The “Cream City” is Wisconsin’s largest city that has won the hearts of many with its stunning lakefront and renowned breweries. But is Milwaukee a good place to live? While the city offers endless opportunities for sports and summer festivals, it also comes with its fair share of challenges like pollution and rough roads. In this Redfin article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee to help you decide if it’s the right place for you.

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Quick Facts about Milwaukee

Median home sale price $219,900
Average monthly rent $1,090
Walk Score 62/100
Transit Score 49/100
Bike Score 58/100

1. Pro: Sports haven

Milwaukee is a sports haven, home to passionate fans and iconic teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, creating a vibrant sports culture. The city buzzes with excitement during games at American Family Field and Fiserv Forum, where thrilling baseball and basketball matches draw crowds from all over. Additionally, Milwaukee’s love for sports extends to its strong support for college athletics, with Marquette University basketball games being major local events.

2. Con: Frigid winters

One of the significant drawbacks of living in Milwaukee is its harsh winter weather. The city experiences heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures that can last from November through March. This can make commuting difficult and outdoor activities less enjoyable. Residents often have to invest in winter gear and snow removal equipment, which can be an added expense. The cold weather can also lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for some individuals, impacting their overall well-being.

3. Pro: Affordable cost of living

Milwaukee offers a relatively affordable cost of living, with a median home sale price of $219,900. Compared to larger metros like Chicago, where the median home sale price is $370,000, Milwaukee stands out as a more budget-friendly place to live. Additionally, the cost of groceries, utilities, and healthcare is lower than the national average, allowing residents to enjoy a higher quality of life without breaking the bank.

4. Con: The summers are hot and humid

Milwaukee experiences hot and humid summers, with temperatures often soaring above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels making the air feel heavier. Despite the sweltering weather, Milwaukeeans embrace the season, indulging in outdoor activities like boating on the lake. If you’re moving to Milwaukee, you’ll want to take time to get adjusted to the summer heat.

lighthouse in milwaukee wi

5. Pro: Access to Lake Michigan

Milwaukee’s location on the shores of Lake Michigan provides residents with easy access to beautiful waterfront views and recreational activities. Bradford Beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball during the summer months. Additionally, the Milwaukee Riverwalk offers scenic walking and biking paths along the water, as well as access to various restaurants and shops.

6. Con: Industrial pollution

Milwaukee has a history of industrial activity, which has led to some environmental concerns, particularly related to pollution. The city’s manufacturing past has left behind areas with contaminated soil and water. While efforts have been made to clean up and revitalize these areas, some residents may still be concerned about the long-term health impacts.

7. Pro: Light traffic

Milwaukee boasts light traffic compared to other major cities, offering residents shorter commute times and less congestion on the roads. This smoother flow of traffic allows for easier navigation throughout the city, whether it’s for work or leisure activities. With less time spent sitting in traffic, Milwaukeeans can make the most of their days, enjoying all that the city has to offer without the frustration of lengthy delays.

8. Con: Rough roads

Milwaukee is notorious for its rough roads, with potholes and uneven surfaces plaguing many streets and highways. For instance, patches of rough pavement along major thoroughfares like Interstate 94 and Highway 41 often test drivers’ patience and vehicle suspension systems.

9. Pro: Summer festivals

Milwaukee truly comes alive during its summer festivals, showcasing the city’s lively spirit. Events like Summerfest, dubbed the “World’s Largest Music Festival,” and German Fest, celebrating the city’s German heritage with music, food, and beer, draw crowds from far and wide. Moreover, festivals like Polish Fest and Festa Italiana highlight Milwaukee’s diverse communities, offering a delightful array of traditional cuisine, music, and entertainment.

10. Con: Some of the highest property taxes in Wisconsin

Milwaukee grapples with some of the highest property taxes in Wisconsin, posing a financial challenge for homeowners and businesses alike. For instance, the city’s property tax rate is 2.53% which is significantly higher than the national average of 0.99%, making it something to consider for new homeowners in the area.

Methodology: The median home sale price and average monthly rental data is from the Redfin Data Center. The Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score data is from Walk Score.

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