Should I move to WI? (Milwaukee, Madison: apartment, for rent, appliances)
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After 32 years of living in New York (Long Island), I'm taking the plunge. Everytime I ask about places to move, I hear about WI. Milwaukee is a metropolis; Madison has a vibrant culture; Sheboygan is apparently a great place to raise a family.
Or at least that's what I've heard.
I'm a high school teacher. How are the schools? Supported by the communities? Strong? Failing? In need of teachers? How tied are the schools to the property tax base? Do people resent the schools?
Mainly, I'm looking to get out of myopic, conspicuously consuming, rude, arrogant, testy, and petty (and oh so overpriced) NY. I'd like to land in a place where people have some civility and kindness, some education, and where there's culture, entertainment and recreation.
I am originally from Winona, Minnesota, living right across the Mississippi River from Wisconsin most of my life. The areas of southwest Wisconsin I grew up near are very nice. The La Crosse area is nice; the public schools rate 8th or 9th best in the list of the top 25 school districts in the country according to an article I read somewhere recently in a magazine; beautiful bluffs; lots of things to do in terms of recreation, shopping and entertainment. I don't know if you're into water recreation, but the town is right on the Mississippi River, and there is a lot of fishing, boating, waterskiing, jetskiing, swimming, etc., in that area. There is a huge civic center where they have lots of cultural activities (concerts, etc.). The people are pretty nice there. I went there frequently as Winona is much smaller and doesn't have a lot of those things and everybody in town goes the 30 minutes to La Crosse for entertainment, shopping, etc. Even though Winona and La Crosse are 30 minutes apart, they called it the Winona-La Crosse area. Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to the specific questions you asked about if teachers are needed, how do people feel towards the schools, etc. Maybe you could check online (www.lacrossetribune.com)? (broken link) The town has a population of around 50,000.
Right now, however, I have had the unfortunate situation where I have had to live in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for the past year due to my husband's job. Whatever you do, DON'T move there. It is the WORST place I have ever had to live. People are extremely unfriendly to non-natives (many rednecks), there is absolutely nothing to do there except hang out in sports bars drinking and watching sports on TV (unless that's what you like to do). People are fanatics about the Green Bay Packers. They actually get into fist fights in bars here with people with diss the Packers. I don't dare send my kids to school with shirts saying Minnesota Twins or Vikings. They would probably get pulverized. It seems like every time we've needed to get anything (i.e., appliances, humidifiers, etc.), we've had to travel to Oshkosh or Milwaukee to get it, because there is very few national stores here, and they never seem to carry much of anything. I don't know if you smoke, but if you don't like that, it seems like about 90% of the population of that town smokes. The cost of living is outrageous (we are paying $4,000 a year for property tax on a 100-year old house that we made the mistake of buying and over $200 for very putrid city water; everybody buys bottled water because the city water tastes so bad). They are also planning to blend the city water soon with the local lake water and jack up the cost by 50%. The lake has agricultural and industrial run-off in it. Nice. My husband and I are the type of parents that are active in our kids' schools. We were in the PTO and volunteered for just about every activity. We also are conscientious about sending the things our children need when the teacher asks and work with our kids on things that are sent home. However, from what I see of other parents here, not a lot of them are very supportive of their kids' educations. Many of the kids, especially in the grade schools, are sent to school without supplies. We donated supplies to our daughter's class to help out, but people here tend to spend their money on beer and cigarettes before the things their kids need for school. Also, planned school activities (i.e., plays, concerts, fun fairs) are not very well-attended especially if they are on Friday nights because everyone's in the bar on Friday night. Another thing that was pretty strange to us when we moved here is that there are very, very few national chain restaurants in town; most are locally owned bar/restaurant, and they all close by 8:00 p.m. on Friday night. The only thing to do after 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night, since everything else closes, is go to the bars. They have a huge police force, and there was just an article in the local paper the other day about the average day in the life of a Fond du Lac police officer. The whole day and night is spent dealing with public consumption, drunk driving and public urination due to drunk people.
As far as the schools there, the high school and there middle schools aren't that great. I talked to my daughter's French teacher, and she said that she teaches at all three middle schools, and one that my daughter doesn't go to, the kids are totally disrespectful. They lay on the floor while she's teaching and talk back. The grade school my youngest goes to is pretty good, though. I can't complain there. The town also just passed a referendum for money to fix up issues with the schools (i.e., new furnaces, repairing roofs, etc.) I read letters to the editor regarding this around voting time. It was half and half. Some people were okay with voting yes, some people were resentful.
Although I am totally for giving money to the schools when needed, the property taxes are so high here, that we really couldn't afford ours to go up, and my husband makes $60,000+ a year plus, and I work part-time as a transcriptionist. We are barely making ends meet on that just with paying the mortgage, utilities and groceries. Food in the grocery stores is very expensive here especially produce. We are currently trying to get out of there to go back to my hometown. With the rise in property taxes and the Although I am totally for giving money to the schools when needed, the property taxes are so high here, that we really couldn't afford ours to go up, and my husband makes $60,000+ a year plus, and I work part-time as a transcriptionist. We are barely making ends meet on that just with paying the mortgage, utilities and groceries. Food in the grocery stores is very expensive here especially produce. We are currently trying to get out of there to go back to my hometown. With the rise in property taxes and the water bill getting jacked up, we can't afford to live here anymore.
We go to Milwaukee once in a while. There is a certainly entertainment, culture and recreation there. Also lots of crime. There is a problem with air pollution there. Other than that, unfortunately, I don't know much else.
I have personally talked to people who live in Sheboygan. They say it's worst than Fond du Lac, if that answers your question.
I would not personally recommend moving to southeast Wisconsin, but southwest Wisconsin is very nice.
I hope that gives you a little bit of an idea of Wisconsin.
I have a friend from college that lives in Madison. She has told me she likes living there, but the cost of living is high. My husband, who is in purchasing, works with salesmen who live in Madison, and they also tell him they like it there.
To generalize, Wisconsin is a state with high taxes and good schools.
I can say that in our area (North Shore of Milwaukee) the schools are outstanding. Yes we pay through the nose in property tax, but I don't squeal because we get value for money in my opinion.
As for other areas of Wisconsin, I've heard that schools near Appleton are quite OK. I can't comment as thoroughly on Fond du Lac as the previous poster, but I gotta say the drive-by opinion I have of the place pretty much jives with what's been posted earlier.
The Madison area has some quality schools as well. Because of the university there are a lot of cultural & social activities. Any of the towns surrounding Madison (Middleton, Verona, Fitchburg) are purported to be good.
SE Wisconsin is a miss, especially Racine. That place is miserable.
Hi. I grew up in Southwest but have been living in MN for the last 11 years. I have to say I hate it and can't wait to get out of here. I am moving to CO and cannot wait.
It all boils down to being trapped indoors all year round. In the winter it is too cold to want to be outside. In the summer it is too hot and humid. The kicker is when the day cools down to a tolerable temperature...the mosquitos swarm out and you don't want to be out because of them either. They are literally referred to as the state bird here and I can't imagine WI would be too much different.
People are nice...yes (or at least they pretend to be to your face) but you can get that other places like CO without the humidity, mosquitos, or inactive lifestyle.
We have lived in several different areas of Wisconsin and so far Eau Claire is my favorite. It has the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire which adds so much to the community. I also believe that as a result of having the university - the community is more atuned to the educational needs of the children. Our children attended both middle and high school here (our youngest is a high school senior) and they loved it. Our oldest daughter will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) - which is the highest rated state school in Wisconsin. She tested out of all of her Math, English and Spanish - so you can tell that her high school education was fantastic. We are only 85 miles from Minneapolis. This is beautiful city!
I moved to WI 5 years ago from Seattle area. If you move here get ready to step back in time, fashion, music etc.. The state is made up of Beer, Brats, Cheese, The Packers and The Badger. Pretty much nothing else. Northern Wi has more trees and southern Wi more farm fields. I currently live in Middleton, which is pretty much Madison. Cost of living is very high for a midwest town for my opinion. The wages don't compare to rent at all. For a decent 2 bedroom apartment expect $800 plus. Moving out here I took a $4 pay cut and was paying the same for rent, OUCH!! For teaching jobs, funny reading past replies and I bet my consin is the French teacher in Fon du Lac, all I hear about is how much they are paying for healthcare. Yes healthcare out here is very $$$, just for me alone I would have to pay $100 a month for a HMO and that's not counting dental. I do know that there are teaching jobs out here. But if I were you I would consider the La Crosse area very very cheap cost of living!!! Have been look to move to that area and very easily can you get a 2 bedroom apartment for $500 if not less. Plus the house are a lot less. Plus it's very beautiful!!
Milwaukee is a very dirty city.
But if you are looking for beauitful scenery and a small town atmosphere and very decent shopping I would head to La Crosse, plus I have hear that their school system is great also.
I grew up in Wisconsin but I haven't lived there for many years. If I ever did move back there, which is not likely........ but if I did, I would definitely choose the LaCrosse area. It's very pretty, cliffs, bluffs lots of trees. The whole area along the Mississippi from LaCrosse to Eau Claire is pretty nice. They also have a 4 year University of Wisconsin branch in LaCrosse, I would guess the secondary educational system is pretty good. You are not that far from Minneapolis if you need to visit a big city and Minneapolis is a much nicer big city than Milwaukee. It pains me to say that as a WI native, but it's true I lived in Mpls for 5 years and have many relatives in the Milwaukee area so I'm familiar with both. Best of Luck.
Hello. I have lived in Wisconsin all my life, and I think its pretty cool. The public schools are probably pretty bad in the bigger towns and cities, but the people are pretty nice. I live in St. Croix county, which is the fastest growing county in wisconsin. That being said, home prices are pretty inflated. We are just across the St. Croix River from Minneapolis and St. Paul.
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