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Old 07-28-2008, 06:19 PM
11 posts, read 36,006 times
Reputation: 12


I am trying to compare and/or contrast Madison to Milwaukee. For a single woman with two college aged daughters, which one would suit me better? I like the "big" city with the small town feel, any suggestions? Any suburbs close to Madison that you would suggest.

I am still not sure which part of Wisconsin I would prefer to live in. How is the job market in either of those two areas? I am an administrative assistant (fancy word for secretary), so I think a job of some sort is available.
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:17 PM
Location: Madtown
286 posts, read 974,679 times
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Will your girls be working or going to school? If school, then maybe choices of school would help you decide. Personally I don't think either city has a big city feel or a small town feel, both are in between. Each is distinctive in its own way.
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:28 PM
Location: Lake Country, Wisconsin
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Milwaukee seems bigger and much more of a city to me. Madison seems like a large college town. I would think there may be more jobs near Milwaukee, as there seems to be more industries and businesses. I really think you should try and visit both and see which one you would prefer.
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:31 PM
Location: North Central Indiana
980 posts, read 2,775,148 times
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I would do Milwaukee, and you have a large list of clean safe suburbs there also. The Metro isn't that dense while at the same time the city has a mlb & NBA team. It also has a great lakefront and many great jop opportunites.
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:41 PM
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
1,899 posts, read 3,708,581 times
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If you do a search on this forum, you'll find quite a few threads like this one:

Milwaukee V.S. Madison

Both cities have their adherents and detractors, so you'll have to sift carefully through the info to get a balanced view.

In general, from my perspective: Milwaukee is larger and more of a classic city, with the good (cultural amenities, lifestyle choices, high racial/ethnic diversity, etc.) and bad (higher crime, more traffic, etc.) to be expected. Madison is more of a niche city, with the state's flagship university and state government dominating the scene, and with the good (high educational demographics, academic culture, dynamic college life) and bad (less diverse, more homogeneous, etc.) to be expected. Madison's economy is stronger than Milwaukee's, but neither is amazingly strong when compared to other parts of the country: both are still in Wisconsin, and the state has some major economic issues to deal with. Both cities have good singles scenes, though the scene in Milwaukee is larger and more varied. Madison has the state's most acclaimed university (UW-Madison), but Milwaukee has several good colleges and universities (Marquette, UWM, Alverno, etc.). Madison is more uniformly politically liberal than Milwaukee, though Milwaukee has significant liberal, moderate, and conservative populations.

You can probably do well in either city, though you should visit them to see which matches your temperament more. Both are very worldly in their special way, and both are provincial in a special way, too. Madison can seem more like an academic or politically liberal bubble, though many non-academics and political mods and cons live there. Milwaukee can seem like a patchwork of bubbles--some white collar, some blue collar, and so on--but many of its people defy the easy categories that others would like to apply. Both are great cities for various reasons, but since I tend to like bigger cities/metros and more cultural/lifestyle options, I prefer Milwaukee. However, others prefer Madison for reasons such as its medium size, its lower crime, its liberal profile, its concentration of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, and so on.
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:01 AM
395 posts, read 1,570,313 times
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Quijote, I think you summed it up quite well. Madison and Milwaukee are remarkably different, have two totally different histories, cultures and economies.

To me the number one difference between Wisconsin's largest and second largest cities is size. Milwaukee is three times the size of Madison. It's akin in size to Cincinnatti, Portland, Charlotte or Austin. Madison is similar in size to Des Moines, Spokane or Talahassee.

Madisonians love to go around saying that their town "feels" bigger than it really is. Having been to Des Moines, I will concur that Madison has more "urban vibe" in it's pinky toe than Des Moines has in its whole body. But Madison is not nearly as unique as it thinks it is. It's a university town. It's Boulder. It's Lexington. It's Burlington. It's Ann Arbor. I have been all over the United States, and, from my experience, big univerisity towns like these are a lot more similar than unique from each other.

In the last five years or so it seems that, for all their differences, Milwaukee and Madison are becoming more like each other. Madison is seeing an increase in the kinds of "city" problems Milwaukee has been dealing with for decades: crime, poverty and troubled schools. Milwaukee in recent years has really come into its own in terms of having a funky, urban youth vibe, concentrated in vibrant neighborhoods like Brady Street, Bay View, the Third Ward and Riverwest.

I lived in Madison for five years. I much prefer Milwaukee. It's not perfect by any means, but this city suits me well. It's just big enough to have the kind of urbanity I am looking for, but not so huge as to be unaffordable or difficult to live in.
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