The pride of Lake Michigan’s western shoreline, Milwaukee is a city steeped in history and teeming with potential. Characterized by one of the most vibrant brewery scenes in the United States, and home to a downtown district that houses protected parks, public markets and the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee serves as a deserving destination for brewers and satisfied residents alike.
The largest city in Wisconsin when it comes to total citizens — and the fifth-largest city in the entire Midwest — Milwaukee appeals strongly to families and established individuals looking for permanent residence. Lakefront areas modernized for foot traffic and a thriving metropolitan culture are made even more attractive by a low cost of living — Milwaukee ranks among the lower third when comparing the biggest U.S. cities’ cost of living averages.
1. Cost of Living in Milwaukee
Living is comparably inexpensive in Wisconsin's most populous city. While individual healthcare, utility or housing costs might rank near, or above, national averages, in general, the overall cost of living in Milwaukee benefits from Wiscon’s lower pricing models.
Reference the information below on potential living costs in Milwaukee:
- Home prices can average $154,879 in Milwaukee, well below the $269,039 national average. After experiencing a 15.9 percent natural home value increase over the past year, that same property in Milwaukee is also more valuable than ever before.
- Rent in Milwaukee will vary according to home type, total residents, relative area and other qualifying factors. In general, rent in Milwaukee can average $950 for a single-bedroom apartment, and as much as $1,698 for a four-bedroom place, according to the same source.
- Utilities on average cost $101.20
- Gas prices in Milwaukee are also on the inexpensive side. Commonly ranging between $2.54 and $2.60 per gallon, Milwaukee still ranks well below the $2.85 per gallon national gas price average.
- A gallon of milk in Milwaukee can cost $3.87 according to a USDA study of retail goods prices; that’s somewhat higher than the $3.13 national average for the same product.
- A carton of eggs from a Milwaukee grocery store can cost $1.93 per 12 eggs. This ranks well below the $2.30 national average.
- A doctor’s visit will vary in cost, as local healthcare practitioners will factor treatment costs, insurance coverage and other factors into final pricing. One doctor’s visit averages $120, according to a resource that averaged pricing from five individual Milwaukee healthcare providers.
- A dentist’s visit in Milwaukee will also vary in price, according to services rendered and a patient’s existing insurance coverage. Some Milwaukee dental visits can range from $124 to $450, with a median average of $292.
No matter where you’re looking to live in Milwaukee, a majority of grocery store items, housing opportunities, medical costs and other expenses are markedly lower than national averages. This means more savings, and more ways to fall in love with a growing lake town.
2. Neighborhoods in Milwaukee
Whether you’re looking to live in the suburbs, or seconds from the action in the downtown district, Milwaukee’s housing situation has something to offer every new resident. Family-friendly neighborhoods feature proximity to local restaurants and welcoming attractions. Prioritize your view of the lake, your relative location to award-winning cuisine or simply your monthly rent or mortgage payments, thanks to a comprehensive Milwaukee neighborhood network that has something for everyone.
Check out the below neighborhood options in Milwaukee:
- Bay View: Only a short distance south of the city itself, Bay View offers everything that a young family or individual could want from a residential experience. Farmers markets and fairs allow you to source local produce from some of the state’s best farms, and a combination of trails and breweries offers respective recreation and entertainment, whenever you’re up for an adventure.
- Historic Third Ward: If you’re someone who wants to stay perpetually close to the action, Milwaukee’s Third Ward is the place for you. Seconds from all of the retail venues, restaurants and landmarks that make the neighborhood iconic, you’ll find yourself just south of downtown Milwaukee. Whether it’s the Milwaukee Public Market or Gas Light Park, you’ll find culture around every corner.
- Shorewood: More removed from the hustle and bustle that can define downtown living, Milwaukee’s Shorewood region offers a comfortable, suburban setting perfect for your entire family. North of the city itself and seconds from the Lake Michigan shoreline, Shorewood offers enviable school districts, hiking trails, community fitness opportunities and a buzzing business district.
- Fox Point: One of the charming, local villages that help to make up Milwaukee County, Fox Point is home to 6,600 satisfied residents, each of whom has access to the lakes, trails and housing varieties that define the area. With Lake Michigan to the east, Fox Point features an eclectic mix of local business and high-ranking school districts, ideal for any family looking to call Milwaukee home.
- Whitefish Bay: Just south of Fox Point, Whitefish Bay offers more than 14,000 residents a town that thrives on its tranquil nature and proximity to Lake Michigan. While homes in Whitefish Bay are more expensive than downtown Milwaukee averages, they allow you to experience the bustling coffee shops, restaurants and suburban life unique to the area.
- Oak Creek: Since its founding in 1955, Oak Creek has existed as a suburban escape for many Wisconsin residents. Widespread employment opportunities, countless avenues for recreation and a variety of welcoming eateries together characterize Oak Creek as a great place to spend an evening, and potentially an even better spot to raise a family.
Whether you’re looking for upscale living or down-to-earth suburban life, Milwaukee’s many neighborhoods and individual districts truly offer something for everyone to love. No matter your intended home price, proximity to local attractions, or total square footage, you’ll find a neighborhood in Milwaukee that serves individuals just like you.
3. Milwaukee Job Market
Financial asset management, truck drivers, healthcare professionals and laborers make up a majority of the employment opportunities available in Milwaukee. No matter your preferred career, you’ll be able to find an avenue for growth and salaried employment, given the comprehensive variety of businesses that call the Milwaukee area home.
The city still maintains a 6.2 percent unemployment percentage, though it’s markedly down from last April’s 16.5 percent.
Reference some of the most popular Milwaukee job types — including associated salary ranges — below.
- Public Health Nurse — $45,000 to $69,000 per year
- Accounting Specialist — $37,000 to 52,000 per year
- Network Technician — $50,000 to $61,500 per year
- Applications Systems Analyst — $63,000 to $80,000 per year
- Deputy Sheriff — $29,000 to $71,000 per year
Top employers in the area include healthcare providers, government and education offices, and a variety of private businesses. Feel free to consult the below details for more information on Milwaukee’s largest hiring businesses:
- Ascension Wisconsin (Healthcare), $28,000 to $390,000
- Froedtert Health (Healthcare and higher education), $27,000 to $110,000
- GE Healthcare Technologies (Healthcare technology), $25,000 to $280,000
- Medical College of Wisconsin (Healthcare and higher education), $38,000 to $126,000
- WEC Energy Group (Energy and technology), $48,000 to $91,000
No matter your preferred profession, there’s an employer in Milwaukee waiting with an opportunity comparable to your skillset and preferred salary range.
4. Things to Do in Milwaukee
There’s absolutely no shortage of things to do across Milwaukee. Whether you’re in the mood to experience rich culinary flavors, calming walks in protected parks, or simply stare out across Lake Michigan, you’ll find opportunities to match your preferences around every corner.
One of the established strengths of Milwaukee’s attractions portfolio is its wide variety of outdoor activities. Along the shoreline and throughout the city’s parks, residents and visitors alike can lose themselves among the forests, lakes and animal species that call this region home. From curated paths to off-trail adventures, Milwaukee’s outdoor activities can keep any resident busy for a lifetime.
- Milwaukee River: More than 104 miles of winding water, the Milwaukee River has seen frequent industrial mills eventually give way to new housing developments along its shores. Today, hiking opportunities abound by its banks, and adventurous individuals and families can even take kayaks or canoes out on the waves to explore portions of the river themselves.
- Bradford Beach: hands-down the best place to be on a summer day in Milwaukee, Bradford Beach offers space for all residents to achieve a perfect suntan, enjoy social time or even turn up the competition with some beach volleyball. You can even sign up to participate in a daytime volleyball competition, held right in front of the day’s beachgoers.
- Lake Michigan: Perhaps the crowning jewel of Milwaukee’s outdoor attractions, Lake Michigan is an absolute sight to behold. Totaling more than 22,400 square miles, Lake Michigan is the second-largest of all Great Lakes. Suffice to say, even residents who don’t get out on the water via boat can still hike around it, swim and fish in it, and stare out across its awe-inspiring sunsets.
- Oak Leaf Trail: More than 125 total miles of trails are available to all residents and visitors at the Oak Leaf Trail, which is a system of associated trailheads throughout Milwaukee. Mostly paved asphalt, these trails are perfect for individuals with younger family members, or anyone looking for a daytime excursion that’s easy on the knees across Milwaukee’s metropolitan landscapes.
- Lakefront Trail: 3.1 miles of trail good for hikers and walkers of all skill levels, Milwaukee’s Lakefront Trail is often forgotten behind larger-scale outdoor attractions. Still, it’s the perfect outing for a quick walk or bike alongside Lake Michigan, taking you right past marinas, natural forestry and more on maintained, paved paths.
While far from a complete list detailing all of Milwaukee’s outdoor activities, the above trailheads and recreational avenues can provide more than enough immediate satisfaction to any new Milwaukee residents looking to familiarize themselves with the natural beauty that the area offers.
Parks and Attractions
Milwaukee also plays host to a variety of thrilling attractions — including a variety of museums and exhibits — that together showcase the city’s diversity and storied past. Check out the below attractions, for even more to do, see and explore in the Milwaukee area.
- Milwaukee Art Museum: Home to a collection of more than 25,000 unique art installations of various sizes and styles, the Milwaukee Art Museum deserves the attention of residents and visitors alike. One of the largest museums in the entire world, it plays host to a constantly-rotating collection of exhibits, displays and showcases from local, national and international artistic talent.
- Milwaukee County Zoo: In 190 acres, the Milwaukee County Zoo serves as the sustainable home for roughly 1,800 total animals that include hippos, zebras, impalas, bongos, camels, snow leopards and more.
- Harley-Davidson Museum: Containing more than 100 years of a storied past within its walls, Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson Museum is an absolute must-see during your time in Wisconsin. The museum pairs a full events schedule alongside immersive riding exhibits, giving museum-goers the chance to become part of the motorcycle manufacturer’s history.
- Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory: Commonly referred to in Milwaukee as “The Domes,” the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory is committed to the preservation of some of the world’s greatest plant species. Floral events and workshops foster community involvement, where visitors can witness curated desert and tropical environments even between sponsored shows.
- Potawatomi Hotel and Casino: An evening of thrill is yours at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, one of Milwaukee’s big-ticket attractions for individuals looking to maximize their nightlife. Whether you’re interested in slot machines, table games, or simply high-grade hospitality, you’ll find a place to stay and a place for fun in the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino.
- Discovery World: A state-renowned science and technology center, Discovery World introduces Milwaukee visitors to a variety of immersive, science-based exhibits. Curiosity in all forms — from visitors of all ages — is encouraged at Discovery World, where an aquarium, automation center, wind energy exhibit and more provide a day’s worth of fun indoors.
- Pabst Mansion: Built in 1892 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, Pabst Mansion serves as both an architectural icon and open museum in Milwaukee. Both self-guided and guided tours can introduce visitors to a time gone by, thanks to a mansion that helps preserve the legacy of the Pabst family, house inhabitants, and the history that characterizes the grounds.
A day of fun is easy to come by in Milwaukee, thanks to a strong assortment of local attractions that includes casino life, historic tours, scientific discovery and more.
Food and Drink
After a day exploring the best attractions that Milwaukee can offer, we can understand if you’re ready to sample — or dive into — Milwaukee’s renowned food scene. Whether you’re in the mood for upscale eating or laid-back cuisine, there’s an eatery for everyone to enjoy in the Milwaukee area. Consult the below dining options, for even more information on the fun and the flavors that typify some of Milwaukee’s unforgettable dining experiences.
- Milwaukee Public Market: Home to a wide variety of assorted vendors, Milwaukee Public Market is the perfect place for undecided diners. Whether you’re in the mood for margaritas or local brews, fresh seafood or cheeses, this public food district has something for everyone. Milwaukee Public Market even offers culinary classes, for anyone looking to further their skills in the kitchen.
- 414 Bar and Kitchen: Visitors and Milwaukee residents alike favor 414 Bar and Kitchen, for its dedication to powerful flavors and upscale environment. Whether you’re in the mood for a to-go coffee or a chef-prepared meal, this eatery is prepared to deliver culinary memories.
- 4th Base Restaurant: As one of Milwaukee’s oldest sports restaurants, 4th Base Restaurant knows a thing or two about what customers want. That’s why they stick to a menu that highlights local favorites. Without a menu, visitors create their meal with the meat and seafood options available daily.
- Allgauer’s in the Park: Located in the Milwaukee Hilton Garden Inn, Allgauer’s in the Park offers a unique blend of high-end dining in a relaxed ambiance. Whether you’re in the mood for a perfectly-seasoned steak, freshly caught seafood or a selection from their deep cocktail menu, you’re in for a culinary privilege whether you’re dining out with friends or simply stopping by the lobby.
- Amy’s Candy Kitchen: Home to a variety of gourmet candy apples and other delectable assortments, it’s absolute candy heaven once you walk through the inviting front doors of Amy’s Candy Kitchen. From chocolates and hard candies to birthday gifts, gift baskets and seasonal surprises, Amy’s Candy Kitchen is your go-to Milwaukee destination for any sweet treats.
A complete array of local flavors means that Milwaukee’s restaurant portfolio can satisfy virtually any palate. From seafood to steak, locally-sourced produce to after-dinner candies, Milwaukee’s restaurant scene is easy to call home, and even easier to enjoy.
5. Things to Know Before Moving to Milwaukee
Milwaukee is a city characterized by unique features, just like any other destination in the U.S. Before you finalize your move to one of Wiscon’s best cities, consider taking the time to consult the items below, for a few details worth knowing before you commit.
- Milwaukee’s continental climate lends itself to frequent temperature fluctuations, where temperatures can reach 81° Fahrenheit in the summer and chilly, negative temperatures come wintertime.
- Though many Milwaukee residents drive themselves, their MCTS public transportation system is county-wide, and allows residents to travel to popular destinations all over the city.
- Milwaukee takes its brews seriously, with a wide variety of restaurants, bars and microbreweries across the city offering their unique take on brewed beverages.
- Lake living has its perks, allowing residents the opportunity for frequent walks by the water, and water recreation during summer and fall months.
- One of the more affordable cities in Wisconsin, Milwaukee allows residents to keep incomes high and average expenses low.
- Milwaukee loves its fish, so much that the city often maintains an unofficial fish-eating tradition each Friday.
- Frozen custard is a regional dessert favorite, and the amount of locations offering the treat certainly supports its popularity.
No matter how eager you are to move, the process itself can be anxiety-inducing. At the same time that you’re emotionally preparing to leave one aspect of your life behind, you need to help coordinate the movement of everything you and your family owns. That’s why a variety of storage options is crucial to the moving process: storage units can help you set aside possessions during your move, to declutter the process and ensure you only have essentials on-hand after your move is complete.
Storage locations in Milwaukee include:
Storage spaces are protected and temperature-controlled, keeping your items safe until you need them.