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Old 04-19-2017, 10:10 AM
Location: (Soon) Pittsburgh
11 posts, read 8,361 times
Reputation: 16


Hello Citydata. I'll be honest and up front and say that if you look at my profile, I stated that I'm moving to Pittsburgh, PA. A surefire sign of a troll is someone who posts on one city's forum, "I'm moving here," and then posts the exact same thing on a different city's forum. Yes, I was originally going to move to Pittsburgh to go to seminary school, but over the past couple of months, I've decided that I wouldn't be a good minister after all. Over Easter/Holy Week, I just did not feel the presence of God/Jesus in my life. If anything, there was so much alcohol at my family's Easter celebration that I focused on drinking and not on the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence, I'd be doing a DISservice to the Christian community by attending seminary. That's how life is; plans change, and people change their minds often.

Why am I considering Wisconsin? For one, I do not like the heat and humidity. I would much rather deal with cold, snowy winters in the Upper Midwest than long, hot, humid summers in, say, Florida or Texas, or really, anywhere south of DC. I grew up in northern VA/the DC area and weather can indeed be a toss-up. Some years, we have cool summers, some years, warm winters, some years, just about average. I imagine Wisconsin can have unpredictable weather too. I've heard that if I don't mind lots of snow and subfreezing temperatures in the winter, the Upper Midwest can be a great place to live (subjective, I know). Also, I've heard some of the nicest people in the nation are in the Upper Midwest! (But there will always be a few bad apples everywhere I go.) I need to get out of the insanity and fast-paced environment of the DC area. It's not even the "real" America anymore; most everyone is either from another state or another country (more often, another country). I want to live in the "real" America. Granted, towns like Madison do indeed have some diversity due to the international/foreign exchange students, but I actually do want some diversity. By the way, German is my second language, and UW-Madison, from what I hear, has one of the best German departments in the nation. Whether that translates into the need for German speakers in Wisconsin, not likely. Many people in Wisconsin can claim German ancestry, but most of them only speak English.

I have found my real life passion is astronomy, astrophysics, math, physics, and science in general. UW-Madison also has one of the best astronomy/astrophysics programs! The best of both worlds (German and astrophysics)! My friend recommended that I take math and physics classes at a community college as a sort of review, since I've been out of college for a while (as long as I can afford out-of-state tuition, since you generally can't claim residency simply by moving to another state for the sole purpose of going to school). Then, as long as I get good grades at a community college, I can go ahead and apply for Master's/Ph.D programs since I already have a Bachelor's degree (German major, minor in physics). In almost all cases, graduate students in science and engineering get free tuition and a stipend; basically, your job is "professional college student."

From what I hear, Wisconsin has a generally low cost of living and relatively low unemployment. But what scares me about Madison is that since it's such a well-educated town, I've heard that Master's and even Ph.D. holders are driving taxis and waiting tables. However, I don't have to settle for just Madison. I have a car, so I am mobile and can live in a town with more "working-class" young adults like me. Any suggestions?

I'm finding myself in that famous catch-22 that's found all over Citydata forums: "You can't move without a job, but you can't get a job unless you move there." Another problem is, I've never even been to Wisconsin. How do I know for sure I want to live there? I should definitely visit sometime soon. No doubt about that.

I know that no place will ever be perfect. But generally, I'd like a place with cold, snowy winters, not so hot and humid summers, and that has a more "laid-back" lifestyle than in the East Coast cities - oh, and less traffic than northern VA .
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:14 PM
32,730 posts, read 22,676,881 times
Reputation: 29784
The summers can get very hot and humid.

But I moved to Madison without a job and made it work. I moved there with a BS and little to no professional experience.
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Old 04-19-2017, 04:23 PM
Location: Verona, WI
1,201 posts, read 1,910,644 times
Reputation: 804
OP, if possible, I highly recommend that you establish WI residency before starting any further schooling in order to lock in the in-state tuition rate. Even if you hope to get a tuition wavier with a graduate assistantship, what if you lose funding part way through and are stuck with out of state tuition to finish your degree? This nearly happened to me in graduate school. I was fortunate to find a project assistantship in another department to continue the tuition wavier and graduate. Otherwise, I would've been stuck with two semesters of out-of-state tuition to finish! Ouch!

Madison doesn't have a particularly low cost of living, especially for the upper Midwest / Great Lakes region. You could try the on-campus apartments, but you may need a roommate situation to make rent doable as a graduate student. The University has a lot of resources, and many students before you have navigated this place. The trick to graduate school is to not incur debt while also giving up your income to be a professional student.

Also highly recommend that you come visit before moving out here. Maybe also talk to some folks in the Astrophysics department to see how strong your candidacy would be, as well as what job prospects are like after you finish. If you haven't already done so, look into taking the GRE too. Enjoy the ride!
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:56 PM
89 posts, read 55,271 times
Reputation: 28
I had moved to Madison without a job. I made it work. I do have professional experience and 2 degrees.
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Old 04-20-2017, 08:45 AM
140 posts, read 59,594 times
Reputation: 360
I also moved to Madison without a job. I had a 4 year degree with very little experience. It was somewhat hard to find a permanent position, but I found that it was fairly easy to work with temp agencies. Before I got the job I'm in now, I worked 2 temp jobs that filled the gap and helped me earn experience.

The cost of living is higher than the country average, but depending on where you've lived in the past it may be low in comparison. Especially compared to the DC area. Overall Madison is a great city and the only reason I'm considering moving away is the weather. I feel the exact opposite as you, I would gladly put up with the heat and humidity if it meant no more cold and snowy winters. But since you would like the cold winters, Madison sounds like a great city for you to consider.

It is a good idea to visit any place you are thinking about first. When I chose Madison, I had never been to Wisconsin either. About 2 weeks before I moved, I came to visit the city and see if there were any apartments that I liked and could see myself living in. I liked it so much that it only took me 2 weeks to pack my things and relocate to Madison.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:23 PM
Location: Madison, WI
12 posts, read 10,382 times
Reputation: 29
I also moved to Madison without a job fully lined up; however, I had been looking for a while and had several conversations/interviews set up for shortly after we arrived.

We moved from Houston and I just am not made for the intense heat/humidity. It also shocks people when I tell them I love the winters here We have some family here and every time we came to visit it was very hard to leave. Madison is a great city - PM me if you'd like any additional advice!
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