40m). People keep forgetting that. Milwaukee is bigger, and while close to Chicago is still too far for regular commutes (2 hours).
If OP is looking to avoid traffic, then the Ann Arbor to Metro Detroit commute would be very bad. In fact, Ann Arbor itself has gotten pretty congested as of late from the high population growth.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Miami Beach, FL/Tokyo, Japan
1,699 posts, read 1,495,461 times
Reputation: 699
Quote:
Originally Posted by animatedmartian View Post
If OP is looking to avoid traffic, then the Ann Arbor to Metro Detroit commute would be very bad. In fact, Ann Arbor itself has gotten pretty congested as of late from the high population growth.
It depends on why and what you're doing the commute for. If you plan to live in Detroit and commute to Ann Arbor then that will suck, but if you plan on taking advantage of some things in Detroit (concerts, sporting events, festivals) to make Ann Arbor seem less provincial and small then that's an easy opportunity.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Westside Grand Rapids
3,573 posts, read 3,077,728 times
Reputation: 5503
Yeah I guess technically Ann Arbor is a small college town but from an amenities stand point you'd really be arguing amenities between Metro Detroit and the Milwaukee area. The line between the Detroit area and Ann Arbor is almost un-discernable. No one really stays in the quaint little Ann Arbor bubble. If you drive 15 miles east you're at Ikea, ect. 45 minutes NE and you're at higher end retailers Gucci, Neimans blah blah. To claim you're comparing a small college town to an almost 2million metro is disingenuous.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 12:45 PM
 
2 posts, read 2,209 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjlo View Post
Yeah I guess technically Ann Arbor is a small college town but from an amenities stand point you'd really be arguing amenities between Metro Detroit and the Milwaukee area. The line between the Detroit area and Ann Arbor is almost un-discernable. No one really stays in the quaint little Ann Arbor bubble. If you drive 15 miles east you're at Ikea, ect. 45 minutes NE and you're at higher end retailers Gucci, Neimans blah blah. To claim you're comparing a small college town to an almost 2million metro is disingenuous.
That's where I think it matters what's important to you, including the proximity and willingness to travel for things. in very general terms Ann Arbor < Milwaukee < Detroit < Chicago in amenities. Ann Arbor is 20-45 minutes from most Detroit amenities, and Milwaukee is 65-90 minutes away from most Chicago amenities. However Milwaukee has quite a bit more than Ann Arbor, so the need to go to the bigger city is probably less but again it depends on what's important to you and how much you're willing to drive.

Quote:
Ann Arbor is a very small city, but it's in Detroit's backyard (40m). People keep forgtting that. Milwaukee is bigger, and while close to Chicago is still too far for regular commutes (2 hours).
Actually a lot more people do the commute than one would probably think, but it's not for everyone. Most are split households with one spouse working in metro Milwaukee and the other in metro Chicago. There are a dozens of regulars who use Amtrak to commute (90 minutes from downtown to downtown, less if you use suburban stations), and driving south from Milwaukee you start to hit some pretty significant employers in northern metro Chicago (not the city proper of course) 20-30 minutes from the southern suburban Milwaukee fringe.

We don't know if the OP has any such consideration -- their job offer is in Metro Milwaukee but the husband may be looking for work. Depending on the situation the husband's realm of job hunt could reasonably include northern Chicagoland in addition to Milwaukee.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Westside Grand Rapids
3,573 posts, read 3,077,728 times
Reputation: 5503
Quote:
Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
That's where I think it matters what's important to you, including the proximity and willingness to travel for things. in very general terms Ann Arbor < Milwaukee < Detroit < Chicago in amenities. Ann Arbor is 20-45 minutes from most Detroit amenities, and Milwaukee is 65-90 minutes away from most Chicago amenities. However Milwaukee has quite a bit more than Ann Arbor, so the need to go to the bigger city is probably less but again it depends on what's important to you and how much you're willing to drive.



Actually a lot more people do the commute than one would probably think, but it's not for everyone. Most are split households with one spouse working in metro Milwaukee and the other in metro Chicago. There are a dozens of regulars who use Amtrak to commute (90 minutes from downtown to downtown, less if you use suburban stations), and driving south from Milwaukee you start to hit some pretty significant employers in northern metro Chicago (not the city proper of course) 20-30 minutes from the southern suburban Milwaukee fringe.

We don't know if the OP has any such consideration -- their job offer is in Metro Milwaukee but the husband may be looking for work. Depending on the situation the husband's realm of job hunt could reasonably include northern Chicagoland in addition to Milwaukee.
On that point Ann Arbor is closer to Detroit than some of it's commuter burbs in Oakland/Macomb and Livingston Counties. Seperating the two is only for intellectual and debate purposes, not practical ones. The only reason Washtenaw County isn't included in metropolitan Detroit is because of census accounting standards. The urban areas are similar to other separate metro areas where there is no discernable break in development.

Milwaukees proximity and relationship to Chicago isn't comparable to Ann Arbors relationship to Metro D.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-10-2015, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 6,777,377 times
Reputation: 3595
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjlo View Post
On that point Ann Arbor is closer to Detroit than some of it's commuter burbs in Oakland/Macomb and Livingston Counties. Seperating the two is only for intellectual and debate purposes, not practical ones. The only reason Washtenaw County isn't included in metropolitan Detroit is because of census accounting standards. The urban areas are similar to other separate metro areas where there is no discernable break in development.

Milwaukees proximity and relationship to Chicago isn't comparable to Ann Arbors relationship to Metro D.
Ann Arbor might be closer, but there's only two ways to get there: M-14 or I-94. Traffic is even worse on any of the other back roads since most of them are just two-lane roads. This is not the case for many of Detroit's commuter burbs.

Plus, Ann Arbor is still a separate metro due to commute patterns. Most of those commuting to Ann Arbor live within Washtenaw County but the number of commuters drops off completely in every other county. Canton in Wayne County is the only outlier. The aggregate number of commuters making the commute from the Ann Arbor into the Tri-counties is also relatively low.

Southeast Michigan Commuting Patterns - SEMCOG

Don't get me wrong, I know plenty of people who live in/near Ann arbor and go to the malls in Metro Detroit, but I'm pretty sure that's not an everyday thing and for one reason or another they might just really prefer Ann Arbor or have some reason for being there. But those people can deal with the traffic and if OP wants to avoid traffic, then, I'd assume, being in Milwaukee would be the better option because it's a larger enough metro by itself to have enough amenities to not need to make a long trek somewhere else.

Last edited by animatedmartian; 03-10-2015 at 03:02 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S. > City vs. City
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top