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Milwaukee’s 5 Best Walkable Communities

Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, Bay View, Wauwatosa, Cedarburg...what do these communities have in common, besides sidewalks? High home-value appreciation, memory-making experiences, and a sense of community nearly all home buyers desire. There is a big resurgence back to the city and near-city communities from the suburbs. The real estate markets in these communities are hot for a variety of reasons, but one key factor linking them all together is their walkable vibe.

These five communities have sidewalks, street lamps, running trails, shops, restaurants, and a thriving sense of community buyers want. In a world that is so plugged in, here you get to unplug and take a walk with your family, see your neighbors, and run into people throughout your community just by walking outside your front door. These communities provide a sense of family many people are looking for in their lives, along with a cloak of security while raising children. The Friday night football game is an all-town event, and Shorewood High School’s theatre performances attract the entire community, as well as people from nearby towns. It is special here.

Whitefish Bay ~ This community has it all: sidewalks, top-rated schools (#1 in Wisconsin), street lamps, village restaurants, fantastic retail shops, salons, the only local movie theater, bars, grocery stores, both a drug store chain and a family drug store that has been servicing the community for many years, a farmers market, walkable schools, many wonderful community-organized events, a thriving, upscale variety store that has been a part of the community since the ‘60s, and much more.

Of special note, the Whitefish Bay Civic Center is very active in delivering its very popular 4th of July Parade, Pumpkin Carving Contests, Ice Cream Socials, and Thursday night concerts across from the local, well-run library. Enjoy two great kids’ parks: Cahill (complete with the best community baseball field in the area) and Klode Park. The beach at Klode Park provides beautiful Lake Michigan Views and white sandy beaches.

Shorewood ~ Shorewood’s Business Improvement District is one of the most progressive in the Milwaukee area and has helped make remarkable improvements over the last five years. Shorewood is bustling with the first two-story grocery store (Metro Market), coffee shops, restaurants (one with a community board you can use to buy a friend a drink or two), bars, retail shops, and apartment complexes. Oakland Avenue has been beautified into a robust shopping and eating experience. The schools are top-rated and kids walk or ride bikes to school in this mile-wide community. The homes are historic with a wide range of architectural styles—from the bungalows to colonials to Tudors to mansions.

One of my favorite features of this Village is Atwater Park. Friends of Atwater Park helped develop this park into a vibrant gathering place where people go for their morning yoga on the beaches of Lake Michigan, play in the kids’ area, to surf Lake Michigan (yes, you can!), and just enjoy the fantastic beach. Come enjoy the Men’s Club Chicken Dinner or the fireworks overlooking the beach. This is one of Milwaukee’s best beaches.

Bay View ~ Bay View is coming alive in a way that is breaking records in appreciating home values. This community has been quietly gaining momentum as one of the hot places to live. Still somewhat affordable for now, Bay View hugs the south shore of Lake Michigan with the laid-back South Shore Yacht Club. Sidewalks, street lamps, views of Lake Michigan, retail shops, great bars, coffee shops, and fabulous restaurants are just a short stroll out your front door. Bay View has an electric vibe and is a very laid-back community trending somewhat younger than the family-oriented Shorewood or Whitefish Bay. This is the land of first-time home buyers.

Wauwatosa ~ I could talk about how great Wauwatosa is for hours. Wauwatosa is the quintessential village filled with mom-and-pop shops, critically acclaimed restaurants, a rolling river, historical bridges, and a revitalized, bustling downtown reminiscent of ages’ past.

One of the most special things about Wauwatosa is the Menomonee River Parkway. This park hugs the village of Wauwatosa for miles and has a robust biking and walking trail in the heart of the village. The schools are top-notch, and the sidewalks and trails interconnect the neighborhoods. Wauwatosa is the home of the ever-growing, premier Medical College of Wisconsin, major healthcare organizations, and a budding research park. The shopping is the best of Wisconsin thanks to Mayfair Mall and the village shops being in the same robust community. Calling Wauwatosa home is an easy choice.

Cedarburg ~ I have to talk about Cedarburg because it is the new Whitefish Bay…I can hear many of you cringing when I said that, but it is true. Homeowners who leave Whitefish Bay usually leap frog right to Cedarburg because the community “feel” is the same and yet so much more affordable. Would-be homeowners can get a newly constructed home in Cedarburg for around $500,000. That same home in Whitefish Bay would be well over $1,000,000. So, the affordably index is better in Cedarburg, and unlike all the other walkable communities discussed here, buyers can buy a newly built home with all the bells and whistles—including large lawns. Cedarburg has the same great schools, sidewalks, lamp posts, and vibrant downtown. The Cedarburg pool is one of the North Shore’s best summer attractions. Most everything in Cedarburg is just a walk out your front door, even from your brand new home.

All of these walkable towns and villages have a great sense of community. Buyers are in the land of multiple offers in these areas because of the strong desire and high demand for these communities has grown. This is a result of geography, but, more importantly, of the city leadership, business improvement districts, and communities that have invested in re-developing their city centers to make them vibrant community hubs.

It is easy to be a part of something bigger in these communities, to get involved and contribute through the schools, to find community volunteer opportunities, or to shop locally. These special places remind us of our childhood…many of us are lucky to call these places home, and I’ve made it my life’s work to help others do the same.

Powers Realty Group is a distinctive boutique real estate broker focused on the needs of customers delivering exceptional results. We are the trusted local experts. Call us today about buying or selling your home.

Call Suzanne Powers