Madison is so much more than a college town. It’s one of the fastest growing cities for young professionals to begin their careers and start a family. From affordable housing and easy public transit, to great local restaurants and shops, here is a guide to the best Madison neighborhoods.
Madison is consistently ranked as one of the top ten best places to live in the U.S. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s a big city with a small-town vibe with the state capitol and esteemed University of Wisconsin-Madison playing a large role in defining the city’s culture and vibe.
While many millennials come for a great education, it’s not the only reason young adults are flocking to the city. Madison offers plenty of job opportunities with a low unemployment rate of 2.2%, a low cost of living, countless amenities, and easy transportation whether by bus or bike.
The city of Madison is nestled on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, with a plethora of parks and open green spaces perfect for outdoor and water activities. You’ll find numerous local restaurants and bars all throughout the city and of course, near campus.
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Many Madison residents are transplants who come for school and then stay for the ample job opportunities and more affordable housing which is much more inexpensive when compared to other large midwest metros like Chicago.
The median home value in Madison is $254,100, up 4.3% from 2018, and is expected to increase 2.3% in the coming year. You’ll find the median listing price of homes is $299,900 while the price of Madison homes sold is $264,900.
With a more affordable cost of living and housing, the city certainly skews younger with a median age of 35. Young professionals, which constitute 26.8% of the workforce, find employment opportunities in the healthcare industry, at the university, as well as at the capitol.
From a thriving college town to the center of the state’s politics and everything in between, you’ll be sure to find a neighborhood that fits your style and exact needs whether you’re looking to start a career or start a family.
To help you narrow down your search, here are the five best neighborhoods to live in Madison in 2019.
If your beer pong and bar crawling days are behind you, Wexford offers a respite away from the college scene. Great for young professionals, the Wexford neighborhood is located on the west side of town and offers plenty of parks, ponds, and easy access to the West Towne Mall.
Because of the neighborhood’s prime location, close to coffee shops, local restaurants, grocery stores, and public transit, housing here gets snatched up quick. You can expect to find homes priced at around $247,950 which is 48% higher than in other Madison neighborhoods.
Take into account however, the median income in Wexford is also 49% higher than throughout the city at $81,566, and the unemployment rate is at a staggering low 0.7%.
Wexford is a great location if you’re thinking of starting a family. The area has an incredibly low crime rate and great public and private schools nearby, where high school graduation rates are 17% higher than the national average.
Indeed, you can also take the kids to the neighborhood’s many events like the End of Summer Party and their 4th of July Party.
Centered around Westmorland Park, this vibrant neighborhood is great for young professionals and those looking to start a family. The park offers 12 acres of open green space that links to several bike trails leading to other local parks, the UW Arboretum, UW campus, and downtown.
Westmorland ranks in the top 20 of walkable neighborhoods due to its great bike paths and easy access to public transit. Additionally, the neighborhood boasts plenty of amenities like coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants, local events, and shopping.
This area is on the pricier side for Madison neighborhoods where the average home sales price is 55% higher than the rest of Madison at $282,000. You’ll be able to choose from Cape Cod style homes, Colonial as well as Ranch-style designs.
Westmorland has low crime, great schools, and a low unemployment rate at 1.2% making the neighborhood a great place to settle down and raise a family.
3. Willy Street/Marquette
Willy Street, formally known as Williamson Street, is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Madison. With a bohemian, young vibe, you’ll find the streets lined with cool bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and local shops and businesses.
With prime real estate next to Lake Monona, you have great access to parks, the lake, and open green space mostly all easily accessible by walking or biking.
Willy Street is also one of the oldest, historic neighborhoods in Madison, with homes and buildings that date back to the 1800s. You can select from houses with old, turn-of-the-century architecture as well as newer homes situated right alongside the waterfront on Lake Monona.
Homes in the area have an average selling price of $311,000 making the neighborhood demographic compiled mostly of young professionals and families. You won’t find many college students buying homes on Willy Street.
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One of the more coveted neighborhoods, Dudgeon-Monroe is situated on the ever-popular Monroe Street that features countless local restaurants, coffee shops, bars, shops, businesses, art galleries, and local favorites like Michael's Frozen Custard and Barriques Wine Cave.
You can simply walk or bike to all these establishments as well as walk to nearby Wingra Park with great access to Lake Wingra and Wingra Springs where you can kayak, canoe, hike, or bike. Bike trails in this area also connect to the UW Arboretum and the UW campus.
You’ll find an eclectic variety of homes in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood with homes built in the 1920s and 1930s as well as architectural styles like bungalow, Cape Cod, Colonial, farm and prairie designs.
The median sale price of homes in the area is $376,950 with homes selling as low as $227,000 with the highest price of homes sold at $600,000.
The Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood is great for both young professionals and families with a low unemployment rate of 1.0% and great schools in the area. The neighborhood also has low crime and is safer than 82% of the cities in Wisconsin.
The Vilas neighborhood is right on the edge of campus but far enough removed so you’re not right in the heart of college life. The area is a little oasis in the midst of a college town with quiet streets, plenty of foliage, and locally-owned businesses, restaurants, and shops.
You’ll also be within walking distance to bustling Monroe street home to a myriad of bars and shops to keep you entertained as well as within close proximity of the UW Arboretum with six miles of biking, walking, and hiking trails, Lake Wingra, and the Henry Vilas Zoo.
Indeed, Vilas is the 3rd most walkable neighborhood in Madison and is considered a biker’s paradise.
Vilas is made up of mostly younger professionals with a median age of 26 years old. Many of the residents are starting their careers geared toward the artistic and academic fields taking in a median income of $64,084.
Homes in the area are older, historic homes with a median sale price of $289,450 and a median home value of $351,850.
Partner with a Local Real Estate Agent
With such popular neighborhoods scattered throughout Madison, it can be tricky to find the right home and beat other buyers to the market.
By working with a local, experienced real estate agent, they can help you navigate the Madison housing market and find you the perfect home at the right price. When you work with Clever, we will connect you with a top-rated Partner Agent in Madison for guidance, expertise, and support.
Get in touch with Clever to start your home search and to learn more about the home buyer’s rebate program where you’ll be eligible for a $1,000 home buyer’s rebate on homes over $150,000 which you can put toward closing costs and other moving expenses.