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Well I don't live in Madison any more, but yes, I do still occasionally go to Dotty's. One can hardly credit "free enterprise" for the fact that layers and layers of land-use and business regulations make it far more difficult for "mom-and-pop" stores to stay afloat than well-funded chain corporations. In fact, it's ironic that you cite Dotty's as an example seeing how naked strong-arm government nearly sunk them.
...all of this serves as a reminder that I have to make my yearly pilgrammage to Mad City; a truly great city and the midwestern counterpart to my old NE haunt in Burlington, VT. And while I'm sure that Las Vegas has its charms, I would think that its "lack of stability" would frustrate those who would prefer a more "predictable" or sane, way of life.
Dotty's-good choice; I went once when I lived in Madison, and the burgers/fries were impressive--definately neede a pile of napkins to clean up.
I would say that Vegas is a rough place to live per all that growth.....keep in mind though, that you can't have it all.....people go to high growth areas for jobs, and take the good with bad. Madison has a low unemployment rate, but doesn't pay on a Vegas
scale, and is a much smaller job market, without the job growth of Vegas as well.
On the other hand, it is a much more livable and intelligent city, and if you value that,
you may be able to live with a less dynamic economy. Just less compared to vegas,
of course. Per the midwest, it has just about the lowest unemployment rate, currently 3.7%, and is infinitely more happening job wise than anything else in Wisc.
Remember, the grass is always greener. And say hello to Wayne Newton for me!
COLD winters, cool Falls and Springs and mild, short, humid summers. The winters are long and harsh and usually very windy and gray as well. Shorter days and longer nights are also charasteristic of this time of year. Not a problem if you don't suffer from SAD and like winter sports. Summer is great though, and despite the harsh climate, people get out and walk, bike, excersice ALL year round believe it or not.
Racially diverse, nope. Maye 20% minority...like 7% Black, 7%Hispanic, 7% Asian...and there isn't really any ethinic enclave here, so the diviersity is spread out, which has the effect of making it seem like the minority community is smaller than it really is. Fortunately, on a whole, Madison is welcoming of racial diversity, as long as you can fit into the community mold of being friendly, helpful and respectful etc. This goes for all newscomers, not just minorities.
I wouldn't worry overly about weather, you can buy winter clothes that allow you to go outside for the cold times. Regarding diviersty, this isn't quite North Dakota, so you do have the small but growing communities and are always near the large minority communities in Chicago, plus you have the openess of the people. Hope this helps.
I'm looking for a new place to relocate and like every else I've heard Madison is a great place to live. But how's the weather and is Madison racially diverse?
It's not as nice as it was. Although the growth rate isn't as high as some other cities, there is a shortage of high quality housing in close to the campus and downtown. Clubs are losing membership and disappearing so your interests may not have a social outlet.
The snow has been overwhelming this December, but I have a large driveway and 90 feet of sidewalk.
Madison is not Las Vegas and it never will be. There's an obvious economic reason for this: desert land has virtually no productive value to trade off against when determining whether to develop it or not. Land out there is literally worthless for any other economic purpose save its aesthetic value. Now that infrastructural technology improvements have made it cost-effective to build cities in the middle of the desert (at least in the short-term – long-term is another topic altogether), there's virtually no short-term downside to expanding outward unabated. That's why desert cities and metro areas are booming like mad.
While there's a lot of open land around Madison as well, it has productive value as farmland. That means it won't be developed until it has more value for housing/industrial/retail/whatever than it has for agricultural production. This acts as a brake on development. It still happens, but not as rapidly as it does in many Sun Belt cities.
Part of what makes Sun Belt cities so susceptible to rapid transformation in every way – physically, economically and culturally – is that they have only recently seen major development (By "recent" I mean mostly within the last half-century.) They are still blank slates and their institutions and identities are being fleshed out and determined right now, as we speak. On the other hand, Madison's identity is firmly rooted in well-established institutions, culture and traditions, so people moving to Madison pretty much know what they're going to get. Every city still goes through changes, but the ones that are well-established change at a slower, more manageable pace instead of the infuriatingly head-spinning pace found in Sun Belt cities.
People typically move to Madison because of what it already is rather than what it might be some day. There is, of course, the extremely transient population brought in by the university, but by institutional nature it will never be a rapidly growing segment of the population. Even so, a solid majority of them are from Wisconsin anyway, and a good chunk of the remainder are from bordering states. Even transience due to government draws mostly people from within Wisconsin who simply replace outgoing people from Wisconsin, so they're not bringing radically different values to the city. Madison by-and-large draws in people from the upper Midwest -- primarily the Chicago, Milwaukee and Twin Cities areas -- and therefore there's not a lot of culture shock or "cultural transformation" going on. These people are already familiar with the basic regional values. Others are drawn to Madison's specific values that add a heavy dose of progressivism to the Midwest regional values, such as the Pacific Northwest transplants Chelito refers to. In either case, people who move to Madison know there is already an established rhythm, and they typically go along with it.
Excellent post Drover!!
Are you sure you're not a college professor in disguise?
But it is important to emphasize that not everyone has the same criteria that we do, and others might find Madison much less to their liking, hence would be less likely to stay. Other threads have commented on this as well, and it is very true.
We can be best described as middle-class, liberal, college-educated professionals. We have family members who do not fit into the traditional norms of sexual identity. We enjoy living in a community where people like to be out of doors. We like Farmers' Markets. We are strong supporters of recycling and sustainable lifestyles, and we like to be able to buy fresh organic food directly from those who produce it. We have a passion for classical music and good live drama, as well as folk music and classic rock. We are all avid readers. We enjoy the liveliness and excitement of a large university, even if it does mean that there are some parts of town that get pretty wild on football Saturdays and weekend nights. We enjoy a wide variety of ethnic foods and cooking styles, and we prefer to patronize local restaurants rather than national chains. We love and appreciate all four seasons, even winter.
That's a pretty good sampling of the things that make Madison the right place for us. But there are a whole lot of folks out there who would find it a totally alien, unfriendly, horrible place to be, and they'd rather live anywhere else than here. And folks like that, if they decide to move to Madison because of all those articles about it being *the best* place to live, they move on pretty quickly, because it's not *the best* for them.
Exactly why I'm so looking forward to hopefully moving there for grad school (from Chicago burbs).
I was there all day this past Friday. First chance I really got to explore the town. Man do I hope I get accepted into the program.
Speaking from the perspective of a person some might consider to be a "transplant," I originally moved to Madison because, quite frankly, I fell in love with Mad City from day one. The first time I came to visit my boyfriend who had just started grad school as an organic chemist, and to check out the university as a possibility for me. I transferred from the University of Houston to UW the following summer.
For me it was never a matter of tranplanting new or incompatible values. Overall, the values of the eclectic, mostly freedom loving yet straightfoward people I met in Madison resonated with my own values. I grew up on Air Force Bases all over the country, in places like Nebraska, Montana, Massachusetts, and Idaho; and as an adult in academia and the arts continued to travel to places like upstate New York, Louisiana, and Illinois.
I graduated from UW and wound up living in Madison for six years, and then visited there twice after my husband and I moved to Louisiana, to take more classes and most recently to vacation/explore. My fear as I make plans to move back to Madison is that people might mistake me for a "transplant." I have been living in New York City for about eleven years, but I am a fish out of water here. I just hope my potential employers will pick up on the compatibility of my personality and spirit, my friendliness and openness, and not peg me as a stereotypical New Yorker. Whenever I visit Madison, I relax, I come alive, I am free to be myself, and I feel as though I have come home. Even Madison's "imperfections" feel like home to me. Try not to see us all as "transplants," ok? I think I have much to give Madison as an English instructor, writer, singer, and performing artist. I see myself as more of refugee, an escapee from the big city, coming back to something that makes more sense to me. Plus it's just so freakin' beautiful in Madison: the natural surroundings, the lakes, the ethnic shops and restaurants, the laid-back atmosphere, the vibrant arts scene, the music festivals, and, yes Midwesternbookworm, a fabulous Farmer's Market. Dude, I am coming home. If you meet me by chance I hope you will welcome me.
I don't think you have to be worried about being a transplant. Madison doesn't have the aversion to transplants like some other places. I know Austin, TX has some issues with transplants due to astronomical growth, esp with Cali transplants (who seem to be universally disliked where ever they go).
We're growing fast, I guess, but really the only truly ugly urban sprawl is confined to the area south of County PD (McKee Rd). Some issues that have to do with increase growth, but not necessarily transplants unless you consider people from other parts of Wisconsin transplants include:
Really high cost of housing, even compared to larger cities. (despite a glut of available housing - go figure).
Increased traffic congestion, though nothing like Chicgo or other big cities, it has gotten decidedly worst and continues to become more so.
Some chainification, though one of the cool things about Madison is the large presence of locally owned businesses.
Still, I don't have any animosity toward new people and I don't know anyone else who does. Of course I grew up in Janesville so I guess I'm a transplant of sorts. I think the more the merrier. Everyone brings something special to the mix. You can't very well say, last one in close the door behind you. Think of the cool people you'd be missing.
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