A Comprehensive Guide to Moving to Wisconsin
An affordable cost of living, resplendent natural beauty, exciting cities, and down-to-earth people: that’s what Wisconsin is known for across the country.
Located in the U.S.’s Midwest region, Wisconsin, otherwise known as the Dairy State or Badger State, provides a safe and quiet haven for lovers of expansive landscapes. It’s the state for people looking for all the benefits of the city without any of the noise.
Wisconsin’s natural beauty, reasonable cost of living, and safe community attract plenty of new residents every year. But moving to Wisconsin or any new state is a big decision, and so it’s best to have the full picture before organizing your belongings and scheduling state-to-state transportation.
Read on for a comprehensive guide on all things Wisconsin, so you can make an informed decision about moving to this state.
Climate in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a continental climate with frigid winters and hot summers. The state is in a significant spot, nestled right between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, and a few notable rivers, including the Saint Croix and the Mississippi River. Since it’s surrounded by water, the climate is quite humid, and it can get sweltering during the summer.
On average, the winter low in Wisconsin is 10°F and as summer high is 85°F. Occasionally, temperatures reach 100°F. During these high temperatures, residents and tourists love to vacation in the Great Lakes area.
A Wisconsin resident sees around 188 days of sun, 34 inches of rainfall, and 48 inches of snowfall. Areas near the Wisconsin River and Lake Superior may get “lake-effect snow” with around 160 inches of snowfall.
With its unique geography, living in Wisconsin means you’ll have a few natural disasters, such as flooding, tornadoes, blizzards, strong winds, and more. Wisconsin’s most common natural disasters are tornadoes, with an average of 20 tornadoes per year. But, the state is prepared to handle these risks with plenty of safety measures in place.
Wisconsin has a mix of high and low taxes on various items. In general, state taxes are quite high, sitting at 13%. This makes Wisconsin 5th-highest state for taxes in the country. Its sales tax paid to the state is a base of 5%, and when it’s combined with other taxes, it ranges between 5 to 5.6%.
Income taxes in Wisconsin are progressive and come in four brackets between 4 to 7.65%. But Wisconsin offers low property taxes, so buying a home and establishing residency is cheaper than in other states. Wisconsin’s property tax is 1.94%, so for a $250,000 home you pay around $4,775 in tax.
Wisconsin Cost of Living
Wisconsin residents like the affordable cost of living in the Dairy State. The national average cost of living is measured by an index of 100. States with a cost of living over 100 have higher prices, while those under 100 offer a more affordable living.
Wisconsin has a 90.9 cost of living index, indicating that living in Wisconsin allows you to enjoy big-city amenities at a low cost. Except for healthcare, all other items, such as groceries, transportation, and utilities, are cheaper.
For housing, the median listing price of homes in Wisconsin is $231,300, much lower than the national average of $291,700. Renting in Wisconsin cities and towns is also affordable. Many places have cheap rent between $750 and $1,000.
Most residents of Wisconsin love living in this state because it offers an affordable life and plenty of recreational activities.
Healthcare in Wisconsin
With Wisconsin residency comes a stable and quality healthcare system. Overall, according to the US News World Report, Wisconsin is consistently ranked #15 for healthcare compared to the rest of the country. If we look at the details, it is #15 for healthcare access, #10 for healthcare quality, and #25 for public health.
In terms of its healthcare system, Wisconsin provides various programs that aim to include all residents in a healthcare plan and provide adequate coverage for all. Depending on your income when you move to Wisconsin, you have the option of enrolling in several programs, such as:
- BadgerCare Plus: a healthcare program for low-income people from 0 to 64 years old.
- ACCESS: a healthcare tool for those who live in Wisconsin to check if they are eligible for health insurance and apply for benefits.
- Wisconsin Medicaid: a government program that pays for medical services of low-income, aged, and disabled residents.
- SeniorCare: a Medicaid program that offers those who are 65 years old and older prescription drug assistance.
- Crisis Services: a program designed to promote mental health awareness and help those who suffer from mental health diseases.
- Wisconsin Well Woman: a program that provides low-income women with regular health screenings, including for breast and cervical cancer.
In general, if you’re a 30-year-old person with a partner and two children, you can get a Bronze health plan with lower coverage at around $1,044, a Silver plan with medium coverage at $1,311, and a Gold plan with wide coverage and higher premiums at $1,279.
Wisconsin Job Opportunities
Wisconsin has a consistent unemployment rate of 3.9%, with some ups and downs due to recent economic downturns. But, the state offers a variety of jobs in the dairy industry, tech companies, and more. Jobs are abundant, especially in the big cities and the capital city, Madison.
The top industries in America’s dairyland that offer jobs are agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, and life sciences. The median income in the state is $61,747, with the top 7 employers being:
- State of Wisconsin
- Johnson Controls
- Tyco International Plc
- Northwestern Mutual
- Harley Davidson
Education in Wisconsin
People move to Wisconsin not only for the abundance of jobs and excellent healthcare, but for the high-quality education. Wisconsin ranks #8 for the best education in the country, #8 for Pre-K to 12th grade, and #15 for higher education for both public and private schools.
Some of the best colleges in Wisconsin include:
- University of Wisconsin – Madison
- Marquette University
- Edgewood College
- Lawrence University
- Milwaukee School of Engineering
The top public school districts with great schools are:
- Elmbrook School District
- School District of Whitefish Bay
- Mequon-Thiensville School District
- Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District
- Shorewood School District
When you move to Wisconsin, you’ll have so much to see and do. There’s plenty of sightseeing and activities for new residents and tourists. Here are a few of them!
- Cave of Mounds: A natural limestone cave that has visitors from all over the world.
- Taliesin Preservation or the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center: a building constructed to mirror the landscape of the Midwestern plains.
- Historic Cedarburg: A historic town that attracts many tourists due to its charming, vintage look.
- Historic Third Ward: A historic neighborhood in Milwaukee that offers shopping, a public market, and several theaters.
- State Fair: Visit the annual fair of the Badger State and witness the state’s culture, fun activities, and delicious food, such as the fish fry.
- Wisconsin Dells: A city in South Wisconsin with an astounding number of amusement parks that you can visit and have fun with the whole family.
- The Four Seasons Island Resort: A unique hotel and resort with a rich history.
When you’re in Wisconsin, state parks are a major attraction for families. There are plenty of natural sites and hiking trails peppered around:
- Amnicon Falls State Park
- Copper Falls State Park
- Devil’s Lake State Park
- Newport State Park
Soak in the history of Wisconsin by visiting any of these engaging museums.
- Portage WWII History Museum.
- EAA Aviation Museum
- Milwaukee Art Museum
- Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
- Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame
Best Places to Live in Wisconsin
If you’re ready to move to Wisconsin, you won’t regret it. You’re guaranteed exciting places to visit, numerous job opportunities, and plenty of activities to experience. Before you move, do some research by visiting the best Wisconsin cities and towns.
Don’t forget to visit the Wisconsin DMV to update your driver’s license or Class D, so you can take your car and see all these places.
With a population of 25,000, De Pere is considered the best place to live in Wisconsin. The town has a strong community with plenty of activities to do. It’s a 15-minute drive to Green Bay, so it’s close enough to the city that you can commute to work or school while enjoying a quieter and more affordable lifestyle.
With these characteristics, De Pere is the perfect area for young professionals and families.
Eau Claire, a bigger city with around 68,000 people, is the state’s 8th most populous city. The city’s name comes from the French phrase “Clear Waters,” and Eau Claire has a river that runs right through it. The city is home to the University of Wisconsin and is becoming the fastest-growing city in the state.
It has quality education institutions and good healthcare, so it attracts young families and students.
Located in Northern Wisconsin, Green Bay has a large population of 105,000 and is close to the Western shore of Lake Michigan. Midwesterners call Green Bay “Midwest’s dream city” because of its safety and affordability.
It has a rich sports history and many activities, including going to the beach, shopping, visiting numerous resorts, and plenty of hiking trails.
A small town in the rural areas of Wisconsin, Hudson has less than 14,000 residents. Most of them are families that own or rent beautiful, historic houses. Many tourists visit Hudson simply to gaze at the architecture and shop in the small niche shops.
Due to its small size, housing costs are higher in Hudson, but it’s worth it for its beauty and high-quality schools.
A tiny town in Southern Wisconsin, Elm Grove has only 6,200 residents, and 95% of them own their homes. Public schools are fantastic, so Elm Grove attracts families and is thus known as more of a suburban area than other places in the state.
The expensive housing is the only downside to this town, but it’s all worth it because the education children receive here is top-notch.
Now that you know all about Wisconsin, moving there might feel like exactly the right decision. From its employment opportunities and booming economy to some of the most beautiful natural spots in the country, Wisconsin has something for everyone.
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