Pair a low cost of living with a high quality of life, wrap yourself in beautiful rolling hills and endless stretches of forest and farmland, and lay out a picnic of craft beers and cheeses to truly enjoy Wisconsin living. But the allergy-prone or those after warm temperatures year-round may find this state challenging to live in.
Thinking about really getting into craft beer or cheese making? Tired of your football team losing and wanting to jump wagons for the championship? Maybe you’re looking for excellent universities or ample outdoor recreation—and Wisconsin is calling your name. Before making the move to the Badger State, you should weigh the major pros and cons of Wisconsin living.
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Pro: Low cost of living
Wisconsin, like many other Midwest states, has a relatively low cost of living. Where the national average cost of living index (COLI) is 100, Wisconsin’s COLI comes in at a modest 96.4.
The lower rates show up in everything from housing costs and rent to food. The average home price for 2022 has been $269,000 while the average home in the US is priced at $392,000. Compare also the rent for a two-bedroom apartment, which in Wisconsin averages around $856 per month and in the US averages around $1,295 per month.
Your monthly grocery shops will come in just under the national average at $285 per month. And Wisconsin residents enjoy this lower cost of living while still maintaining salary averages near the national average of $67,521! On average, the Badger State sees annual household incomes near $61,500.
Con: Allergy hell
That low cost of living may mean nothing to you if you suffer from ragweed allergies.
The northern half of Wisconsin has regrown lush forests after 100 years of conservation efforts and may not rile up your allergies too much. But beware of the southern half of the state if you’re allergy prone. Not as forested and with the ideal conditions for ragweed growth, southern Wisconsin can really wreak havoc on your sinuses.
It’s so bad around the
Madison area that the city has been ranked the #10 worst US city for fall allergy sufferers. But hey, if the ragweed is getting you down, you could always cruise upstate for a bit of relief!
Pro: Fresh air, fun, and football
If you can battle seasonal allergies, Wisconsin state can offer loads of fun things to do from outdoor recreation to food festivals and fan-favorite sports.
17 million acres of forest in total and 6 million acres of forest open to the public allow Wisconsin residents to enjoy hiking, camping, ATVing, cross-country skiing, hunting, snowshoeing, and more! There are
four Wisconsin national parks and over 1,000 miles of shoreline to explore between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Outdoorsy types will relish in the ample beauty of natural Wisconsin.
Would you prefer a beer and a sausage over a hike in the woods? No problem! Wisconsin has tons of German- and Polish-inspired festivals throughout the year that lean into German and Slavic fare and fun. Check out one of the Badger State’s own
Oktoberfests or dance the day away at
Perhaps you’re more of a sportsman? Aside from the solid fan base of collegiate sports, Wisconsin has three major league sports teams in basketball, baseball, and of course, football. Where would Wisconsin be without the Green Bay Packers’ “cheeseheads”?
Con: Bad public transit, worse roads
Though generally regarded as having a progressive, involved state government, Wisconsin has been withholding attention towards public transportation and road conditions.
Combine the US’s general neglect of implementing public transportation with Wisconsin’s underfunded Department of Transportation and you get a lack of comprehensive public transit throughout the state. Most of your getting around will be left to personal vehicles or ride-sharing services, though there is
access to daily intercity buses in some areas of southern Wisconsin.
The roads you’ll be traveling on, too, are in need of some attention. Wisconsin is the second worst state in the country at fixing and maintaining roadway conditions. 55% of the major streets are in disrepair. Basic
liability car insurance rates in the state are higher than the national average, too, so you may be shelling out more in premiums.
Pro: Cheese, obviously
If you’re severely lactose intolerant, this pro may not appeal to you so much. For the rest of you, though, Wisconsin is the cheese fan paradise.
Known around the world as America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin is the #1 producer of cheese and the #2 producer of both milk and butter in the US. Creameries can be found all over the state and specialty cheeses and butter are in your local corner mart. From the funkiest,
stinkiest Wisconsin cheese varieties to mild
Colby or fruity and nutty
BellaVitano, you’ll never get bored at the cheese tasting.
Wisconsin has also more robustly gotten behind the farm-to-table food scene in its urban areas, so you can enjoy the farm-freshness from the city! This may be ideal since the farms care for 1.2 million cows that produce 52 billion pounds of manure annually, and the closer you are to all of that…well, it can get stinky.
Con: Summer mosquitos and winter blues
One of the oft-heralded charms of Midwestern states is the experience of all four seasons. This stays true in Wisconsin, however, there are some seasonal extremes you should keep in mind before making the move.
Though summertime daily temperatures typically stay in or around the 70s, the air can be pretty heavy and humid—which means mosquitos. Your outdoor summer activities are likely to be punctuated with fly swatters and bug bites, so this may not be the best state for you if you’re particularly averse to insects.
Wisconsin winters can get harsh, too. High daily temperatures consistently hover around the 20s and 30s with low temps dropping to 0°F or below. Residents see an average annual snowfall nearly doubling the national average at 48 inches a year, which is great for snow sports folks but potentially debilitating for those used to warmer weather.
Pro: High education standards
Throughout the state, Wisconsin residents have access to quality schools for their children or themselves.
Most of the school districts across the Badger State receive at least a “B” ranking and many reach into the “A” grade. You’ll also find 31 public universities, many of which are highly rated and sought out. One particularly, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, is ranked #1 best college in the state, #12 best public school in the US, and (sorry parents) #3 top party college in the US.
Con: High rates of alcoholism
The bronze spot for top party college can create a fun atmosphere for college-aged students, but it can also carry over to an unhealthy hindrance in their adult lives.
As of 2021, Wisconsin had snagged the title of “Drunkest State” with nearly 25% of its adult population admitting to excessive drinking. This binge drinking atmosphere is found to be the worst in the
Green Bay metro area but affects most of the state. In fact, Wisconsin ranked as the 8th highest state for alcohol-related driving deaths.
If you’re prone to addictive behaviors, some areas of Wisconsin may not be the best environment for you. Do some research on the specific area you’re considering before making the move and decide if the atmosphere you can reasonably handle.
Pro: High quality of life
Rounding out the list of the “highs” of Wisconsin is a positive one—a high quality of life! In general, Badger State residents enjoy a high quality of life that comes from low unemployment rates, low crime rates, a variety of available lifestyles, and plenty of access to Mother Nature’s wonders.
The unemployment rate in Wisconsin sits just below the national average (3.5%) at 3% of the population. You’ll also experience lower than average crime rates for both violent and property crimes, 3.20 per 1,000 residents and 14.70 per 1,000 residents respectively.
As a Wisconsin resident, you can choose the lifestyle that suits you best! If you’re a city-dweller, you’ll fit in with the 1.5 million residents in the
Milwaukee metro area, live the good life in Madison, or gloat from championship stands in Green Bay. Small towns or coastal areas more your speed? Check out the
Door County peninsula, venture north into the Wisconsin forests, or settle in among the 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline.
Con: Lacking diversity
On the whole, Wisconsin is less diverse than the US average. 84% of the population identifies as white, but the composition of races and ethnicities of each community depends on where you are.
Milwaukee, for example, has the largest Black population in the state with 75% of Wisconsin’s African American population calling this city their home. Cities like
Kenosha are also more ethnically diverse, but beyond these places, it’s a relatively homogenous population.
Is Wisconsin a good state to live in?
All things considered, yes, Wisconsin is a good state to live in. That doesn’t mean, though, that it will be the perfect place for everyone. There are definitely some drawbacks worth taking into account while you consider the benefits, too.
Wisconsin is a great state for:
Families with school-aged children or college students
However, Wisconsin may not be a great option for you if you suffer from seasonal allergies, can’t stand the cold and snow, or are prone to addictive behaviors.
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