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Old 09-04-2009, 07:41 AM
 
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My husband has been contacted by a head hunter about a job in Madison. We currently live in Michigan so we like the Midwest but are wondering about life in Madison. Are people friendly and welcoming? I have two children so we need to know what elementary and middle schools are like also. Do people from Wisconsin vacation in Wisconsin? We are used to going "up north" in Michigan for summer and winter vacations - would this be the same? Any info is appreciated.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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I'll let others address your other questions; but yes, going "up North" is a time-honored tradition in Wisconsin too, only you'll probably have a lot more Illinoisians mixed in compared to "up North" in Michigan.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Madison, WI
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I feel people in Madison are warm and welcoming, but that is really subjective. People do tend to respect the privacy of their neighbors and probably won't rush over with cookies your first week in your new home.

Some people describe us as superficially friendly, but I just think people around here have good boundaries. I don't think it is natural to instantly bond with strangers. It takes time to get to know people. It will start with the friendly hello as you get the mail, maybe chatting while you are out on a walk and see them out in their yard. I've gotten to know one couple across the street fairly well that way, but it took about 5 years to get to the point where I've had them over to dinner or gone to Costco with them.

Out in public strangers will chat in the grocery store line, that kind of thing, but most people don't go any further than that.

If you join a club, take classes or volunteer you'll have the best chance of meeting like minded people who are also looking to connect with those who share their interests.

There are also several new comers clubs.
Wisconsin Newcomers Clubs, Moms and Dads Organizations, Womens Clubs Directory

Meetup.com is also a good way to connect with people.

That said your neighbors will probably help you if your in a jam - like if your car gets plowed during a big snow storm. I've even had neighbors I barely know help me with yard work! I was out struggling with a tree trimmer one summer and a man came over and sawed off a particularly large limb I had been sawing away at for what seemed like forever.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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Thanks for the info link and your post. What you describe is really all we are looking for. Here in Oakland county Michigan people are so stressed out about the economy or so full of themselves it's hard to find genuinely nice people.
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:23 AM
 
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I don't know too many people in Madison who go "up north" on weekends or for the summer. People that I know, if they have kids, tend to go to the Dells, which is a waterpark community maybe an hour north, but not a camping area too much nowadays...or they might go to the Twin Cities, Chicago, Door County...but I don't know many people that go up to the northwoods, unless they are fishers or campers. However my sister and brother-in-law were recently in some town near Crandon for a Tri-Athalon and rented a cabin for the weekend, but that was the first time they had ever been up there, and if it wasn't for that, I doubt they would have gone. People also like skiing, but for that, tend to go to the UP or some local place within an hour or so of Madison (Devil's Head, Tyrol Basin, Cascade, etc.) The thing is, there is so much to do within an hour of Madison, there isn't a NEED to go any furthur, unless you want to be on a secluded lake. But of course there are people that are into that, and if that is what you are looking for, you will definantly find it.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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I find Madison a very welcoming and friendly place (and I grew up in Oakland County, Michigan) although I'd agree with Megan that folks may not rush up to greet you the moment the moving van pulls into the driveway. But the helpfulness is incredible: we moved into our current house in the middle of a blizzard ten years ago, and the fellow across the street came over to clear our driveway so the moving van could get in.

Chelito is correct in saying that many folks vacation in the Dells and other popular destinations in the state, but a considerable number of Madison residents also go to the north woods regularly. It kind of depends on who you hang out with.

If your husband's possible job here comes to fruition, stop back by and let us know to watch for you. Good luck!
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:04 PM
 
3,320 posts, read 4,702,383 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momtwoboys View Post
My husband has been contacted by a head hunter about a job in Madison. We currently live in Michigan so we like the Midwest but are wondering about life in Madison. Are people friendly and welcoming? I have two children so we need to know what elementary and middle schools are like also. Do people from Wisconsin vacation in Wisconsin? We are used to going "up north" in Michigan for summer and winter vacations - would this be the same? Any info is appreciated.
As already stated, this is really a subjective question. I would not consider a 5 year time span in having a neighbor over for dinner, to sound the friendliest. As I have stated before it is 50/50 imo. You can come across the rudest of rude and the sweetest of sweet all in the same day.

My husbands family built a cabin up north many years ago, so it is in the family and a cheap get away. Does that mean I only vacation in WI? No.
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Old 09-18-2009, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Madison, WI
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I've lived in the area my whole life. People are correct in saying that your neighbors probably won't rush over when they see you pull into the driveway. People are slow to warm up, but overall are very very helpful and friendly.

I went to college at UW-Madison, and during blizzards it is perfectly normal to see groups of students run over to help push a random person's car out of a snow drift.
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:55 PM
 
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Friendliness is so subjective. Most people have a good understanding of what makes a friendly person, but trying to label a town as friendly or unfriendly is a whole other thing.

Here are my incredibly subjective thoughts on the matter, based on living in Madison for five years in the late 1990s, early 2000s:

Madison is a college town, which means it plays host to a lot of transients. People are there one day and gone the next. So I personally feel that this leads to a certain level of coldness. People aren't putting down roots. They're not looking for a life long connection with others, in fact, their deepest connections still lie where ever they moved to Madison from.

Madison is way more pretentious than other places in the Midwest, including Chicago. It's like Madisonians make a sport out of proving to themselves and their peers how smart, sophisticated and cultured they are. So expect a lot of unsolicited lectures and a lot of very firmly held beliefs informed by some intro class somebody took when they were an undergrad.

You'll make friends in Madison if you wear your leftiness on your sleeve. That is, get a bike and make a big deal about riding it. Doesn't matter if you only bike a few times every summer, because everyone in Madison says "everyone bikes everywhere," even though 98% of people there drive everywhere just like in Des Moines. Join one of the local food co-ops and make sure to buy one of their canvas shopping bags so that everyone knows you shop there. Approach and make friends with the few minorities in your midst and gush on and on about how "diverse" the neighborhood is.

Whatever you do, don't criticize Madison. Always remember you are living in the shining city upon a hill, the place where all problems have been solved, the place that "gets it." Don't ask questions. Just go along with the show and you'll be fine.
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Old 09-24-2009, 06:03 PM
 
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^^Milwaukee Ronnie, that post was hilarious. I won't say it wasn't filled with stereotypes and exagerations, but the stereotypes are close enough to the truth that they really hit my funny bone. In addition to the bragging about bike usage, you will also find a lot of people who like to brag about their lack of TV watching.

Now back to the "up north" question. To me it always seemed like Devil's Lake was the most popular natural retreat for Madisonians into camping, rock climbing, etc. People also like to go to Spring Green for the Taliesn and American Players Theater (and not so much the House on the Rock).
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