Is Milwaukee Wisconsin Safe?

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I grew up in the New Berlin suburb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin. New Berlin is about a 20 minutes drive from downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee cannot be considered a safe city, but despite the statistics, most of the danger is in specific areas or on the north side, so most of the city is still considered safe. This northside is a place that most tourists or visitors would not travel to. Most of the surrounding suburbs and areas within the city are considered to be safe.

Like any major city, there are precautions you should take when visiting or living in Milwaukee.

Table of Contents

Milwaukee’s Crime Rate and Safety

Milwaukee cannot be considered a safe city, but most of the danger is in specific areas, not the entire city. The most dangerous areas are on the city’s northside, which is also an area that most tourists or visitors would never go to unless they had a specific reason to travel there.

Police in Milwaukee report that most of the violent crimes in Milwaukee happen to people who are known to each other. So you should be safe if you are a tourist or are not hanging out with a violent group of individuals or involved in drugs or other illegal activities.

I have driven around most of Milwaukee but will admit I rarely have gone to the northside or some of the more dangerous parts of the city. They are just areas of the city that I stay out of and have no reason to go to or even drive through.

Most violent parts of Milwaukee are north of West Wisconsin Avenue and away from the Lake Michigan area; the dangerous northside areas are north of the city between the 43 and 41 freeways. The Lake Michigan area of Milwaukee is well known for some costly and lovely old mansions and expensive real estate.

Here is the most dangerous area of Milwaukee In order of how dangerous they are:

  • Metcalfe Park
  • North Division
  • Franklin Heights
  • Park West
  • Washington Park
  • Garden Homes
  • Borchert Field
  • Sherman Park
  • Saint Joseph
  • Concordia

In recent years Milwaukee has gotten a lot of bad press as a homicide city; murders in the city have continued to increase. Many of these violent crimes have also increased among juveniles. A lot of the crimes happen in these violent parts of the north side of the city.

The Reality Of Milwaukee’s Safety Concerns

I have lived in a suburb of Milwaukee, New Berlin. I have never been robbed, pickpocketed, assaulted, or had any other crimes or violent acts. I never think about violence, as any violence does not surround me. The home I grew up in has never been robbed or had any issues or violence against it.

This is the reality of traveling or living in Milwaukee; you can live in Milwaukee your entire life and not see or be touched by any of the crimes or violence of the city. This is because the city is segregated along racial and poverty lines; in fact, Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the United States.

I grew up in New Berlin, and in my High School, almost everyone was white; it is still similar to that today. This kind of segregation is widespread in Milwaukee. I have friends who live in a nice part of downtown Milwaukee, and they tell me how nice and safe it is.

Most of the more dangerous parts of Milwaukee are also predominately black areas. About 40% of the entire city of Milwaukee is black, but most of the black population lives on the northside in these poverty and violent areas. People who live on the north side of Milwaukee are more likely to suffer from poverty, go to prison, or be unemployed than in any other part of Milwaukee.

Not too far from this northside poverty-stricken and violence-infested area of Milwaukee, you will find magnificent mansions on the lakefront that are worth millions of dollars and extremely safe areas. This shows how segregated the city of Milwaukee is along the lines of race and poverty and why you can live in Milwaukee your entire life but never be touched by any violence or the effects of the violence.

This poverty and racial segregation of the city of Milwaukee ensures some parts of Milwaukee are extremely unsafe and violent while others are very safe. The Historic Third Ward is a great trendy place right on the lake and considered safe. Most of downtown Milwaukee, the East Side, Upper, and Lower East Side, Shorewood, and Whitefish Bay are safe, as are many of the other parts of Milwaukee and the surrounding areas of Milwaukee.

Even though Milwaukee has a bad rap for being violent, the truth is that most of the city and surrounding areas are considered relatively safe. And if you live and work in one of those areas of the city, you will not be exposed to the violence or other issues that are so prevalent in the violent parts of the city.

But whether you are visiting or living in Milwaukee there, here are things you should do if you visit Milwaukee and also any large city in general:

  • Keep Your Belongings Safe – For people to pickpocket, you need to give them a reason. Keep your wallet, purse, and other belongings safe and secure. This is one reason I like to travel with a backpack it helps me keep my belongings secure.
  • Look Around You – Look around you and see if you see anyone that looks suspicious. If you do or feel threatened, move away or go to another location.
  • Park In A Secure Location – If you have a car, motorcycle, or bicycle, make sure you park it in a secure location. Throughout Milwaukee are paid parking garages which are all secure. There is a lot of parking on the street, which is also secure. Just make sure that you park in a well-lit area if you are traveling at night and that the area you are parking in is considered safe.
  • Do Not Wander – Do not wander or drive around Milwaukee, especially on the north side of the more dangerous areas. There is no reason for you to be there unless you know someone there that you will visit.

As I mentioned, I grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I had a safe and pretty Idyllic childhood. I remember going to a local swimming pool during the summer, and sometimes they would bus some of the black kids from the northside to spend a day at our pool. We never really thought much about it as we knew it was just for a day, and tomorrow things would be back to normal again.

I have spent time in downtown Milwaukee and love the downtown part of Milwaukee. Milwaukee is a fabulous city on Lake Michigan, offering great sailing and water sports.

But it was not until I started doing some research for this blog that I realized how very segregated my city is, along with poverty and racial lines, and how little most of us who live there care as it does not affect our lives. Living in Milwaukee or the surrounding areas, we do not think much of the violence on the north side of Milwaukee as it does not directly affect us and our lives.

So that is why you can have a place like Milwaukee, considered one of the top 10 most violent cities in the United States. Yet, at the same time, most of the city’s population and surrounding areas live in very safe areas and never experience violence.

This is the truth and fact about Milwaukee. Even though Milwaukee is considered a violent city, only a proportion of the city’s residents live with that violence daily. Most of us never see or experience it, so we see Milwaukee as a safe city to live in and work in.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about travel, life, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues and travel.

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What To Do In Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Milwaukee, also known as Cream City is a wonderful place to live or visit. The city is filled with a lot of great food and drink plus a host of interesting museums and factory tours. There are a lot of great activities on Lake Michigan or near the lakefront. This city of festivals has something to offer everyone.

You can find out more by reading 15 Things To Do In Milwaukee, An Insiders Guide by clicking here.

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Mongolia is generally safe to visit, but there are specific safety precautions that you should take when you are traveling in Mongolia for any traveler. There are areas in the city you should be extra cautious when traveling. Also, if you are out in the countryside, there are safety concerns you need to be aware of.

You can find out more by reading our blog Is It Safe To Visit Mongolia? Staying Safe While Traveling Mongolia by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel
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