What's it like to live in Milwaukee, WI?

Andrea Tritschler

Profile written by local expert:

Andrea Tritschler

Historical architecture stands as a tribute to Milwaukee's past, while the metro area vibrates from the construction of a changing skyline and with the energy of its nearly 1.6 million residents. Cranes, which have become common fixtures on the skyline, are a picture of Milwaukee's modernization. Young people are drawn to Milwaukee's blue-collar roots, relatively low cost of living and exciting new development.

It's no surprise the residents are passionate about having fun. Milwaukee has a bustling nightlife, award-winning restaurants, lakefront museums, and a thriving music and arts scene. History and tradition are embraced, celebrated with German fare, craft beer, Friday fish fries and an array of cultural events. Milwaukee hosts dozens of festivals each year. Summerfest, the city's biggest, spans a week and a half and welcomes hundreds of bands.


U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is ranked:

#86 in Best Places to Live

#96 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Milwaukee, WI Quick Stats

  • 1,575,907

    Metro Population

  • $51,040

    Average Annual Salary

  • 55.5° / 40.0°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 37.7

    Median Age

  • $215,833

    Median Home Price

  • 34.8 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.5%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $885

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 23.0 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Milwaukee, WI?

Sports fandom is a year-round endeavor, with two major league sports teams calling the metro area home. Milwaukee Brewers' baseball games start after a fan tailgate in the parking lot of Miller Park, and the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team draws big crowds to every home game.

The region also encompasses an impressive arts scene, as showcased by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

Meanwhile, a big source of pride in the area is beer: Milwaukee is home to the MillerCoors Brewery and numerous local beer producers.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Milwaukee, WI.

What's the cost of living in Milwaukee, WI?

The cost of living in Milwaukee is lower than in other major U.S. metropolitan areas. 

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.7 /10

How we calculate this.

Milwaukee offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Milwaukee, WI.

What's the weather like in Milwaukee, WI?

On the shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee treats residents to glorious views and inconsistent weather. Winters are long and cold, but residents embrace the weather and go ice skating or sledding. During summer and fall, hiking and boating are popular pastimes.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.0 in


3.6 in


4.0 in


3.2 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Milwaukee, WI?

The primary option for public transportation is a slow and often unreliable bus system operated by the Milwaukee County Transit System. Commute times can be long, and certain routes stop running before midnight, which can be inconvenient for passengers.

Many residents in this area walk or bike when the weather permits. Generally, most residents drive, and parking and traffic in the city proper isn't outrageous.

Milwaukee makes it easy for residents to get away. There is the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, as well as the Milwaukee Intermodal Station serviced by Greyhound and Amtrak.

Commuting in Milwaukee, WI

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

23.0 minutes

3.6 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Milwaukee, WI?

An influx of young people drawn to Milwaukee's developing arts and craft beer culture has kept the population's median age relatively low. What's more, more than half of residents are not married. The suffering public school system and high crime rates have pushed some families to the more expensive and conservative suburbs of Mequon and Wauwatosa, among others.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Milwaukee as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.