Pros and cons of living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The city of festivals has a lot to offer residents. But, if you’re planning to move here, you should know what makes it spectacular, among other things. So, what’re the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee?

Beyond the basketball, baseball, and beer that Milwaukee is famous for, the city has other positives. They include diversity, walkability and transport options, economic opportunities, and affordability. But there are negatives such as extreme winters, property taxes, violent crimes, and traffic.

Regardless of the negatives, Milwaukee is lovely. Unfortunately, most non-residents misunderstand the city. But Milwaukee is as great as its name, which comes from an Algonquian term and means “pleasant land.”

Pros of Living in Milwaukee

Every city has got something going for it, and in Milwaukee’s case, residents can brag about many things. These include:

1. Affordable Cost of Living

One of the things you’ll love about this city is the relatively affordable cost of expenses. Despite being a commercial hub in the region and a place with multiple opportunities, its cost of living is 84.9%, below the 90.9% Wisconsin average and 100% national average. Thus, if you’re looking to cut costs, moving to Milwaukee might be ideal for you.

When considering the cost of living, it’s necessary to consider housing as most households spend most of their income on it. In Milwaukee, accommodation is cheap. The typical value is just $167,600, lower than the national average by more than $100k. The percentage of renters and homeowners in the city is almost the same too. Homes within the city are cheaper than homes in the metro areas. The western part of Milwaukee is where you’ll find the most expensive homes, but these are still cheap compared to other cities in America.

2. Diverse Cultures and Ethnicity

Milwaukee is the 35th most diverse city in America. Every cultural and ethnic group is well represented here, which is a big positive for it—the diversity influence several aspects of the city, such as its food scene. In Milwaukee, you won’t just have access to beer, cheese, and bratwurst. You’ll find all other cuisines such as Venezuelan, Mexican, Serbian, Thai, sushi, etc. In addition, there are over 15 farmers’ markets within the city where you can get food, arts, crafts, and several other things.

Even though Wisconsin itself isn’t exactly the most diverse state, Milwaukee is very diverse.

3. Several Opportunities and Fair Economy 

The city is the commercial and industrial hub for the Great Lakes region which means its economy is quite strong. However, the unemployment rate was 6.2% for July 2021, slightly above the national average. So, the job market and projections aren’t up to the national average, but they only fall short somewhat in most cases.

The important sectors of its economy include insurance and finance, manufacturing, electronics, power and energy, food and beverage production, medical technologies, transportation, information technology, and water technologies. There are enough major employers here too.

However, the median household income is $41,838, which is significantly lower than the national average.

4. Walkable with Several Transport Options

Milwaukee is the 15th most walkable large city in the United States. There are over 40 neighborhoods within the city that are very walkable which means they have at least a 70/100 walk score. Some like Juneau Town even have up to 95. You can easily get around the downtown part of the city on food by using the Skywalk System. On average, It has a walk score of 63/100, transit score of 48, and bike score of 59. But they don’t reflect the quality of transport options here. The public transit system in the city is a significant perk. There are multiple options for residents. Milwaukee County Transit operates the streetcar system known as the HOP and the Bus system for the city. It’s common to find city buses with bike racks.

The city also has a bike-share program known as Bublr Bikes, which has 100 stations in the downtown part of the city. In addition, the Lake Express Ferry transports you to Michigan and Muskegon, while Amtrak trains can get you to Minneapolis and Chicago if you’re traveling to other cities.

Cons of Living in Milwaukee

Although Milwaukee has its perks, there are also attributes that residents complain about. The most critical ones are

1. Extreme Winters

The winter season here isn’t something to look forward to. The temperature gets extremely low with a lot of snow. Daylight hours in the winter are also significantly shorter.

2. Property Taxes

It seems Milwaukee county wants to get as much as possible out of residents for buying cheap houses. As a result, the average property tax rate in the city is 2.53%, the second-highest in the whole state. You can always avoid property taxes by not owning a property, of course.

3. High Rates of Violent Crimes

One of the things Milwaukee residents have to complain about is the rate of violent crimes. Generally, the total crime rate is 51% higher than the national average, while property crime is 21% above the same average. But all these pale in comparison to the violent crimes.

The rate of violent crimes in Milwaukee is an outrageous 251% above the national average. That’s a concern for anyone living or planning to live in the city. But, regardless of the prevalence of violent crimes, the city is safer than 5% of US cities. There are still some safe neighborhoods in it, and crime is reducing.

4. Traffic Challenges

Despite the exceptional public transit options in the city, traffic is still a significant issue. Milwaukee is among the top 100 worst cities to drive in the US. The rush hours can be pretty terrible, and so is during festivals. Therefore, you should leave your car at home during the festivals such as Summerfest because the congestion will be unbearable. You can track traffic in the city using a platform like, so you’ll know the best time to leave the house and the best routes for you. In the absence of traffic, the average commute time in Milwaukee is shorter than that of the US.

In Conclusion

Milwaukee is a fantastic city with a low cost of living, among several other benefits. But its blemishes can also prove challenging for many people. However, if you can look beyond the challenges, you’ll find it to be one of the best cities in the US.