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Best Cities To Live In Wisconsin

Last updated 02/13/2024 by

Miriam Belen-Rodriguez

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Wisconsin, known for its natural beauty and rich history, is home to cities like Milwaukee, Madison, and Lake Geneva, each offering unique living experiences. With its brewing heritage and robust healthcare system, Milwaukee combines historical charm with modern development. Madison, the state capital, is recognized for its high-quality education and healthcare, while Lake Geneva, a picturesque resort town, offers a serene lifestyle influenced by tourism. These cities reflect Wisconsin’s diverse cultural and economic landscape.
Wisconsin, a state celebrated for its stunning natural landscapes and a rich tapestry of history, lies in the heart of the upper Midwest. Its cultural and economic fabric has been woven by the diverse influences of Native American tribes, European explorers, and early settlers. In the present day, Wisconsin emerges as a beacon of industry, education, and environmental care, skillfully merging its historical roots with a forward-thinking and innovative approach to contemporary challenges.

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Best cities to live in Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, established on the shores of Lake Michigan, has a rich history that dates back to its founding in the early 19th century. This city is renowned for its diverse cultural heritage, strong industrial roots, and as a significant center for brewing, earning it the nickname “Brew City.”

Milwaukee snapshot

Average Home Price$167,617
Cost of Living94.926 Regional Price Parity (RPP for the US is 100, lower = lower than average, higher = higher than average)
Crime51 incidents per 1,000 residents. (Average crime rate in the US is 23.48 per 1,000 residents (FBI, US Census))
WeatherHumid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters.

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Milwaukee healthcare

Milwaukee’s healthcare system is notable for its strong network of hospitals and medical facilities. Despite Wisconsin’s varying healthcare rankings, Milwaukee stands out with its well-equipped hospitals and medical research institutions. This commitment to healthcare excellence makes Milwaukee an important regional medical hub.
Milwaukee HospitalsAurora St. Luke’s Medical Center ranks No. 1 in metro Milwaukee and is nationally recognized in obstetrics, gynecology, and heart and vascular care. Additionally, ten Aurora Health Care hospitals are named in the U.S. News & World Report ‘Best Hospitals’ 2023-2024 list​.
Other Notable HospitalsFroedtert Hospital & The Medical College of Wisconsin is also highly ranked, known for specialties in pulmonology, nephrology, ear, nose and throat medicine, and urology. Three Milwaukee-area hospitals, including Froedtert, rank in the top 100 in the U.S. on America’s Best Hospital List​.

Milwaukee walkability:

Milwaukee offers a mix of urban and suburban experiences, with areas like Juneau Town scoring high on walkability. This indicates ease of access to amenities on foot in several neighborhoods, although overall walkability may vary across the city.
Overall WalkabilityMilwaukee offers excellent walkability, with some locations, such as Juneau Town, having a Walk Score of 94. This implies that most daily errands do not require a car, making it convenient for pedestrians.
Highly Walkable AreasThere are areas in Milwaukee considered ‘Walker’s Paradises,’ like the Juneau Town neighborhood, which boasts a Walk Score of 99, indicating that daily errands can easily be accomplished on foot.
Neighborhood VariabilityWalkability in Milwaukee varies by neighborhood. Juneau Town is the most walkable neighborhood in Milwaukee with a neighborhood Walk Score of 94.
City RankingMilwaukee is one of the most walkable large cities in the US, with excellent transit options and a bikeable infrastructure.

Milwaukee education:

Milwaukee presents a diverse educational landscape with various public and private schools. Schools like Reagan College Preparatory High School demonstrate strong academic performance, contributing to the city’s educational offerings.
Milwaukee Area School DistrictsIn Milwaukee, the school districts vary in performance and offerings. Reagan College Preparatory High School is one of the top-rated schools in the area.
High Schools in MilwaukeeSeveral high schools in Milwaukee are recognized for their academic performance. Examples include Reagan College Preparatory High School and Washington Elementary School.
Public School PerformanceThe performance of public schools in Milwaukee varies, with some schools achieving high rankings in statewide assessments.
Top Public Schools in MilwaukeeNotable public schools in Milwaukee, such as Reagan College Preparatory High School, demonstrate strong academic performance.

Milwaukee jobs and economy:

Milwaukee’s economy is characterized by manufacturing, healthcare, and brewing sectors. The job market shows modest growth with signs of stability. The city’s economic environment reflects positive and negative trends, indicating gradual but ongoing development.
Job Market GrowthMilwaukee’s job market has been experiencing modest growth. As of November, there was a 0.4% increase in jobs over the last 12 months, particularly in the leisure and hospitality sector​​.
Average Annual SalaryThe average annual salary in Milwaukee is $68,155.
Future Job GrowthWhile specific future job growth predictions for Milwaukee are not readily available, the current job market trend suggests a continuing but modest growth pattern​​.
Recent TrendsThe job market in Milwaukee is showing signs of stability with a slight increase in employment, although certain sectors like information have seen a decline. The unemployment rate remains low at 3.1%​​.
Attractiveness to New ResidentsAs of early 2024, Milwaukee’s job market shows positive growth, with a declining unemployment rate now at 3.1%. Key sectors like construction and manufacturing are experiencing year-over-year growth, indicating a robust and diverse economic environment that could attract new residents seeking job opportunities.
Overall Economic StrengthMilwaukee’s economy has shown resilience with a mix of positive and negative indicators, suggesting an uneven yet ongoing growth trend​.

Best areas and suburbs of Milwaukee:

BrookfieldKnown for low crime rates, decent amenities, and beautiful homes, offering a suburban paradise.
Whitefish BayFeatures stunning waterfront properties, top schools, and a strong community vibe.
ShorewoodRecognized for its vibrant housing market, bars, restaurants, and parks.
Elm GroveA suburb with growing housing prices, known for its friendliness and safety.
GreendaleIdyllic family suburb with abundant greenery and a festive environment.
Oak CreekOffers affordable housing and a peaceful environment, becoming increasingly popular.
St. FrancisFeatures a growing job market, affordable homes, and essential amenities.
Fox PointKnown for its luxurious living and high-end homes.
WauwatosaAttractive for its rapidly appreciating housing market and breaking high property prices.
River HillsAttracting younger residents with new developments, not over the hill.


Madison, Wisconsin, established as the state capital in 1836, is a city that beautifully blends its historical roots with a progressive spirit. Named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, Madison is known for its vibrant cultural scene, progressive values, and as a center for education and political activity.
Average Home Price$375,817
Cost of Living95.321 Regional Price Parity (RPP for the US is 100, lower = lower than average, higher = higher than average)
Crime27.66 incidents per 1,000 residents. (Average crime rate in the US is 23.48 per 1,000 residents (FBI, US Census))
WeatherMadison experiences a humid continental climate with warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters.

Madison healthcare:

Madison is recognized for its high-quality healthcare facilities, including the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. The city’s healthcare system stands out in Wisconsin, known for its specialized care and medical research.
Madison HospitalsMadison is home to renowned healthcare facilities, including the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, which is recognized for its exceptional care and research, ranking as one of the leading hospitals in Wisconsin and nationally.
Other Notable HospitalsAdditional high-quality healthcare services are offered by other hospitals in Madison, such as Meriter Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital, both known for their wide range of medical services and specialties.

Madison walkability:

Madison offers a mix of walkable areas and others that are more car-dependent. The city features neighborhoods with high Walk Scores, indicating ease of accessibility for daily errands on foot, especially in downtown areas.
Overall WalkabilityMadison offers a diverse walkability landscape, with areas that are highly walkable, especially near the University and downtown areas. However, walkability can vary across different neighborhoods.
Highly Walkable AreasSome of the best neighborhoods for walkability in Madison, Wisconsin include Monroe Street, Marquette/Willy, Downtown, Schenk-Atwood, Greenbush, Eken Park, and Bay Creek Neighborhood.
Neighborhood VariabilityWalkability in Madison varies significantly by neighborhood, with some areas offering excellent accessibility and others being more car-dependent.
City RankingMadison’s overall walkability is influenced by its urban layout, public transportation system, and the presence of bike paths and green spaces.

Madison education:

The education system in Madison is distinguished by its high-quality public schools and school districts. The presence of the University of Wisconsin-Madison contributes to the city’s strong focus on educational quality and performance.
Madison Area School DistrictsMadison boasts several highly-rated school districts, with schools known for their academic excellence and strong test scores.
High Schools in MadisonU.S. News & World Report lists top high schools in the Madison area, including Middleton High School, Waunakee High School, and West High School.
Public School PerformanceMadison’s public schools, such as Memorial High School and Sun Prairie High School, are recognized for their strong performance and quality education.
Top Public Schools in MadisonNotable public schools in Madison include schools with high performance and comprehensive educational programs.

Madison jobs and economy:

Madison’s economy is dynamic, with a focus on sectors like technology, education, and healthcare. The city’s job market is growing, with competitive salaries and positive future job growth projections, making it an important economic hub in the region.
Job Market GrowthMadison has seen a healthy job market growth, particularly in sectors like healthcare, education, and technology, indicating a dynamic employment landscape.
Average Annual SalaryThe average annual salary in Madison is 71,516.
Future Job GrowthMadison is expected to have robust job growth in the coming years, driven by its expanding tech sector and educational institutions.
Recent TrendsMadison’s job market remains stable with a low unemployment rate, although trends may vary across different sectors.
Attractiveness to New ResidentsThe vibrant job market and diverse economic opportunities in Madison are key factors attracting new residents to the city.
Overall Economic StrengthMadison’s economy is robust and diverse, with strengths in education, healthcare, and technology, contributing to its strong economic standing.

Pro Tip

“When digital nomads choose a U.S. city to call home, they weigh factors like affordability, connectivity, community, and job opportunities. For instance, cities like Madison, Wisconsin, and Raleigh, North Carolina, are emerging as hotspots. They offer a lower cost of living, thriving job markets, especially in tech, and a growing community of like-minded nomads.
For digital nomads considering a move within the U.S., it’s essential to research and connect with local nomad communities. Online forums and local meetups can be invaluable for finding housing, understanding the local culture, and networking. Embrace flexibility and be ready to adapt to different lifestyles and work environments”.
– Tiffany McGee, Founder

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, established as a resort town in the 19th century, is known for its picturesque views and historical charm. Nestled on the shores of Geneva Lake, the city has been a haven for vacationers and residents alike, blending its rich history with a quaint, yet vibrant atmosphere. Lake Geneva’s allure comes from its beautiful lakefront, well-preserved historical buildings, and a community that values both its past and present, making it a captivating destination for those who appreciate natural beauty and historical significance.

Lake Geneva snapshot

Average Home Price$409,950
Cost of Living94.926 Regional Price Parity (RPP for the US is 100, lower = lower than average, higher = higher than average)
Crime18 incidents per 100,000 people. (Average crime rate in the US is 23.48 per 1,000 residents (FBI, US Census))
WeatherLake Geneva experiences a temperate climate with warm summers and cold, snowy winters.

Lake Geneva healthcare:

While smaller than Madison, Lake Geneva is home to quality healthcare facilities that serve the local community effectively. The city’s hospitals and clinics offer a range of services, with a focus on personalized care. The proximity to larger cities also provides residents with access to specialized medical services.
Lake Geneva HospitalsWhile Lake Geneva may not have large, nationally ranked hospitals, it is equipped with competent medical facilities providing quality healthcare services. The city and nearby areas ensure residents have access to necessary medical care.
Other Notable Healthcare FacilitiesLake Geneva also has several clinics and specialized healthcare centers that offer a range of services from routine check-ups to specialized treatments, contributing to the city’s healthcare infrastructure.

Lake Geneva walkability:

Lake Geneva offers a blend of walkable areas, particularly in its downtown and lakeside regions, where residents and visitors can easily access shops, restaurants, and scenic spots on foot. The city’s layout around the lake encourages walking, with several paths and trails enhancing its walkability.
Overall WalkabilityLake Geneva’s walkability is centered around its picturesque downtown and lakefront areas, which are easily accessible on foot. The city layout encourages walking for leisure and routine errands in these areas.
Highly Walkable AreasThe downtown area of Lake Geneva and the scenic lakefront are highly walkable, offering easy access to shops, restaurants, and beautiful views, popular with both residents and visitors.
Neighborhood VariabilityWalkability in Lake Geneva varies, with downtown and lakefront areas being more pedestrian-friendly compared to other parts of the city.
City RankingWhile Lake Geneva may not rank highly on a large scale for walkability, specific areas like downtown and lakefront provide a delightful walking experience.

Lake Geneva education:

The education system in Lake Geneva is noted for its commitment to quality, with well-regarded public schools. The city doesn’t have a large university like Madison, but its schools are known for their strong academic programs and community involvement, contributing positively to the educational environment.
Lake Geneva Area School DistrictsLake Geneva features several well-regarded school districts, with schools like Star Center Elementary and Eastview Elementary noted for their academic achievements.
High Schools in Lake GenevaLake Geneva-Genoa City Union High School District is recognized for its educational quality and student performance.
Public School PerformanceLake Geneva Middle School is ranked among the top middle schools in Wisconsin, reflecting the strong performance of public schools in the area.
Top Public Schools in Lake GenevaNotable public schools in Lake Geneva include those with high academic standards and comprehensive educational programs.

Lake Geneva jobs and economy:

The economy of Lake Geneva is heavily influenced by tourism, given its picturesque lakeside setting and recreational activities. The city also has a growing local business community. Job opportunities in Lake Geneva are often found in the hospitality, retail, and service sectors, with seasonal variations due to the tourist influx. The city’s economy, while not as diverse as Madison’s, plays a vital role in the regional economic landscape.
Job Market GrowthLake Geneva’s job market is influenced by tourism and shows seasonal variability, offering stable opportunities in hospitality and service sectors.
Average Annual SalarylifeThe average annual salary in Lake Geneva $68,155.
Future Job GrowthFuture job growth in Lake Geneva is expected to align with trends in tourism and local business development.
Recent TrendsRecent economic trends indicate stability with seasonal fluctuations due to the tourism-centric economy.
Attractiveness to New ResidentsLake Geneva’s scenic beauty and small-town charm attract new residents, especially those seeking a tourist-friendly community.
Overall Economic StrengthLake Geneva’s economy is robust, supported by a consistent influx of tourists and a strong small business community.

Our methodology

In our methodology for identifying the best places to live in a state, we adopt a comprehensive and data-driven approach, relying on a variety of trusted and authoritative sources to compile our rankings. This process is outlined in the following steps:
Economic Data Analysis: We gather robust economic statistics from esteemed sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These agencies provide us with critical data on employment rates, income levels, job growth, and other economic indicators that contribute significantly to the quality of life in an area.
Employment Opportunities: In addition to general economic data, we specifically examine employment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes examining trends in job growth, the diversity of industries present, and the stability of employment in different regions, which are vital factors in determining a place's economic health and attractiveness.
Crime Rate Assessment: For understanding the safety and security of a place, we utilize data from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. This tool offers detailed insights into various types of crime rates, including both property and violent crimes, allowing us to assess the safety of a community comprehensively.
Housing Market Evaluation: Housing affordability and market trends are key components of our analysis. We primarily use for up-to-date and detailed information on house prices, trends in the housing market, and the overall affordability of living in different areas. When necessary, we also consult other reliable sources to validate and enrich our data.
Additional Quality of Life Factors: Recognizing that quality of life is influenced by a variety of factors, we also incorporate data from other official and reputable sources. This includes information on education quality, healthcare accessibility, environmental quality, transportation infrastructure, and recreational opportunities, among others.
Data Integration and Analysis: Upon gathering data from these diverse sources, we integrate and analyze it to provide a holistic view of each location. Our analysis involves not only looking at the raw numbers but also understanding the context and relative significance of each data point.


What makes Milwaukee an attractive city to live in?

Milwaukee, known as “Brew City,” offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern urban development. It’s renowned for its diverse cultural heritage, vibrant community, and strong industrial roots. The city’s healthcare system is a standout feature, with top-ranked hospitals like Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center. Milwaukee’s walkability, especially in areas like Juneau Town, and its diverse educational landscape, further enhance its appeal as a place to live.

How does Madison stand out as a capital city in terms of living standards?

Madison, as the state capital, is distinguished by its vibrant cultural scene, progressive values, and a strong focus on education and political activity. The presence of the University of Wisconsin-Madison elevates the city’s educational offerings. Madison is also recognized for its high-quality healthcare facilities and dynamic economy, with a focus on technology, education, and healthcare sectors. The city’s diverse walkability and robust job market make it an attractive destination for residents.

What are the key attractions of living in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin?

Lake Geneva, established as a resort town, is known for its picturesque views, historical charm, and vibrant atmosphere. The city’s allure lies in its beautiful lakefront, well-preserved historical buildings, and a community that values both its past and present. Lake Geneva’s economy is heavily influenced by tourism, offering job opportunities in hospitality, retail, and service sectors. The city’s education system is noted for its quality, with strong academic programs and community involvement.

How does the cost of living and housing market compare across these Wisconsin cities?

The cost of living and housing market vary across Milwaukee, Madison, and Lake Geneva. Milwaukee offers a relatively affordable living with an average home price of around $379,887 and a cost of living index slightly below the national average. Madison, with an average home price of $400,000, might have a slightly higher cost of living, reflecting its status as the state capital and a hub for education and healthcare. Lake Geneva, known for its resort-town ambiance, has an average home price range of $398,000 to $448,800, catering to a different market segment.

What are the best suburbs or neighborhoods in these cities for families and professionals?

In Milwaukee, suburbs like Brookfield, Whitefish Bay, and Shorewood are known for their low crime rates, amenities, and vibrant housing markets. Madison offers neighborhoods with high walkability and proximity to educational institutions, making it ideal for families and professionals. Lake Geneva, while smaller, offers a scenic and peaceful living environment, particularly attractive to those seeking a tourist-friendly community or a picturesque lakeside setting.

Key takeaways

  • Diverse City Profiles: Wisconsin’s cities like Milwaukee, Madison, and Lake Geneva each offer unique living experiences, from Milwaukee’s brewing heritage and healthcare system to Madison’s educational focus and Lake Geneva’s resort-town charm.
  • Healthcare Excellence: Milwaukee and Madison stand out for their high-quality healthcare systems, with Milwaukee’s network of hospitals and Madison’s University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics leading in specialized care and medical research.
  • Educational Opportunities: Madison is renowned for its high-quality public schools and the presence of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, contributing significantly to the city’s educational landscape.
  • Economic Diversity and Growth: While Milwaukee’s economy is characterized by manufacturing and brewing, Madison shows dynamic growth in technology, education, and healthcare sectors. Lake Geneva, though smaller, thrives on tourism and a growing local business community.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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