From beautiful outdoor recreation opportunities to world-class live performance venues and more, young professionals, retirees, and families take great pride in living on the Fresh Coast. Check out these 12 pros and cons of living in Milwaukee!

Pros of Living in Milwaukee

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Cream City offers many perks to residents that make it a great place to relocate. You’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Milwaukee, a great job market, and delicious restaurants that foodies will love. Check out these pros of living in Milwaukee!

Pro: Strong Job Market

The Milwaukee job market has been steady for years and currently sits at a 3.1% unemployment rate, which is lower than the national average of 3.7%. The job market is projected to grow by 28.3% over the next ten years as big-time employers make their way to the area. Some of the top industries in Milwaukee include medical technology, mechanical manufacturing, and water technology—and the city is home to several Fortune 500 companies like Northwestern Mutual, ManpowerGroup, and WEC Energy Group. Outside of the Fortune 500, you can hunt for jobs in Milwaukee at some of the top companies like Sensient Technologies, Aurora Health Care, and Rockwell Automation.

Pro: Top-Notch Universities

Those looking to further their education or get a career started can find opportunities at several universities and colleges in Milwaukee! Dive deep in interesting fields like biological sciences, marketing, and elementary education at Marquette University. Learn about animation, architecture, and business analytics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prepare for a career in engineering with undergraduate programs like civil engineering, computer engineering, and machine learning at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Earn a degree in nursing, data science, and communication at Alverno College, an all-women school. Study creative writing, social work, and pre-law at the private Mount Mary University. Enroll in one of the top 20 best-value colleges in the country with programs like criminal justice, computer science, and environmental science at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Or explore your creative side with a degree in fashion and apparel design, illustration, and animation at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

Pro: Inclusive LGBTQ+ Community

People from a variety of backgrounds will feel welcomed in the 414 and find others in the strong and inclusive LGBTQ+ Milwaukee community! The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center works hard to enrich lives with programming like the Name Change Clinic, job skills development, and the 50 & Better Dining Club. The City of Milwaukee also created the Equal Rights Commission, made of citizen volunteers, to celebrate diversity in the area and actively combat discrimination. Organizations like the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce strive to promote economic growth in the area with unique events like the LGBTQ+ Entrepreneur Bootcamp, the LGBT Workplace Alliance, and the Business Leadership Academy. Have fun shopping and supporting LGBTQ+ owned businesses in Milwaukee like Sprocket Cafe, North Avenue Market, New Barons Brewing Cooperative, and more. Gather with the Milwaukee community at Henry Maier Festival Park for live entertainment like musicians and magicians at PrideFest Milwaukee, or line the streets to see the annual Milwaukee Pride Parade.

Pro: Variety of Outdoor Recreation

Nature enthusiasts will rejoice at the large variety of things to do outside in Milwaukee that help residents stay active year-round! Head to one of the best beaches in Milwaukee to bask in the sun, play sand volleyball, and wade in the water at Bradford Beach. Adventure outside for a bird-watching session, grab a chair for a summertime concert, and battle it out on the tennis courts at Lake Park. Dig your toes in the sand, hike on the wooded trails, or be active on the several sports courts at Grant Park. Rent a paddle boat for the 14-acre lagoon, fly your favorite kite, ride a bike on the Oakleaf Trail, and launch paper lanterns at the Water Lantern Festival Milwaukee at Veterans Park. If the weather gets bad but you still want to enjoy the outdoors, check out the tropical, desert, and floral domes to see an array of plant life at the Mitchell Park Domes. Or bring your clubs for a day out on the green at one of several high-quality golf courses in Milwaukee like Brown Deer Park Golf Course, Lake Park Golf Course, and the tree-lined fairways at Dretzka Park Golf Course.

Pro: Fun Things to Do for Families

There is a large variety of fun things to do in Milwaukee that will help keep everyone entertained. Check out exotic animals like the green tree python, snow leopard, and vampire bats at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Bask in the beauty of more than 32,000 works of art in areas like the American and Ancient Mediterranean collections, or stop by for seasonal experiences like Larry Bell’s Iceberg at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Dive in to Wisconsin history and look at 200,000 botanical specimens, admire roughly 300,000 images, and attend events like MPM Trivia Night at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Learn about the history of Harley Davidson motorcycles with exhibits like the Experience Gallery, along with special showcases and temporary installations like Mama Tried: Bringing It Together, at the Harley Davidson Museum. Treat yourself to local vendors like Kehrs Candies, The Green Kitchen, and Anodyne or enroll in cooking classes at the Milwaukee Public Market. Spark your child’s curiosity by taking them to pet stingrays at the aquarium, play tic-taco-toe against AI, and strap in for the Flight Simulator at Discovery World. Looking for Milwaukee nightlife options? Step back in time and lace up your bowling shoes to strike your way to victory at the family-owned Holler House. Or hitch a ride on a mobile pub and customize a pub crawl of the Historic 3rd Ward on the Milwaukee Pedal Tavern.

Pro: Variety of Performing Arts

Love live music and theatre? There are a ton of venues for the performing arts in Milwaukee! Bring your kids along to see shows like The Lighting Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, The Forgotten Girl, and An Enemy of the People at First Stage. Enjoy live performances of Xanadu, Spring Awakening, and Candide at the nonprofit Skylight Music Theater. Go out for a night at the opera with shows like Songbird, Wanderlust, and Elixir of Love at The Florentine Opera. Experience the power of theatre in an intimate setting while you watch shows like Laughs in Spanish, The Mountaintop, and Liberace! at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Explore the diverse Milwaukee music scene with acts like The Last Dinner Party, Blue Note Quintet, and Railroad Earth at the Turner Hall Ballroom. Stroll along the Milwaukee River before heading indoors to see unique shows like Dancing with the Stars, music acts like the cover band Get The Led Out, and comedic acts like Fortune Feimster at the Riverside Theater. Laugh out loud when you see touring comedic acts like Chris Barnes and Josh Adams Meyers or watch local comedians perform at The Laughing Tap. Or rock out to live music with thousands of other attendees across 12 stages with nationally touring acts at Summerfest.

Pro: Sports Culture

If there’s one thing residents of this city love to do, it’s cheering on Milwaukee sports teams! Wave your foam finger as the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA) slam dunk their way to victory at Fiserv Forum. Root for the home team Milwaukee Brewers (MLB) as they slide into base at American Family Field. Cheer for the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) or catch a Milwaukee Wave (MASL) game at the UWM Panther Arena. Support the Marquette Golden Eagles (NCAA D-I) women’s volleyball team as they spike, serve, and save the ball at the Al McGuire Center. Drive just 15 minutes to watch the independent Milwaukee Milkmen (AAPB) slug it out with the competition at Franklin Field. Or take a day trip to spectate the Green Bay Packers (NFL) as they throw to the end zone for a touchdown at Lambeau Field.

Pro: Foodie Paradise

Residents have their pick of good places to eat in Milwaukee with a unique restaurant around every corner! Start the day off right with Milwaukee breakfast favorites like The Big Latke Waffle, Pumpernickel Bagel, and Egg & Cheese Bagel Sandwich at Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette. Feast on hamburgers like the Campfire Stack, German Stack, or create your own at Stack’d Burger Bar. Try out unique burritos like the Korean Chicken, The Spicoli, and Bacon Cheeseburger Burrito at Barrel Burrito Company. Eat delicious pizzas like the Calabrese, Margherita, and Genovese at San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana. Bite into Wisconsin Cheese Curds, The Greek Freak Gyro, and Milwaukee Dog at Milwaukee Brat House. Or dress up for fine dining in Milwaukee and enjoy Anchovy-Stuffed Olives, Tajarin Pasta, and Hamachi Collar at Ardent.

Pro: Midwest Beer Capital

With a long history of breweries in Milwaukee, this city has rightly garnered the nickname of Brew City. Milwaukee has been recognized as one of the United States’ best beer cities, and to some is known as the beer capital of the Midwest. Take advantage of the City of Festivals and enjoy unlimited samples of more than 40 sour beers across Wisconsin at Sour Fest. Attend fun events like Drag Queen Bingo or go on a tour while you sip locally brewed beer like the Pumpkin Lager or Riverwest Stein at Lakefront Brewery. Test your knowledge at trivia night and sample delicious beverages like Happy Place, Smile, and Nice Day IPA at Third Space Brewing. Get your fill of fresh beer like the Honey Lager Light, Raspberry Weiss, and Victory Amber at The Brewery. Expand your palette in an urban farmhouse setting with slow-brewed beer like Fudd, My Jerry Angel, and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Rotbier at 1840 Brewing Company. Embark on a tour through underground caves and historic sites while sampling beers at the Miller Brewery. Or head over to Estabrook Park to gulp down local craft beer, hard cider, and seltzers at the Estabrook Beer Garden.

Cons of Living in Milwaukee

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While there is plenty of upsides to life in Milwaukee, there are still some drawbacks to consider before moving there. Here are some cons of moving to Milwaukee.

Con: Bad Traffic

Milwaukee unfortunately ranks as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for traffic. Some contributing factors to the traffic in Milwaukee are its large population size and major chokepoints like the Marquette, Zoo, and Stadium Interchanges. Drivers in Milwaukee also rank first in the country for speeding, which potentially adds more stress to your daily commute. Despite the reputation for having bad traffic and drivers, the average commute in Milwaukee is only around 22 minutes. Residents also take advantage of great Milwaukee public transit options! Get a ride on the free Hop Milwaukee Street Car, or skip cars altogether with Milwaukee Scooters and Bublr Bikes. For longer commutes, check out the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station, and Lake Express Ferry.

Con: High Property Taxes

If you’re thinking about buying a home in Milwaukee, you’ll need to take into account that Wisconsin has one of the highest property tax rates in the country. Though the property tax rates will vary by county, Wisconsin has an average property tax rate of 1.61%, which is the eighth highest in the nation. But even with the property tax in mind, Milwaukee is still an affordable place to live! Residents can expect to pay less for housing, transportation, utilities, and groceries when compared to the national average. The median home price in Milwaukee is $128,300 and the median rent asked is $866, which might make it easier for you to find a home in the area compared to the rest of the state.

Con: Harsh Winters

One thing residents need to deal with each year is the harsh Milwaukee weather, particularly during the winter months. The cold season in Milwaukee typically lasts from November to March, with January as the coldest month at an average temperature of 24 degrees. Residents can also expect around 35 inches of rain and 45 inches of snow each year. Despite the harsh winters, the weather in Milwaukee tends to be milder the rest of the year, with July being the warmest month averaging around 81 degrees. And, while waiting for warmer weather, you can still experience fun indoor things to do in Milwaukee! Take skating lessons and glide across the ice during public hours at the Pettit National Ice Center. Or catch the latest blockbuster films and timeless classics at the Oriental Theatre.


Relocating to Milwaukee? Life Storage has convenient facilities located throughout the city. Rent a storage unit near you today!

This post was originally published 04/23/2019, and last revised on 02/19/2024 with updated information.

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