Madison, Wisconsin

Berkeley Of The Midwest



Sunny Days: 187
49100 Affordability
95100 Schools
42100 Diversity
80100 Safety

The eight years that I spent at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I have incredibly fond memories of. It's a beautiful place, with four seasons up in Wisconsin. And really wonderful people.
-Author: Laurel Clark

The Best Thing About Madison?

The summers

After a long, cold winter (wind chills can drop to 30 below), Madisonians greet the sun with gusto. The summers here are insane. Music and beer festivals punctuate almost every weekend, there are plenty of bike paths all over the city and there’s a lively nightlife, all on an isthmus surrounded by two incredible lakes.

Here's a transplater on living in Madison:
I moved from Houston 5 years ago. I miss the food really bad and that’s my biggest complaint. The winters are terrible and long but love summers here and love that you can find greenery all over. Houston was all concrete (I lived downtown and then by the galleria). The traffic is nonexistent compared to Houston. There are a lot of community minded things to do but not a ton of big artists if you’re into live music. The bar scene is much less varied here in my experience too. very few strip malls, cleaner in general, the roads are WAY better, air quality is excellent!

The Worst Thing About Madison?

It’s pretty insular

Madisonians are very pleased with themselves. Surrounded by more conservative communities, the notorious liberal enclave is renowned for its progressive attitude, but it can still be uncomfortably segregated. Change takes a while because initiatives often get bogged down in navel-gazing bureaucracy. Though at its worst, Madison is still a decent place to live.

Here's a transplanter on the vibe:
It's hard to get to know people in Madison unless you make that effort first. So in other words, not too different from the East Coast (whatever that is… as if Maine and Boston are the same place.) Madison is definitely not a conservative town politically, but still has a pretty reserved feel despite its liberal politics.

Lifestyle Of Madison

Madisonians are friendly, outgoing and pretty helpful when they want to be. There’s an emphasis on health and hardiness and plenty of ways to indulge in both. The university and seat of state and county government provide jobs to a good percentage of individuals and the Epic campus just outside of town has brought Madison firmly into the tech sector.

As for housing, if you are a 20/30-something looking for a downtown lifestyle then you’re in luck. Lots of high-density rentals have been and continue to be built across Madison’s downtown area.

If on the other hand you’re looking for single family homes, Madison has plenty to choose from. Turn-of-the-century and architecturally significant homes are plentiful across the hot neighborhoods of Marquette, Dudgeon-Monroe, & Schenk-Atwood. All pedestrian friendly with tons of access to mini-commercial centers on their main streets.

Check out the Madison calendar of events to see what happens here:

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Affordable and accessible

Just three hours from Chicago, Madison provides a respite from big city life while offering lots of ways to have fun. Conventions and other events mean that the city can get kind of crowded, but if you know where to go -- and when -- it’s a lovely city to live in.

Neighborhoods in Madison

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College Students

State-Langdon is one of the hottest spots for the student crowd. You’re on the border of campus and incredibly cheap eats are always available at the food trucks outside Memorial Library. Plenty of bars for nighttime refreshments and tons of new apartment buildings along University Avenue offer “reasonable” pricing on close proximity housing.

  • State-Langdon
  • Campus (UW is integrated into the city so the actual Campus is a neighborhood)
  • Vilas (if you’re looking for a quieter option)


Young Professionals

There are several options for young professionals in Madison but Downtown should be your starting point in a search. First off, you are living on “the Isthmus” here and that gives you incredible views of the Capitol Dome, and Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. In addition to the view you get amazing restaurants and nightlife, and the center of the city’s arts scene – all within walking distance. Within your Downtown search check out the First Settlement neighborhood. It has an incredible concentration of arts, city greenery, community activities and cool boutique restaurants, bars and living options.

  • Downtown
  • First Settlement
  • Marquette



Monroe-Dudgeon is a really interesting option for those who want a walkable social life but also are interested in a bit more of a chill vibe. Tons of groovy cafes, restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, and galleries keep the night and daylife active but there is more of a home and condo/grown-up residential scene that keeps the college and just-out-of-college crew at arm’s length.

  • Dudgeon-Monroe
  • Schenk-Atwood
  • Tenney-Lapham



Madison has several hotspots for those looking for LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhoods. Middleton has the highest concentration of community residents in the city and a mix of commercial - restaurants, bars and shopping, greenery with great parks, and businesses - in case you are lucky enough to work in the neighborhood. East Side is another popular option with a big arts scene and tons of walkable social and shopping spots.

  • Middleton
  • East Side



If you’re a Downtown kind of family then look at Dudgeon-Monroe. It’s walkable to a big locally-owned social scene but filled with beautiful Mid-Century Modern homes and bungalows. You also have access to some of the best public schools in the city and incredible outdoor recreation opportunities with Lake Wingra on the edge of the neighborhood. If instead you’re ready for quieter, more “suburban” city options then look at Wexford. Located in West Madison, you’re in the heart of great public and private school options. It has tons of community activities, a great swim club (critical in the culture of Midwestern summers, a water park and plenty of interesting restaurants and shopping.

  • Dudgeon-Monroe
  • Wexford
  • Westmorland
  • Shorewood Hills