Don’t Call It A Downgrade


I’ve been a Milwaukee resident for less than a year now and the one question I get asked the most is: Why did I leave Chicago to come here? Even though I should be used to it, it always catches me off guard because I can’t help but think to myself, why wouldn’t I leave Chicago for a place like this?

It's no secret we are Wisconsin sports fans!
It’s no secret we are Wisconsin sports fans!

Here’s the thing,  I adore the Windy City. It was an incredible place to live, work and play and I will always look back on my years there with love and joy. I started my career in Chicago in college admissions. I lived and worked with my best friends and my sister and her family. I convinced my husband to try Chicago out after having lived in Madison for 6 years before that. I went to graduate school there and had both of my babies in the swanky hospital downtown. I loved everything about Chicago but as we grew as a family and as we came closer to having to select schools and daycare for our kids, we came to the realization that we were no longer as excited about the pace, the size and the cost of the Second City. It’s not a secret that the cost of living in Chicago is climbing as the city continues to up the sales tax, city stickers, parking and other day-to-day things one needs to function at a very basic level there. So before we committed to any schools for our kids, we decided that it was time to go.

Wedded bliss born in downtown MKE!
Wedded bliss born in downtown MKE!

Milwaukee has always been on our radar as our next stop on our adventures as a family. My husband was raised in Milwaukee from the age of 2 all the way through high school and we got married downtown in O’Donnell Park.

With family and friends with kids the same ages as ours, we realized that we were ready for a less congested, less expensive yet equally exciting and rich place to live. With a robust downtown and unique neighborhoods with their own festivals, sprawling parks, museums, restaurants and small businesses, we couldn’t help but realize that we would get all of the same benefits we already had in Chicago with the added bonus of less traffic, more support from our family and more bang for our buck. Finding a school for our kids was a breeze too and working our connections has resulted in our kids going to school with our friends’ kids which for me is novel concept considering I grew up moving to a new city every 3-4 years.

Not to mention, did you know that Milwaukee is the only city in the United States that has not one but TWO all-women colleges? As a higher education professional and  a women’s studies major, I basically found my dream city in the cream city (yep, I’ve got jokes) as I am now working at one of those two colleges.

So for what it’s worth, if you’re ever thinking: “Milwaukee is ok but it’s no Chicago/New York/San Francisco…” just remember there’s a family in one of those cities looking for a special place like this to live. And when they get here, they’ll need you to welcome them home.

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Mariana is a Milwaukee transplant who feels truly at home for the first time in her life. With over a decade of professional experience in college admissions, Mariana now works in multicultural recruitment for a local university. She has a deep passion for empowering underrepresented communities to pursue education and fulfilling careers. When she's not pulling out toy dinosaurs from her bag at staff meetings, you can find her on the couch, Netflix n chillin' her with her two kids, Gabriela and Oscar, and her partner, Eric.


  1. I couldn’t agree more!! I’ve gotten so many questions from people about why on EARTH would we come back to the midwest after years of living in much “cooler” places… There really is NO place like Milwaukee. 🙂


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