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Living in Madison

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Southern California
posts: 5
reviews: 5
Living in Madison

I live in southern california, the pollution, traffic, smog, people with bad attitudes, gangs, crime, etc.

I have read time and time again in many magazines about how Madison is the perfect place to live. Is Madison really that good? Any insite on this would be greatly appreciated.

How is the crime, smog, etc?

Signed, A Californian that has finally had it!

posts: 331
reviews: 83
1. Re: Living in Madison

If I could get my family to move, I would pick Madison. It is a great place. There are a lot of jobs, nice people, low crime. As for smog, there is some, but nothing like out by you. We still have fresh air here! :-)

The local paper is at http://www.madison.com/wsj/ and as you can see, not too much crime.

The traffic isn't that bad either. Housing costs are much lower than CA. I work with a guy who is from Madison and he always tells me he wishes he would have stayed.

Good luck!

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 8,848
reviews: 59
2. Re: Living in Madison

Madison is a great city, but you know the winters in Wisconsin are a little colder than Southern California. I love it here and tolerate winter, but it would get some getting used to if you have never lived in a cold climate.

Madison has tons of activities for a city it's size. The University draws performing arts and cultural events that you would usually only find in larger cities. Madison does have some rough parts, but for the most part is a very safe city and deserving of all the publicity it gets.

Madison, WI
posts: 8
3. Re: Living in Madison

I moved to Madison after college (about a year ago) and I absolutely hate it. In my opinion, it has all of the stress of big city living and none of the benefits.

Firstly, the people here are VERY rude and unfriendly. If you can manage to keep to yourself, you'll be OK, but if you go out in public, expect at least one negative experience from a random stranger.

There are plenty of things to do in Madison - if you have tons of money. If you don't - well, I guess you can walk around a mall or up and down State Street, and look at all the stuff you can't afford to buy. You can look at the horifically ugly exterior of the newly built Overture Center for the Arts (AKA god's gift to Madison) - but don't expect any good shows to be there - or if there are, don't expect to be able to afford tickets (even though the facility is supposed to be for the 'entire' community). There are bike trails, and those are nice in the summer - but in the winter when it's too cold to go outside, expect to be spending a lot of time in your home (which will be insanely overpriced due to the unreasonably high property tax).

There is fresh air in Madison - occasionally. A lot of days, I have noticed, there are smog advisories that the public just doesn't know about, because the industries around here have almost no restrictions about what they can put into the air. I suffer from moderate allergies, and most days in the summer I have problems when I leave my apartment because of the humidity, pollen and smog.

Traffic in this town is a nightmare. I used to live in Boston, MA, and traffic there is a cakewalk compared to Madison's. I swear most of the people living in this area got their driver's licenses out of a CrackerJack box. Almost every time I go out, I see some car accident that could have easily been prevented if the drivers had been paying attention (most of the accidents seem to be drivers getting rear-ended because everyone here seems to tailgate and speed). There have also been instances where I have had to literally drive miles out of my way to get somewhere because I couldn't switch lanes if I needed to - if you use a turn signal to indicate you are changing lanes, the person in the next lane will most often speed up and block you from changing lanes. My husband has a motorcycle, and he can hardly ride it around here because the other drivers create such an unsafe environment and are downright rude to motorcyclists.

On the plus side, there is very little crime or gang activity, and most of it seems to be confined to the "bad" neighborhoods. Also, if you have children, the Verona and Middleton school districts (these are suburbs of Madison) have a very good reputation, and Middleton came in at #7 in Money Magazine's best places to live.

If you've 'had it' with California, then by all means, don't move here. You'll regret it, I promise you.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 8,848
reviews: 59
4. Re: Living in Madison

Sounds like Eliara needs to find new place to move to. Madison has beautiful parks and bike trails. All free. The farmer's market on the square, along with many festivals, are free.

Because a lot of businesses cater to students there are many inexpensive restaurants and bars. If you want 100 more things to do for free in Madison just pick up a copy of the FREE weekly newspaper, The Isthmus.

As for traffic, comparing Madison traffic to Boston??? Come on. Boston is a big city. Madison is amazing for the amount of public transportatin for a city of it's size. In this part of the country most cities Madison's size have noting but a couple of bus routes.

For whatever reason Eliara's experience in Madion is not reflective of most people's opinion.

posts: 258
5. Re: Living in Madison

Madison is a nice place. Traffic is getting worse, but nothing like S Cal. No heavy industry, so no air pollution to speak of. The lakes are absolutley gross and unsafe, there are many dairy farms in the area and there is no political will (guts) to address the fertilizer and other farm runoff. Crime is like any other 200,000 pop. city. Gangs are moving in but not a major concern.

Perfect ? - no

Madison, WI
posts: 8
6. Re: Living in Madison


Yeah, and I notice you don't live here. Everything I have included on this post is true as I have experienced it, and my husband has experienced it as well. I know people around here get touchy if you criticize anything about the Madison area...as for the traffic issue, I didn't say the volume was the same, I just said that the drivers are better and more courteous. Madison is great to visit, don't get me wrong, but if you are here for over a month, you'll see/experience many unpleasantries.

Also, The myth that the transportation system is good here needs to end. So much funding has been cut for the Metro system that it is completely ineffective...the schedules for the buses are impossible to decipher and the buses are unreliable. No one will address the issue because only the economically disadvantaged and the college students ride the bus, and they don't have a voice in this community.

We ARE currently looking for another city in which to reside, as we have been trying to give the city a fair shake and still find it intolerable.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
posts: 8,848
reviews: 59
7. Re: Living in Madison

I didn't mean to start an argument, I just wanted to point out that for whatever reason your experience in Madison is not typical of what most people think of the city. I am not trying to discount your opinion, but you did write that Boston traffic is a "cakewalk" compared to Madison. That remark is just hard to understand.

As far as busses, I said Madison's public transportation is great for the size of the city. It's not fair to compare Madison's transit to Boston, New York, Chicago, or even Milwaukee, but most cities Madison's size do not have nearly as much to offer.

I agree that if you don't like Madison you should look for somehwhere else to live, but to call Madison dirty and clogged with traffic?? I think something else is going on, who knows what.

posts: 70
reviews: 1
8. Re: Living in Madison

I attended school in Madison and my son currently lives there so I spend a lot of time there. I love Madison ! I think it is a beautiful city with a ton of activities. One of our favorites is to visit the Vilas Park Zoo, totally free and very nice for its size. In fact, there are many free or low cost things to do in Madison. We have driven in Boston and there is just no comparison. The cost of living is reasonable. Property taxes are high everywhere in Wisconsin but as my brother who lives in Arizona has said you usually get what you pay for. Wisconsin has good public schools and good roads. Many other states tax in other ways to get there revenue. Madison to me has it all. a great university, beautiful capital and lakes lots of cultural activities, low crime rate, friendly and warm people, very low unemployment rate ( lowest in the state). Please come visit sometime I think you will see for yourself why so many do love it !

Madison, WI
posts: 8
9. Re: Living in Madison


Tbiafore asked a question, and I gave him an honest answer as I see it. I have no intention of starting an argument either, but your responses to my posts seem to indicate that you are reading my comments selectively. I NEVER said Madison was clogged with traffic. I said that the people here are horrible drivers - worse than other areas of the country - and the roads are unsafe because of it.

Again, you don't live here, so how can you possibly make judgements on how effective the Metro system is? The Metro system has serious problems; on several occasions, I have come to understand, these problems have been acknowledged by the City Council. Their response to the problems - every time - was to slash funding, which has made the Metro system even worse as of recently. It is practically unuseable because the schedules and buses themselves are unreliable.

I'm not trying to offend anyone; furthermore, there's nothing else 'going on' that has affected my opinion of this area. I moved here after college with the full intention of settling down here with my husband. I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve with putting such blatant spin on all my comments, but I don't appreciate having my integrity attacked for giving an honest answer.

Madison WI
posts: 881
10. Re: Living in Madison

Have lived in Ann Arbor, Chicago and now Madison for the last 19 years.

Madison is far and away the most desirable place of the three. Mass transit is ok, much better than the CTA in Chicago. Have not noticed that drivers are any worse than anyplace else.

I will agree with morningwood that the lakes are pretty bad.