Difficult Move From Blue State
Since they passed Act 10 in 2007 they have done away with collective bargaining and many protective measurers for workers have been eliminated, like reductions of vacation time from 5 weeks to 2 weeks at the hospital.
The elected officials are looking to institute open carry at the universities and do away with tenure. My sense is people who could get out left and the people left behind are bitter, busy, stuck or retired.
I moved here with my husband in 2015 for his job and as a middle aged educator looking for work I have experienced a negative reception. I can't tell you how many people asked me to volunteer my time, which is the norm here, they have no idea how insulting it is to be asked to work for free. They are obsessed with work and for the most menial jobs they will ask for 3 references, call every one of them and also have you interviewed by a panel of 3. Wages are low for most jobs and it doesn't make sense because the cost of living here is high.
The public schools are a quagmire of red tape to navigate, I have never encountered such ridiculous requirements to substitute teach, reams of paper work, two background checks, physical exams at clinics they specify and nothing was concrete, the rules and regulations of what I would need to work kept changing, one person said one thing and another person said another, at that point I felt like I had slipped down some crazy rabbit hole and decided not to pursue work in the public schools.
I have found the people here to be pretty linear, lacking in humor and polite but not inclusive. As a group there seems to be a lot of rule followers who do as they are told and don't think much outside of the box. We have been here 3 years and have not been invited to dinner, maybe it's cultural? They will meet you at a bar. It's a bar society. People in Chicago and Minneapolis are more friendly, maybe they are happier? One woman I met recently who works at the UW Madison said she was told by nurse at the hospital that a lot of people at the University: staff and students are on record levels of antidepressants. Her comment was a sad reality check for me. Maybe 20 years ago it would have been a cool place to move, maybe people were happier then?
Culturally there is very little to do. The weather is extreme; very hot and humid in the summer and bitter cold in the winter. The landscape is dull and in very little time you are in the middle of cornfields. Chicago is 2 1/2 hours away, Minneapolis is close to 5 hours away. It takes 1 1/2 hours to get to Milwaukee for a reasonably priced flight; the local airport here is costly, so we drive to Milwaukee.
Renting in Madison is very expensive and the quality of architecture is sub par compared to other areas of the country. Beige, vanilla and poorly designed, maybe it's because Wisconsin traditionally has had little money so the best architects moved to the bigger cities? At least that is my theory. Buying a home in Madison is costly and competitive, it can take months and luck to get a modest, poorly designed house. There are many people bidding on the same property and there are not many single family homes for sale.
I have seen so many glowing reports about Madison that I just want to get my opinion out there because if you have a choice I would not move here. The elected officials here have decimated the state, it's a petri dish for their political theories of no government, we have the Koch brothers, Governor Walker and Paul Ryan to thank for that.
Jenny | Madison, WI