Moving to Waukesha

Step into the charming city of Waukesha, WI, a place where small-town warmth meets vibrant city life. This delightful urban oasis offers an array of amenities - a feast for outdoor enthusiasts and culture buffs alike. From bustling farmers markets to a dynamic art scene, Waukesha is sure to captivate your heart and spirit as soon as you set foot within its friendly bounds. But, moving to a new city is a bold adventure, laden with tasks and decisions. Fear not, because we've crafted this comprehensive Waukesha relocation guide to make your journey an enjoyable one.

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What to Know Before Moving to Waukesha

1. The Perfect Blend of Town and Country

Waukesha offers the perfect blend of small-town ambiance with the conveniences of modern city living without the overwhelming hustle and bustle. Its vibrant downtown area offers a variety of public spaces, art galleries, local businesses, and restaurants. Meanwhile, the city's outskirts are dotted with farmland and open spaces, offering a tranquil retreat from urban life.

2. A City of Springs

Did you know that Waukesha was once dubbed as the "Saratoga of the West?" Back in the 19th century, the city was famed for its mineral springs boasting healing properties. Though the craze for spring waters faded over the decades, you can still experience this piece of history by visiting local spots like Frame Park's Waukesha Springs Historic Landmark.

3. It's also Known as "Guitar Town"

This one's for the music lovers! Waukesha is the birthplace of Les Paul, the inventor of the solid-body electric guitar and multi-track recording. So, it's no wonder the city center is adorned with ten-foot, artistically designed guitars. Add to that, the city hosts a weekly outdoor concert series in the summer, aptly named "Friday Night Live". It's safe to say Waukesha seriously strums to its own beat.

4. A Foodie's Delight

For all the food enthusiasts out there, Waukesha offers mouth-watering fare to cater to a variety of tastes. From classic American diners serving juicy burgers to upscale restaurants offering gourmet cuisine, there's something to satiate every palate. Don't forget to check out the Friday fish fry, a Wisconsin staple!

5. It's Surrounded by Nature

Don't forget to pack your hiking boots! Despite being a city, Waukesha is in close proximity to a number of nature trails and state parks. The Glacial Drumlin State Trail spans 52 miles, offering picturesque views and a great opportunity for cycling, running, and hiking. The Minooka Park also boasts a beach, picnic spots, and a dog park, making it a well-loved recreation spot.

6. Waukesha's Wacky Weather

One of the more unique aspects of living in Waukesha is experiencing all four seasons, sometimes all in one day! Yes, you heard it right! It's not uncommon for a sunny, clear day in Waukesha to suddenly turn into a snowstorm, or vice versa. It's a local quirk that residents have come to laugh -- and layer -- for.

In conclusion, Waukesha, WI is a city with a rich history and a vibrant community. It holds much more than meets the eye, offering residents a unique blend of urban and rural, history and novelty, melody and tranquility. For those considering the move, rest assured that the springs city holds a plentitude of charm and surprises waiting to be discovered.

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Pros and Cons of Living in Waukesha

Pros of Living in Waukesha

Low Crime Rate

Waukesha boasts a lower-than-national average crime rate, providing residents a sense of safety and security in their daily lives. This means you can comfortably raise a family, take late-night strolls, or leave your car parked without constant worry.

Quality Education

The city offers quality schools and education opportunities, including the highly reputable University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. If you have children, you can rest assured they would be given a good education in this city.

Outdoor Activities

Waukesha is heralded for its natural beauty, offering a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy, from walking trails in Minooka Park to water activities in Fox River. Whether you like hiking, boating, or simply enjoying nature, Waukesha is a great place to live.

Strong Economy

The local economy in Waukesha is strong, with several successful businesses and industries operating in the area. This not only provides a stable job market but also contributes to the overall wealth and prosperity of the city.

Vibrant Arts Scene

Home to several theaters, galleries and a thriving live music scene, Waukesha offers a wide range of cultural experiences for residents. The city hosts Art Crawls five times per year, which draw artists and enthusiasts from around the region.

Cons of Living in Waukesha

Relatively High Cost of Living

Compared to other parts of the state, Waukesha has a slightly higher cost of living. This includes housing, groceries, healthcare, and other essential services, which can put a strain on your monthly budget.

Harsh Winters

Waukesha is located in the Upper Midwest, which means it sees its fair share of cold and snow in the winter months. This could be a downside if you're not a fan of snow shoveling or cold temperatures.

Limited Public Transportation

While metropolitan areas commonly offer extensive public transportation options, Waukesha's options are limited. This means a car is practically a necessity unless you live and work in the city center.

Increased Traffic

With its growing population, Waukesha has seen an increase in traffic congestion. This could mean longer commute times, especially during peak hours.

Limited Diversity

Although Waukesha has a welcoming communities, its population lacks diversity compared to larger cities. This could mean fewer opportunities for cultural exchange and learning.

Modern day picture of Waukesha, WI highlighting pros and cons of living in Waukesha, WI

Is Waukesha a Good Place to Live?

Waukesha, WI is a great place to live because of its small-town charm, rich history, fantastic school system, and numerous recreational activities. It boasts a vibrant arts scene with numerous galleries, theaters, and festivals, and its close proximity to Milwaukee means you are never far from a big city's amenities. Nature lovers will also appreciate the abundance of parks and green spaces, and Lake Country offers great outdoor activities for people of all ages.

What Is Waukesha Famous For?

Springs of Waukesha

At one time, Waukesha was often referred to as "Spring City" due to the vast number of natural springs found throughout the area. These springs were believed to contain healing properties and attracted so many tourists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the city even bottled and sold the water!


In a gigantic salute to the music industry, downtown Waukesha was transformed into what is now known as 'Guitartown'. Life-sized Gibson Les Paul guitars, creatively hand-painted by local artists, are displayed throughout the city, honoring Les Paul, the music legend who was born and raised in Waukesha.

The Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum

Documenting the far reaching history and heritage of Waukesha County, this museum is a treasure trove of local lore and artifacts. Not just a museum, the Waukesha County Historical Society also offers a range of educational programs, preserving and promoting the area's rich history and heritage.

Waukesha's Friday Night Live

Downtown Waukesha bursts into life every Friday evening with the city's Friday Night Live event. Local musicians from a wide range of genres perform at multiple venues across the downtown area from June through October, turning the city into a lively, music-filled party hub.

Capital building of Waukesha, WI in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

As of 2023, the property tax rate for residents of Waukesha, WI is approximately 2.80% of a property's assessed fair market value. This is quite high compared to the national average property tax rate of about 1.07%.

Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in Waukesha, WI as of 2023 is 5.5%, which includes both state and county taxes. This is roughly equal to the average combined sales tax rate in the US which is about 5.5%-6%.

Income Tax

For 2023, Wisconsin state income tax in Waukesha ranges from 4% to 7.65%, depending on the income level. This rate is around the mid-range compared to other states in the US, some of which have no income tax and others going up to almost 10% at the high end.

Housing Market

The Waukesha, WI housing market presents an attractive scene for both buyers and renters. The median home value, at about $250,000, is below the national average, making homeownership more accessible than in many US cities. Rent is reasonable, with the median hovering around $1,150. Though prices have been increasing by about 3.5% annually, this is slower than national rates which offers good investment potential. Also notable is Waukesha's low property crime rate, which enhances the location's appeal. Whether buying or renting, Waukesha provides a cost-effective and secure housing market.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Waukesha, WI is lower than the national average, making life in this midwestern city affordable for its residents. While housing costs are somewhat moderate, essentials such as groceries, utilities, and transportation are notably cheaper. Compared to urban cities like New York or San Francisco, living in Waukesha brings significant cost savings. However, when compared to other midwestern cities, Waukesha's cost of living falls in the middle range. Each individual's experience will, of course, be affected by personal factors such as income and lifestyle choices.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Waukesha, WI experiences a humid continental climate characterized by distinct seasonal variations. Summers are typically warm, with average high temperatures reaching the mid-80s (F), while the winters bring colder conditions where temperatures often drop below freezing. A significant amount of snowfall is also experienced during winters, averaging 35-40 inches annually. The city relishes spring and fall seasons marked by mild and comfortable weather. Be prepared for occasional extreme weather events as Waukesha is not immune to natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and severe thunderstorms, though the overall risk is relatively low compared to other U.S regions. The area is also vulnerable to harsh winter conditions that can result in hazardous snowstorms and cold waves. Despite the occasional weather extremes, Waukesha's climate offers an engaging variety, catering to outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons.

Typical weather in Waukesha, WI

Economy & Job Market


Healthcare and Social Assistance

Retail Trade

Education Services

Accommodation and Food Services

Waukesha, WI has a robust and diverse economy, notably rooted in manufacturing and healthcare. Historically, manufacturing has played a substantial role in Waukesha's economic landscape, with the city being home to many major manufacturing companies. Today, the presence of these traditional manufacturing industries remains strong, but there has been a shift towards a more diversified economy with a major emphasis on healthcare and social assistance. The city also has a thriving retail trade sector, exceptional education services, and vibrant accommodation and food services sectors, reflecting Waukesha's growth as a vibrant and dynamic regional hub.

If you're considering moving to Waukesha, WI, and planning to join the job market, there's a few things you should know. First, the employment rate in Waukesha is slightly above the national average, indicating a healthy job market. There are ample job opportunities in manufacturing and healthcare, so if you have experience or interest in these sectors, you're in luck! The education field and retail are also promising sectors with a myriad of job options. However, Waukesha isn't just a great place for job seekers; it's also a city that welcomes entrepreneurs and small business owners with open arms. There's plenty of support for startups and family-owned businesses, so don't be shy about bringing your dreams to fruition in this upbeat, bustling city!

Traffic and Transportation

Living the sweet life in Waukesha, WI? You've got plenty of transportation options to help you navigate this charming city. Despite being in the throes of city life, the average commute time is a swift 22 minutes. That's right, folks - it's a drive in the park. When you're not zipping around in your car, the city offers public transportation services via Waukesha Metro Transit, with 10 fixed bus routes crisscrossing through town. Ready to fly high? The Waukesha County Airport is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. It confidently serves private, business, and corporate aviation needs. And hey, if you're dreaming of commercial flights, the General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee is just down the I-94. There you have it, folks--getting around Waukesha is as easy as pie, and just as sweet!

What is the traffic like in Waukesha, WI?

Best Neighborhoods in Waukesha

1. Downtown Waukesha

The charming heart and soul of Waukesha is its downtown. Bursting with character and history, its streets are filled with turn-of-the-century buildings that now house a variety of eclectic shops, art galleries, and uniquely themed dining spots. Downtown is also home to the ever-popular Farmers Market that is held from May through October and the lively Friday Night Live, a weekly outdoor concert series showcasing local bands and artists. If you're someone who thrives on community spirit and loves to be amid hustle and bustle, Downtown Waukesha might be the perfect neighborhood for you.

2. Carroll University Neighborhood

Oozing with collegiate energy and vibrancy, the area surrounding Carroll University is one of Waukesha's most dynamic neighborhoods. Its historic homes, tree-lined streets and proximity to the university make it a go-to spot for both academia and families alike. The neighborhood brings together study groups by day and has a casual, relaxed atmosphere by night, filled with modern cafes, inviting local restaurants, and laid-back bars. Carroll University Neighborhood perfectly balances its engaging student life with a family-friendly spirit.

3. Merrill Crest

If it's tranquility and greenery you seek, look no further than Merrill Crest. Known for its serene atmosphere and picturesque views, sweetly filled with spacious single-family homes, it's a favorite among those seeking a peaceful, suburban environment. Merrill Crest Park, a community favorite, offers a variety of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy such as volleyball, football, and baseball fields. Sherman Park is also nearby if you're in the mood for a beautiful walk or picnic.

4. Saylesville

Settled on the western edge of Waukesha, Saylesville offers an easygoing escape from the city but with convenience. The neighborhood boasts ample green open spaces, including the popular Minooka Park, where many residents enjoy hiking and exploring. Known for its strong community spirit, Saylesville provides residents with a host of neighborhood events and activities to enjoy year-round. It's a delightful mix of suburban living with a touch of a small-town vibe.

5. Rolling Ridge South

Located on the southern end of the city, the Rolling Ridge South neighborhood offers diversity, community engagement, and a sense of belonging. The area is known for its stunning landscapes, boasting pleasant walking trails, and multiple parks, creating an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. The neighborhood holds community events throughout the year, encouraging residents to engage with one another. From its picturesque beauty to its welcoming community, Rolling Ridge South is an appealing option.

In conclusion, finding the perfect neighborhood depends entirely on your personal preferences and lifestyle needs. Rest assured, whether you're looking for urban charm, vibrant collegiate energy, tranquility, community spirit, or a pleasant outdoor environment, Waukesha has it all. With its wonderful and diverse neighborhoods, Waukesha, Wisconsin just might be the right city for your next move.

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Things to Do

Welcome to Waukesha, a gem of a city nestled in the heartland of Wisconsin! Bursting with rich history, diverse culture, and an abundance of leisure activities, Waukesha is a place that will charm you from the get-go. Whether you're a nature lover, history buff, foodie, or adventurous soul, this city has something fascinating to offer. Here are seven top things to do in Waukesha that will ensure you get the most out of your new neighborhood.

1. Explore the Downtown Area

The heart of Waukesha lies in its vibrant Downtown area, complete with historic buildings, trendy boutiques, unique stores, and aromas wafting from numerous restaurants and cafes. The lively downtown area is also home to one-of-a-kind mural artwork and is the center stage for the city's various community and cultural events. Don't miss the bustling Farmers Market every Saturday, where you can buy fresh produce and artisan goods.

2. Soak in the Waukesha Art Crawl

Every three months, the charming streets of downtown turn into a gigantic, lively, walking art gallery known as the Waukesha Art Crawl; organized by the Waukesha West End Artists. This impressive event showcases local artists and craftsmen exhibiting their creations within various downtown businesses. With over 175 artists and 20 venues, it's a terrific way to appreciate local talent and soak in the city's artistic vibe.

3. Step Back in Time at the Waukesha County Museum

Unearth the rich history of Waukesha County at the Waukesha County Museum. This museum houses a collection of intriguing artifacts, educational exhibitions, and engaging interactive displays that narrate the story of Waukesha's past beautifully. The highlight is the treasured Les Paul permanent exhibit, dedicated to the county's native son, the legendary music pioneer.

4. Enjoy Nature at the Fox River Park

Located just south of Waukesha, Fox River Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. You can explore hiking trails, enjoy a picnic, play disc golf, or simply soak in the serenity amidst nature's bounty. The new ADA accessible playground and boundless play area are also a hit amongst kids.

5. Journey to the Horwitz - DeRemer Planetarium

For an out-of-this-world experience, head to the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium housed in the Retzer Nature Center. This planetarium often flies under the radar, but it offers mesmerizing shows about our universe that are as entertaining as they are educational. It's a must-visit for astronomy enthusiasts.

6. Visit the Waukesha Floral & Greenhouse

Take a stroll in the delightful Waukesha Floral & Greenhouse, a hidden gem in the city. This century-old family-run business is not just about looking, shopping, or learning about plants; they host creative workshops like wreath making, fairy garden creating, and more, making it a memorable visit full of new learning and experiences.

7. Try Tasty Treats at the Wisconsin State Fair

Although not specifically based in Waukesha, no Wisconsin experience is complete without a visit to the annual Wisconsin State Fair. Just a quick drive away in West Allis, this fun-filled fiesta lets you indulge in squeaky cheese curds, fried foods on a stick, and the traditional cream puff. Along with music, entertainment, and games, it's truly a Wisconsin tradition.

Waukesha is a city that never stops surprising and enchanting its residents. Each corner of the city offers something interesting to explore and enjoy. So, lace-up those walking shoes, slather on the sunscreen, and get ready to embark on an adventure in your new home, Waukesha!

Things to do in Waukesha, WI?

Find Movers for Your Waukesha Relocation

As you envision your smooth transition to the vibrant community of Waukesha, bear in mind that optimal moving solutions are at your fingertips. Our partner, Great Guys Moving, streamlines your quest for a trustworthy and cost-effective moving service by linking you with their vetted network of moving professionals. Benefit from their years of industry expertise by simply inputting your move details, and get connected with fully licensed and insured movers ready to facilitate your journey to Waukesha. Don't miss out on this opportunity for a stress-free move. Take the first step by requesting your free moving quote from Great Guys Moving today.

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