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Appleton, WI


Small City, Big Stuff. - 2/5/2017
Something is happening in Appleton. The place used to be called the shopping capital of Wisco. But, slowly this rather commercial-sounding moniker is being replaced by art and music. In the last few years more galleries, unique music venues and festivals have begun to change the fabric of this city. In particular, Mile of Music is bringing in some interesting artists. Housing is low to high depending on where you want to live and what kind of house you like. I live in a nice old Craftsman that cost about $100 thou. Downtown is doable, easy to navigate and feels safe when walking around at dusk. Lawrence U. is lovely to look at and stroll through. Near the river, old mills have been converted to high end housing, and cool little shops. Parking is plentiful but you have to pay the meter. And those maids are ready to rumble as soon as the arrow points to red. Yes, there's a big mall. I couldn't care less. But, if you like shopping ... blah, blah, blah.

Marine on St. Croix, MN


Lovely. - 2/5/2017
I've never had the pleasure of living in a place that seems hidden inside a magical woods and waterway. I did visit from time to time. The houses are truly charming. As you walk along it sort of feels like you might run into fairies frolicking in a clearing. Which they do, if you stand there at dusk and wait for the fireflies to appear. But, I don't know where people work or how they can afford some of those incredible houses. It's a delicious mystery to someone like me who often finds herself staring out from the other side wishing somebody would hand her an exclusive invitation from the fairy queen.

Stillwater, MN


Be Still. - 2/5/2017
The downtown is charming. Touristy at times in the summer and fall. Traffic can be a bear during those days. Lots of antique stores, lots of vintage houses. Water adds to the wonderful views. Living there, I think I might have liked it better in the more affluent neighborhoods. There's sort of hit and miss housing market. You might find a wonderful Victorian sitting right next to a neighbor with a rusted out truck sitting in the backyard. I personally liked the place but for the occasional dog pack that followed me home. No, that's not a metaphor. At least when I was there, dogs ran freely through the area. But, it can be quaint, charming. Affordable, yes, not so many convenient big city amenities. But, it's not meant to be big.

Madison, WI


Mad City - 2/5/2017
Madison has a lot going for it: good employment ops., lots of culture, a little leftover hippyness to take the edge off and it's the capital. Living there, you get the feeling of close quarters. The U. though world class, has sort of taken over the city like a slow growing tumor. So, on week days driving or walking downtown is quite an adventure. Bike lanes seemingly spring up in roadways that would scare me to pedal through. Buses are convenient. Personally I like my U and City a bit more separated. Housing sure isn't cheap. Cost of living isn't cheap, at least for me. But, I'm a frugal frau. Occasionally there is a march on the capital. It can be quite politically inclined, a mix of everything. Medically speaking, you'll be in the pink. People come from far and wide to see their doctors. Also, on certain days you might be driving the Beltway (heavy traffic) but then you'll see some cows staring back at you from the U Vet School. It tends to put a smile on your face.

Delafield, WI


Pumpkins - 2/5/2017
I lived in this area for 4 years. It has a rather unique and charming downtown. On Halloween locals built a huge monument of illuminated pumpkins. Now how can you not like a town that's willing to come together for such a magical feat? Great coffee shop. Housing is better closer to the downtown. Some of the developments feel like developments. My house was too close to the sound of freeway traffic. Kind of spoiled my walks.

Green Bay, WI


One Word. - 2/5/2017
One word, Packers. If you don't care for football, you probably won't fit in all that well. But, if you insist on moving to GB do try the beer, don't degrade the game and visit a cool little bookstore called The Reader's Loft.

Minneapolis, MN


Not throwing up my hat in Mpls. - 1/31/2017
I lived there 20 years and not only did I feel the lack of friendliness to outsiders (plenty of surface friendly) but so did a lot of other outsiders I talked to about the problem. Oh, you can work there, you can raise your kids there, pay taxes, freeze your patootie too. But, you're still not a native so don't go looking for any close friends. I grew up in Wisco. and though it is cold, MN. is COLDER! Much COLDER for longer. One year it started at Halloween and ran right into Easter. 40 below for 2 weeks and that didn't include the wind chill. House prices are high if you want a fairly nice one. But, the biggest (in my op.) and well-hidden problem is this: you might find a great vintage house in an inner city suburb. Pay a pretty price for your little piece of heaven. And, there you are, sitting in your lovely though rather buggy backyard and suddenly you hear a rumble first then see a long line of large planes passing just above the tree line. Yes, folks, it's enough to shake you up, quite literally. People seem to accept it. I never could, not when I paid good money just to discover that if I stood on my roof and jumped high enough I might hitch a free plane ride to the airport! When I finally moved I was truly startled by the lack of sound. But perhaps that was simply because I'd lost my hearing.
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