Beer. Brats. Bob Uecker.
If you like good brews, tasty meats covered in cheese, and enjoy rumbling around town on a Harley, consider a move to Milwaukee.
You can go out for some of Milwaukee’s famous bratwursts and then go windsurfing out on Lake Michigan. It’s home to the historic Third Ward, the Milwaukee Public Market, and the birthplace of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s “3:16” tagline.
Learn everything you need to know for moving to Milwaukee
In this guide we’re going to cover how to:
- Find a place to live. We want you to find a place to live that fits your budget and needs. We’ll do this by setting a budget and then looking at individual neighborhood costs, commute times, walk scores, crime stats, neighborhood demographics, nightlife and lastly, some resources to find available apartments or houses.
- Get everything moved. Oh yeah, this is our specialty here at moveBuddha. We’ll give you the full breakdown on how to actually lug all your worldly possessions into that new Milwaukee neighborhood.
- Settle in and make friends. Lastly, we’ll break down a bunch of resources you’ll need to get fully set up post move. Things like car and voter registration and some good resources to find things to do and make some new friends.
Quick Milwaukee Snapshot
- Milwaukee is the 31st most populous city in the United States as of 2018, with a population of 595,047.
- With the average 1 bedroom rent in Milwaukee price of $1,078 per month, Milwaukee has the 29th highest rent amongst major cities in the United States.
- it’s the 24th most expensive metropolitan area in the United States. In relation to the city’s relatively large population, that’s really good! This means that the average apartment in Milwaukee is a pretty solid deal. In Milwaukee, $1,100-$1,300 would be a sweet spot for your target budget.
A few things to find that perfect Milwaukee neighborhood
Milwaukee has 11 neighborhoods, and it’s often referred to as the “Big City of Little Neighborhoods.” Like in all cities, each neighborhood has its own vibe and character, along with rental prices. This website does a really great job of describing each neighborhood.
To help you budget for a Milwaukee apartment, we compiled data from this rental hotspot map of the city to demonstrate how much each region will run you.
- In the Historic Third Ward, East Town, and Brady Street you’re looking at spending between $900 to $1,500 for a one bedroom, or $1,600 to $2,500 for a two bedroom.
- Bay View and Riverwest would be less per bedroom, around $900-$1,000.
- The farthest neighborhoods from the Third Ward and Milwaukee Bay—Avenues West/Marquette, Menomonee River Valley, Walker’s Point/Fifth Ward, and Wauwatosa, are places where you can find an apartment for $500 to $900.
So let’s get this out of the way now: if you’re on a tight budget, look west to Wauwatosa or maybe Bay View. If cost is no object, look to the Historic Third Ward.
Where Are People Like Me Living?
Everyone wants to live near people they have things in common with. Esri.com makes finding those places easy with their zip Tapestry tool which shows you the dominant demographic groups of any neighborhood.
For instance, plugging in the zip for the Historic Third Ward (53202) shows you a cross-section of the three largest demographic groups in the area. It’s pretty amazing.
Next: consider your commute to work
That perfect neighborhood could have a horrible commute. Be sure to figure out how you’ll get to work before you sign a lease or a mortgage.
Here’s a breakdown of getting around the city:
If you want to have a car…
Milwaukee is super accessible by car. Due to well-planned and maintained roads and two interstates, travel is easy (for an urban area).
The average commute time is 22 minutes, which is the THIRD LOWEST of all America’s metro areas. By comparison, Atlanta is more than a half hour!
As usual, peak rush hour times are between 7 and 8:30 a.m. for traffic headed into the city and from 4 to 5:30 p.m. for traffic leaving downtown.
Below are some of the major choke points throughout metropolitan Milwaukee:
- The Marquette Interchange (I-94 and I-43 downtown)
- The Stadium Interchange (U.S. 41 and I-94, 5 miles west of downtown)
- The Zoo Interchange (I-894 and I-94, 8 miles west of downtown)
- The Hale Interchange (I-894 and I-43, 11 miles southwest of downtown)
- The Layton Interchange (I-894 and I-94, 5 miles south of downtown)
Though it doesn’t have its own subway system like New York, Milwaukee does have a extensive bus network.
Below is a snapshot of Milwaukee’s bus map. For instance, if you live near Marquette University and need to get to the US Bank Center downtown, you could take the 30 bus on a straight shot! Here is a huge guide and full map of Milwaukee’s public transit system.
If you plan on commuting to Chicago, it’s about a 90-minute Amtrak train from Milwaukee. The Amtrak station is located right in the middle of downtown at the Milwaukee Intermodal, so it’s super convenient.
Bottom line: with a score of 49, the public transportation system is good, but still not great. It can get you almost anywhere inside the city within an hour. If you’re not planning on having a car, you’d better get used to taking the bus, because you’ll be taking it lots of places.
Why Take the Bus When You Can Walk?
In terms of walkability, Milwaukee is pretty good! With a walk score of 61, it’s a bit better to walk than it is to take public transportation.
Downtown Milwaukee is very walkable, from the Upper East Side down to the Historic Third Ward.
Below is a walk score map, similar to the rent price heat map we talked about earlier. The greener the better. If you don’t like walking, stay away from the yellow when looking for neighborhoods to live in. Good thing for you Milwaukee doesn’t have any red!
Milwaukee’s Beer-Broiled Nightlife
We’ve talked about Milwaukee’s beer and brats. If you’re downtown and looking for a good time, check out Milwaukee Brat House, between Avenues West and the Lower East Side. They’re so good, The President had to try some!
And if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, check out Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge. Remember: What happens in the Velvet Lounge, stays in the Velvet Lounge.
So beer has lots of calories right? If only there were a way to burn off those pesky pounds while you drink! Well, look no further than Milwaukee’s Pedal Tavern. It’s a 16-person bicycle-powered party on wheels! For $25 a seat you get to ride around Milwaukee and stop at a couple of the city’s best bars on the way!
Who doesn’t love Happy Hour deals? Here’s a list of Milwaukee’s best Happy Hours. Check out AJ Bomber’s “2 for 1 Short Rails” and $2 tall boys from 2pm to 6pm Mondays through Fridays.
What else does Milwaukee have to offer?
The Harley-Davidson Museum. This place was built to thrill you with the history of life in the fast lane.
Miller Park is the home of the Milwaukee Brewers, and also some of the best beer and brats in town. You can also ride down Bernie Brewer’s slide in the outfield! Yeah, it’s just as much fun as it sounds.
Finding the safest Milwaukee neighborhood
Milwaukee scores a 3 on the crime index. For reference, 100 is the best.
Here’s a crime hotspot map. The bluer the better.
Consistently safer areas include Bay View, Eastside, and the Third Ward.
The Fifth Ward/Walker’s Point are areas to be a little more vigilant, especially at night.
Like any city, Milwaukee has it’s crime issues but it’s a relatively safe city. As long as you don’t go seeking trouble, you should be fine.
Milwaukee Apartment Hunting
Yeah, it gets cold. In January the 24-hour average temperature will be 22 degrees.
In fact, Milwaukee has the second-coldest average annual temperate of the 50 largest cities in the United States. So you’ll definitely need a heated apartment.
Surprisingly, the highs in July can get above 90 degrees! You should probably look into a place with AC, though it isn’t as vital as heating.
Laundromats aren’t hard to come by, but if you’re planning on going without a car, a washer/dryer is a must-have. You don’t want to be walking around the neighborhood carrying dirty undies.
When budgeting for an apartment, you’ll want to think about what your average gas bill will be for heating your home.
Where to look?
Here are some good websites to find apartments. Use the sort functionality to drill down on your desired number of bedrooms, budget, etc.
It might surprise you, but Craigslist is actually a very useful site for finding apartments (especially when owners/landlords are desperate to rent out).
Note: This DOES NOT mean you should trust Craigslist implicitly. Here’s their own guide on how to recognize potential scammers.
Wisconsin Rental Law
Here are some links to things you should know before moving so that a landlord can’t hoodwink you.
- Wisconsin Required Landlord Disclosures
- Wisconsin Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- Wisconsin Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent
- State Landlord-Tenant Laws
Yeah, finding an apartment in Milwaukee is very competitive
Milwaukee’s rental market is just about as competitive as it is throughout the country.
The Average rent in Milwaukee has decreased by 0.4% from 2017 to 2018, compared to a 2% increase in the United States as a whole. In the past year, Milwaukee’s vacancy rate fell half a percent to 3.66%, compared to 6.32% for the nation as a whole.
Essentially, Milwaukee rent is high and not lowering fast, but an influx in new developments is helping to increase vacancy and lower prices.
Planning your move
There’s a couple of things to keep in mind with respect to your timetable in finding an apartment. Leases usually begin on the first day of the month, so you should start looking two weeks before the start of the month you want to move in at the very latest.
Milwaukee is home to Marquette University, so leases in the Avenues West area will be ending in the spring, probably May 31st. If you can, the ideal time to start looking for apartments there is in April or early May, and be ready for a June 1st move-in.
Additionally, Milwaukee’s winters are very cold and bring lots of snow. Try to avoid moving during the winter or you might get snowed out.
At the same time, beware a spring move-in: potholes will be everywhere because of the melting snow.
Finding a House Near Milwaukee
Just in case the city life is too much fun for you.
The nicest suburb of Milwaukee is Whitefish Bay. It’s about a 15-minute drive from the city, but keep in mind that this trip can be longer during rush hour.
Like most fancy suburbs, it has beautiful Tudor style homes and large yards. It’s also technically a “village,” so that’s neat.
You can look for homes in Whitefish Bay here.
How to get all your stuff moved
Now for the real fun, moving!
If you want to get an idea of the cost of different moving services, check out our move price estimator.
If you’re moving from afar, you also may want to have a glance at our moving out of state guide.
A few other things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Moving Permits: moving to the city is always difficult because of thin roads, sidewalks, and constricted space.
Make it easier on yourself and get single day parking permission. It’s free, you just have to suck it up and call 414-286-8350.
For a moving van, you must provide an RPP permit number, the street address where the van is to be parked, the license plate number of the vehicle, the state of issuance, and a description of the vehicle.
If you’re moving outside of the city limits, check with your local town hall or parking authority for street parking requirements.
Everything you need to do post move
- Voter Registration: you can find the steps to register to vote here.
- Driver’s Licenses: If you’re from out of state, you must transfer your out-of-state license to the Wisconsin DMV within 60 days. You can find out how to do that here.
- Vehicle Registration: find the steps for registering your vehicle here.
- Trash & Recycling: The city handles trash and recycling. Collection days vary by neighborhood. You can look yours up by address here.
- Ways to meet people: there’s always tons of ways to meet new people. One great way is to use meetup.com. The /r/Milwaukee page on Reddit is also a great place to search for upcoming events and find lesser known tidbits and activities.