Perceptions of Wisconsin outside the state include more than a few stereotypes. But those who have moved to the Badger State often have a far different story to tell. In fact, the overall quality of life in Wisconsin was recently ranked among the best in the entire nation.
Here are 10 things people find surprising about Wisconsin after moving here.
- Cold weather doesn’t mean staying inside
It’s no excuse for the fun to stop when the temperatures dip in Wisconsin. There are tons of activities across the state for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Skiing and snowboarding hills come with affordable prices, snow tubing and sledding are alternative and often free options, and when the lakes freeze people go ice skating and ice fishing and visit ice caves.
- There’s no shortage of entertainment
A big part of Wisconsin culture involves its wealth of festivals, fairs, concerts and entertainment venues. In addition to hosting the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest, Wisconsin celebrates wide ranging cultural traditions in dozens of festivals and fairs that take place just about every weekend. Whether it’s the largest U.S. arts and crafts festival, the Midwest’s longest-running Oktoberfest celebration or the world’s largest gathering of recreational pilots and aviation enthusiasts, you’ll find something for everyone here.
- Career opportunities are plentiful
The opportunities for just about any age are endless in Wisconsin. Right now, there are more than 100,000 open jobs on the Job Center of Wisconsin’s website. In addition, WiscJobsForVets.com allows service members and veterans to enter their military occupation specialty code to find a flourishing career that matches their skillset. Madison was recently ranked as the No. 14 “tech town” in the U.S. in a study by CompTIA, and the new WisConn Valley aims to put Wisconsin on the map as the U.S.’ next Silicon Valley. As younger generations break into the workforce, they’re choosing Wisconsin as a destination to start their career.
- Wisconsin offers the best of both worlds
Whether you’re a big city or small town person, Wisconsin has it all. It’s easy to get the feel of a metropolitan area when surrounded by the tall buildings and activities in the Milwaukee or Madison areas. But a much more rural feel is just a short drive away. A short commute is all it takes to go from big city living to peace and quiet near Wisconsin’s lakes, forests or rural areas.
- The quality of Wisconsin’s schools is among the best in the nation
Wisconsin’s education system ranks among the best in the nation with a higher high school graduation rate than most. Wisconsin’s higher education system is one of the largest public higher education systems in America, with the University of Wisconsin system consisting of 13 four-year universities and 12 two-year branch campuses affiliated with seven of the four-year institutions. Eligible veterans and their dependents can pursue their degree with free tuition thanks to the Wisconsin GI Bill. The benefit can be used for up to 128 credits or eight semesters, whichever is greater, and there’s no limit on the number of dependents who can use it.
- Rush hour is a breeze
There are big cities and small cities in Wisconsin, but they share a common feature–short commute times. Our state’s short commute times (just 22 minutes on average) mean you’ll have more time to relax with your family each day, and that alone will make Wisconsin an easy place for you and your loved ones to fall in love with.
- You can do a lot more for less money
In Wisconsin, you have no problem doing more for less. Communities offer experiences that increase livability without breaking the bank. The cost of living in Wisconsin is 6.5 percent less than the national average, according to a study by the Council for Community and Economic Research. State and local taxes are also the lowest they have been in the past 50 years, and groceries, housing, utilities and transportation tend to be cheaper in Wisconsin.
- The traditions and delicacies are endless, and a strong veterans community serves you
Longstanding traditions and a strong sense of community are common in Wisconsin. Tailgating at Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers games is a ritual; Friday fish fries are a delicacy; and supper clubs and bars are plentiful. Then, there’s the fact that people in Wisconsin are some of the kindest you’ll ever meet. It’s not unusual to have the door held open for you everywhere you go, or to have a total stranger greet you and ask you how your day is.
- The landscape is breathtaking year round
From stunning sea caves to towering waterfalls, Wisconsin is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders east of the Mississippi. While Minnesota may boast itself as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Wisconsin actually has more. With more than 15,000 lakes across the state, there are activities taking place year-round and daily at these locations. From fishing, boating and swimming to enjoying scenic views, lake living is a huge part of living in Wisconsin. And the beautiful landscape makes many areas across the state prime destinations for exploring, whether it’s through hiking, biking or kayaking.
- Wisconsin is a veteran-friendly state
The Badger State is a leader in benefits offered to veterans and their families, offering the most programs for veterans out of any state.
Veterans in Wisconsin also benefit from the camaraderie of a strong and active veterans community. With more than 350,000 veterans already living in the state, Wisconsin has earned its boastful reputation as a place where veterans can go to support one another. The County Veteran Service Officers in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties serve as tireless advocates for veterans and their families, connecting them with services, programs and resources. Regardless of which part of the state you’re in—rural or urban–there are hundreds of chapters of Veterans Service Organizations with thousands of members, meaning a support system of people who share many things in common is firmly in place.
To learn more about the many cultural and recreational attributes that help make Wisconsin a great place for veterans and their families, as well as the countless resources and programs available to them, visit InWisconsin.com/Veterans.