THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2020


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

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Wisconsin.

Happy cows come from Wisconsin and so do some of America's best cities.

Hip millennial cities like Milwaukee, fun college cities like Madison, and sports crazy cities like Green Bay are not only some of Wisconsin's fastest growing cities, but they also lead the charge in making Wisconsin one of the fastest growing states in the country. And surprisingly folks, they did not make the top ten best places in Wisconsin for 2020.

The competition to determine the best places in the Badger State for 2020 was fierce. Mostly because the entire state of Wisconsin has a lot to offer in terms of quaint cities that border its Great Lakes and cities that offer employment in one of its nine Fortune 500 companies. And it wouldn't be right if we didn't mention cheese. Yes, cheese. Wisconsinites know how to make a good cheese. So much that every city on our top ten list has at least one down home, country cheese store. (It probably should have been a 'best of the best' category.)

Wisconsin has so many great cities, that you could literally throw a dart at the state and live happily wherever it landed. So, you can understand how difficult it was to narrow down a list of the top ten best places. We invite you to grab yourself some string cheese, a Milwaukee's Best, find a shady spot by Lake Winnebago and read on as we uncover where you should live in Wisconsin.

What does the best city in "America's Dairyland" look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median home prices and unemployment rates for cities with over 5,000 residents, Whitefish Bay is the best place to live in wisconsin.

Take a look at the list below to see the cities that gave Whitefish Bay a run for their money. And if you don't see your favorite Wisconsin city in the top ten, head to the bottom of the page.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2020

Whitefish Bay, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 14,039
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $373,200 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.1% (18th best)
More on Whitefish Bay: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Whitefish Bay is by far one of the best places to live in Wisconsin: the math proves it! This city has the 18th lowest unemployment rate and the highest median income in all of Wisconsin.

Plus, the median home values are the 3rd highest in the state. And if all of that isn't enough to convince you, then check this out: their crime rate is the 53rd lowest in the state, making Whitefish Bay a safe and great place to live.

Fox Point, WI

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 6,688
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $322,000 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.5% (6th best)
More on Fox Point: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Taking a similar route to the top ten as many others on this list, Fox Point ranked highly for adjusted median income (2nd), crime (32nd), and unemployment (6th).

With a population of 6,688 it was one of the smaller in the top ten and its government website actually goes to pains to say that it's a "community though not a city".

But don't listen to what they say people of Fox Point, you can be anything you want.

Elm Grove, WI

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 6,172
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $362,200 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (10th best)
More on Elm Grove: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The tiny town of Elm Grove may not remain tiny forever. The word has been out for a long, long time about how special this place is.

The residents are heavily involved in making their community even more awesome, and as many Wisconsin residents know, Elm Grove is a great central spot for making the most of life.

Oregon, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 10,215
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $246,400 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (32nd best)
More on Oregon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of Wisconsin, as there were only 4 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 32nd lowest in Wisconsin (2.6%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 22nd most expensive in Oregon ($246,400), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $80,385 a year.

Hartland, WI

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 9,260
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $281,900 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.2% (3rd best)
More on Hartland: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Hartland is another great city in Wisconsin with a low unemployment rate and where residents earn high salaries.

Said one reviewer on City-Data.com: " We feel incredibly safe in Hartland. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it's wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things."

Enough said.

Mequon, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 23,984
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $391,700 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.2% (21st best)
More on Mequon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Town of Mequon might be a bit of a surprise to some in terms of how well it ranks according to science.

The crime rate in Mequon isn't amazing, but it's far below the state average. The homes are valued at $391,700 here, and the schools get some of the most funding in Wisconsin.

If Mequon can get some more of their residents to work, things will look even rosier here. The unemployment rate (2.2%) is the 2highest in the state.

Mcfarland, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,492
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $245,500 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (60th best)
More on Mcfarland: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Town of Mcfarland consistently ranks as one of the best places to live. There aren't any surprises here. Which probably adds credibility to our data, right?

Let's see why Mcfarland ranks so high. First of all, the homes in Mcfarland are the 23rd most expensive in the state of Wisconsin, with the average home worth a whopping $245,500. We're not elitists, nor are we saying that big homes means a better place to live. But price reflects demand, and simply put, a lot of people want to live in Mcfarland if they can afford it.

Other numbers that stand out: Mcfarland residents have the 12th highest income in the state, and the 29th lowest crime numbers in Wisconsin.

Waunakee, WI

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 13,522
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $324,600 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (64th best)
More on Waunakee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Waunakee is just about as close to a perfect area as you can get. Residents here are gainfully employed, and the schools are some of the best in the state. It's safe, and residents get to enjoy the benefits of quality at home living.

It's quite a gem tucked away in Wisconsin.

Menomonee Falls, WI

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 36,784
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $241,700 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (29th best)
More on Menomonee Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Menomonee Falls has it made. In fact, according to science, it's one of the best places to live in the state of Wisconsin.

The unemployment rate is the 29th lowest in the state at 2.5%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $79,367, and the average cost of a home is $241,700. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn't be surprised if more and more publications call Menomonee Falls one of America's gems.

West Salem, WI

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 5,013
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $180,000 (57th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.5% (1st best)
More on West Salem: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Perhaps what makes West Salem so amazing is the high emphasis they put on quality education: they have one of the highest rate of education at attainment for adults.

However, quality education isn't all that makes West Salem great. They also have the 77th highest median income and the 38th shortest commute time.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Wisconsin

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Madison with a population of 252,086 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 5,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 139 cities, 241 towns, and 380 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Wisconsin have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Wisconsin

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Wisconsin across a number of criteria from one to 139, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Wisconsin".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Wisconsin? That would be Whitefish Bay.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Wisconsin.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Whitefish Bay at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Wisconsin

If you're looking at areas in Wisconsin with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Whitefish Bay made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Wisconsin for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Wisconsin

  1. Shorewood Hills (Pop. 1,996)
  2. Maple Bluff (Pop. 1,452)
  3. Howards Grove (Pop. 3,247)
  4. Bayside (Pop. 4,428)
  5. Combined Locks (Pop. 3,486)
  6. Prairie du Sac (Pop. 4,218)
  7. Merton (Pop. 3,535)
  8. Cross Plains (Pop. 3,914)
  9. Wind Point (Pop. 1,785)
  10. Kohler (Pop. 2,363)

Best Small Towns To Live In Wisconsin

  1. Park Ridge (Pop. 619)
  2. Hewitt (Pop. 792)
  3. Brownsville (Pop. 585)
  4. North Bay (Pop. 207)
  5. Dale (Pop. 523)
  6. Gibbsville (Pop. 473)
  7. Butte des Morts (Pop. 938)
  8. Dyckesville (Pop. 510)
  9. Lake Sherwood (Pop. 315)
  10. Ephraim (Pop. 266)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Wisconsin according to the data:

  1. Milwaukee (Pop. 596,886)
  2. Beloit (Pop. 36,813)
  3. Antigo (Pop. 7,799)

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Wisconsin?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Whitefish Bay 14,039 2.1% $373,200
2 Fox Point 6,688 1.5% $322,000
3 Elm Grove 6,172 1.8% $362,200
4 Oregon 10,215 2.6% $246,400
5 Hartland 9,260 1.2% $281,900
6 Mequon 23,984 2.2% $391,700
7 Mcfarland 8,492 3.2% $245,500
8 Waunakee 13,522 3.3% $324,600
9 Menomonee Falls 36,784 2.5% $241,700
10 West Salem 5,013 0.5% $180,000

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.

4 thoughts on “THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2020

  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.

  2. This is a crazy list. The median cost of living is far,far above the actual ability for 90% of WI citizens to support. Even entry level college edjucated individuals are earning less then half of the living cost in all of these areas. WI being mostly farming or production facilities, the average pay for the these individuals is less then $70000 a year. Placing all of these towns well above average affordability. For example…a civil court judge with a 4 year law school degree and atleast 10 years of experience may clear just over $250000 a year. This would be a example of just the top 2% of individual earnings withing WI. How does this list realistically represent the other 98% of citizens? Obviously the editor needs to go back to school. They got ripped off with the first school they attended.

  3. why is antigo the worst. curious…always use to say got go want ago to antigo by the time you say that your through antigo and past antigo.what so bad about that.

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