10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in Wisconsin that will put a big dent in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the most expensive places to live in Wisconsin.

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Everyone wants a home that mixes affordability with comfort and Wisconsin does this very well. Families love the Badger State’s beaches, midlands, and mountains as tourists before moving here and calling it home.

But before you decide to relocate, you have to do some research into the exact cost of living around the state — and that’s how we’re going to help you.

These are the places in Wisconsin that cost a pretty penny — the most expensive cities in the state.

After we saved up for months and could finally afford it, we landed on this list of the ten most expensive cities in Wisconsin for 2019.

So where is the most expensive place to live in Wisconsin? That would be Madison.

So hopefully Merrill (the cheapest place to live in Wisconsin) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Wisconsin and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2019

Madison, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 248,856
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.9x (19th most expensive)
More on Madison: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2016, Madison’s estimated population of 252,551 made it the second-largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and the 82nd-largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau’s Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Dane County and neighboring Iowa, Green, and Columbia counties. The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area’s 2010 population was 568,593.

The median income in Madison comes in at $59,387 and the median home value is $223,300 for 2019.

Madison, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 248,856
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.9x (19th most expensive)
More on Madison: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2016, Madison’s estimated population of 252,551 made it the second-largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and the 82nd-largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau’s Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Dane County and neighboring Iowa, Green, and Columbia counties. The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area’s 2010 population was 568,593.

The median income in Madison comes in at $59,387 and the median home value is $223,300 for 2019.

Lake Geneva, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,766
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.1x (10th most expensive)
More on Lake Geneva: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lake Geneva is a city in Walworth County, Wisconsin, USA. The population was 7,651 at the 2010 census. A resort city located on Geneva Lake, it is popular with vacationers from Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

The median income in Lake Geneva comes in at $49,688 and the median home value is $186,800 for 2019.

Whitewater, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,762
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.2x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 44.1x (1st most expensive)
More on Whitewater: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Whitewater is a city in Walworth and Jefferson counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Located near the southern portion of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Whitewater is the home of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. As of the 2010 census, the city’s population was 14,390. Of this, 11,150 were in Walworth County, and 3,240 were in Jefferson County.

The median income in Whitewater comes in at $31,827 and the median home value is $164,400 for 2019.

Shorewood, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 13,367
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.8x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 72.1x (82nd most expensive)
More on Shorewood: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Shorewood is a village in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 13,162 at the 2010 census. Howell Raines of The New York Times said in 1979 that “his maple-studded town on Lake Michigan dotes on its reputation as Milwaukee’s most liberal suburb.”

The median income in Shorewood comes in at $68,306 and the median home value is $330,800 for 2019.

Hudson, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 13,456
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (15th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 66.3x (46th most expensive)
More on Hudson: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Hudson is a city in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, United States. As of the 2010 United States census, its population was 12,719. It is part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Statistical Area. The village of North Hudson is directly to the north of Hudson.

The median income in Hudson comes in at $69,065 and the median home value is $231,500 for 2019.

Fitchburg, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 27,914
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 9)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.3x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.1x (76th most expensive)
More on Fitchburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fitchburg is a city in Dane County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 25,260 at the 2010 census. Fitchburg is a suburb of Madison and is part of the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area. Fitchburg consists of a mix of suburban neighborhoods closer the border with the city of Madison, commercial and industrial properties, and more rural properties in the southern portion of the city. Despite its status as an incorporated city, some rural parts of Fitchburg still lack certain municipal services such as sewer, water, and natural gas.

The median income in Fitchburg comes in at $66,110 and the median home value is $287,200 for 2019.

Pewaukee, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,214
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.3x (16th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 62.5x (32nd most expensive)
More on Pewaukee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Pewaukee is a city in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The population was 13,195 at the 2010 census. The Village of Pewaukee, which was incorporated out of the town before it incorporated as a city, is surrounded by the city.

The median income in Pewaukee comes in at $57,411 and the median home value is $191,600 for 2019.

Platteville, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 12,194
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.7x (11th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 54.3x (7th most expensive)
More on Platteville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Platteville is the largest city in Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin. The population was 11,224 at the 2010 census, growing 12% since the 2000 Census. Much of this growth is likely due to the enrollment increase of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. It is the principal city of the Platteville Micropolitan Statistical area which has an estimated population of 49,681.

The median income in Platteville comes in at $41,027 and the median home value is $151,000 for 2019.

St. Francis, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 9,532
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 12)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.7x (9th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.3x (11th most expensive)
More on St. Francis: Real Estate | Data | Photos

St. Francis is an American city in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The population was 9,365 at the 2010 census.

The median income in St. Francis comes in at $40,116 and the median home value is $149,000 for 2019.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Badger State For 2019

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Wisconsin to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 142 places in Wisconsin that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in Wisconsin according to the data is Madison.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Wisconsin For 2019

Well there you have it, the places in Wisconsin that have the highest cost of living, with Madison ranking as the most expensive city in the Badger State.

Here’s a look at the most affordable cities in Wisconsin according to the data:

  1. Merrill
  2. Rothschild
  3. Kronenwetter

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Wisconsin

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Madison 19.67 248,856 3.8x 58.9x
2 Madison 19.67 248,856 3.8x 58.9x
3 Lake Geneva 22.33 7,766 3.8x 55.1x
4 Whitewater 24.0 14,762 5.2x 44.1x
5 Shorewood 29.67 13,367 4.8x 72.1x
6 Hudson 29.67 13,456 3.4x 66.3x
7 Fitchburg 30.67 27,914 4.3x 70.1x
8 Pewaukee 31.0 8,214 3.3x 62.5x
9 Platteville 31.67 12,194 3.7x 54.3x
10 St. Francis 33.0 9,532 3.7x 55.3x
11 Middleton 33.0 18,951 4.4x 73.0x
12 Glendale 36.0 12,868 3.2x 65.3x
13 Sun Prairie 37.33 32,112 3.2x 66.8x
14 Delafield 37.33 7,298 4.4x 76.7x
15 Bellevue 38.33 15,373 3.2x 63.5x
16 Baraboo 38.67 12,080 3.4x 58.8x
17 Monona 39.33 7,989 3.8x 74.1x
18 Watertown 41.33 23,730 3.2x 57.4x
19 Delavan 41.67 8,383 3.2x 57.0x
20 New Berlin 42.67 39,779 3.1x 69.2x
21 Greenfield 42.67 37,082 3.1x 59.4x
22 River Falls 43.67 15,256 3.3x 67.6x
23 Hartland 44.33 9,218 3.7x 77.5x
24 Hales Corners 44.33 7,704 3.1x 67.8x
25 Brookfield 44.67 37,943 2.9x 68.0x
26 Pewaukee 45.33 14,112 3.1x 72.6x
27 Burlington 45.33 10,652 3.0x 61.9x
28 Mequon 47.0 23,787 3.4x 88.2x
29 Verona 48.0 12,465 3.3x 78.5x
30 Waukesha 49.33 72,173 3.2x 70.1x
31 Menomonie 49.67 16,222 3.2x 60.2x
32 Whitefish Bay 50.33 14,099 3.3x 89.7x
33 Onalaska 51.33 18,452 3.1x 67.1x
34 La Crosse 51.33 51,928 3.1x 56.6x
35 South Milwaukee 51.67 21,185 3.0x 63.9x
36 Elkhorn 52.67 9,930 3.2x 67.8x
37 Oak Creek 53.0 35,588 3.0x 70.0x
38 Oconomowoc 53.33 16,450 3.3x 83.6x
39 Mount Horeb 54.0 7,383 3.3x 82.5x
40 Muskego 54.0 24,731 3.2x 80.0x
41 Cedarburg 54.33 11,499 3.4x 100.0x
42 Fort Atkinson 55.33 12,429 3.0x 62.5x
43 Greendale 55.33 14,293 3.1x 72.5x
44 Stoughton 56.33 13,058 3.0x 70.0x
45 Eau Claire 56.33 67,945 3.0x 60.4x
46 Hartford 57.0 14,552 3.1x 70.6x
47 Waunakee 58.0 13,284 3.2x 100.2x
48 Hobart 58.0 8,178 3.3x 93.3x
49 Milwaukee 58.33 599,086 3.0x 46.6x
50 Wauwatosa 58.33 47,687 3.0x 74.8x
51 Germa 58.33 19,956 3.1x 79.7x
52 Elm Grove 58.67 6,127 3.2x 122.4x
53 Sussex 58.67 10,763 3.2x 87.4x
54 Menomonee Falls 59.0 36,411 3.1x 76.8x
55 West Bend 59.33 31,656 3.0x 66.8x
56 Grafton 59.67 11,576 3.0x 73.2x
57 West Allis 60.33 60,546 2.9x 60.0x
58 Kenosha 61.17 99,623 2.8x 58.3x
59 Franklin 61.67 36,295 3.0x 75.3x
60 Mcfarland 62.33 8,235 3.1x 84.3x
61 Cudahy 63.0 18,350 2.9x 64.5x
62 Altoona 64.67 7,350 2.9x 67.6x
63 Jackson 65.33 6,942 2.8x 69.5x
64 Jefferson 65.67 7,975 2.9x 64.7x
65 Lake Mills 67.0 5,816 2.7x 67.4x
66 Richfield 69.0 11,539 3.0x 101.4x
67 Cottage Grove 69.33 6,795 2.9x 84.1x
68 Reedsburg 70.33 9,480 2.8x 61.8x
69 Deforest 70.33 9,663 2.9x 79.8x
70 New Richmond 70.67 8,761 2.8x 67.5x
71 Stevens Point 72.0 26,526 2.9x 65.7x
72 Port Washington 72.0 11,589 2.9x 75.0x
73 Mukwonago 72.33 7,644 3.0x 91.9x
74 Monroe 73.0 10,688 2.9x 64.4x
75 Twin Lakes 73.33 6,040 2.8x 73.0x
76 Chippewa Falls 73.33 13,920 2.8x 58.9x
77 Howard 73.33 19,121 3.0x 81.8x
78 Kimberly 73.5 6,718 2.9x 68.1x
79 Tomah 73.67 9,347 2.6x 54.5x
80 Pleasant Prairie 74.0 20,552 2.7x 74.0x
81 Rice Lake 74.67 8,302 2.8x 63.9x
82 Wausau 75.67 38,934 2.8x 60.6x
83 Ashland 78.33 7,997 2.7x 59.0x
84 Brown Deer 78.67 12,076 2.5x 66.5x
85 Beaver Dam 79.0 16,346 2.6x 61.0x
86 Superior 79.33 26,473 2.7x 59.2x
87 Fox Point 79.33 6,706 2.7x 99.1x
88 Green Bay 79.67 104,796 2.8x 66.7x
89 Evansville 79.67 5,222 2.8x 73.4x
90 Ashwaubenon 83.0 17,141 2.8x 74.1x
91 Milton 83.33 5,566 2.5x 66.3x
92 Plover 84.0 12,494 2.8x 75.4x
93 Racine 84.0 77,740 2.5x 53.0x
94 Portage 85.33 10,321 2.6x 64.3x
95 Oregon 85.67 10,033 2.7x 105.8x
96 Sturgeon Bay 85.67 8,917 2.7x 68.3x
97 Slinger 87.33 5,269 2.8x 93.8x
98 Oshkosh 87.83 66,649 2.6x 64.9x
99 Janesville 88.33 63,957 2.5x 67.3x
100 Marshfield 88.67 18,326 2.9x 74.0x

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.