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Retiring to Minnesota or Wisconsin???
Old 07-23-2008, 09:14 AM   #1
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Retiring to Minnesota or Wisconsin???

My husband will soon be transferred to either the Minneapolis area or somewhere in Wisconsin (Stoughton, Chippawa Falls, or Madison) and we're thinking that, if we like it there, we'd like to stay there and retire. We like cool weather and prefer the north. Any words of wisdom about these areas? What about COL and taxes? Thanks!
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:36 AM   #2
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Wisconsin smells of cheese and cows. Everyone has a beer gut and is half-drunk. The only halfway intelligent people to come out of Wisconsin are financial advisors... so you know that's not saying much.

Ok, seriously though, Stoughton and Chippawa Falls are very different from Madison which is also very different from Minneapolis.

If you like a "small" city feeling with lots of outdoor activities, I think Madison would be a good fit. My wife and I love Madison and have thought about relocating to there. There are some great commuter towns around Madison if you don't want to live in the city proper (be sure to check out Sun City if you visit).

Minneapolis / St Paul has a nice economy, decent commuting times, and a diverse culture. We have some great restaurants and performing arts (I heard at one point that we were second only to NYC in theatre seats per capita). There are plenty of outdoor rec options but the summers are a bit more brutal than Madison. COL can vary quite a bit depending on where you settle down. If you go to the city proper then sales tax is higher. Some suburbs will set you back twice as much in prop taxes as others.

I highly recommend that you set aside a couple weeks and tour every town you're looking at. Be sure to try and get yourself into the mindset of being a local and not a tourist (here's a hint, we only go to the mall of america when we have friends in from out of town that want to be tourists).

Both Minneapolis and Madison have magazines that could be worth subscribing to in advance of either a trip here or a relo.
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:39 AM   #3
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I'd suggest spending a couple of winters in your new location before planning to put down any permanent roots...
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:40 AM   #4
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Well, I don't think that Madison, Mpls., or Chippewa Falls are especially cool in mid-summer. But spring and fall can't be beat and they are cool as compared to Texas, or any of the southeaster US in the summer.

If you want cooler, you need to be close to one of the great lakes. I live in Duluth, which is rarely hot in the summer. For example, the last couple of days it was in the mid 80s in Mpls but was in the low 70s here.

Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire Wisconsin are growing areas and pretty nice. I do like Mpls./St. Paul. The park system is tremendous and there are bike trails everywhere. I don't know Madison as well, but it is built around lake Mendota and they also do a good job with bike trails.

If you have to buy health insurance when you retire and you are not insurable on the individual market, both Minnesota and Wisconsin have excellent risk pools, though Minnesota's is a bit better and less expensive.

Winters are cold and dark. Snow only tends to be extreme near the great lakes.
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:51 PM   #5
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I second the above comments about the winter. I live in Mpls/St. Paul. Every January/February I get kind of depressed and need a tropical vacation (BTW, so does everyone I know). But even when I return, there are still 2-3 more months of winter left. Sometimes it feels like it's never going to end.

You mentioned that you like cooler weather, so it may be different for you. At least you will get to try out the area before you decide whether to retire here.

Minnesota is one of the higher-taxed states. I think the state income tax is 8.25% on top of federal. Sales tax is 6.5 - 7.25% depending on the area. No sales tax on clothes or shoes, though. COL is pretty close to the national average, noting that the cost of housing largely depend on neighborhood/amenities.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:07 PM   #6
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Thanks for the information. From what I've read, the housing costs in Minneapolis seem reasonable, but Madison seems high.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:34 PM   #7
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Thanks for the information. From what I've read, the housing costs in Minneapolis seem reasonable, but Madison seems high.
Well, that depends... it's high in Madison proper but reasonable a bit out of town... there are some pretty cheap areas in Minneapolis but that's because everyone that used to live there was shot.

Here's the shots fired map for Minneapolis proper over the week starting July 5th:

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/poli...ShotsFired.pdf

Note, the upper left quadrant is northwest Minneapolis. A few of us have noted that, if gas stays high, one could turn a pretty penny by buying up a few blocks housing and converting it to a gated community. The lower left quadrant is uptown. Those lakes are Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and then Lake Harriet... last I glanced, you can't touch a house in that area for less than $600k.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:46 PM   #8
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The St. Paul neighborhood of Como is nice and far less expensive than uptown Mpls; it surrounds lake Como. Highland park in St. Paul is very nice and runs along the river.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:16 PM   #9
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I'd suggest spending a couple of winters in your new location before planning to put down any permanent roots...
Even easier, just fill your tub with ice and water, then sit in it with your spouse for a couple of weeks.

If that doesnt deter you, have an inch or two of ice frozen onto your car every night for a couple of months, and get up at 6am every morning to scrape it off.

I think the texas version is standing under a broiler with a 100mph fan blowing at you while someone sprays you in the face with a firehose and another guy throws buckets of chiggers and scorpions at you.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:29 PM   #10
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If that doesnt deter you, have an inch or two of ice frozen onto your car every night for a couple of months, and get up at 6am every morning to scrape it off.
Weird, I thought they were universal, but I guess not. We have these things called 'garages' here. They're usually attached to your house but not always. They're like a little house for your car (and riding lawnmower and snowmobile and ATV...)
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:35 PM   #11
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pssssst.....florida!
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:49 PM   #12
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Consider using altitude as a substitute for latitude. A town like Flagstaff Az at 7000' has single digit winter temperatures, but a warm, sunny day in mid-winter is only a 50 mile drive away. That is common in the West. Between storms, the sun shines in the winter so if you drive out of the high country, the day gets warm. Winter is fine, but it isn't enjoyable if it lasts for 6 months.
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:31 PM   #13
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Interesting. We're relocating from Louisiana to Janesville, WI at the end of August. I've accepted a job in Janesville, which is about 40 miles south of Madison, as a QA guy in a manufacturing facility that does business with the government. I'm a federal employee, and will be there looking out for the interests of the govt. Never been to this part of the world before, and I know it's gonna be slightly different from Louisiana, especially in the winter. Any of you Wisconsin-ites know much about Janesville? I could possibly live closer to Madison and drive to the southeastern side of Janesville to work, but if Janesville is a decent place I'd prefer not to commute. Not ruling it out, though. We'll be holding up in a hotel for up to 60 days, or whatever it takes to locate our home. We'll definitely take our time scoping out the surrounding areas. Also, I'm planning to continue my military service by joining up with the Air National Guard unit that flies F-16's out of Madison. Anybody know anything about Janesville?
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:09 AM   #14
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Marty, I think you'll fit right in with the nice folks in Madison. Be sure to show them your Dem Party seal. Can't wait to hear how things work out.
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:11 AM   #15
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Op, I went to school in Madison and live 45 minutes north of Chippewa Falls...actually this summer has been pretty moderate...no days so far over 90 so no A/C needed this year..
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:28 AM   #16
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Op, I went to school in Madison and live 45 minutes north of Chippewa Falls...actually this summer has been pretty moderate...no days so far over 90 so no A/C needed this year..
Incredible.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:14 AM   #17
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I have been to Janesville all of once. It does have pretty parks.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:41 AM   #18
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Weird, I thought they were universal, but I guess not. We have these things called 'garages' here. They're usually attached to your house but not always. They're like a little house for your car (and riding lawnmower and snowmobile and ATV...)
Yeah, we had them in new england. Either they got converted to living rooms or they were full of junk.

We've got 'em in california too. 95% of them are packed with junk, floor to ceiling, wall to wall.

Martha, did you say there are also pretty sharks in minnesota? Yea gods.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:12 AM   #19
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Martha, did you say there are also pretty sharks in minnesota? Yea gods.

You are getting confused with Florida . Last Sunday my SO and his sons went fishing and they all caught several sharks not parks !
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:08 PM   #20
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I have been to Janesville all of once. It does have pretty parks.
and interesting architecture. Nearby Milton is worth a visit also although I don't exactly remember why, it does have that unique "Milwaukee (yellow) brick," I think. Didn't someone here recently report on a trip to Janesville's flower gardens? Goonie?
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