Top Places to Live: South of Milwaukee

Look to the south for a thriving real estate pocket.

Bedroom communities rimming Lake Michigan and bordering Racine County often appeal to families with connections in Racine or Kenosha counties – or even Chicago. Mitchell International Airport in southern Milwaukee is a quick jaunt for frequent travelers. With Foxconn’s Mount Pleasant factory slated to open in 2020, and Amazon opening a facility three years ago in Pleasant Prairie, this area is padding the job market. Pretty much any kind of property you desire – from Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Usonians (rare, yes, but they do come on the market now and then) to brick bungalows – is here, with Oak Creek and Franklin leading the pack in new-home construction.


 {Going Big} 
Median Single-Family Price: $289,862
Once a swath of open land, Franklin is now a vibrant city but still holds onto its pastoral heritage with 627-acre Whitnall Park, Milwaukee County’s largest public green space. Angela Kallay, of Benefit Realty, specializes in this city of 36,000 residents. “You may find a home for $200,000 or $1 million,” she says. Two-bedroom condos are king here for singles but families can “go big” with a 3,000-plus-square-foot home with three to six bedrooms built less than 20 years ago. Sweet-spot price? Somewhere between $300,000 and $450,000. “The school district typically tops the list” of assets, Kallay says, along with “great walking and biking trails, and community activities including The Rock, which offers everything from baseball to snowboarding.”

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Where to Live Now: Your Guide to the Top Places to Live in Milwaukee



 {Starting Out} 
Median Single-Family Price: $136,030

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Close to Bay View’s restaurants and nightlife, but much quieter, Cudahy is a magnet for young couples buying their first home. Hugging Lake Michigan, a new wave of folks (many first-time buyers with young kids) are moving into bungalows, ranches and condos. “The newly renovated downtown area includes many local businesses,” says Mark Nicholson of Nicholson Realty, “such as gift shops, bakeries and a state-of-the-art library.” Access is key, including Mitchell International Airport and I-794 heading north to Downtown Milwaukee for a night out at the theater, dining or museums. “Cudahy is a fantastic community to live in and raise a family, especially with the excellent school system and wonderful city services.” Locals enjoy picturesque strolls on Lake Drive – where a lake-view home here will cost a fraction of what you’d pay on the Upper East Side of Milwaukee – or through Sheridan Park (“with a pool for summer swimming,” says Nicholson) plus a huge Fourth of July parade and summer farmers market. Large yards are also de rigueur: “Most properties are situated on half-acre lots,” he says.


Median Single-Family Price: $199,474
Our lone Racine County community (pop. 10,668) is here for a reason: location. Maybe kids and grandkids work in the city (or Waukesha or Racine counties) and you want to be near them – but not in the city. “The community offers a slower pace of life but with all the fun activities we still want,” says broker Therese Farrell, of Coldwell Banker Real Estate One in Kenosha, adding that 61 percent of residents are homeowners. Ranging from one-bedroom condos listing between $120,000 and $170,000, to three-bedroom brick ranches hovering around $200,000, there’s lots of downsizing options that won’t break the bank – and are near $400,000 to $500,000 houses. “People are drawn to this area because it is located between two metropolitan cities but maintains its unique, small-town charm,” says Farrell. That includes ChocolateFest every Memorial Day weekend. And while retired people might not be applying for the 10,000 jobs expected to be created at Foxconn in Mount Pleasant – an easy half-hour commute east – it’s going to add more amenities. “The real-estate community is actually anticipating a housing-market boost,” says Farrell. “More families will be in a place to purchase a home and not just rent.”

“From 2010-2017 there has been an increase (in Burlington) of around 100 housing units, meaning more homes were built in this area, [whether] homes, condos or apartments,” says Therese Farrell, of Coldwell Banker Real Estate One in Kenosha.

Source: Wisconsin Realtors Association


Oak Creek

 {Trading Up} 
Median Single-Family Price: $252,323
This is where you’re going to find that less-than-25-year-old home for under $300,000 – on a large lot with a 2.5-car garage – as a place for your family to stay put throughout their schooling. Subdivisions filled with four-plus-bedroom homes (mostly Colonial and custom) are the norm. “Oak Creek is becoming known as the ‘Brookfield of the east,’” says Angela Kallay of Benefit Realty. Realtor Andrew Pain, of Knight Realty/Keller Williams, who sells in this area often, also notes that the median income has increased almost $20,000 since 2000. A new high school and growing town center (including the library and city offices) reflect that economic growth. “Homes are being listed in the $200,000 range. It’s a fair amount of new buildings, but there are also lots for those who want to build.”

Now that Swedish retailer IKEA opened in Oak Creek, locals have convenient access to Billy bookcases and Poäng chairs – the retailer’s two most popular items.

‘Where to Live Now’ appears in the April 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning April 2nd, or buy a copy at

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine),, and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.