Considering a Move to WI- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Considering a Move to WI

    We are looking at a move to Eau Claire WI from CO and wanted to hear from the experts on the riding in/around/relatively near Eau Claire.

    Also, what's the cost of living/housing/people like in the area? We've read a bunch online but that never seems to truly match reality so any insight you guys an share would be great!

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    Here's a link to a map of Lowes Creek

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    Funny, first time I've visited the WI/MN section and I find a post about my hometown...ask away with specific questions and I'll do my best to answer. Here's what I will tell you right now.

    We have a park with about 6 miles of nice singletrack at Lowes Creek Park. They seem to add a new section every year and it's pretty well taken care of. They do charge an annual fee to park there, I think it is $30....well worth it to have the place. No major elevation changes (it is Wisconsin), but a good time for sure.

    Also check out CAMBA and Levis-Trow. Both have excellent trails and are fairly close by.

    As for cost of living, it's pretty cheap in my opinion. I grew up in EC but have also lived in Dallas, TX and Minneapolis, MN. As an example, when I moved back to EC from Minneapolis, we sold our 30 year old house and built a brand new house for the same money. Housing is very affordable relative to metro areas...where you may get bit is on property taxes. Not sure what your rates are where you live, but our property taxes in WI are more than double what we paid in MN. Other than that, cost of living is cheap relative to the metro areas I've lived. Night out for dinner with the wife can be had for $50 no problem including a couple of drinks. Being in a smaller town, we have had to make more of an effort to seek out entertainment. If you are an outdoor person though, there are plenty of possibilities.

    As I said, throw out some specific questions and I will do my best to answer. If you have a family, or will at some point, it's a great place! Also, if you are needing any referrals for realtors or anything else like that, let me know.
    Last edited by seemana; 01-18-2010 at 01:44 PM.

  4. #4
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    I've never lived in the Eau Claire area specifically, but can speak fairly well to the area as I'm looking to move to Menomonie about 20min from that town in June. From Eau Claire you're just over an hour away from the Twin Cities (mpls/st. paul), and along the Chippewa River valley. Personally, I really like the geography of the region. You're not far from the Mississippi river valley also, and there's a lot of great parks and recreation available in the region. There are several other mountain biking trails other than Lowe's Creek. I have yet to ride the Levis Mound trails just south of Eau Claire (about 25min I think?). I have seen pictures and have heard many good things. I also here there's a very short track being developed in Menomonie. There are also many trails within an hour to two hour driving distance. This is pretty much the norm across Wisconsin, and I find myself enjoying trips around the state to explore new terrain.

    As to cost of living, I'm finding that it is comparable to the Green Bay area I'm currently residing in. As a student, I'm presently in a 2br apt with a garage and very comfortable living space for $700/mo. I'm looking at studios and efficiencies right now in Menomonie that are in the $250-$400 range. Beer is affordable I would see this as being an area far more economical than CO. However, there's not much for elevation. That said, the region does offer some of the most enjoyable hills in the state. I really enjoyed when I lived in the Twin Cities and would follow along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi river area. There are beautiful rolling hills filled with farms, woods, and tons of wildlife.

    I hope someone living around there could fill in with some more. Do you have any specific questions other than those posted?

  5. #5
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    Moving to WI

    Hi: Plenty of great riding can be found in the Hayward, Seeley, Cable area. CAMBA is the local organization and has built many fantastic singletrackl trails. In the spring there is the Cable Classic XC race, a pre-Fat in August and the Chequamegon 40 in September. In addition, Wisconsin has WEMS endurance racing series and WORS, off road series. There is the Tuscobia Ultra in December, just up the road in Park Falls.
    Additionally, Eau Claire is in a great location as you can drive to many beautiful places in the state within a few hours. Good Luck!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the info on riding/sots of living etc.! I have a ton of questions and hope you guys can help:

    1. Moving from CO one concern is the weather. We get snow here but it melts pretty quick (Hasn't really this year though) and can ride NEARLY year around. What's the "riding season" like there?
    2. How's the humidity?
    3. Any insights on what they don't tell you about Eau Claire? I've heard people are either really nice or rather curt and short
    4. How has the economy affected the EC area?

    Thanks again for all the help!

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    1. When it snows, it stays. Count on the first snow in October. That one may still melt though. Once November comes though, when the snow comes it won't be gone until at least March. You can certainly bike year-round if you are dressed and prepared for it. I find that my bike season generally starts in April on the road and May in the dirt (thawing ground = mud = trail damage). Last year I rode into November. So 8 months of riding without doing any snow days. I have riding buddies who ride year round, it's just not my cup of tea.
    2. Average humidity...if I had to guess ranges from 50 - 90% depending on the season. Summers can feel awful sticky and there is no such thing as a "dry heat" in our area. Not much more to say about that, it is what it is.
    3. As for the people...it's a mixed bag. We definitely don't have the southern hospitality like I experienced in Texas. And from the numerous visits I've had to CO over the years, in my opinion, people here are not as welcoming to strangers. That being said, I can't complain at all about the people really. I think people just stick to themselves a little bit more and take a little longer to warm up to you. I used to have full on conversations with random strangers in Texas while waiting at the grocery store or a restaurant. That doesn't happen as much here. Not to paint a negative picture though...I find the people in this area to be plenty friendly for my tastes without being intrusive.
    4. The economy...I think EC has been hit like everyone else. We have a pretty solid healthcare system that employs a lot of people and that doesn't change that much. There is a fairly good number of blue-collar workers as well, who have probably taken the bulk of the abuse. Other than those two areas, many people in the area work in small businesses or professional offices. I don't think we've been hit any harder than anyone else. I own a financial services company and we have well over 1000 clients we work with from all different backgrounds. We've had very few of them who have lost jobs or gone through foreclosures. From where I sit, our clients may have a little less income, but nobody had really gotten beat up too badly.

    Any more questions, let me know. As I said before, if you have a family or will be starting a family, I don't think you can go wrong with EC. I'm assuming you're an outdoorsy type, and there are a lot of options for you in the area and sorrounding areas. If you are into the big city type stuff, Minneapolis/St Paul is only about an hour away and has everything you could want in those regards. My wife still drives there every few months for a haircut and some shopping...it gives her a chance to get out of town for the day and is an easy drive. Plus, you can get anywhere in the state in about 4 hours or less, so your options really are virtually endless for activities.

    Hope this helps.

  8. #8
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    ^^ great answers there.

    Only addition I would make is that my impression of the people is a little more favorable. Of course I've almost always lived in either WI or MN, but I would say that people in that region specifically are very welcoming and nice. I used to do a lot of business in TX, and I would definitely say we're nothing like down there. However, I see it as a more restrained, cohesive, type of mentality.

    I love the weather. Eau Claire is in a spot where they still get some of the good thunderstorms that come off the plains (there are NO storms in Green Bay...stinkin' lakes block everything), it's not quite as frigid cold as more areas in MN, but winter is for serious all the same. I'm excited to move to the area

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    When you talk about thunderstorms are you talking about the great light shows or damaging winds/rain that doesn't stop for days? Having lived in FL, I've been there and done that with thunderstorms and high winds. A few direct hits by the likes of Charlie or Katrina was enough of that crap for me.

  10. #10
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    wheelock may have portrayed the people here better than I did. After re-reading my comments, they do seem somewhat negative. I absolutely did not intend them to be. Having moved back to EC five years ago, I have no desire to leave and enjoy the people here as much as anywhere else I've lived.

    The thunderstorms here are relatively mild. Occassionally we'll get some high winds that knock down some trees...but those are few and far between. Mostly just some loud thunder and flashes of lightning. I can only remember 3 real damaging storms from my childhood and since I've moved back (about 25 years worth of experience).

    The thing I like best about the area is that it still has a small town feel, but you can find nearly all the amenities of a big city either right in your backyard or a quick hour drive away. I can't imagine living anywhere else anymore.

  11. #11
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    You guys sure you don't work for the EC Chamber of Commerce? I seriously appreciate the honest feedback/insights/trail details. Anything you think I "need to know" just send it my way. If we make the move I hope to ride with you guys.

  12. #12
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    Ha..nope. I just have a greater appreciation for the place having left for nearly 10 years and then coming back. If you do make the move, let us know here...I'll have the chamber send a welcome package

    Good luck with the decision!

  13. #13
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    Everyone in Wisconsin is very nice....except for me

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    Iím late to this conversation but I thought Iíd add my 0.02.

    A bit more about the people and riding at Lowes Creek. There is a core group of us that ride every Monday night and we have a blast. Lowes Creek is not a destination resort by any means, but the group of people and some fun trails make it a great place to ride. Iíve been riding with the group for two years now and consider many of them my friends. We essentially have nothing in common except for our love of mtn biking. But that is more than enough. If you move here, weíre at Lowes Creek at 6pm on Mondaysí. All riders welcome, no riders dropped.

    What is coming soon to Eau Claire is a new trail system just north of town- Northwest Community Park. We will start building trails this spring and hopefully have a great loop by summersí end. Itíll have 2-3x the elevation change compared to Lowes Creek and should be a blast once itís done. Come help build some trails!

    As other shave said there is the CAMBA system thatís only 2 hours north and then Levis Mound only an hour south. Both great places to ride with distinctly different terrain. With the CAMBA system you can easily link of 20+ miles of single track without doubling back. 40 if you do an out and back. Nothing over-the-top either, just some good mtn biking. Biking at Levis is a lot different. There are many sections there Iíve yet to clean. Some challenging spots but some great riding.

    As far a housing Iíd search Eau Claire real estate and search thru the local web sites. I can give a couple of suggestions if you get interested. Based on my last home appraisal/refinance, Iíd say home prices dropped about 10% in the last 2 years.

    I moved here from the Sacramento CA area and donít regret it one bit. The Jan, Feb, March, get tough, but the 8-9 months the rest of the year is great. Iím used to the hot weather so the high humidity days donít bother me, you just sweat and drink a lot (beer or water). If youíre motivated and have the gear, there is a small group of riders that rider throughout the winter, but Iím not that hardcore, I wait until it warms up above 30.

    Donít let anyone scare you Ė there are tons of nice people here. 

  15. #15
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    Moving to Eau Claire

    I live in the Twin Cities and work for a company based in the EC-area. Lowes Creek is a great trail system, particular when you consider the mileage per capita. Kudos to the LC trail crew. I always bring a bike with me when heading to the HQ for a couple days.

    We've been looking at relocating for a couple years and have probably looked at 40 different homes. As best we can determine, homes in the EC area trade for ~60-65% of comparable properties in the Twin Cities when comparing price per square foot. Inside EC city limits the taxes are high. Much of the newer development is south of I94 and you get pretty good-sized lots ta boot.

    OP - PM me if you'd like any more info or a referral to a local RE agent.
    Professional Amateur

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaySlowWhitey
    We are looking at a move to Eau Claire WI from CO and wanted to hear from the experts on the riding in/around/relatively near Eau Claire.

    Also, what's the cost of living/housing/people like in the area? We've read a bunch online but that never seems to truly match reality so any insight you guys an share would be great!
    I've heard Lowes Creek is good, but I grew up riding the Levis/Trow Mounds which would be easy striking distance for a single-day trip, and it is a fantastic trail system! 20-25 miles of amazingly well built singletrack, great views, with trails ranging from cruisers to technical skill fests. Definitely check those out!
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

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