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Old 10-01-2019, 02:51 PM
 
Location: Chicago
23 posts, read 9,684 times
Reputation: 45

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Hi all,

My partner and I have been scoping out potential cities to move to in the next few years (from Chicago). We have narrowed it down to a few, and Milwaukee is one that is on our radar because my partner can transfer his job there anytime, and he has family nearby. It is also super close to Chicago, which is a plus.

We are tired of the density and pace of Chicago, the high cost of living, scattered crime...the amenities are world class but we'd like something quieter. We are also looking at Twin Cities, and potentially west...like Tucson or Denver, but that is seeming less likely unfortunately.

We are kind of artsy professionals (is that like oil and water? hah!), late 20s, open-minded but not fiercely political, no kids yet but planning on it. MKE seems like a funky, up and coming city with a lot going for it.

So my question(s) for MKE residents are -

1. Are people outdoorsy and active? Are there great parks, places to hike, cross country ski, do outdoor activities and whatnot? We hate how far anything is from Chicago and honestly many Chicagoans hide inside all winter and its kind of a bummer. State parks are hours away, and FULL of people. I would love nothing more than to go for a hike on weekends without clawing tooth and nail for a parking spot or waiting in line for a trail. Sorry for the negativity!

2. Is it easy to make real friends there? My partner is introverted, but I am very social, like conversations with neighbors, and enjoy my hobbies - painting, cooking food, philosophy, gardening, etc...(for example, i've heard the Twin Cities are insular and although friendly, its very hard to make real friends.)

3. Jobs? I work in healthcare / technology, with experience in marketing and data analytics. My partner is covered right now but works in finance.

4. Is there a strong food scene? We don't care about Michelin stars, but appreciate fine dining occasionally and love a lot of ethnic food (Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Sichuan, etc.)

5. Where should we look? We'd love someplace safe, walkable, a sense of community, some bars/restaurants and activities, love farmer's markets, don't need trendy. We'd ideally buy an older 2+ bedroom house with a yard (ideally below $350k) near young families. Wauwatosa and Shorewood seem possible? I'm open!!! Strongly dislike: car-centric, brand new cookie cutter houses and chain stores. For people who know Chicago, We live in Hyde Park and love it, but like Oak Park, Andersonville, Rogers Park, Evanston...

Thanks in advance, everybody! Excited to spend a weekend and check things out.

Last edited by annagene12; 10-01-2019 at 03:01 PM..
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:43 PM
 
Location: Mequon, WI
8,118 posts, read 20,503,952 times
Reputation: 4979
Well we're not outdoorsy like Coloradoan's are but we have our fair share due to our topography. I would join the facebook group Wisconsin State Parks and others like it. Shorewood and Whitefish Bay are good options but that still puts you an hour away from any trails in the lower Kettle Moraine or Upper Kettle Moraine. We have a great food scene here in Milwaukee, I think you will be very surprised at what we have to offer in the city and burbs. We have a ton of parks in Milwaukee county that offer skiing and a lot pf parks out in the burbs too. One of the things I was shocked on when my wife and I considered on moving to Chicago was the lack of parks and golf courses. Milwaukee County is just a little bigger than the city of Chicago area wise so you will find it a lot easier to get around to our parks no matter where they are. We even have a park out in Delafield that offers night time cross-country skiing with lights. There might be more but I am unaware of them. You can also xc-ski in any park in winter, you'll just have to blaze your own trail. Plus we have a decent amount of ski hills close and great ones within 2.5hrs.

My wife does trail running and so many of the people she encounters out on the trails on the weekend drive up from Chicago 2-3 hours just to go running since there is nothing down there. I have found the outdoorsy people here are very open and talkative almost too much and I like to flap my gums.

I can offer more insights about hiking and camping, running and skiing and boating if you are interested as far as towns I would offer you Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Tosa, Greendale, Village of Pewaukee, Delafield, Oconomowoc, Meno-Falls, Sussex, Thiensville, Waukesha and Hartland

Now the suburban towns I listed, I listed them because they have cute small little downtown and village areas the caveat is they are still suburban so you still will need a car but depending where you live in say Hartland, you will have to drive to stuff just not that far. A lot of our suburbs have split personalities like Sussex. A small town city area then a more rural country type farther out. You do need to just drive around and get a feel for the area.

Waukesha is a suburb but a stand-a-lone city, it doesn't feel like a suburb and they have a cool and active downtown. Tosa Village is nice but high taxes and outside of downtown Tosa you kinda feel like you are just in another part of Milwaukee.

Outdoor stores here in Milwaukee are Sherpers, REI, Uncle Dan's Outdoor Store, Yellow Wood, Clear Water Outdoor, Cabelas, Laacke and Joys, Les Moise and Orvis and L.L. Bean as well. I'm sure I didn't mention them all but that's my rotation.

I am a big hiker and I really enjoy Devils Lake, and near Milwaukee the Holy Hill area and segment of the Ice Age Trail is beautiful. As for hiking or just walking in the city, up and down Lake Michigan you have great parks from Lions Den Gorge in Grafton to Virmond in Mequon to Doctors park, Schlitz Nature Area, Atwood Beach, a great park system that extends from UWM all the way down to Summerfest Grounds in Lake Shore State Park. On the South Side you have Bay View Park and more trails and parks all the way down to Caledonia. Anything you really need is within 2 hours of Milwaukee and most of everything is within 45 minutes, the only thing being the best large ski hills are in Wausau Rib Mountain and near Madison Devils Head and Cascade.

Hope that helps now I have to get back to watching the Brewers in the Playoffs!
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2,038 posts, read 755,322 times
Reputation: 1603
Interesting! Im a Milwaukeean that spends as much free time as I can in YOUR city!! We do have a decent park system here, and some bicycle trails. Our ethnicity concentration is nothing like yours, which is one reason I DO prefer Chicago! Hiring in the healthcare field here should not be a problem. Chicago should not be linked to a crime CITY, since it's more concentrated in certain areas, as is Milwaukee. Feel free to send me an inbox message- Master Jay in Milwaukee
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:56 AM
 
4,018 posts, read 2,839,930 times
Reputation: 3118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milwaukee City View Post
W
One of the things I was shocked on when my wife and I considered on moving to Chicago was the lack of parks and golf courses.
Nonsense. You are not very familiar with Chicago.

Quote:
My wife does trail running and so many of the people she encounters out on the trails on the weekend drive up from Chicago 2-3 hours just to go running since there is nothing down there.
ROTFL

Anecdotal. There is no steady stream of Chicago people driving 2-3 hours to Milwaukee to go running. Plenty more places to run throughout Chicagoland.

The OP needs to be prepared for some tradeoffs after experiencing Chicago trappings.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
5,482 posts, read 6,967,934 times
Reputation: 6946
Quote:
Originally Posted by damba View Post
Nonsense. You are not very familiar with Chicago.



ROTFL

Anecdotal. There is no steady stream of Chicago people driving 2-3 hours to Milwaukee to go running. Plenty more places to run throughout Chicagoland.

The OP needs to be prepared for some tradeoffs after experiencing Chicago trappings.
It may be more common than you think. I know a few from Chicago that visit Milwaukee for the public market and outdoor activities.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2,038 posts, read 755,322 times
Reputation: 1603
Well our lakefront PALES in comparison to Chicago's. That said, Ive encountered in my Chicago trips, residents who come visit Milwaukee for the same reason I visit Chicago: a change of scenery.... I love to bring my bicycle down to explore Chicago's neighborhoods and bike trails. But Ive already DONE that here in Milwaukee! Also, I find Chicago's higher concentration of people to be higher energy, which is a plus, to me. I could understand why some Chicagoans would prefer Milwaukee's level of crowds, along the lake front, etc. So I DO believe Chicagoans make the trip for our beach, trails, fests, etc. For me, both have pros and cons. So it's nice that it's a relatively feasible distance where one can enjoy EITHER city. Trust me, people in Chicago ask me if I AM a Chicagoan. Well, its my Second City home!- Master Jay in Milwaukee
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Old 10-03-2019, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Chicago
23 posts, read 9,684 times
Reputation: 45
Thanks for the insights everyone, and for your thoughtful replies...it is good to hear about jobs in healthcare, available parks, towns, and more - I would certainly believe that folk travel to MKE from Chicago, in fact I know many that flee Chicago for weekend trips for a different change of pace. In turn, I absolutely understand why Chicago is a destination - it is truly a remarkable, energetic place! I've been lucky to live here...it is hard to sound anything but ungrateful when I talk about leaving.

I don't expect a much smaller city to match the scale of diversity, economy and amenities at all. The pace and density, while exciting to visitors, is the major downside for me. I lived in NYC for a 3 years, and ended up leaving (with ZERO regrets) for many of the same reasons that I'd now like to leave Chicago. It's funny, I remember coming back to Chicago from NYC thinking how friendly, affordable and quiet it was...I missed NYC, visited all the time, but the last visit three years ago, got so overwhelmed by the crowds I couldn't wait to leave. As I get older, the dense urban areas hold less appeal, my heart beats a little smoother and slower every time I leave Chicago...but I am sure I will have moments where I will sweetly recall my years here.

I'll say, the lack of affordability is a huge factor. My partner and I would love to buy a house that isn't on the fringe of dangerous neighborhoods, with half way decent public schools. The neighborhoods we'd like to raise a family in are outrageously expensive or have tough commutes (granted, cheap compared to NYC or SF but not to cities like MKE)...we could not remotely afford a house even in our area with blighted public schools, albeit arguably the best private school for a cool $33k a year LOL.

It is certainly a well planned city with lots of green space and an expansive lakefront. I live in Hyde Park, which is regarded for all of these things - so I spend most of my free time here, but pay a premium for a city I don't take advantage of because I hate the crowds.

No number of curated and pristine city parks replaces easy access to quiet towns and nature. Chicago's access to the outdoors is NOT a strong suit...and that's okay! It is an extremely cosmopolitan city that can't be all things to all people. I.e. there's Indiana Dunes Park, Kankakee and Starved Rock...nice, but small, and truly packed to the gills all summer. The last time we went to Starved Rock it took us 3 hours (one way) due to traffic, looked for parking for ages and then waited in lines for trails...we came home frazzled.

MKE in contrast **seems** to have typical suburbia too (I don't intend to paint it as utopia), but distinctive towns not far off (it seems??). I lived in Appleton for 6 months in college, and I remember nearby towns and countryside were charming...my mother has a house in Kewaunee where she plans to retire, I've spent weekends in Door County and can't wait to explore the Driftless region. Illinoisan landscape leaves much to be desired, MN (IMO) comes close to WI, which is why it is on "our list". I love the north woods of MN, spent summers in a tiny place called Finland growing up...just found it magical.

Anyways...I was just curious if MKE residents take advantage of the outdoors, and was trying to pin point areas nearest to Milwaukee that would have some of the charm and quiet of areas of Wisconsin I am more familiar with, but not far off from *some* of the amenities I am accustomed to having in a city. There are always trade offs!

Last edited by annagene12; 10-03-2019 at 02:47 PM..
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Old 10-03-2019, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2,038 posts, read 755,322 times
Reputation: 1603
Whether you are relgious or not, look up Holy Hill. Its maybe 30-45 minutes northwest of Milwaukee. The area is beautiful for walking and is absolutely serene. If you can climb the tower, the scene is breathtaking. I was dating a lady from Bolingbrook, Illinois. She absolutely loved it! Let me know what you think. P.S. Hyde Park is still on my to-do list. Its an area many talk about, yet Ive never been. There is a Croatian monastery that I visited several years ago that I believe is near Hyde Park. Perhaps youve heard of it? - Master Jay in Milwaukee
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee, WI
2,190 posts, read 1,844,501 times
Reputation: 2431
Quote:
Originally Posted by annagene12 View Post
Hi all,
So my question(s) for MKE residents are -

1. Are people outdoorsy and active? Are there great parks, places to hike, cross country ski, do outdoor activities and whatnot? We hate how far anything is from Chicago and honestly many Chicagoans hide inside all winter and its kind of a bummer. State parks are hours away, and FULL of people. I would love nothing more than to go for a hike on weekends without clawing tooth and nail for a parking spot or waiting in line for a trail. Sorry for the negativity!

Milwaukeeans are generally known for drinking beers and riding their Harleys, not for being outdoorsy... Having said that, why do you care what other people are? If you want to go hiking or camping or running in the mornings - you can do it, and you will find friends along the way.


Having said that, Madison, Oshkosh or Appleton/Green Bay are better located for any real outdoorsy activities.


Quote:
Originally Posted by annagene12 View Post
2. Is it easy to make real friends there? My partner is introverted, but I am very social, like conversations with neighbors, and enjoy my hobbies - painting, cooking food, philosophy, gardening, etc...(for example, i've heard the Twin Cities are insular and although friendly, its very hard to make real friends.)

There are 500 thousand people in the metro area. You can find friends sharing same interests as you if you want. Developing friendships requires time and emotional investment, though. But having a bigger area of people around helps (as compared to a small town where you'd still be outsider even in 10 years). Milwaukee is a city after all, not like any of those little towns.


Another thought coming from my personal experience is that Wisconsinites generally admire outsiders (well, Chicagoans aren't counted as ones though). My daughter coming from Los Angeles was the most popular girl in her school until half year later another family came from Colorado.


Quote:
Originally Posted by annagene12 View Post
3. Jobs? I work in healthcare / technology, with experience in marketing and data analytics. My partner is covered right now but works in finance.

With unemployment rate of 3.5% nationally, and Wisconsin being probably somewhere in the middle of the pack close to the average numbers, there's nothing to worry about.


Quote:
Originally Posted by annagene12 View Post
4. Is there a strong food scene? We don't care about Michelin stars, but appreciate fine dining occasionally and love a lot of ethnic food (Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Sichuan, etc.)

We have great selection of any type of cuisine - as long as those include "brats and beer".

Quote:
Originally Posted by annagene12 View Post
5. Where should we look? We'd love someplace safe, walkable, a sense of community, some bars/restaurants and activities, love farmer's markets, don't need trendy. We'd ideally buy an older 2+ bedroom house with a yard (ideally below $350k) near young families. Wauwatosa and Shorewood seem possible? I'm open!!! Strongly dislike: car-centric, brand new cookie cutter houses and chain stores. For people who know Chicago, We live in Hyde Park and love it, but like Oak Park, Andersonville, Rogers Park, Evanston...
Wauwatosa and Shorewood. Or many other places - Bay View, Walkers Point, Bradley St...
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2,038 posts, read 755,322 times
Reputation: 1603
Although I was never much of a Bay View or Brady Street hanger-outer, I would maybe lean towards Bay View. It has been developing nicely with pretty trendy/hip coffee places and restaurants. Brady Street has them as well, but the last couple of years I have seen more "riffraff" hanging out on Brady Street. They both have an Italian presence historically in our city (the southern Italians near Brady Street, and the northern Italians in Bay View) and you will find Italian delis/restaurants in these areas. Just MY opinion. You mentioned Wauwatosa and Shorewood, which are both good areas (Wauwatosa is better the further west you go, I believe). I know the people that owned Sweet Pie's in Skokie, and they did the drive down from Wauwatosa, before finally closing down Sweety Pie's, to start a family. Good to know you have some decent choices! I wish you the best!- Master Jay in Milwaukee
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