After a long and satisfying career, everyone dreams of reaching their retirement goals, settling down in the ideal location and spending their golden years enjoying friends, family and fun. For those reaching their target age--whether that's 55, 65 or elsewhere on the timeline--it can be tough to decide exactly where to build the life of their dreams. Fortunately, retirees in the Madison, WI area can choose from a variety of great Madison WI neighborhoods that are comfortable and affordable for retired folks from all walks of life.

1. Sunset Village

Madison WI neighbourhoods

Helpful statistics Average age: 39 Median income: $82,848

The home of the Madison West Senior Center, Sunset Village is a great choice for retirees looking to stay active and maintain a great social life. Located south of University Avenue, the neighborhood is home to a broad selection of recreational activities and local landmarks, including three beautiful city parks: Hoyt Park, Quarry Park and Lucia Crest Park. The Senior Center offers a variety of exercise programs, life skills courses and social events, and retirees can also enjoy the comforts of various cafes, shops, and restaurants within walking distance along the neighborhoods northern and western boundaries of University Avenue and South Midvale Boulevard. Sunset Village is also one of Madison's safest neighborhoods, with total & violent crime rates a whopping 56% lower than the overall Madison average. The median income of the current workforce in Sunset Village is approximately $82,848 per year (53% higher than the Madison average), and the median housing value is roughly $268,650 (23% higher than the Madison average). The cost of living is also higher than the city average (7% higher), so this particular neighborhood may be best suited to more affluent retirees.

2. Waunona

Helpful statistics Average age: 38 Median income: $64,792

Madison's Waunona neighborhood is an ideal choice for prospective buyers who want to be near to the city's urban center while enjoying the comforts of a suburban-feeling residence. Waunona is a fairly small neighborhood located just south of Lake Monona, featuring beautiful wooded lots and fantastic views of the city skyline across the lake. The neighborhood is also just north of Madison's famous Beltline highway, allowing residents to quickly traverse the city and access a variety of conveniently-clustered stores and businesses like Goodwill, Best Buy, Menards and Target. Waunona is safer than average for Madison, with a total crime rate and violent crime rate 13% lower than those of the city overall. The cost of living in Waunona is also 2% lower than the city average, which means that retired senior residents can hang on to a little more of their money than their counterparts in some other neighborhoods. The median income for the workforce of the Waunona neighborhood is approximately $64,792, and the median home value is rather decent, around $195,150.

3. Midvale Heights

Helpful statistics Average age: 46 Median income: $76,281

The Midvale Heights neighborhood is an especially great choice for retirees who love to golf, as it's home to Madison's Odana Hills Golf Course (and the adjacent Odana Hills Park). The area's population is relatively diverse, comprising retirees, professionals and young families and others. Residents take great pride in maintaining their homes and meticulously groomed lawns, and support local incentives to beautify the neighborhood, mitigate traffic concerns and more. Residents can also take advantage of the neighborhood's close proximity to the Beltline highway to quickly access many Madison shops, department stores, public services, restaurants and businesses. The crime rates (both total crime and violent crime) in Midvale Heights are 28% lower than the overall Madison average, and the cost of living is roughly 1% higher than the Madison average. The median income for those residents still in the workforce is approximately $76,281 (41% higher than the Madison average), and the median housing value is approximately $230,333 (a slight 5% higher value than the Madison average).

4. Madison as a Whole

These may be the best Madison WI neighborhoods for older individuals seeking a place to enjoy rest and recreation in their retirement, but the city at large is great for any prospective buyer to find comfortable living, unique culture, historic architecture and a healthy housing market. Residents can enjoy all four seasons, including Wisconsin's legendary winters, which, while admittedly cold and potentially intense, are part of the state's charm and pride. The average summer temperature is roughly 69 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average winter temperature is approximately 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the convenience of Madison's Beltline Highway provides a central corridor of high-speed transportation, not only allowing residents of all neighborhoods to traverse the city relatively quickly, but also cutting down average commute times for workers to approximately 19 minutes, which is 11% lower than the overall Wisconsin average time.

Older Madison residents retire from careers in a broad range of industries, including education/health, retail/wholesale, manufacturing and more. Median income for the workforce of the city as a whole is somewhere between $30,000 and $74,999, and the median list price for homes as of December 2015 is $229,900 (at a median home size of roughly 1,708 sq. ft.). Whatever sort of finances a retiree has to work with, Madison has the right neighborhood to suit his or her social, cultural and recreational needs.