Benefits of Retiring In Wisconsin (Pros & Cons)

Wisconsin offers a comfortable retirement life. There are several benefits of retiring in Wisconsin, but do they outweigh its downsides?

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Wisconsin offers a comfortable retirement life. There are several benefits of retiring in Wisconsin, but do they outweigh its downsides?

If you are thinking about retiring in Wisconsin, you are in for an adventure. Wisconsin offers an abundance of activities, which are a great benefit considering you will have a lot of free time on your hands. However, when settling after retirement, you need to consider many things such as cost of living, infrastructure, etc.

The perks of retiring in Wisconsin include a moderate cost of living, year-round festivities, availability of water sports, good health care, and more. However, extreme weather, lack of transportation, lack of diversity, poor roads, and high taxes can take away the charm.

Wisconsin is a state that keeps you close to nature. So if you are a nature lover, you won't get bored here. Additionally, the festivals, recreational and sporting activities offer abundant entertainment. Moreover, the small population mostly lives in the urban area, covering only 3% of the state. So you can live in a lowly populated area to stay away from the busy life, but it's a difficult decision if you don't have any form of personal transportation.

Having lived in Wisconsin all our lives, we feel qualified to talk about the pros and cons of retiring in Wisconsin, which might help you decide whether this is the right place for you.

Table of Contents

Pros of Living in Wisconsin

Cheese, Beer, and German Food

Wisconsin has a rich history with certain foods. Wisconsin was a rich agricultural land in the 1800s. However, its resources were exhausted by the late 1800s, and farmers had to take a break from agricultural farming.

The Europeans brought dairy farming practices to sustain a livelihood, and cheese fast became a popular produce of Wisconsin and is famous to date. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Wisconsin is the largest cheese producer in the US.

Wisconsin is one of the top ten beer-producing states in the country. Its famous beer-making craft is a result of Germans who migrated here in the 1800s. They started producing beer in large quantities, and soon, there were over 300 breweries in Wisconsin.

The beer of Wisconsin attracted attention overseas, and it offers long-standing brands such as Miller, Schlitz, and Blatz.

Other than beer, the arrival of the Germans also brought along their food traditions. You can find numerous restaurants with German cuisines scattered in Wisconsin.


The locals of this state call it "The Festival State" because of the several festivals that take place all year round. If you love festivities and have a penchant for socializing, Wisconsin offers uncountable opportunities in this regard. The festivals are also different in nature. From food to music, you will find all sorts of enjoyment.

The popularity of festivals in the state is also owed to the Germans. Besides beer and food, they brought along their traditions, and ethnic festivals are among them. Polish Feast, Summerfest, Polka Days, Oktoberfest are some of the German festivals you can experience.

Since these are German, cheese and beer are a major part of these festivals. So make sure you are starving before you arrive to get the most out of the experience.

Water and Activities

Wisconsin has a lot of water to offer. With over seven million acres of water, it has the fourth most water-covered area in the US. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, also known as the Great Lakes, share over 1,000 miles with the state, providing sufficient water for the population of Wisconsin.

Moreover, there are over 15,000 documented lakes in Wisconsin and over 12,000 rivers. The largest lake is Lake Winnebago, spread over 137,000 acres.

With so many lakes and rivers, you're going to find a ton of water-based activities here. White-water rafting, boating, canoeing, sailing, kayaking are some of the many activities you can find here.

Fishing is another popular activity here, with the rivers and streams offering some of the country's best fishing points and 160 different fish species.

The best part is that fishing is a year-round activity. The winter makes a home for different fish species, and you can find a whole different experience in this season. If you are into fishing, the state is truly made for you.

A Lit Sports Scene

If you are a sports lover, you will definitely love the vibrant sports culture of Wisconsin. As mentioned earlier, the water resources offer several water sporting activities. Canoeing and white water rafting are some fast-paced water sports you can participate in.

But if you're more of a steady boat person, sailing and boating activities are also abundant here.

However, the major sports scene that lifts the spirits of Wisconsin people is football, baseball, and basketball. Wisconsin is home to some big names in these sports. The Green Bay Packers is one of the most popular football teams in the US and a wide favorite in Wisconsin.

The bars are jam-packed whenever the Packers play, and the beers are tossed high up into the air along with cheers, whether the team wins or loses (okay, you might not get the cheers if they lose). If you are in for this kind of energy, Wisconsin has plenty of it to offer.

Low Cost of Housing

The low cost of housing is a huge benefit for someone looking to retire in Wisconsin. As your incoming funds will be significantly less, you will want cheaper housing options. The average housing cost in Wisconsin is $180,000.

While it is a notch higher than some other states, it is still considerably lower than the average housing cost of the US, which is $231,000.

Similarly, renting is also cheaper in Wisconsin. With the US rent average being $1,100, Wisconsin offers to rent at an average of $700 per month.

The low cost of housing is a major factor that keeps the cost of living in Wisconsin moderate. The cost of housing in Wisconsin is pretty flat across the state. You can live in the rural areas for a peaceful and quiet environment close to nature.

However, if you are moving from a big city with high-class facilities, adjusting to rural life might be challenging. In that case, you can look to settle in the few urban areas of Wisconsin with better facilities.

Good Healthcare

Healthcare is another important necessity you need to have, especially when you're in your retirement age. Luckily, Wisconsin's healthcare system is among the top five in the US and usually ends up in the upper half of the list.

It was ranked the best healthcare system in the US in 2018 and the second-best in 2019. Nonetheless, it has had the best healthcare system in the Midwest for a long period.

The University of Wisconsin Hospital is the state's best hospital in its capital city of Madison. Milwaukee also has some of the best hospitals in the state, such as Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center and Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital.

If you choose to live in a small town or a rural area, you can still find decent healthcare facilities. Unlike other states, good healthcare facilities are spread across the state instead of being crammed only in the big cities.

Super-Friendly People

Wisconsin is teeming with a friendly environment and people who don't shy away from offering help and engaging in a healthy conversation. This hyper-friendly set of residents is rarely seen in any state across the US. Invites to parties, churches, and festivals are the norm here.

If you are moving from a city where people mind their own business and live a highly independent life, you might need some time to get adjusted to the greetings at every turn.

Residents take pride in calling the Wisconsin state aggressively friendly.

Home of the “Wisconsin Idea”

The Wisconsin Idea is the main reason behind the low cost of living in the state. The idea was created in 1904 by the president of the University of Wisconsin, Charles Van Hise.

The idea was to let university experts advise the government regarding public policies and provide statistical data for better policymaking.

The Wisconsin Idea helped the government achieve revolutionary policies that benefited the state’s economy for years to come.

These policies included the first state income tax, first statewide primary elections across the country, first workplace injury compensation law, and more.

A Decent Education System

The Education system is another benefit of living in Wisconsin. Although you might not benefit from it yourself, it is advantageous if your kids or grandkids live with you. The state’s education system is filled with great colleges and some of the best institutes in the country.

University of Wisconsin is ranked 12th in the best public universities in the US. It also has the 10th largest library in the US.

Cons of Living in Wisconsin

Extreme Winter

The temperature in Wisconsin remains cool and pleasant throughout the summer. Only a few weeks in the peak summer season can cause you to break a sweat. However, the winter season is brutal here.

The state often sees temperatures remaining below freezing point throughout the winter. It generally receives over 48-inches of snow, which is almost twice the amount of the US average.

Residents are forced to stay indoors for the most part, and it also puts a halt to the sporting and winter activities. Extreme winters can be tough to bear in old age. Therefore, you should consider this point if you want to retire in Wisconsin.

Lack of Transport Facilities

Having a car is almost a necessity in Wisconsin. Although the big cities such as Madison and Milwaukee have public transport, including buses and trains that run across the state, there is little to no transportation off these routes. The distances are vast for most destinations, and you will need a car to make your commute hassle-free.

Poor Roads

While a car is a necessity in Wisconsin, it is highly unfortunate that it has the second-worst road management system in the country. The lack of funding to the transportation department has kept them from maintaining the roads, let alone developing new transport facilities. As a result, 55% of the roads in Wisconsin are in poor condition.

High Taxes

While cheap housing lowers the cost of living in Wisconsin, the high taxes make it difficult to live here once you've settled in. Wisconsin has the fifth-highest tax rates for state and local taxes and the highest in the midwest.

High taxes are a contrasting factor, given the limited development in the state. However, the new administration is gradually lowering the taxes.

On the downside, it is causing significant cuts for the education, health, and transport department funding.

Hub of Natural Disasters

Choosing where to live in Wisconsin is extremely important as most parts of the state are a hub for natural disasters. There are massive snowstorms and blizzards given the cold temperatures and brutal winters.

While dealing with the storms is work in itself, the snow levels increase significantly, disrupting daily activities. Flooding is also common each year due to excessive snow.

If that wasn't bad enough, climate change is also causing the rains to be harsher each year, adding to the flood count. Moreover, the southern region of Wisconsin sits at the edge of a tornado valley. The area suffers from nearly 20 tornadoes on average each year. On the other hand, almost half of the state is covered in forest.

Therefore, it suffers a daunting amount of forest fires annually. It is important to consider the natural disaster threats in the area when deciding to settle in Wisconsin.

The Water Stinks

Despite having excessive water, nearly 40% of water in Wisconsin is rated fair or poor. This is because Wisconsin is highly agricultural land, and the manure that farmers lay is washed away by the rain and floods.

It contaminates the water in the lakes and mixes with the underground water system. There are limited clean water resources, and you might have to adjust to the smell in the water caused by the flooding of manure.

Wisconsin is a great place to live. Good healthcare, low cost of housing, friendly residents, and tons of activities make Wisconsin a great contender in your choice to retire. However, it is best to consider the cons of retiring in Wisconsin and decide whether you can find your way around them.

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