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Old 10-05-2010, 12:25 PM
Location: Cincinnati
3,341 posts, read 6,255,062 times
Reputation: 2072


We have a relatively high number of transplants in Cincinnati who arrived here for reasons similar to what you mention or just for work (we have a great number of large companies headquartered here) and just never left to go back "home." Simultaneously, there are a reasonable number of people moving from here to most typically the pacific northwest, the mid-atlantic, and new york. My family recently relocated here from the intermountain West. While I know you aren't considering Cincinnati, some of the factors you should think about are the same. Consider what it will be like to see your family only once or twice a year, if that. Think about the best aspects of your life and how those might change. While a midwesterner moving west should think if they can cope without spring and autumn, a westerner moving east should consider if they can cope without nearly as much sunshine and with long winters. There are of course many other factors. Cost of living is far better here, but we too have taxes that are too high. People are not rolling in discretionary income and many people are hard up right now. Still, my family is able to make it work on a single income right around "median" and we have a nice historic house in a nice city neighborhood, a car, and a relatively sure future. Then again, the economy here is somewhat better than most places in the midwest right now.

If you put me in any part of the country, I can think of a hundred reasons to move and a hundred reasons to stay. Nowhere is perfect and your frustrations will be different, but you will still have frustrations.

Beyond that, I can't offer much since I have only been to Wisconsin twice (and very much enjoyed it each time). I'm surprised to read that people have insular attitudes and it is not easy to make new friends. I think when you move to an area that doesn't get a lot of transplants that could be an issue. But the more urban areas certainly have a lot of people come and go.
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:44 PM
92 posts, read 208,441 times
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Originally Posted by Buckeye3 View Post
I lived in WI awhile and really agree with the previous post. It is very different there compared to other areas I've lived and insular. It has it's good and bad points as does anyplace else, so please don't start getting upset Wisconsinites! I would really recommend visiting before you make the move and definately visit in the winter so you have an honest understanding of what you are moving into. Summers are quite pretty and mild but winters are truly freezing.
ITA! Be prepared for difficulty making really good friends unless you're moving into a area with either a lot of other transplants or new construction. DH and I have encountered the same thing. People are friendly and will chit-chat, but as far as making close friends? Not so much. This is our 14th city (in 6 states), so we have a little experience with moving into new places and making friends, but this has got to be the hardest by far. We've been here just about three years, and of the four friends I have, none of them are WI natives. Just remember that most people in WI are born and bred and have their whole lives and social structures already in place. Not meaning to turn you off, but it is a source of frustration for a lot of us. (I live in a S suburb of Milwaukee, BTW.)

As far as weather, it can be brutal, to say the least. I grew up in NW PA, so was used to winter, but wow, the cold is something even I hadn't experienced before; and it can be cold from Nov or Dec right through April. Definitely make sure to visit in February as well as warmer months. That being said, summer and fall are absolutely gorgeous, and there are many outdoor activities for all seasons of the year.

One other cost-of-living consideration besides housing prices (which are very reasonable with many styles to pick from) is the tax situation. WI is not a cheap place to live, plus you'll be stocking up on all of the winter-related supplies (parkas, boots, gloves, etc), and paying for 7-9 months of heat, so take that into consideration as well.

There are some very wonderful things about WI as well: very kid-friendly, many festivals, free family-oriented activities, fresh foods (dairy, produce, meats, farmers markets), beautiful scenery, outdoor pursuits, sports, etc. Just make sure to do your homework and make several visits to be sure that this is where you truly want to be as it is such a drastic change from CA. Best of luck!
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:25 PM
1 posts, read 1,678 times
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Originally Posted by Drover View Post
I hope you're ready for a change of pace in every conceivable facet of your lives and just those aspects you're despairing about now. Wisconsin is a very insular state compared to California. That's good if you're tired of swarms of illegal immigrants, but not so good if you have an inclination to march to your own drumbeat. This topic is debated here time and again, but the general consensus social circles tend to be "closely held" and difficult for newcomers to break into. I guess that can be a good thing if you're an introvert who prefers that folks mind their own business.

If you want anything approximating a true urban setting, you have the following choices: Milwaukee. The second-largest metro area in the state is Madison which slides in at about half a million. The rest of the state is basically farmland (southern half) or semi-forest land (northern half) with the occasional small city or second-tier college town interspersed throughout.

Weather: summers are mild though the occasional heat wave will bring 90s and crapsuck humidity. They're also frustratingly short. Winters are long and often brutal. Particularly the northern part of the state, average overnight lows in January are below zero. Some days never get above zero, but people are used to it, prepared for it, and it doesn't really slow anyone down.

Affordability: Milwaukee and Madison are the most expensive real estate markets in the state, though not necessarily in that order. Nonetheless, both will undoubtedly look downright manageable by California standards. Rural and small-town real estate is pretty cheap -- you can easily find habitable 3-bedroom houses for well under 100K unless you want lakefront property. In that case be prepared to pay double or triple what the same house would cost just half a mile away.

Job market: Wisconsin's economy relies pretty heavily on manufacturing which has taken a hit in recent years. I doubt there's a flurry of construction activity going on right now. But Wisconsin's real estate market doesn't go through the kind of boom-and-bust cycles that many Sun Belt cities have experienced in recent decades. When times are good, there are a lot of construction and contracting opportunities in the tourist areas up north as people build weekend homes on or near the numerous lakes and entrepreneurs build motels and taverns and restaurants and bait shops and the like to accommodate the weekenders. Additionally, we can expect Milwaukee and Madison's metro areas in particular to resume creeping outward once stable economic growth resumes.

I don't know enough about your expectations to give a wholehearted endorsement of moving to Wisconsin. If you're truly ready for a massive change of pace in your life from top to bottom, Wisconsin seems like just the place to do it. If you're hoping to find all of the good things about California in Wisconsin while leaving behind all the bad parts, I'm sorry to say Wisconsin will probably fall short and you'd be better off sticking to the coast or interior West (Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, etc.).

I could not agree with this post more!

I moved to Brookfield, WI in June 2007. I was born and raised in CA and also went to college and grad school in CA. My entire family lives in CA. I moved to Brookfield because I lived in Brentwood and I wanted something similarly upscale here in WI.

I relocated to accept a promotion with my company that required me to be here where our corporate office is. I had been with the company for 7 years at the time.

Meeting people is not easy here. It appears there are relatively few transplants and thus friendships and relationships are formed and solidified very early. People are friendly, but you will always be viewed as an 'outsider'. Fortunately, you are married. I am not and dating here is not that easy either. People seem to get married much earlier in life than we do in Los Angeles.

I don't regret the move because it has been great for my career and some of my co-workers have adopted me as a surrogate family member, but it was very lonely and can still be at times.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:47 PM
Location: The house on the hill
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We just moved to Wausau, WI in July of this year. We have lived in SoCal (Orange Cty), Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, UT and Houston, TX. Wausau is by far the friendliest place I have ever lived. We hit the jackpot when it comes to neighbors and have made so many new friends. Our children love their new school and new friends. The area is so beautiful with all the leaves changing color, hills, rivers and lakes. I can't say enough about how nice it is. We also got to go to a Green Bay Packer game recently and that was a blast. The tailgating was worth it alone. I might be singing a different tune once I have spent a winter here, but my first three months have been awesome.
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Old 10-14-2010, 05:10 PM
39 posts, read 75,333 times
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Wow. Thanks everyone so much for all your input. I am so curious to visit and research further. California is so bad right now I really wish we were making this decision sooner but I guess it does give more time for more research and possibly for more jobs to come available.
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Old 10-15-2010, 04:37 PM
8 posts, read 12,562 times
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I grew up in Wisconsin and will agree that some small town areas could be more difficult to break in to, but from my experience with people I would pick either Milwaukee or Madison or a new growing area. I would suggest Greenville or Darboy suburbs to Appleton. They are quickly growing and have plenty of newcomers to the state. From my understanding many people living in these areas have tight knit neighborhoods that have little to no family in the area, and therefore spend even holidays together. I think that you would find that all the positives you listed are true and people in WI are friendly and willing to help their neighbors.
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:02 PM
39 posts, read 75,333 times
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Wow such a change from CA that would be! We don't have much family anyway as it is so meeting others is a big plus. Thanks for the info!
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Old 10-19-2010, 01:55 PM
2 posts, read 7,054 times
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I've lived in Wisconsin my entire life and I have to agree pretty much with what all the transplants have said here. I live in the Fox Valley Area (Appleton-Neenah-Menasha-Oshkosh), and while this particular area is becoming more diverse, people who have lived here their entire lives and have that insular attitude have to be dragged kicking and screaming into all of this. IMHO, if you want to move to Wisconsin and be comfortable and not experience culture shock, move to Madison.

Our summers are great and you will find that we never take summer for granted around here. I love that we have all four seasons here. Winters will take some getting used to. I would suggest coming up here for a visit during the winter so you can experience it for yourself.

Unless you have a college degree, you may have trouble finding a job that pays decent. Manufacturing was huge here, but it's on it's way out and it's being replaced by retail and food service jobs. Sales tax for the most part is only 5%, but some counties have a county sales tax on top of that. I'm sure our income taxes are lower than CA's, too.

We have a lot of beautiful state parks in the area and lots of outdoors type activities, too.

And don't be surprised if the locals assume that you're either a San Diego Chargers/Oakland Raiders fan. GB Packer coverage is non-stop, especially in the Green Bay TV market. When my DH moved here from Dallas, people actually said to him, "Are you a Cowboys fan?" My DH doesn't watch football. ;-)
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:06 AM
Location: Eau Claire, WI
37 posts, read 66,724 times
Reputation: 53
Default Come to Eau Claire. ;)

Weather change? Yes. Of course. With the winters, you'll also get gorgeous spring and fall and sledding and skating, etc. etc. There should almost be a Winter Primer for newbies.

Wisconsin has some of the most beautiful outdoor areas -- rolling hills and trees everywhere. Love it.

In Eau Claire, you'd have the growing diversity of a college town and a smaller town yet you have the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) area less than 2 hrs away.

Tough to make friends? Really? Depends on where you live, I guess. I recently visited someone near the mall who said most of the summer is spent with all the neighbors grilling out together. Sounded like fun to me.

After Phoenix, traffic, crime, crowds, and sirens here will be virtually non-existent.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:23 AM
Location: northern Wisconsin
2,747 posts, read 439,299 times
Reputation: 319
I would definitely recommend being sure of the employability situation before moving. I live in northern WI and right now that is the major concern of everyone for many miles around. There are really no jobs available in the smaller rural areas. Most of our jobs were manufacturing based and because of the current state of affairs, many of those jobs are now gone. Also, everyone else is right about the winters. They are hard, but if you like outdoor types of activities like skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing(which in California I'm sure you have not experienced) then the winters will be easier.
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