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Old 11-22-2013, 02:31 PM
 
Location: PNW
4 posts, read 10,690 times
Reputation: 26

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Howdy,

Long time forum reader, first time forum poster.

I've recently been offered a job in Fond du Lac and am considering relocating from beautiful Denver, CO. My wife and I (early 30's, recently married, no kids in near future), have never spent any time in this part of the country, so we guess are in for a big change if we decide to move.

As for our "perfect neighborhood", if anyone has ever been to the Washington Park area in Denver, that is the exact vibe we are looking for (with a bit of Colfax and City Park). Or around Chestnut Street in San Francisco (but not as uptight). Unique shops, cafes, and restaurants within walking distance to charming older homes. Not snooty or pretentious, just different strokes for different folks.

After flying out for the interview and doing a quick tour of FDL, Oshkosh, Appleton, West Bend, and greater Milwaukee, and after researching the heck out of this forum, we have made some preliminary guesses as to which area would be ideal for us to live. Milwaukee seems to have the best chance at offering this specific vibe we're looking for.

In Milwaukee, I quite liked the Wauwatosa area, with the old charming houses, little cafes and unique shops; it reminded me ever-so-slightly of Washington Park. Are there other neighborhoods that offer this vibe? I've read some posts about Shorewood, Glendale, etc. Any good? We'd really appreciate your feedback.

While Fond du Lac is a cute, quaint little town, it is too small to offer what we are looking for. Same goes for Oshkosh; maybe in 10 years or so. I didn't make it all the way through Appleton; does this city offer what we're looking for? How about Sheboygan? Should we even consider Madison? Is that commute too gnarly?

Anyway...

In Colorado, I've been known to do lengthy commute times, up to 60-90 minutes each way, though right now I ride my bicycle 30 min each way. Is it insane to commute from Tosa/greater Milwaukee to FDL everyday? (Winter driving doesn't scare me.) Does anyone do this currently? Any insight into this drive/motorcycle ride (summer)? Is there such a thing as a public transit line that goes to FDL? How about ride-share or carpooling opportunities?

We'll likely come out over the next few weeks to tour the area for real. Place we should see, things we should do? I checked out COMET and PALIMINO as per a friends recommendation while I was there; just the kind of vibe we like...

Thanks again for the insight; looking forward to our possible future in Wisconsin.

Maybe you can help us decide if we should CO2WI.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:44 PM
 
Location: WI
3,908 posts, read 9,460,751 times
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for the potential commute from the Milw area to FDL (or even Madison for that matter) i'm thinking you're likely looking at 1-1.5 hrs each way with no traffic or weather delays. So on a good day, 2-3 hrs spent in the car. On a bad day (and it will happen even if you're used to snow) that could potentially double. And it's not just the drive time, but costs that will be incurred as well. I've made those drives on occasion years ago, and would not do it on a daily basis. Now there may have been some improvements made to those stretches of road (hwy 41 could get bad whiteout conditions in winter with the winds blowing across), and i dont know how Denver compares to WI for winter weather, but my .02 would be to find a location to live at that's closer to FDL that meets as many of your needs as possible.
Or you could grow to hate your relocation
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Sector 001
7,840 posts, read 7,244,114 times
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Wisconsin is quite a bit cooler in the winter, because Denver gets chinook winds. The closer to lake Michigan the milder the low temps but still no Denver. Denver arguably has one of the best overall year-round climates in the Country (besides southern CA).. not too hot or humid in the summer, and mild spells in the winter.

http://www.wunderground.com/history/...lyHistory.html

Wow that's a long commute. Lots of sacrifice to get that 'vibe' but good luck nonetheless!

Last edited by sholomar; 11-22-2013 at 03:22 PM..
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:41 PM
 
6,007 posts, read 3,721,300 times
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I lived in Fond du Lac for over 20 years (recently moved to Beaufort, SC for my husband's job.)
Fond du Lac has a thriving art scene, thankfully. ( I used to be part of it!) Fond du Lac isn't nearly as big or cosmopolitan as Milwaukee or Madison, but don't discount the possiblities there. Once you settle in, it can be a very nice place to live. There are beautiful houses near the hospital (and the art center and library on Sheboygan St.) There are some nice restaurants in town, the drive to Appleton is super-easy... jump on Hwy 41 North and you're there in no time at all. Same for Oshkosh. Madison is closeby, as well. I personally would not want to drive from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac every day. On paper, in the abstract, it seems manageable. But it would get quite tiring quickly, I think. Just my own opinion, of course.
I used to work in Sheboygan and it would take me, on average, about an hour to get there from Fondy. Sheboygan and Kohler are both very nice towns. Kohler is very small... beautiful homes. One higher-end shopping area.

I am confident in saying that while Fond du Lac isn't exactly known for being metropolitan, you might be surprised how friendly people are once you settle in. I know I was. I really enjoyed living in Fond du Lac, honestly.

Best of luck to you and your wife. I hope all goes well for you both!
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:24 PM
 
Location: WI
3,908 posts, read 9,460,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicci6Squirrels View Post
I lived in Fond du Lac for over 20 years (recently moved to Beaufort, SC for my husband's job.)
Fond du Lac has a thriving art scene, thankfully. ( I used to be part of it!) Fond du Lac isn't nearly as big or cosmopolitan as Milwaukee or Madison, but don't discount the possiblities there. Once you settle in, it can be a very nice place to live. There are beautiful houses near the hospital (and the art center and library on Sheboygan St.) There are some nice restaurants in town, the drive to Appleton is super-easy... jump on Hwy 41 North and you're there in no time at all. Same for Oshkosh. Madison is closeby, as well. I personally would not want to drive from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac every day. On paper, in the abstract, it seems manageable. But it would get quite tiring quickly, I think. Just my own opinion, of course.
I used to work in Sheboygan and it would take me, on average, about an hour to get there from Fondy. Sheboygan and Kohler are both very nice towns. Kohler is very small... beautiful homes. One higher-end shopping area.

I am confident in saying that while Fond du Lac isn't exactly known for being metropolitan, you might be surprised how friendly people are once you settle in. I know I was. I really enjoyed living in Fond du Lac, honestly.

Best of luck to you and your wife. I hope all goes well for you both!
Being a Wi to SC tranplant myself, you'll soon discover what a mild winter can feel like and it's not too bad lol.


OP, Nicci6 made some good points on the scenes in FDL. Keep in mind you're looking at a city a sixth of the size of Denver so the # of options may seem less but they should be there. And setting yourself up close to work means your day to day time doesnt have to spent mostly on the freeway. Save that for the weekends, when you & your wife can take day trips to Milwaukee, Madison, or any other part of the state that looks of interest (ie a weekend in Door County, the "Northwoods", etc). It can be just too easy to burn yourself out with that long of a drive every day.
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Old 11-23-2013, 02:01 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,703 posts, read 92,539,314 times
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Here's the bottom line: you're not going to replicate anything about living in Denver by taking a job in FDL.
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:41 PM
 
6,007 posts, read 3,721,300 times
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Ranger17, I'm definitely enjoying being able to go to the beach in November! (Without turning into a block of ice, I mean!)

I have to agree with Drover about Fond du Lac being nothing like Denver. But, if you're open to new experiences and have a, "Try it, I may like it" attitude, I think you could be happy there, CO2WI.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:58 PM
 
Location: La Jolla, CA
7,285 posts, read 14,327,298 times
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Do whatever you want. I actually know several people who do this, but there are problems with it, and they only do it because they are split between Milwaukee and Fond Du Lac for jobs. The only people I know who do this live in Brookfield or Pewaukee, but Wauwatosa is more or less the same commute. I'd suggest living on the East Side or in Shorewood, but that adds another 20 minutes (or more) to your drive time. Obviously this commute is possible, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

First, let's be honest with each other: Fond Du Lac isn't a hotbed of high paying jobs in to begin with, and the high paying jobs that do exist are going to be less high paying than they would be in Milwaukee. Right out of the gate, you're backwards on the cost of living factor, because Wauwatosa isn't cheap. Most people who do long commutes do it because they can get two or three times the property by driving a long distance. You'd be doing the opposite; paying double (or more) for a house that you could buy a few minutes from work. And don't even start on property taxes.

Second, you're talking about spending 2.5-3 hours a day in the car on nice days if everything goes well. If you only work 8 hours a day, you're gone for almost 11. If it's a long day, maybe 12 or 13. And if the weather is bad, it's hotel time. Getting home at 7:30 or 8:00 doesn't leave much time to enjoy those nifty restaurants before you have to run home to go to sleep so you can wake up and blow 3 hours in the car. If you're wondering how many 24 hour days this represents each year, it's basically like driving for the entire month of February. Nonstop.

Third, using the IRS standard mileage rate, your plan will cost you $17,000 a year. Whoops... that's after tax.

Fourth, while some people love to drive or ride--I'm one of them--that's a lot of driving, and the more you drive, the more your chances of having problems, like a nasty crash. Past performance, as they say, is not an indicator of future earnings. The drive takes you across some windswept plains and deer country.

Here's where I'm going with all of this: Assuming that your wife either doesn't work, or has a job that is somewhat portable (otherwise you probably wouldn't even consider moving), you would have to be crazy to voluntarily commit $1500 a month to driving 120 miles a day just to sleep, and maybe to grab a bite at a restaurant--if you're lucky enough to make it home early. For that kind of money, you can have a very nice pied-a-terre in Milwaukee or Madison for weekends, and keep your commute local in Fond Du Lac for your primary home during the week. If you ain't no stupid, you can do it for $800 a month, and put $700 a month into fuel and a very nice car to drive between your houses. By the way, you won't pay as much for a house in Fond Du Lac or Oshkosh, as you would in Wauwatosa, so you just either got a lot more house, or pocketed a lot more money.

Finally, having done dumb, long commutes before, and having lived around the United States, I'm telling you first hand, that it's very possible to find things to like, about anywhere that you land.
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:04 PM
 
Location: PNW
4 posts, read 10,690 times
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Wow, thank you all so much for the replies. The resounding response is: "The commute sucks; not worth it". Justly so; thank you 43north87west for the insight into commuting.

Now that we have more facts and opinions, maybe you can help us with the first part of our question: We are looking to live (rent a house) near a cute downtown area, in either Oshkosh, FDL, West Bend, or other areas within a short commute to FDL. Can you recommend other communities we should look at that is within a "reasonable" commute (less than 30 min each way)?

We've read lots of negative reviews about FDL on this forum, specifically pertaining to the lack of community acceptance of non-natives. Are there any other non-natives out there with some insight into this apparent dilemma? Please keep in mind, were in our early 30's, not outwardly religious, and we don't have kids (meaning church and school are out for meeting new people).
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:48 AM
 
6,007 posts, read 3,721,300 times
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I don't think that there is a lack of acceptance of non-natives, personally. A lot of folks have known each other since childhood, but it's just like anywhere else, in my experience.

Oshkosh wouldn't be a horrible commute at all. I grew up in Oshkosh and therefore, I'm a little biased about its charm. :-) I think people in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac are very friendly. Maybe not just while walking down the street (Midwesterners tend to be less outwardly friendly until you're in a social situation.) But I think once you got to know people, find your niche, it would be just fine. No one will chase you down with pitchforks, yelling, "You're not from around here!" HA!

Do you have the option of spending some time in each of the places you've listed to try to get a feel for what appeals to you most?
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