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Aerial view of Madison, WI, on a sunny summer day. A diagonal city street runs toward a residential one, and lush green trees fill the gaps between buildings. In the distance, the Wisconsin State Capitol stands taller than any other building in the area.

Here’s Your Guide to the 11 Best Neighborhoods in Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Madison

by Matt Lyons Posted on August 23, 2023

It’s no surprise that Madison, Wisconsin, is regarded as one of the top places to live in the U.S. The city has a small-town feel with big-city attractions, like the Wisconsin State Capitol and the prominent University of Wisconsin-Madison, contributing to the overall atmosphere. But besides being able to get a great education, many young adults are choosing to live in this city because of its low cost of living and influx of job opportunities. It also has a variety of transportation options and a lot of great amenities. What are the best neighborhoods in Madison, WI, though? Let’s take a look.

Best Neighborhoods in Madison, WI

Madison is situated on an isthmus between two lakes, Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, and the city features several parks and green spaces ideal for water and outdoor activities. You'll also find a variety of local bars and restaurants within walking distance of the university.

Whether you're looking to start a career, raise a family, or finally retire, there's a place for you to settle down in Madison. From a thriving college town to the center of Wisconsin politics, there are a variety of great neighborhoods designed to meet your distinct lifestyle.

The average home value in Madison is $377,000, not too far off from the national average of $348,000. And the average monthly rent in Madison for a one-bedroom? That’s around $1,550, versus the national average of $1,700. 

Q: Is Madison, WI, an expensive place to live?
A: Compared to other major cities, Madison is not a very expensive place to live. In fact, the cost of living is only 1.4 percent higher than the U.S. average.

Q: What is the famous street in Madison, Wisconsin?
A: State Street is filled with the hustle and bustle of both Downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The restaurants, shops, bookstores, and art galleries make it a must-see for anyone exploring the area.

Q: What is the nicest neighborhood in Madison, WI?
A: With so many great neighborhoods to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one that’s the nicest; however, the neighborhood of Shorewood Hills is ranked #2 on Niche’s list for “Best Places to Live in the Madison Area,” right behind Middleton.

From the safest, to the most affordable, to the overall nicest, here are the best neighborhoods in Madison, WI.

A one-story residential home in the Wexford Village neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin. The home is painted a light pink shade, and there are large windows letting natural light shine in from the vast yard.

Wexford Village
(Source: Matt Winzenried Real Estate Partners via Facebook)

1. Wexford Village

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,350
  • Median home sale price: $410,000
  • Great for: Shopping, outdoor activities, retirees, families
  • If you're looking for a break from the college scene, Wexford Village is a great place to live that offers a bit more of a laid-back environment. This neighborhood is situated on the western side of town and is close to the West Towne Mall. It features parks and ponds, as well as easy access to the area's other attractions.

    Due to its prime location, there’s easy access to local restaurants, stores, and public transportation, making it a beloved area to many of its residents.

    2. Westmorland

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,525
  • Median home sale price: $485,700
  • Great for: Walkability, biking, local events, young professionals, families
  • The Westmorland neighborhood is a great place for young professionals and folks looking to start a family. It features Westmorland Park — almost 12 acres of green space connected to various bike trails. Other nearby attractions include the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum and Odana Hills Golf Course.

    The neighborhood has a bike score of 83, and there’s plenty of access to public transportation that makes getting around even easier. Residents also love exploring its variety of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and fun local events.

    3. Marquette

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,800
  • Median home sale price: $493,500
  • Great for: Water activities, welcoming community, young professionals, families
  • The area of Marquette is located directly between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, and it features a mix of bars, restaurants, and local shops.

    Situated just a few minutes away from the city center, this area has a historical and artsy feel. It’s also full of friendly individuals who take pride in its diversity.

    Marquette was first established in the late 1850s, so the area features several historic homes, including those on Rutledge Street and Williamson Street. There are also newer homes situated on Lake Monona’s waterfront.


    A view across the lake in Tenney Park of several large waterfront homes in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin. It’s autumn, and many of the trees around the lake have begun to change their leaves and are displaying vibrant shades of red and yellow.


    4. Tenny-Lapham

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,700
  • Median home sale price: $475,000
  • Great for: Music, art, local events, young professionals 
  • Located on Madison's East Side, Tenney-Lapham is a great place for young professionals looking to live in Madison that aren’t necessarily interested in student life. It comes with a great arts and music scene — especially at the High Noon Saloon, which has hosted acts like The Replacements and Nirvana. The venue also hosts events like the Summer Solstice Celebration, which features local vendors and bands.

    This neighborhood is growing fast, with several luxury apartments and condominiums being built along East Washington Avenue, making it difficult for students to afford the high rise prices.

    5. Vilas

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,525
  • Median home sale price: $605,000
  • Great for: Music, nightlife, fun activities, young professionals 

  • The historic Vilas neighborhood is bordered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's campus and also by the city's local institution, Edgewood College. It's also only a couple of minutes away from the Wisconsin State Capitol.
    The proximity of the university and Monroe Street makes Vilas an ideal place to live and enjoy a variety of music and nightlife. You can also easily visit the Henry Vilas Zoo or watch a football game at the Camp Randall Stadium.

    6. Maple-Prairie

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,400
  • Median home sale price: $421,900
  • Great for: Good schools, more affordable homes, families
  • The community of Maple Prairie is made up of the smaller neighborhoods of Prairie Hills and Maple Grove, located near Fitchburg and Verona. It’s known for its safe and quiet community, along with great schools and affordable homes. The nearby Maple Prairie Park has several playgrounds for children.

    This neighborhood is also home to the Verona Area School District — Niche’s #4 ranking for “Best School Districts in the Madison Area.”


    A large, Tudor-style home in the Madison, Wisconsin, suburb of Shorewood Hills. The home features classic Tudor detailing, a chimney, and a stone facade. The yard is kempt, and there are various trees and shrubs decorating the front of the home.

    Shorewood Hills, WI
    (Source: Chas Martin Sprinkman Real Estate via Facebook)

    7. Shorewood Hills

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,550
  • Median home sale price: $966,700
  • Great for: Wildlife, parks, water activities, families, retirees
  • Although technically a suburb of Madison, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Shorewood Hills. It’s close to the city center but still far away enough from all the city chaos. It’s also one of the best areas to live in Madison, WI, according to Niche. The area's population is mainly composed of established adults and families, and most residents own their homes.

    The Shorewood Hills neighborhood features several parks, giving you easy exploring access to the area’s diverse flora and fauna. The community also shares a border with Mendota Lake, which provides numerous opportunities for water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking.

    8. Dudgeon-Monroe

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,525
  • Median home sale price: $581,700
  • Great for: Walkability, proximity to fun attractions, families, retirees
  • Dudgeon-Monroe is a wealthy neighborhood within Madison's Monroe Street district. It's located on the west side of the city near Lake Wingra, and it’s only an eight-minute drive from downtown.

    This neighborhood is full of historic bungalows and craftsman houses, some of which date back to the 1920s and 30s. It’s also close to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum and Henry Vilas Zoo.

    9. University

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,500
  • Median home sale price: $382,000
  • Great for: Outdoor activities, nightlife, students, young professionals 
  • This area is where you’ll find the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. It’s usually filled with students, commuters, and university employees, and it’s close to many bars and restaurants the students (and professors!) like to attend.

    The neighborhood is filled mostly with activities for those approaching their early or mid-twenties, but that doesn't mean that Madison's other residents have to be excluded. The university is a part of the city, which is a vital part of every resident's daily life, regardless of their affiliation with the institution.

    One of the main crossing points for students is The Union, where a lot of the university’s events and gatherings are hosted. The Chazen Museum of Art — an internationally renowned art gallery — features works by world famous artists, including Claude Monet and Strozzi. And there are plenty of other things to do and see in this area, whether you're a student or not.

    A beautiful two-story, natural wood siding home in the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin. The second level features a large enclosed deck, and there’s lovely wood detailing at the top of the gable. The front yard is lush and green.

    (Source: Matt Winzenried Real Estate Partners)

    10. Schenk-Atwood

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,375
  • Median home sale price: $448,900
  • Great for: Art walks, outdoor activities, families, retirees, young professionals
  • The eastern part of the city's Schenk-Atwood community is known for its hip local culture and welcoming atmosphere. Murals and sculptures by local artists have been displayed throughout the area for years.

    Locals love visiting Olbrich Botanical Gardens, but there are plenty of other parks available in the neighborhood if you want something else to explore! The area is also close to Lake Monona, meaning even more access to water activities during the warm months.

    11. Glacier Ridge

  • Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,450
  • Median home sale price: $417,000
  • Great for: Popular trail, proximity to nearby major towns, newer homes, families, retirees
  • Residents of the Glacier Ridge neighborhood are situated on Madison's southwest side, and they enjoy being able to access areas such as Verona, Middleton, and Fitchburg. This area is bordered by McKee Road, Country Grove Drive, Iris Bloom Drive, and Madison City Limits.

    The popular Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs through this neighborhood, providing a backdrop for the many homes — most of which were built after 2000 — that can be found in Glacier Ridge.

    Move to Your New Madison, WI Neighborhood with the Help of PODS

    When you’ve found your perfect home in one of the best places to live in Wisconsin, consider renting a portable storage container from PODS. Have it delivered right to your driveway, where you can pack and load at your own pace. And when you’re ready, PODS will pick it up and take it to your new home. The best part? One month’s storage is included in every move, so you can unload on your own schedule without feeling rushed. 

    Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.



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