Quality of Life

Living in Madison Wisconsin provides an ideal combination of upscale distinction, downtown buzz and simple Wisconsin comfort. The residential areas of the city could almost be mistaken for suburbs, with a variety of moderately priced houses with a current median list price of $229,900. The city is a large metropolitan area with a wide variety of industries and businesses and a low unemployment rate of 3%, meaning residents can easily find employment within the city limits or at least in the nearby suburbs, keeping employment statistics up and workplace commute times relatively low. Residents can also enjoy the full gamut of upper Midwest seasons, with mild springs, moderate to hot summers, crisp, cool autumns and those reputable, snowy Wisconsin winters. The snowfall doesn't scare off residents, however; Madison is home to a variety of cross-country ski trails and ski clubs for those who love to take on the challenge of the cold. Thanks to a low unemployment rate, moderate average income and the reasonable home prices in the city, Madison is known for its affordability and decent cost of living. In addition, residents can feel comforted by easy access to health care coverage and medical expertise from the UW Hospital and Clinics, as well as the social and cultural benefits that stem from from living in close proximity to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Overall, the quality of life in Madison is top notch, having earned it the #1 spot on financial site NerdWallet's 100 Best Cities for Quality of Life.


Madison, WI is a thriving metropolitan community with great cultural diversity and plenty of options for entertainment, education, recreation and more. The arts scene is alive and well, with a variety of galleries and performing arts theaters for the public to enjoy. Visitors and residents interested in viewing the works and artifacts on display in Madison area galleries and museums will be thrilled to peruse the University of Wisconsin-Madison's "Museum Mile," which stretches all the way from the university's campus to the capitol building. Music fans can hear local and touring bands at bars and venues like the High Noon Saloon, Mr. Robert's, the Brink Lounge, Lakeside Street Coffee House, and more. Those looking for a more classical sound can also take in the nationally-recognized talents of the Madison Symphony Orchestra at the Overture Center for the Arts and Madison Opera at the Madison Opera Center -- or at their public performance in Garner Park known as Opera in the Park! Symphony lovers can also enjoy a unique musical treat at the heart of the city: The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra also provides a free concert every Wednesday evening in front of the Capitol Building in a series known as "Concerts on the Square."


The majority of the population of Madison, WI identifies as white (84%), followed by African American (7%), Asian or Pacific Islander (3%), mixed race (3%) and others (1%). The majority of these residents (70%) are adults between the ages of 19 and 64, and the city has a low senior population at a mere 10%. About 45% are high school graduates, roughly 32% have earned a bachelor's or associate degree, and 12% of residents have gone on to earn a master's degree. When it comes to employment in Madison, the most prominent industries are education and health, which share about at 23% of the careers. These are followed by retail/wholesale (13%), manufacturing (12%), professional careers (10%), finance/real estate (10%) and others at less than 10%, including public administration, arts and entertainment, and construction. The median income in the city is moderate, with 31% of residents earning less than $30,000 per year, just over half of residents (51%) earning between $30,000 and $74,999 per year, and 16% of residents earning between $75,000 and $149,999 per year. Though not all residents are college-aged, it is worthwhile to note that some of these demographics may be affected by the large population of students who flood into the city each year to attend college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Best Known For

Living in Madison Wisconsin


At the very forefront of Madison's personality is its nature as the state of Wisconsin's capital city. From the sometimes intense discourse of the local legislators to the brilliantly-detailed architecture of the famous domed capitol building, the culture of politics and democracy is at the center of living in Madison Wisconsin.

Madison is well known for its progressive political scene, with a strong left-leaning community that is vocal in typically divisive issues like public employee unions (especially in the case of the Madison teachers' union in 2011), LGBTQ rights, gun laws, racial issues, military action and the separation of church and state. The city is strongly associated with the Progressive Movement, and has been the home of the publication "The Progressive" since 1909. It is also home to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the separation of church and state based on the belief that religion-based laws and the use of public funds for religious organizations and events are unconstitutional and unfair to atheists/non-theists. Needless to say, although it is home to state politics on both sides of the aisle, the city itself is not a place that individuals with predominantly conservative ideals will find a great deal of political camaraderie. Nevertheless, those who are open to political discussion or who are unconcerned with the area's politics will find Madison to be a beautiful, vibrant and comfortable place to call home.