Author Topic: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?  (Read 7471 times)

laughingmanzero

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Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« on: July 30, 2014, 12:22:30 PM »
Me and the SO are planning to visit Madison, WI to scout it out for the possibility of moving there next year in June-July. We're trying to find out what it's like out there, what's to like, what's not to like, and so on. Our biggest concern is about the Winter months, and of course, finding a job that allows us to continue advancing our careers and savings.

We've about had it with anything and everything California. Buying a decent home out here in Orange County, or really, anywhere out here, is not going to make much financial sense unless we move to an area we really don't like such as some of the LA areas. The traffic and everything else just has led us to being far to disgruntled to be happy with where we're at. It makes saving difficult, and makes me unhappy when I see how much goes to rent each month.

The SO is an absolute cold/stormy weather freak and I've spent most of my vacations seeing family out in Oconomowoc and Milwaukee so I have an idea of just how cold it will get. I've never had the chance to stay more than two weeks at a time though, so it will definitely be an adjustment going through a full winter.

I don't have any work lined up in Madison yet, since the potential move date is over a year away; I"m currently a Sr. System Admin at a medium-sized firm, and do IT consulting on the side to several other large companies. I've seen countless articles that Madison is a pretty good up-and-coming spot for someone in tech, but I don't know what the reality is actually like. I'd like to play it safe and check it out when I'm visiting in November to see just what Madison holds in my line of work. I'm also planning on spending the next few months testing the waters to see what's available out there, but the tricky part is figuring out what competition and avg. salary is for my market.

It'd be great, if not ideal, to continue running my own business out there, but for the sake of stability, I'll most likely have to get a regular 9-5. I don't think it would be realistic to expect to find businesses willing to hire a consultant like me for anywhere near the same rates I get out here in Newport Beach. Any thoughts on the tech sector out there?

The SO is in the legal field as a paralegal in litigation/patent areas but she should be able to reapply her skills to a different sector of law if the need is there.

Also, no kids. No plans for at least a few years since we're more in exploration/career mode and won't consider kids until we really find where we want to stay locked down in the world. Maybe it's Madison? ;)

Any Mustachians have thoughts on Madison, WI as a place to live and work? Issues some of you encountered after moving there? Any long time residents have guidance or input on where to live and work out there? If it becomes a long term residence for us, any opinions on the outlook for rental properties in the area? Thank you for your time and guidance.


senecando

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 12:45:06 PM »
Monarda (a user here) has rentals. Haven't seen her around lately. There won't ever be a lack of people looking to rent, but we've been getting a ton of new, gigundo apartment buildings.

I'm a CA transplant and love it here. You'll get tired of the winter, but that's to be expected and it's part of the fun. I got tired of the "lovely" California weather, too.

I've found it an incredibly easy place to live--happiest I've ever been. If you decide to look for a place, I'm happy to provide my best neighborhood map.

monarda

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 02:20:06 PM »
Hi there,
Madison is great. I've lived here for 20 years and have had rentals for 13 years.
Sorry, we're all full, but if you have questions about neighborhoods or places to live in general, I'm happy to try and answer any of them.  I work at the university.

AverageMarriedDad

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 02:39:27 PM »
I've lived in the Madison area since birth (minus a couple years in NJ before we moved back), so 38 years. It's liberal, bicycle friendly, and has many great things to offer for the outdoors person. Staff in my office play ultimate frisbee, are learning to sail, several bike into work, one rock climbs, a couple of Ironmen triathlon finishers, several hunters and fishermen. The tech industry I don't know that much about, but with the UW, Epic and other incubator type pseudo-private/public entities (WID MIR on UW Campus, Research Park) I would think there are some options.

senecando

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2014, 02:48:45 PM »
Also, a bit of cross posting. This is happening tonight at 6 or 630 at Vilas: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/meetups-and-social-events/madison-wi-mayjune-meetup/new/?topicseen#new

laughingmanzero

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2014, 03:00:13 PM »
Awesome, glad to see you like it after coming from Cali. If you have the map you mentioned, that'd be a great help. I'm trying to figure out the differences between all the little burbs around the center of Madison so we can get a better idea of where to focus our search.

Monarda,

Same question goes to you! Any insight you might have on Madison and differences in areas around it would be greatly appreciated. We're definitely going to rent the first 6 months when we get out there next year so we can explore and figure out what daily life is like;  when spring rolls around, if we feel its the place for us, we'll end up buying something out there. Are the areas around that are less than 30 minute commutes pretty decent places to live as well? West side, east side, etc..? We do want to stay away from the frat houses and that's about all we know so far lol. Thank you for your help.

I definitely love the fact that it looks like a bike friendly city. I may finally be able to convince the SO that biking is possible!

monarda

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2014, 03:02:56 PM »
Thanks for the heads-up on the meetup. How long do you think you'll be there?
I usually am at work until at least 7, then we have some cat-sitting duties to take care of tonite....

monarda

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2014, 03:14:00 PM »
laughingmanzero,
The different parts of town have quite different characters. East side is more dense, more walkable, more hippie, can be a bit noisier. West side is quieter, lots are a bit bigger, young families with small children. I live on the near west side and have rentals on the east side and north side.  In the burbs you'll find newer houses, bigger lots, some have a lot of character, some are sprawly. It just depends what you're looking for! Certain parts of town are definitely better for bike commuting than others. Here is a bike map.  Bike lanes and bike paths are abundant, but not everywhere. Hills can be tough in the winter (I live at the top of a hill on the west side). 

Same goes for public transit, some neighborhoods are better than others. If you want to bus and would like a choice of more than one bus per hour, that will certainly narrow down your choices.  So if you could describe yourself a bit, give us a sense of what kinds of priorities you have (urban/suburban, bus/bike/walkable), I could probably be more helpful!

DecD

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2014, 03:18:32 PM »
I started my career in Los Angeles.  Despite the good salary, the COL there was out of control and I stayed for just 3 years.  Loved the experience, but didn't want to settle down there cause dude, housing.

We moved to Indiana.  Cost of living was awesome there.  If you prioritize saving and lowering expenses, getting out is SoCal is a great idea.

I'll just say...it's not how cold the winter is, it's how LONG it lasts.  We got snow in April every winter we were there.  That was hard to take.  By march, I'm ready for warm weather!

However, I hear Madison is a great town.  I have friends who love it there.  I think you guys are super smart to be consciously choosing where to settle based on the lifestyle you're after.

senecando

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2014, 03:19:16 PM »
Thanks for the heads-up on the meetup. How long do you think you'll be there?
I usually am at work until at least 7, then we have some cat-sitting duties to take care of tonite....

Hmm. I was thinking 730 or so. But that's just me

seattlecyclone

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2014, 03:38:25 PM »
I did my master's degree in Madison. It's a fun town. There isn't a very big "tech industry" as such. Epic Systems is the main private sector tech employer in the area. Google and Microsoft and a few other companies have small satellite offices. That was really about it when I moved away in 2009. However the university is huge, the state government is also headquartered there, and there are plenty of other businesses. That should add up to plenty of systems that need good administrators.

I lived within 20-minute walking distance of campus when I was a student there. A large portion of the housing in that radius is full of students and maybe not as quiet as you might hope, but there are big exceptions to that as well (particularly a bit south of campus). The central area of the city is definitely bike-friendly, though I walked most of the time.

Trudie

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2014, 04:07:08 PM »
Some good recent observations here.  I worked in Madison about ten years ago and lived in a suburb.  I think the observations of walkability and bikeability are good.  There's a decent transit system.  Lots to do.  Great farmer's market.  Good park system.  If you want to grow your stache my advice is to live where you can take advantage of these bennies because... 

Madison also has drawbacks.  If you own real estate, RE taxes are high.  Accordingly, property is expensive.  The beauty of Madison is that there are lakes everywhere, but also parts of the city where you can find yourself landlocked and in need of a car.  The few times I've been back to visit recently I've felt like the traffic on the beltway has been insane.  There's nowhere for it to go and finding alternate routes can be an issue.  It felt a bit to me like the place had become an outpost for people wanting to escape Chicago.  If you find Big college sports a drag, you will not be happy there on a football weekend.

Still, parts of it are lovely.  Just depends on what sort of lifestyle you want to have.

laughingmanzero

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2014, 10:17:22 AM »
These are all great contributions. Thank you for the help so far everybody.

Assuming that we really like where we're at after renting for 6-months and going through our first real winter, we'll definitely be buying. We do plan on buying a home that's not outside of our means, but one that we can also enjoy for a good price. Coming from California and seeing the amazing homes in Madison area (dream homes to us actually) available for the half the price of what we see out here, well, it's quite shocking to be frank. I still can't wrap my head around the prices on some of these homes, but I do understand there will likely be a matching drop in avg. salary and other drawbacks to account for. That being said, one of my other goals is to cut our current housing costs of $2000/mo. to something less cringe-worthy at about $1000, so I'm sure we'll be looking at something more conservative, yet comfortable for us. I did notice the taxes as Trudie mentioned but it is what it is.

monarda,

We definitely like the idea of being closer to the center of the city since it allows us to walk/bike everywhere very quickly, but honestly, if the commutes by car are less than 20-25 minutes from most of the surrounding suburb areas, that will be just fine for us. We can bike during the warmer times of the year and take the car during the colder months. We are looking for something with some decent space between us and our neighbors, and preferably, a fence so we can let our great dane outside to run around out back. If it doesn't have a fence, we've already considered the costs of having to install one and that is fine with us. So that basically rules out most condos/apartments.

monarda

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2014, 10:54:58 AM »
Unless you're going completely across town and during the rush 'half-hour', pretty much any of the burbs to downtown is about a 20ish minute commute by car.  That's Middleton, Verona, McFarland, Sun Prairie, Waunakee. Actually, Waunakee would take a bit longer because you have to go around the lake. West side to Sun Prairie is 30 mins with no traffic. Several people I work with bike from Middleton or Verona to the University. That's about a 30-40 min bike ride.   From your description, you sound like you might be a west-sider, so you might take a look at what's available in Middleton. Closer in to downtown, check out the Westmoreland or Dudgeon-Monroe or Sequoya or Nakoma neighborhoods, southwest of downtown.  Don't rule out the east side, though. There are plenty of fenced yards in the Atwood neighborhood, but the yards are certainly smaller.  Before I bought my house, I rented a 2BR apartment in a small building (4plex) off of Kendall. There are quite a few small houses for rent in that area.

Within the confines of the "beltline" (HWY 12/18),  $1000 per month will rent you a pretty nice 2BR apartment in a two family house. You can find something for less, but it might not be so nice. Rent is very roughly $1 per sq ft per month.  We charge $1000-1100 for our 2BRs. $1300 rent will start to get you into a small 2BR detached house, but those can be as high as $1800 per month or more.  Outside of the beltline the prices are a little lower and as you'd expect, you get more space per dollar.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 11:03:01 AM by monarda »

laughingmanzero

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2014, 11:04:39 AM »
Very good information, we'll check these places when we visit. We set dates for 11/20-12/4 so we can fit in Thanksgiving with the family in Oconomowoc and get cheap airline prices :). We'll be spending about 6-7 days in Madison to explore as many areas as we can and check out some of these neighborhoods. Very excited to see what food and beer offerings Madison has as well hahaha.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2014, 01:22:44 PM »
I am in between Milwaukee and Madison and want to get the hell out of here the sooner the better! The taxes suck and one more winter like last year and I am gone for sure. But then again I was born and raised here so its different! Great place to raise a family and the people are friendly but COL is not cheap by any means and again the WINTERS! maybe i am just getting old !! Good Luck to you!!

jennifers

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2014, 10:31:40 PM »
I live in Madison and work in software development.  I've lived a few other places (Seattle, Portland, San Jose), and Madison is by far the most livable.  I live and work downtown so my commute is about 1 minute (walking).  There can be a lot of traffic and road construction to deal with downtown (this summer has been particularly terrible).  I'd suggest looking into a house near the bus line just to have other commuting options.  Parking at my office building is almost 200$/month, so it's a huge savings to take the bus vs driving.   

Madison has some great food and beer offerings and some are very reasonably priced.  :)


naloj

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2014, 12:35:48 PM »
I lived on Willy St (Williamson St & S. Baldwin) on the Isthmus and it was pretty awesome.  It was equidistant from the East/West sides of town, not as busy as downtown, far away enough from campus, and obviously close to the lakes.  The Willy St. Coop is right there for groceries (where Chad Vader youtube video was shot if you remember that), lots of bars & restaurants if that's your thing, etc.

mjs111

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2014, 01:31:20 PM »
I went to college in Madison and loved the town.  The downtown/campus is very walkable and bikeable.  Real estate on the isthmus is pretty expensive but gets cheaper the further out from the downtown/campus area you get.

Mike


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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2014, 05:42:57 PM »
I could use winters that were a little shorter than Wisconsin, but the people I know who live in Madison seem genuinely happy. Rarely get out there myself.

COL in WI will be better than CA, but you could also do a LOT better elsewhere.

intergoob

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2014, 11:02:52 AM »
Lived in or around Madison my entire life (Mid 20s).

I love it here.  There are a bunch of different parks and trails for running/hiking.  The farmers market is great.  There is a nice foodie and beer culture.  In general, it's also a very safe city for it's size. 

The big industries/employers here are the University, State Government, Epic, insurance and medical.  Finding a job is not too difficult if you are a marketable.  But I'd definitely note that wages are likely not going to be comparable to what you are used to.


Russ

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2014, 04:28:44 PM »
Madison rocks. Favorite place I've lived so far and last winter (my first, and supposedly the coldest in a while) wasn't that bad. Kinda long I guess, but we got April snow in Ohio too so that's not too unreasonable to me. From what I gather, finding a job is easier than many places.

I'm out in Sun Prairie since it's closer to work, so not Madison proper, but if you need a place to stay or bikes to ride or just somebody to show you around I'd be happy to hook you up. We can try and put together another meetup that week too if you're interested.


aeal121

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Re: Moving to Madison, WI - Will it help us grow our Mustache?
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2014, 10:21:23 AM »
I agree with several things that are said here about Madison being a nice place to live. We moved here for the hubby's job and and have lived downtown for 3 years now. Very good in many ways for a Mustachian lifestyle, especially since biking is a breeze and outdoorsy activities are plentiful. Lots of hippie DIY enthusiasts, and local food/organic/CSA options here, too. It is a nice, medium-sized city in great proximity to other cool places (MKE, CHI, MSP).

Winters get LONG....when they are still dragging into May it gets really annoying, but the worst part for me is in December/January when it is dark when you leave for work and when you get home again in the evening. I grew up in the south so it has been an adjustment for me.

Home prices are reasonable here, but property taxes are HIGH! With the local government locked down by far-left, tax-happy officials, there is not much that can be done to rein that in. But we do contact our Alderman regularly about it. It is difficult to find other fiscally-conservative folks around here. I hope to find some more at Mustachian gatherings.

Best of luck as you decide where to land.