Wisconsin, often dubbed 'The Badger State', is one of the most thrilling states to live in. Here, you get to experience all four seasons, and there are places to live for everybody. Whether you are looking to live in the midst of a bustling city or the countryside, the list of best places to live in Wisconsin is endless.
On this page, we will take a deep dive into the best cities to live in Wisconsin. We'll give you an overview of what each of them brings to the table, and then you can decide whether any of them are worth looking into further. Trust us, if you plan to live in Wisconsin, you'll find your ideal city here.
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As the capital of Wisconsin, when many people think of the best cities in Wisconsin to live, Madison is often at the top of the list. After all, it is the main seat of 'power' in the state and often plays host to a ton of major businesses.
With an average home value of $277,000, Madison's property prices (and rent) are slightly higher than the national average. Although, that's to be expected. It is a major city, and property prices will always be much higher. Although, we suppose this is balanced out by better amenities, more job opportunities, better education, and more.
There's no shortage of things to do in Madison, either. Henry Vilas Zoo is always at the top of anybody's agenda when here. A trip to the State Capitol probably wouldn't go amiss either. Even if you did decide to live in Madison, you'd never run out of things to do. This is the place for museums, sports, and walks. In fact, if you feel like a relaxing day out, relax by Lake Mendota (or one of the other lakes); you'll love it.
Things to do in Madison:
Also Read: Top Madison Attractions & Things To Do
With a population of almost 600,000, Milwaukee is significantly larger than Madison. Of course, this means more things to do, amenities, and job opportunities. It is also one of the best cities to live in Wisconsin if you’re trying to save some money.
Milwaukee is a considerably cheaper place to live than Madison. In fact, the house price average here is around $135,000. This is almost 50% of the national average. Of course, the closer you live to the center of Milwaukee, the higher the prices will be.
Because it is such a large city, jobs are aplenty. While most of these jobs are in retail, this is one of the best places to live in Wisconsin for young adults who are just starting their professional careers, with major employers including hospitals, banks, and more.
There is plenty to do in Milwaukee. You'll be close to Havenswoods State Forest. Those who are not so into their nature can also enjoy some of the best art & history museums in Wisconsin. If you love your motorcycles, then a trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum may also be in order. On top of all of that, you have plenty of restaurants, bars, activities for children, and more.
Things To Do in Milwaukee:
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Milwaukee
We're going to scale things back a little bit with Oshkosh. With a shade over 60,000 people living there, Oshkosh is noticeably smaller than Madison and Milwaukee. All those people are still compressed into a relatively small area, giving Oshkosh a very dense suburban feel.
The average house price in Oshkosh is about 50% of the national average, so it comes as no surprise that the area has managed to attract young professionals keen to get on the housing ladder and families who need to target their cash at raising their families.
This is actually a fantastic place to raise a family. The area has plenty of parks, and despite being a relatively small location, there are plenty of activities to engage in. The schools are also a bit better than the national average, ensuring a quality education here. Many people have commented on how 'fun' it is to raise a family in Oshkosh.
Things To Do in Oshkosh:
If you want the thrill of living close to Milwaukee but don't quite want to live in the city proper, Brookfield is a great choice. It is a sparse suburban zone, rated as one of the best places to live in Wisconsin for families. In fact, the area is said to be the top place for public schools, or at least up there.
Living in Brookfield is going to come at a price, though. The average house price is coming up to $350,000. This is well above the average not only for Wisconsin but also for the US. Although, we suppose if you have the money to spare, why wouldn't you want to live in one of the best areas in Wisconsin?
Brookfield is a golfer and nature lover's dream. Almost everything 'to do' here will be centered on that. A trip to Fox Brook Park is probably in order here too. This is because the park boasts not only countless nature trails but also a small beach and some golfing. Various events are held throughout the year, with Brookfield Days (a major community event) happening throughout June and a farmers' market every Saturday.
Things to do in Brookfield:
Honestly, we love the look of Eau Claire. It sits on the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers, with most of the city built around the riverfront. Almost everywhere you live in Eau Claire, you will be within walking distance of absolutely stunning scenery.
While Eau Claire has been going through some rapid population growth over the last few years, the property prices here remain relatively stable. The average home price is $178,000. This is considerably lower than the US average.
Despite the smaller size of Eau Claire, job opportunities are abundant here, with the bulk of the positions being available in the medical field. The city's population certainly trends toward the more educated side of things, with around 30% of the people here having a degree or higher.
Eau Claire has a very small-town feel to it. It will not be abundant with activities for people, but it is a pleasant place to live. The most exciting you can expect will be a few good places to eat and drink, plus some amazing walking trails. Around the summer, you will find a few music festivals, with the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival being the most popular of them!
Things to Do in Eau Claire:
Also Read: Most Beautiful Small Towns in Wisconsin
La Crosse is one of the few places in Wisconsin where the vast majority of people seem to rent their homes. This is, in part, down to the fact that it is a college town. In fact, a little over a third of the population will be college students, which means that this place has become a firm favorite among those who want to chill with the younger crowd, although a few families live here.
The median home value is $152,000, with rents trending around the $850 mark, which makes it a surprisingly affordable place to live. Because it is a college town, you do get a good number of amenities to enjoy too, even if many of those amenities seem to be aimed at the younger people.
As with many college towns, La Crosse is very active on the arts scene, with over 30 different arts organizations active within the area. This means that you can enjoy plenty of art exhibitions, music concerts, and more throughout the year. On top of that, you have countless parks, with Riverside Park being one of our firm favorites, as well as a beach at Pettibone Park.
Things To Do in La Crosse:
Appleton is just a small city, but with a nearby international airport, it is bustling with activity. Sitting right on the Fox River, you can enjoy some fantastic views, nature trails, and more.
Appleton is a dense suburban area. There are around 75,000 people here. This means that Appleton has a small-town feel to it, but there aren't so few people here that there isn't much to do. As we said, Appleton is brimming with activity and is one of many good places to live in Wisconsin.
As we said, Appleton is incredibly close to an international airport. It is also host to a few college buildings. As a result, there are some big businesses providing employment opportunities here. Major players stationed in Appleton include Air Wisconsin, Miller Electric, and Fleet Farm. This has helped to ensure a median average household income of $68,000, which is very close to the national average.
Despite the smallish size of Appleton, there is plenty to enjoy here. This includes the second largest mall in Wisconsin - Fox River Mall. However, there are a few smaller malls here too.
Things to Do in Appleton:
We're moving a little bit away from Appleton now, and we want to introduce you to Green Bay, which is located in roughly the same area. Green Bay is situated on the Fox River and, as you can probably guess from the name, overlooks a rather green section of water (don't worry, it isn't dirty!).
With a population of 107,000, Green Bay is the third largest city in Wisconsin. This means there will be no shortage of things to do in Green Bay, especially on the employment front. In fact, Green Bay is known as the 'toilet paper capital of the world' due to the sheer number of toilet paper companies that run their operations here. But don't worry; there are other jobs, particularly in medicine, education, and retail.
The median home price here is a rather cool $151,000. This certainly isn’t bad for city living. The median home rental price is a shade over $800. At these prices, the city is known for attracting a lot of young professionals, growing families, and even students.
Sports are certainly a big thing in Green Bay. NFL fans will probably already know that it is the hometown of the Green Bay Packers. Although, if sports aren't your thing, there are plenty more things to enjoy in Green Bay.
Things to Do in Green Bay:
If you want one of the best towns to live in Wisconsin, we want to introduce you to Wausau. However, bear in mind that with a population of a little over 35,000, it will hardly be a hotbed of activity. Wausau is more of a quiet town. Not a whole lot happens, but at least you get a more peaceful way of life.
Wausau has a median home price of $129,000, with rentals trending around the $850 mark. The median household income here is around $53,000. This puts it around average for Wisconsin.
Want to raise a family here? Fantastic! Wausau is not only an affordable place to live but also one of the best places to live in Wisconsin when you are on the hunt for quality public education. In fact, many major members of government over the years were educated in Wausau schools.
Running right through the heart of Wausau, you have the Wisconsin River. This offers a beautiful sight when you are wandering through the city. In fact, nature and outdoor lovers will enjoy the 37 parks throughout the city.
If you want bars and restaurants, you'll have plenty to enjoy. You'll also find a host of cultural events featuring at the Grand Theater, with multiple street celebrations throughout the year (one of our favorites is the Concerts on the Square series of music events).
Things to do in Wausau:
Racine is one of the best towns to live in Wisconsin if you are looking for a place with diversity. We are not just talking about things from a racial perspective here, either. We are talking about education, sexuality, and more. Everything combines to create a beautiful atmosphere and, ultimately, one of the most welcoming places to live in Wisconsin.
This dense suburban area has a median housing price of $125,000, which, by now, you'll know is significantly below the US average. The average median household income is $48,000. This is a bit lower than the average income for Wisconsin, but the lower cost of living in Racine more than makes up for this. In fact, Racine was once classed as the most affordable place in the world to live.
Many people who live in Racine have a huge amount of praise for how the local government plans plenty of activities to keep the city entertained. Throughout the year (particularly the summer months), you'll enjoy plenty of music festivals, art exhibitions, and more. However, the real highlights are the 4th Fest Parade, the largest 4th of July Parade in the Midwest, and the Racine Art Museum, the largest contemporary craft museum in the US.
Around Racine, you can also enjoy Racine Zoo, Racine North Beach, and the River Bend Nature Center.
Things to Do in Racine:
We think Waukesha is the perfect example of how varied housing can be in Wisconsin. Waukesha is a beautiful mix of dense city living and suburbia. There is a house for just about every need in Waukesha. This attracts families, young professionals, and students alike.
While this is easily one of the best places to live in Wisconsin, the property prices are slightly higher than the Wisconsin average. The median house price is $230,000+. While you can find houses cheaper, they are becoming much rarer. Waukesha is going through a population boom. Rental rates aren't that cheap either, with property rental prices being very close to the national average.
Still, the media income in this area is $71,000 for a household, which makes it one of the highest in Wisconsin. This is all thanks to the employment opportunities in the area.
There is plenty to do in the Waukesha area. A firm favorite among families will be frequent trips to the Springs Water Park. If you love nature, then Minooka Park or Retzer Nature Center should be on the agenda.
Things to do in Waukesha:
Middleton has to be one of the most educated cities in Wisconsin. Around 65% of people that live here have a degree or higher. We don't think anywhere else in the state can even come close to those figures. However, this may cause a few problems for those looking for great places to live in Wisconsin with a limited income.
Middleton is an absolutely stunning town. It has plenty of job opportunities, with the vast majority in manufacturing, especially pharmaceutical manufacturing (one of the largest employers here is PPD, Inc.). This has helped the median household income in Middleton reach $78,000. However, the median property price here is $395,000, considerably higher than the US average. However, property prices seem to be rising in Middleton, and some see it as an investment.
While Middleton has plenty to see and do (including a golf course), most of the excitement in the area seems to be focused on the various cultural events, and Middleton goes all out here. One of our favorite events is the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival, where the best Middleton resident walks away with a major prize. This is accompanied by a massive live music festival, a carnival, and more. Not too bad, right?
Things to do in Middleton:
With 24,000 residents, Mequon is one of the smallest places on this list. It is one of the best cities in Wisconsin to live in if you prefer the sparser, suburban feel. In fact, to give you an idea of how sparsely populated this area is - Mequon has just 24,000 residents but covers the third largest amount of space of all the cities in Wisconsin (smaller cities have hundreds of thousands of residents).
Of course, because Mequon is pretty empty, property prices are incredibly high. People are craving the whole ‘quiet lifestyle’ here. The average property price is over $400,000. Although, the median household income of $135,000 more than covers the cost of living here.
As the city is sparsely populated, you can't expect much-organized entertainment here, although you do get those traditional small-town festivals throughout the year. Most of the focus in Mequon is the 24 parks, covering tons and tons of trails and diverse scenery. Although, if you prefer to sit back and relax in a cafe or restaurant, you can do that too. There is a surprising number of coffee shops around Mequon.
Things to do in Mequon:
Whitefish Bay is more of a suburb of Milwaukee, although we believe it is worth mentioning here. Whitefish Bay offers an entirely different lifestyle from the city. With just 14,000 people living here, it is very sparsely populated. We believe it is the perfect place to raise a family.
As with many of the other sparsely populated areas of Wisconsin, the property prices in Whitefish Bay are on the highest side of things. The median house price is around $410,000, with the vast majority of people who live here being homeowners. The median income for a household is $134,000. As you can probably imagine, many of the people who live here are employed within Milwaukee. They just live in Whitefish Bay as they want an escape from city life.
Whitefish Bay has been named the top place to raise a family in Wisconsin, which is no surprise, really. Crime rates are virtually nil, and there'll be long stretches where no crimes are reported. The public schools are up there with the best in Wisconsin.
Whitefish Bay is a suburb of Milwaukee, so most of the excitement happens in the city proper. Although, you'll find plenty of nature trails around Whitefish Bay. You'll also be within easy reach of Havenswood State Forest, which is perfect to explore on a warmer day.
Things to do in Whitefish Bay:
Fond du Lac is a city with just over 40,000 people living there. It has a very dense suburban feel to it. However, it doesn't have the same issues as other dense urban areas. For example, Fond du Lac has a low crime rate, quality schools, and plenty of decent amenities.
Fond du Lac is a decently priced area to live in, with a median home value of $130,000 and a median household income of $56,000. The low cost of living means that the place attracts many families and young professionals.
While Fond du Lac has often been rated as one of the most boring cities in Wisconsin, there is still plenty going on here. The most popular event is the Walleye Festival, which runs alongside a fishing tournament every summer. You also have the beautiful Lakeside Park next to Lake Winnebago to explore. Sure, it isn't entertainment central like some of the major cities in Wisconsin, but people don't get bored living here.
Things to Do in Fond du Lac:
Wisconsin has a lot of options when it comes to housing, and you can enjoy fantastic city life or a more rural lifestyle. However, some areas do have incredibly high property prices, significantly above the US average.
For employment opportunities, anywhere around the Milwaukee area will be fine (including the suburbs). Property prices vary, and the area is packed with fun things to do.
In most rankings, Wisconsin is a very middle-ground state. Although, it does excel when it comes to healthcare and education. Wisconsin is a firm favorite among those who enjoy nature.
Oshkosh is one of the safest places in Wisconsin to live.
As you can see, when it comes to the best places to live in Wisconsin, you won't be hurting for options. You have everything from city life to sparse suburbs. There really is something for everybody. We hope this page has given you a few ideas of some areas you may have been unaware of. Good luck in your property hunt!