Best Madison Suburbs To Live For 2020


We analyzed over 25 places around Madison to identify the most in demand places to live.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best Madison suburbs.

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Big city living isn't for everyone--but at the same time, urban areas certainly have their perks.

There's the culture, the food, the arts, the food, the energy, and you know, the food. But there are drawbacks. There's traffic, expensive parking, expensive housing--pretty much, expensive everything, depending on which big city you're looking at.

But that's where the suburbs come in--they have all of the benefits of being near big cities, without actually having to be big cities.

Of course, not all suburbs of Madison are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

What's the best suburb of Madison? Shorewood Hills ranks as the best suburb of Madison for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data. If you happen to be a resident of Shorewood Hills, you're probably not too surprised to find it on the top our list.

We'll tell you what makes each of these 10 Madison 'burbs better than the rest--but first, a bit about our methodology.

Note: This result may differ from our state wide data as we did not include commute times and crime for this analysis to allow for a larger selection of suburbs.
Or feel free to check out some more reading about Wisconsin:

The 10 Best Madison Suburbs To Live For 2020

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 2,214
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $125,893
Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Poverty Rate: 5.1%
More on Shorewood Hills: Real Estate | Data

Shorewood Hills is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the Madison area. We'll tell you the good about "Awesome Shorewood Hills."

Everyone here is rich; families average $125,893 a year, which is the 1st highest in the Madison region. And only 2.43% are out of work. Homes average more than $645,600 each.

Cross Plains, WI

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 4,106
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 4)
Median Income: $81,620
Unemployment Rate: 1.9%
Poverty Rate: 2.5%
More on Cross Plains: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cross Plains is the second best 'burb we looked at near Madison for 2020.

It ranks 6th for incomes in the area and only 2.85% of residents lack insurance, good for 10th best.

Waunakee, WI

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 13,522
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $106,321
Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
Poverty Rate: 4.6%
More on Waunakee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Here in Waunakee, it's really safe, and residents are just about as rich as you'll see in the Madison metro area.

The bad side? Schools are more crowded, and the cost of living puts a large part of the city out of reach for most families.

But price is based on demand and a lot of people want to live in Waunakee.

Oregon, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 10,215
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $80,385
Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
Poverty Rate: 4.4%
More on Oregon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Oregon ranks as the 4th best suburb of Madison for 2020.

You won't find many better places to raise your kids in the region than in Oregon and the schools are some of the best around.

Verona, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 12,743
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $92,670
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
Poverty Rate: 3.8%
More on Verona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Verona.

Verona gets kudos for having the 5th most expensive homes in the Madison area, where houses sell for an average of $294,500. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Mcfarland, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,492
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $87,394
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Poverty Rate: 2.6%
More on Mcfarland: Real Estate | Data | Photos

McFarland is proud of its 6th place finish on this list. And here's why.

Most residents have great jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 3.21% which is 15th best in the area.

According to online reports, McFarland is quickly becoming one of the more affluent suburbs in the Madison area, meaning you need to get in soon.

Mount Horeb, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,421
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Median Income: $73,316
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Poverty Rate: 6.1%
More on Mount Horeb: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The 7th best suburb on our list goes to Mount Horeb.

Mount Horeb schools are some of the best in the region, and crime is really low. The cost of living makes it a lot more desirable for many families, especially first-time home buyers.

And, it's only 16.2 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

Middleton, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 19,235
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $74,141
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
Poverty Rate: 6.0%
More on Middleton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Middleton is growing quickly, and for a good reason. Crime is far below average, and most residents are gainfully employed. Even the cost of living is reasonable.

A solid 2.76% of people lack insurance, good for 9th in the area.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 9,936
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $81,211
Unemployment Rate: 1.3%
Poverty Rate: 10.3%
More on Deforest: Real Estate | Data

Is 'Everything Better In DeForest?'

Almost.

It placed 9th on our list thanks to the fact that it's really expensive to live here, but the schools are great, so you get what you pay for in that regard.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 4,288
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $60,556
Unemployment Rate: 0.7%
Poverty Rate: 7.1%
More on Prairie Du Sac: Real Estate | Data

And rounding out the top ten for 2020 is Prairie du Sac.

This city is far above average in every category, and the best part? It's far more affordable than the other cities listed above. So, you get a big bang for your buck here.

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Madison for 2020

Figuring out the best suburbs around Madison was pretty simple; we just needed to list several things that people like, and then find out which cities have the most of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:

  • Low unemployment rate
  • High Median household incomes
  • Population density (lots of things to do)
  • High home values
  • A lot of college educated people
  • Low poverty
  • High rate of insured families

Then we used the newest American Community Survey data for 2014-2018 to research each suburb.

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Madison.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 25 suburbs to evaluate around Madison.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 25 in each category, where 1 was the "best.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the best quality of life index the "Best Suburb near Madison." We're lookin' at you, Shorewood Hills. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the best of the best. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from best to worst.

Welcome to the Best Madison 'Burbs of 2020

We said it once and we'll say it again--life in the big city isn't for everyone. At least not all the time.

So if you're hankering for some of the amenities of a larger city like Madison, but don't want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might just be for you.

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Madison Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Shorewood Hills, WI 2,214 $125,893
2 Cross Plains, WI 4,106 $81,620
3 Waunakee, WI 13,522 $106,321
4 Oregon, WI 10,215 $80,385
5 Verona, WI 12,743 $92,670
6 Mcfarland, WI 8,492 $87,394
7 Mount Horeb, WI 7,421 $73,316
8 Middleton, WI 19,235 $74,141
9 Deforest, WI 9,936 $81,211
10 Prairie Du Sac, WI 4,288 $60,556
11 Monona, WI 8,068 $67,275
12 Evansville, WI 5,260 $62,909
13 Lodi, WI 3,053 $72,944
14 Stoughton, WI 13,080 $65,203
15 Cottage Grove, WI 6,904 $94,784
16 Sun Prairie, WI 32,757 $70,295
17 Poynette, WI 2,496 $74,948
18 Belleville, WI 2,459 $71,250
19 Deerfield, WI 2,528 $74,183
20 Lake Mills, WI 5,850 $67,774
21 Fitchburg, WI 28,722 $69,338
22 Columbus, WI 5,022 $57,976
23 Edgerton, WI 5,522 $60,208
24 Waterloo, WI 3,333 $75,261
25 Marshall, WI 3,965 $59,828

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.