Madison, WI

254 posts in this topic

Posted

I am considering U Wisconsin. I would be interested to hear anything people have to say about the city, and in particular, I would be interested to know what the cost of living is like. I have been offered TA support, which will be about $11,200 or $12,500, depending on whether or not the TAA nogotiate a raise. According to the grad school web site, this is a few thousand less than the estimated cost of living. What is the cost of living for grad students living there now? If you aren't picky, is there reasonably priced housing near campus? Also, I have been told it is a great bike city, but how does that work in the winter when its 10F and there is snow everywhere?

Thanks!

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Posted

bump! also got an offer from UWM ... also wanting to know about living costs!

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Posted

I am also interested in this city and its living costs. Anybody can help us out?

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Posted

I'm a current grad student at UWM, and I am somewhat familar with Madison as well.

Madison is fairly inexpensive to live in, depending on your standards. There are a lot of older student housing neighborhoods with apartments/flats/houses in poor condition, but low cost. I guess it mostly depends on your tolerance for roommates, poor conditions, and proximity to campus.

Speaking of, you almost need to have a bicycle in Madison, and the city is VERY bike friendly. The campus is very spread out, which isn't usually a great concern for grad students, unless you're doing multi-disciplinary work. They also have a bus system (which is used mostly by late night drunks). Biking in the winter can be tough, but it is definitely doable. Wisconsin is well prepared for snow removal and generally keeps the roads/paths clear.

If you have other questions about Madison or Milwaukee, feel free to ask!

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Posted

Wisconsin is offering me a sweet deal in Political Science and I'm definitely considering it. Could anyone comment on the social life and/or "feel" of Madison? What's around the city of Madison? I'm used to the urban grit of the Mid-Atlantic (New Brunswick to be exact) and I am flying to WI at the end of the month, but any input would still be appreciated.

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Posted

Could anyone comment on the social life and/or "feel" of Madison? What's around the city of Madison? I'm used to the urban grit of the Mid-Atlantic (New Brunswick to be exact) and I am flying to WI at the end of the month, but any input would still be appreciated.

Heh, I'm actually accepted at Rutgers and am wondering what that's all about.

As far as Madison, well, if you like drinking and partying, then this is the place. If you are a serious student, you might be disappointed. Not a lot of "academic" atmosphere. Madison is the quintessential party town.

From a poli sci perspective, there may be good opportunities to work with state government, since it is the capital and all. I don't know much about the field, so I'll limit my comments at that.

Though I haven't yet been to NB, I think you'll find Madison to be somewhat gritty, but still very small townish. That said, it has a lot of character. It is very liberal for a midwestern location, and some call it the Midwest's Berkeley. Having lived in Berkeley and grown up in WI, I wouldn't go quite that far, but it is more authentically liberal than, say, Austin.

Housing options abound for students and at reasonable prices. Most grad students live off-campus in older rental houses, which can drastically vary in quality. My friends always lived on the cheap, in near-slum conditions.

State St is where all the action is, and it is ~10 blocks of bars, shops, bars, restaurants, bars, and microbrews. It is closed off to traffic (except taxis, buses, and pigs), and a good thing too. The drunk students make even crossing State St on a cross street dangerous. Though State St of yore had a lot of independent shops with lots of character, much of that has been pushed out by national chains like Chipotle, Urban Outfitters, and Qdoba.

The local music scene is spotty, but some good indy acts pass through town from time to time. There are some nice small venues, though.

Let me know if you need any other info.

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Posted

bump! also got an offer from UWM ... also wanting to know about living costs!

just so you know, UWM = Univ. of Wisconsin--Milwaukee.

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Posted

Caveat:

What was said in prior posts about Madtown being a party city that nurtures undergrad drinking and party culture is true. I am from Wisco originally and accepted a fellowship for my masters here. Biggest mistake I have ever made!

Positives: It IS a great bike city. I bought a bike and the trails are beautiful. But you can only use them a few months out of the year.

Negatives: Its frickin cold here! You feel like a prisoner in whatever building your stuck in in the winter because of the numbingly cold windchill. This might not be PC but the people here are just plain wierd and the administration at the Uni is corrupt and falling the way of the state administration. I love my state but am not proud of what has been happening here over the last decade politically. Madison is not the Berkeley of the Midwest that it used to be. I am going to NYC next year and am sooo glad to be getting out of this city.

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Posted

What do you mean, Guest? They're not so liberal as they used to be?

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Posted

some people in the uni are, but there stomped down nowadays by the corrupt conservative money-grubbing administration and the town is definately not liberal.

Madison2006=$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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Posted

guest, from what you say it looks like they went from "Bucky-the-badger" to "bucks-the-badge" :lol:

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Posted

I'm visiting next week and being hosted by grad students; I'll post my reactions!

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Posted

what department?

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Posted

Comm Arts - Film

what about you?

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Posted

Ok... I'm not from Madison, and I don't even live there, but I go there all the time. So maybe I can help shed some light.

For poli-sci, Madison is top of the line. They won't coddle you, but they won't kill you (cough Michigan cough). There are some excellent professors across all the subfields. I'm not going there because it's too close to my undergrad college, but that's the only reason.

Yes, Madisonites do like to party BUT it's more often the undergraduates than the grad students. There's a place for everyone, and some pretty serious scholarly research gets completed. Halloween is THE party of the year and it's pretty crazy, but other than that the town is much more reasonable than one might think, with the school's reputation.

It's a very yuppified town, which is good and bad. Good: TONS of stuff for the average college/grad student to do, loads of cute coffee shops, ethnic restaurants, recreational opportunities, and so on. Bad: Not much diversity, and you might get sick of a million white Wisconisn girls wearing sweat pants with "Bucky" on the butt. That's probably nothing different from what you'd see at any other big-10 school.

Lame public transportation, but you probably won't ever need to leave the isthmus.

Beautiful at night.

I use their cavernous library all the time... my school has 1200 undergrads, and I swear the entire main library could fit all of us ten times over. Plus, there's like... fifteen other libraries if you can't find your book in Memorial. Plus, the bookshelves move! Whoa...

And, the weather... suck it up, that's all I have to say. It is a great bike town with loads of bike paths around a beautiful set of lakes. And you will see lots of people biking, running, skipping around the lakes in the dead of winter. You just get used to it, honest, and it's nothing compared to Minneapolis. The wind's a bit much sometimes, but the snow is often short lived.

As far as living... I'd say the costs are pretty reasonable. Don't live on frat row if you like quiet, and don't worry about not knowing which street is frat row... it's pretty obvious. The entire university/downtown area is littered with obviously student apartments, most of which are pretty cute and close to campus. The midwest is a friendly, arms open kind of place. You should all come.

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Posted

I just read the post about Madison not being a liberal city... uh... maybe not in the Adam Smith sense of the word, but hell yeah it's liberal. Just look at election results for the last, oh say, century. The US congressperson from the city is the first out lesbian to be elected to that position in the history of the country. Maybe it's not Berkeley, but it's certainly one of the most hippie-friendly places in Wisconsin and the idea that anyone could see that city and think anything but "Democrat" almost makes me laugh... it's funny, because my school, one of the most liberal places in the universe, tends to consider UWM students as less quirky than we are but certainly no less liberal. In fact, we joke about how out of touch with the rest of the country the city is...

(oh, and by the way, you won't be harassed if you're a republican, either. It's a capital city, they get all types).

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Posted

thanks for these...

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Posted

Madison is pretty liberal alright. When you remember that it is in the midwest, you realize that is very liberal.

The undergrads do get drunk and party...at the same time I remember some them would do extremely well in school while partying three times a week. UW ranks highly in a lot of fields. If you are interested in one of these fields for graduate studies , I would suggest you go for it. The only thing that sucks is that it gets effing cold for about two months in winter.

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Posted

sarah... are you at Larry U?

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Posted

Um, no, unless that's some code name for Beloit College. Are you talking about Lawrence?

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Posted

Madison is a great city, it is beautiful during the warm months, but winter sucks!!! We just got 5in. of snow dumped on us...on March 16th.

As far as costs go, it's not, say, New York, but things are definitely getting pricier than they were a few years ago. You can get a studio for about $500, one BR from $600. There are a lot of newer apartment buildings (but they are generally populated by drunk undergrads) but there are many apartment buildings off of campus (a 10-minute bus ride away) that mainly house grad students. Lots of cute neighborhoods and local shops, restaurants, etc. You can get by without a car (but it's better if you have one) and the bus is free for students.

On the down side, there *are* a lot of drunk students out at night which is more annoying than anything else. It starts to feel like a small town after a year or so.

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Posted

I would have to disagree with jennesy about the car. Its really tough without one. Cant even touch public trans in cjicago/new york. Campus is huge and city is spread out. And, unfortunately, Id have to say there is only one street to hang out. Its pretty boring actually unless your a drunk undergrad.

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Posted

I'm a current grad student at UW in poli sci, and I wanted to throw in a few thoughts. First, Madison can be tough without a car, particularly since there are not a lot of grocery stores around campus. But, it's do-able, and there's a relatively new car sharing company (Community Car) that a lot of people I know use and is reasonable on the wallet. There are many people in my department who don't have cars and survive just fine. (The campus isn't that spread out, especially the parts where most grad students spend their time.)

I'm paying a little over $300 a month for a large group house. If you're looking into coming here, keep in mind that the heating in the winter can be outrageous, so factor that into your expenses if it's not covered by the rent.

I definitely haven't been bothered by the undergrads' partying. Yes, they do it a lot, but it doesn't interfere with my academic or social lives. There's lots of social and academic options that attract primarily grad students. I came here from Washington, DC, and am really happy with the experience so far. I'd be happy to answer more questions if anyone's got them.

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Posted

Oh yeah, it's definitely better if you have a car. I didn't mean to imply that Madison is completely manageable without a car - it's not. If you don't have one you can get by, but you'll need to find a friend with a car if you want to do major grocery shopping, go to Target, etc. There aren't any real grocery stores downtown, but you can take the bus (which sucks, but is possible). The busses are infrequent on weekends and at night, and don't always go where you need to go. Community Car is great, it's a car-sharing service. There are also (pricey) cabs and the Women's Transit Authority in Madison which provides free rides for doctor's appts., late night, etc.

But if you have a car and are coming to Madison - bring it. It's not Chicago or New York.

I'm starting my 6th year here in Madison and haven't had a car, but really wish I did. I can (try) to answer any other questions you have about Madison!

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Posted

biggest problem with Madison. The people here think they are in Berkeley, and resent the fact that they aren't. I don't like it.

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