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Three hot housing tips for prospective AmeriCorps members

The biggest question I had when deciding to move to Milwaukee for City Year was, “How would I find a place to live on my own?”

I moved to Milwaukee for City Year almost a year ago from Michigan, but I didn’t know much about Milwaukee before I was offered the position here. Through trial and error, I eventually figured it out and learned from some mistakes made. Below are some tips and suggestions from my experience.

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To learn more, visit our living in Milwaukee page.

#1-Do your research and visit apartments

For starters, do your research online, and then go check it out. This goes for many things when you accept a position in another state or city. But I scoured the internet for hours learning about the different neighborhoods, attractions and restaurants that Milwaukee had to offer. While this gave me a solid idea going into it, nothing eased my mind more than actually visiting. My partner and I made a weekend trip to visit apartments, and once we found a couple that we liked, we explored the neighborhood’s restaurants and coffeeshops. And that was how we really ended up deciding where we wanted to live.

The second reason why you should visit the apartments is because you can’t always trust the pictures that they show you online. I realized that there are some people that just know how to take a really good picture of a not-so-great apartment.

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Pro tip—when you visit the apartments, ask how much tenants normally spend on utilities like water and electricity and expect to pay around $60-100 for electricity.

#2-Live centrally located

While doing my research, I remember reading a bit of advice from a resource that a City Year alum shared that said, “You can live in a bad apartment for a year, but it’s hard to live far away for a whole year.” So, while you don’t know what specific school you’ll serve at, you should still try to live as centrally located as you can for your first year. I wouldn’t recommend living downtown because parking is expensive, and it isn’t really near the schools that we serve, but the office is downtown, and most busses go through the downtown area or so it seems. I found an apartment that was near a Hop Stop, and it was only a 10-minute ride to the office. That being said, be aware of how you plan on getting around the city. And if you ride the bus, look on google maps for what busses you would take. If you’re driving/walking, then check out your commute.

#3-Be open to anything and use City Year resources

Moving can be difficult. If you want roommates, use the community on Slack that City Year creates to find them. That way you can look for a place together and from what I’ve seen the people that have roommates have bigger apartments because they have a bigger budget to work with. Generally speaking, you should budget to spend $350-$650 on rent. Even if you’re moving with a friend or partner look at where the schools we serve are located and be open. I was kind of dead set on staying on the East Side or Riverwest and looking back it really narrowed my research, which is great, but it did keep me in a box. Now, I think it would be nice to look into other equally as amazing areas of Milwaukee. 

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Still curious about what it’s like living in Milwaukee? Check out this video featuring some City Year Milwaukee alums.

Tiler Jewell proudly serves as a City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member on the Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts team. She is originally from Bay City, Michigan, and studied communication and creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University before moving to Milwaukee. When asked why she serves with City Year she said, “I serve to create a positive environment for my students and challenge the inequity of our education system to ensure every child receives the educational foundation they deserve.”

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