Living Here

The Madison Region isn’t just a great place to do business. It’s a great place to live.

Countless national rankings confirm what many of our residents already know — it’s among the best places to live, work, and raise a family in Wisconsin.

The Greater Madison Area offers residents and visitors a unique blend of urban opportunities. You’ll also find unspoiled rural natural beauty, distinctive communities, and some of Wisconsin’s greatest collections of natural, educational, artistic, and historical attractions.

Economic development and quality of life measures are about people. In the Madison Region, you’ll discover that our people prosper — enjoying world-class healthcare, treasured arts and cultural amenities, and an abundance of recreation opportunities.

Come join us and experience quality of life assets that make the Madison Region a desirable place to live, work, and play.

With a balanced mix of urban sophistication and great small communities, the Madison Region is among the more affordable major markets in the Midwest. While cost of living varies by county and municipality within the eight-county region, our overall cost of living falls in line with the national average.

Both the Madison MSA and Janesville MSA boast a Regional Price Parity below the national average of 100. Compared to the rest of the country, Madison Metro Area’s cost of living is 7.4% lower than the U.S. average.

In 2020, the median compensation for the Madison Region was $43,763 and consumer purchasing power is 5% greater than the national median. 

The median home value in the Madison MSA is around $316,000, far lower than many East Coast and West Coast markets. In addition, residents in each of the eight counties in the Madison Region enjoy rents below the national gross median rent. This part of Wisconsin offers a variety of housing options, including new and existing neighborhoods in our suburbs and rural communities, as well as luxury condominiums in our major downtown areas.

Many of the region’s services that contribute to our high quality of life are funded through property tax, which vary between individual communities. Sales tax in all eight counties is 5.5%. 

The Madison Region offers easy, affordable living, making it a prime choice for businesses and employees alike.

Sources: Sperling’s Best Places; Livability Media; U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis; Emsi; 2019 Advance Now 2.0 Competitive Assessment; and U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

The importance of K-12 education in the Madison Region dates back to 1856 when the nation’s first kindergarten was established in Watertown, on the borders of Jefferson and Dodge counties. Today, more than 164,000 students are enrolled in the Madison Region’s 63 school districts. Boasting a strong high school graduation rate, nearly 94% of adults in the region have a high school degree or higher, compared to just over 92% for the state and 88% in the nation.

The Madison Region enjoys a superb level of medical services and accessibility, with nearly 4,000 companies in the healthcare and social assistance sector. Our nationally-recognized providers in both community-focused healthcare organizations and academic and research institutions deliver a full spectrum of well-coordinated care.

According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, Wisconsin consistently ranks among the top states in the country for overall healthcare quality, with SSM Health and Mercy Health Systems in Rock County having earned the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award – an esteemed performance award given by the president.

The Madison Region is home to several of the top hospitals in the state – UW Hospitals & Clinics, Mercy Health Hospital, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, and UnityPoint Health – Meriter all rank among U.S. News & World Report’s top ten Best Hospitals in Wisconsin. Additionally, UW Health is nationally ranked in six adult specialties and one pediatric specialty. In addition, Monroe Clinic was named among the 2021 top 100 rural community hospitals in the nation by Becker’s Hospital Review. Madison-based American Family Children’s Hospital is a world-class children’s medical and surgical center, ranked #36 in the nation for Pediatric Cardiology & Heart Surgery by U.S. News & World Report in 2021.

According to the most recent Wisconsin Family Health Survey (DHS) 90% of Southern Wisconsin residents have health insurance, many of them participating in top-rated health plans. In 2014-2015, the National Committee for Quality Assurance ranked Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Dean Health Plan, Inc. and Quartz Health Benefits Plans Corp. among the higher performing health insurance plans nationwide.

Source: Emsi, WI-DHS, U.S. News & World Report Best Regional Hospitals, NCQA Health Insurance Plan Rankings.

Cultural opportunity flourishes in our small Wisconsin towns and large downtown landscapes, contributing to the spirit and vitality of living, working, and playing here.

From the world-class Overture Center for the Arts in Madison to the nationally-acclaimed Fall Art Tour in the southwest corners of the region, the Madison Region’s innovative edge reveals itself through our cultural environment. Creativity shines at the Wisconsin Film Festival, which has grown into the largest campus-based film festival in the United States, averaging 150 films and 30,000 attendees each spring.

Talented, creative entrepreneurs call the Madison Region home, attracted by the rich and diverse exchange of ideas that freely occurs throughout south central Wisconsin. Our arts and culture industry contributes heavily to the region’s creative economy while promoting civic engagement, educational advancement, and economic development.

Residents of the Madison Region enjoy a host of spectator and recreational sports. Renowned for our team loyalty and avid fan base, our cities and stadiums turn red during Badger games and green during Packer season. With all-weather tailgates and fun-loving spectator traditions, our sports offer yet another reason to enjoy the Madison Region.

Wisconsin is host to three professional sports teams – the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Milwaukee Bucks – all of which are easily accessible from the Madison Region. Within our region, semi-professional teams like the Madison Mallards, Forward Madison and Beloit Snappers provide families a relaxing day at the ballpark.

The Madison Region’s wealth of higher education institutions carries with it the benefit of college athletics, including Big Ten sports at UW-Madison.

For the athletes among us, the Madison Region offers a variety of participatory events, including the international Ironman competition and our own Olympic-style Badger State Games. During the summer months, residents are likely to be found on one of the region’s many golf courses or outdoor rock climbing routes. In our colder season, you’ll see ski slopes dotted with athletes and indoor recreation centers brimming with youth and adult soccer leagues.

Luscious green parks, accessible lakes and rivers, and trails perfect for hiking and biking create an inviting landscape for relaxation, exploration, and play.

The Madison Region is home to 12 of the state’s 98 state parks. Our natural environment is second to none, from the beautiful rolling hills of southwest Wisconsin to the stunning bluffs along the Wisconsin River in Sauk and Columbia counties. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a thousand-mile footpath that winds throughout the Madison Region and Wisconsin, provides access to some of the state’s most scenic natural areas.

Opportunity abounds for avid bikers in the region, with a network of bike trails that seamlessly link urban centers to the scenic rural roads of our countryside. Our many distinct communities offer a wealth of recreation possibilities, including year-round festivals, fine dining and shopping, rich cultural offerings, and family-friendly destinations.

No matter what your interests, the Madison Region offers recreation opportunities for everyone nestled in a natural landscape that serves as a beautiful backdrop to everyday life.