These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin


These are the cream of the crop in the Badger State.

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Where are the best places in the state of Wisconsin? They are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places where people have the best jobs, where residents are happily married, and where the sun shines the most.

And certainly, since crime is really low, every one wants to be there. It’s, literally, all sunshine and rainbows.

We looked at the 165 most populated cities in the Badger State for this study. The cities at the top are places where things are going swimmingly right now, at least according to data, which measures the good things that people say they want in a Wisconsin city.

There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against. We had more than 10 million people read our worst cities in a state series, which was featured in hundreds of media outlets, including an NPR feature.

So we know what we’re talking about.

Here are the 10 best places to live in Wisconsin:

  1. Waunakee
  2. Harrison
  3. Cottage Grove
  4. Verona
  5. Oregon
  6. Elm Grove
  7. McFarland
  8. Whitefish Bay
  9. Caledonia
  10. Mount Horeb

We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty, ‘friendly people’ and community involvement), these are the best options in Wisconsin for making a place home.

The worst city to live in Wisconsin? Merrill. More on that later.

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How do you decide if a place is amazeballs or not?

In order to rank Wisconsin’s best cities, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, good weather, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we crunched the numbers for Wisconsin

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:

  • Strong schools
  • Low unemployment rates
  • High incomes
  • High home prices
  • Lots of sunny days a year
  • Low crime
  • Low cost of living

If you’d like to see the complete list of cities in Wisconsin, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a link to the entire data set.

Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. This list is based on data, and is entirely unbiased. Additionally, cost of living numbers are based on a scale of 100, so anything lower than 100 is more affordable.

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1. Waunakee

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 12,142
Crime Index: 47
Cost Of Living Index: 123

When you look at the data, Waunakee is the best place you can live in Wisconsin. This Dane County city is on the northern fringes of Madison.

2. Harrison

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,701
Crime Index: 23
Cost Of Living Index: 86

Harrison is a small city along Lake Winnebago, south of Green Bay. It’s a very safe place to live.

3. Cottage Grove

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,174
Crime Index: 49
Cost Of Living Index: 118

Cottage Grove is a small, cute village on the eastern fringes of Madison.

4. Verona

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,500
Crime Index: 60
Cost Of Living Index: 127

Southwest of Madison, this small town is safe, but more expensive than most other cities on this list.

5. Oregon

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,269
Crime Index: 60
Cost Of Living Index: 112

Oregon is another south Madison suburb that the numbers indicate is a very desirable place to call home in Wisconsin.

6. Elm Grove

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,958
Crime Index: 39
Cost Of Living Index: 129

Elm Grove is a village in Waukesha County, Wisconsin that’s been called one of the best suburbs to live in America. It’s the best suburb of Milwaukee that you can live in, according to the data.

7. McFarland

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,827
Crime Index: 59
Cost Of Living Index: 118

This little safe village is in Dane County, and along Lake Waubesa in southern Madison.

8. Whitefish Bay

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,063
Crime Index: 50
Cost Of Living Index: 123

Whitefish Bay is a safe and relatively affordable village on the northern edges of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan.

9. Caledonia

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 24,654
Crime Index: 41
Cost Of Living Index: 93

This medium-sized (and safe) village is in Racine County.

10. Mount Horeb

Best Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,070
Crime Index: 61
Cost Of Living Index: 112

This Dane County village is on the southern fringes of Madison.

There You Have It

Looking at the data, you can tell that anything within a 15-minute drive of Waunakee is the most desirable, according to science and data. But as most Wisconsin residents would agree, almost every place here is awesome.

Other notable cities:
3rd Worst: Beloit
2nd Worst: Rhinelander
Worst: Merrill

We also wrote about the 10 worst places to live in Wisconsin if you’re curious.

Detailed List Of Best Places To Live In Wisconsin

City Rank Population Crime Index Cost Of Living Index
Waunakee 1 12,142 47 123
Harrison (Calumet County) 2 10,701 23 86
Cottage Grove 3 6,174 49 118
Verona 4 10,632 60 127
Oregon 5 9,269 60 112
Elm Grove 6 5,958 39 129
Mcfarland 7 7,827 59 118
Whitefish Bay 8 14,063 50 123
Caledonia (Racine County) 9 24,654 41 93
Mount Horeb 10 7,070 61 112
Dunn (Dane County) 11 5,002 37 111
Fox Point 12 6,703 46 123
Oconomowoc 13 15,667 35 116
Deforest 14 8,955 51 112
Sun Prairie 15 29,274 76 110
Wauwatosa 16 46,457 96 107
Holmen 17 8,982 69 104
Lisbon (Waukesha County) 18 10,174 18.1 93
Genesee 19 7,350 23 86
Richfield (Washington County) 20 11,305 16.2 108
Cedarburg 21 11,425 42 117
Mequon 22 23,164 33 119
Middleton 23 17,589 73 122
Menomonee Falls 24 35,595 44 105
Brookfield 25 38,015 75 116
Vernon 26 7,610 15.8 118
Stoughton 27 12,695 79 107
Hartland 28 9,092 54 109
Richfield 29 11,305 15.2 117
New Berlin 30 39,621 44 107
Sheboygan Falls 31 7,755 31 96
Allouez 32 14,056 42 94
Muskego 33 24,118 42 113
Madison 34 234,586 106 116
Franklin 35 35,236 47 93
Grafton 36 11,457 51 102
Onalaska 37 17,740 71 100
Mukwonago 38 7,280 59 109
Jackson 39 6,675 47 102
Wind Lake 40 5,395 47 109
Sussex 41 10,489 69 114
Port Washington 42 11,261 41 99
Delafield 43 7,060 69 125
Monona 44 7,624 105 112
Suamico 45 11,301 27 99
Suamico 46 11,301 27 99
Hales Corners 47 7,696 63 103
Hartford 48 14,104 65 99
Rib Mountain 49 5,537 30 94
Pewaukee 50 8,168 91 105
Pewaukee 51 8,168 91 105
Tichigan 52 5,253 32 118
Hobart 53 6,307 31 112
Hobart 54 6,307 31 112
Ledgeview 55 6,578 73 90
Pleasant Prairie 56 19,658 46 108
Norway 57 7,964 40 129
Greenville 58 10,309 31 108
Waterford 59 5,301 78 104
Germantown 60 19,756 52 102
Hudson 61 12,732 90 108
Slinger 62 5,050 39 101
Shorewood 63 13,154 81 91
Kronenwetter 64 7,163 45 99
Kronenwetter 65 7,163 45 99
Fitchburg 66 25,222 105 117
Buchanan 67 6,801 50 110
Greendale 68 14,085 84 100
Lafayette (Chippewa County) 69 5,767 57 93
Freedom (Outagamie County) 70 5,853 34 101
Waukesha 71 70,593 66 101
Hull (Portage County) 72 5,352 44 94
Grand Rapids 73 7,644 31 104
Plover 74 12,079 56 97
Mount Pleasant (Racine County) 75 26,068 58 98
Fort Atkinson 76 12,401 81 95
Oak Creek 77 34,190 84 89
Cudahy 78 18,251 92 92
Mayville 79 5,128 69 91
River Falls 80 14,986 92 105
De Pere 81 23,796 85 98
Salem (Kenosha County) 82 12,011 58 114
Menasha 83 17,213 62 90
Sturtevant 84 6,880 55 88
Burlington 85 10,492 55 104
Kaukauna 86 15,422 56 96
Greenfield 87 36,657 90 86
New Richmond 88 8,376 60 102
Plymouth 89 8,413 73 98
Brown Deer 90 11,980 86 100
Little Chute 91 10,447 73 97
Lake Mills 92 5,695 74 102
La Crosse 93 51,398 102 93
South Milwaukee 94 21,119 97 98
Caledonia 95 24,654 72 100
Jefferson 96 7,953 85 98
Platteville 97 11,170 102 98
Bellevue 98 14,482 75 101
Bellevue 99 14,482 75 101
Howard 100 17,564 83 97
Washington (Eau Claire County) 101 7,200 78 124
Edgerton 102 5,417 43 97
Beaver Dam 103 16,215 71 90
St. Francis 104 9,365 76 97
Neenah 105 25,529 80 93
Menomonie 106 16,192 63 97
Twin Lakes 107 5,978 73 102
Ashwaubenon 108 17,039 83 94
Kimberly 109 6,505 71 94
Lake Hallie 110 6,401 81 96
Waupun 111 11,362 78 89
Two Rivers 112 11,702 63 88
Somers 113 9,563 74 99
Rothschild 114 5,254 78 87
Watertown 115 23,838 101 98
West Bend 116 31,200 79 98
Sheboygan 117 49,308 96 91
Milton 118 5,538 68 96
Reedsburg 119 9,228 72 95
Altoona 120 6,780 87 91
West Allis 121 60,334 113 82
Mount Pleasant 122 26,068 79 94
Ripon 123 7,700 65 87
Whitewater 124 14,385 78 97
Sturgeon Bay 125 9,157 47 96
Kenosha 126 99,297 97 93
Glendale 127 12,861 116 83
Oshkosh 128 66,046 96 90
Richland Center 129 5,173 58 88
Eau Claire 130 65,860 91 91
Appleton 131 72,575 92 98
Lake Geneva 132 7,666 112 102
Weston 133 14,786 92 92
Janesville 134 63,586 103 93
Sparta 135 9,538 102 88
Saratoga 136 5,130 30 110
Monroe 137 10,835 98 91
Elkhorn 138 9,983 97 94
Delavan 139 8,495 91 97
Grand Chute 140 20,960 111 101
Manitowoc 141 33,646 73 86
Marshfield 142 18,655 64 91
Shawano 143 9,256 92 89
Tomah 144 9,136 119 89
Fond Du Lac 145 43,027 96 88
Portage 146 10,267 103 100
New London 147 7,127 87 87
Berlin 148 5,489 83 88
Prairie Du Chien 149 5,914 88 88
Baraboo 150 12,011 121 93
Wausau 151 39,158 97 84
Chippewa Falls 152 13,673 70 87
Milwaukee 153 594,328 146 85
Green Bay 154 104,226 97 88
Stevens Point 155 26,673 83 90
Racine 156 78,878 116 84
Antigo 157 8,189 128 83
Rice Lake 158 8,412 111 92
Waupaca 159 6,041 106 94
Wisconsin Rapids 160 18,289 85 85
Ashland 161 8,213 101 89
Marinette 162 10,943 83 84
Beloit 163 36,943 110 85
Rhinelander 164 7,776 109 86
Merrill 165 9,638 110 85

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One thought on “These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin

  1. Shawano is often thought of as a great place to visit. And it is a great place for vacation! But we think Shawano is a great place for families to live, too. There are many conveniences of larger cities, but with a small town feel.

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