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Old 03-07-2009, 03:07 AM
 
Location: Southside Corpus Christi
65 posts, read 270,941 times
Reputation: 79

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Hello everyone,

I've been lurking on this board forever and a theme that seems to come up regularly is that of Wisconsinites being disinclined to make friends with newcomers. I love everything I read about Wisconsin (quality infrastructure, good schools, distinct seasons, reasonable housing costs, natural beauty, community- and family-minded people, a million outdoor recreation opportunities) but I have to admit that I'm nervous about how often I hear that it's hard to make friends if you're from "away."

Honestly that's one of the reasons I *want* to move to a place like Wisconsin; we're a civilian family who's lived on an overseas military base for six years, and we've had quite enough of temporary friendships with people who are only around for a couple of years. We want to live somewhere with a more stable population where we and our kids can put down roots. But are we setting ourselves and our kids up for frustration and loneliness if despite our best efforts no one really wants to go beyond casual acquaintanceship and become real friends?

I should add that we're from Washington state where all our family still lives, so we wouldn't have any relatives nearby.

We're a get-involved kind of family (church, Scouts, PTO/PTA, etc) and I love the idea of meeting similar families and building friendships to last for years--but are we going to feel shut out and like we're intruding if we're the new kids on the block and we join everything? I totally get that when you're the new person sometimes you have to make more of an effort and not expect people to come beating down your door, but I have heard people on this forum say that they did everything right (be friendly to people, stay active, don't compare your new home to your old all the time, invite people over, etc) and still no dice.

I respect that different places have different cultures and I don't judge; I just want to be informed as best as possible so as not to have unreasonable expectations.

Does location make a huge difference? We'd be living in extreme SE Wisconsin--Pleasant Prairie/South Kenosha--so as to be within commuting distance of the Great Lakes Naval Station for my husband. I like to think that this area would have more people from Illinois and so on and maybe be less insular than small towns in the North?

Any comments would be greatly appreciated and read with interest.

Last edited by team_evans; 03-07-2009 at 03:15 AM..
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Old 03-07-2009, 06:00 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
6 posts, read 23,128 times
Reputation: 13
I wouldn't let these worries stop you from moving to southeast Wisconsin. As you mentioned, there are so many positives that outweight the negatives. We moved to SE Wisconsin last year, and are still having difficulty meeting people. I think getting involved in things is the way to go, and you just have to do your best to get to know people. Some people will reciprocate, and others will be less interested in you because they already have their own network of friends and family.
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Old 03-07-2009, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Mequon, WI
8,158 posts, read 20,751,389 times
Reputation: 5123
Quote:
We moved to SE Wisconsin last year, and are still having difficulty meeting people.
When I moved back to Milwaukee after living in Boca and Louisiana I didn't know anyone b/c I had been gone for so long. I was completely starting over. Within 6 months I had a whole group of friends which tended to be all immigrants from overseas like Africa and Europe. I'm a very open out going but laid back kind of guy so it's very easy for me to meet people. It's one of those things that if your not good at it you just have to suck it up and start talking to new people and eventually you will meet new people. I just started striking up conversations with random people and became friends. I joined a softball league without knowing anybody, I used to go snowboarding and before you knew it you were exchanging numbers with other people like you that wanted to go snowboarding also. I met new people at upscale lounges, bars, restaurants, social gatherings,charitable events, festivals.

So bottom Line I would say yes we are open to "out of towners" however I just talking about my time in Milwaukee it might be different in a small town upstate or it might not.
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Old 03-07-2009, 11:03 AM
 
Location: Carthage, MO
83 posts, read 213,287 times
Reputation: 73
Check out the thread "why Montello, WI is so mean". It has a few eye openers.There are areas in WI that a just fine, and then you have areas like Montello.
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Old 03-07-2009, 04:05 PM
 
Location: kronenwetter
537 posts, read 1,816,457 times
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We moved to WI from Chicago in 1987. No regrets. We made friends very quickly. Our kids were young and we got involved with the schools and sports. A lot depends on your attitude. We always were friendly and never acted like because we were from a big city we knew more. We respected people and always offered to get involved in church fests etc. People love having new volunteers.
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Old 03-07-2009, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Two Rivers, Wisconsin
12,766 posts, read 12,547,251 times
Reputation: 12821
You'll be fine! Alot of people in SE Wisconsin commute to Illinois for work (Abbott Labs, Baxter, the Navy Base).

I came to Wisconsin from NE Illinois and my experience has been great! Before I left Illinois I had a contract job with Manpower at Abbott's and 1/3 of my dept. was from Wisconsin!

You sound positive, upbeat, being in SE Wisconsin will not be an issue whatsoever and getting down to Great Lakes is not a problem. I used to live very close to the base in Park City, and I think living in Wisconsin is a great choice!
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Old 03-08-2009, 06:07 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 93,487,657 times
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When you hear one or two people say it's hard to meet new people, you wonder if it's them and not the place. When you hear lots of people say it, then there's probably something to it, notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary from others. I have spent extensive time in Wisconsin and have found the population, on the whole, to be a bit standoffish. I've been to places where it's easy to talk to people; I've also been to others where they would sooner you just went back to wherever you came from. Given your concerns, it's kind of paradoxical that your best chance of "breaking in" to social circles is to move some place with a more transient population, such as the Milwaukee area, Madison, La Crosse or Eau Claire. I think the latter two are transient enough because of the universities (not just the students, but faculty and support staff also come and go from time to time) that impenetrable "cliques" don't get the chance to form, yet stable enough that your kids can have basically the same group of friends from the time they arrive until the time they graduate.
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Old 03-08-2009, 09:14 AM
 
2,133 posts, read 5,433,507 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drover View Post
When you hear one or two people say it's hard to meet new people, you wonder if it's them and not the place. When you hear lots of people say it, then there's probably something to it, notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary from others. I have spent extensive time in Wisconsin and have found the population, on the whole, to be a bit standoffish. I've been to places where it's easy to talk to people; I've also been to others where they would sooner you just went back to wherever you came from. Given your concerns, it's kind of paradoxical that your best chance of "breaking in" to social circles is to move some place with a more transient population, such as the Milwaukee area, Madison, La Crosse or Eau Claire. I think the latter two are transient enough because of the universities (not just the students, but faculty and support staff also come and go from time to time) that impenetrable "cliques" don't get the chance to form, yet stable enough that your kids can have basically the same group of friends from the time they arrive until the time they graduate.

This is very true.

We have been here almost 3 years and the friends we have are all transplants. None of us have been able to make friends with the natives as they simply aren't interested in anyone who isn't from here. It's odd, but it's the way it is.

I think you will find many transplants in SE WI and should do fine once you get settled.
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Old 03-08-2009, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Wonderful Wisconsin!!!
375 posts, read 1,236,230 times
Reputation: 140
We transplanted to northern WI last year. Small town with some other transplants but the majority of people go back 2 or 3 generations. We have had no problems becoming friends with both the locals and the newer families. We have gone on short trips with both locals and transplants.
I know part of it is our attitude. We are big on joining and reaching out to others. We also know not to act like we are better then them. Two of our kids were in high school and they also made tons of friends.
My husband helps people relocate and he said that he finds the majority of people have had no problem fitting feeling comfortable in their WI communities.
I'm sure you will be fine. We love it and our new friends too!
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:13 AM
 
Location: kronenwetter
537 posts, read 1,816,457 times
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Kate you are so right. I know plenty of people who have transplanted here and our friends with the locals. I have seen towns elect officials and mayors and many of these people have only been here for 5 years.
I think so much depends on attitude and how much you are willing to do. If you sit home and don't join things then it would be hard to make friends. We came and coached our kids sports teams, joined a church, offered to run a stand at the church festival. Organizations love new blood. We hosted exchange students and then I helped recruit new families. Met a lot of people that way.
It is hard to get people to volunteer, so if you are new and you jump in you can make tons of friends. Our phone rang all the time with requests for help and many of these people are still good friends.
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