The 10 Best Madison Suburbs To Live For 2021

We analyzed over 25 places around Madison to identify the most in demand places to live.

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best Madison suburbs.

Big city living isn't for everyone--but at the same time, urban areas certainly have their perks.

There's the culture, the food, the arts, the food, the energy, and you know, the food. But there are drawbacks. There's traffic, expensive parking, expensive housing--pretty much, expensive everything, depending on which big city you're looking at.

But that's where the suburbs come in--they have all of the benefits of being near big cities, without actually having to be big cities.

Of course, not all suburbs of Madison are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

Here are the 10 best suburbs to live around Madison for 2021:

  1. Cross Plains
  2. Shorewood Hills
  3. Waunakee
  4. Mount Horeb
  5. Oregon
  6. McFarland
  7. Middleton
  8. Verona
  9. Monona
  10. Cottage Grove

What's the best suburb of Madison? Cross Plains ranks as the best suburb of Madison for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data. If you happen to be a resident of Cross Plains, you're probably not too surprised to find it on the top our list.

We'll tell you what makes each of these 10 Madison 'burbs better than the rest--but first, a bit about our methodology.

Note: This result may differ from our state wide data as we did not include commute times and crime for this analysis to allow for a larger selection of suburbs.

Feel free to check out some more reading about Wisconsin:

The 10 Best Madison Suburbs To Live For 2021

Cross Plains, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,187
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $84,861
Unemployment Rate: 0.3%
Poverty Rate: 1.9%
More on Cross Plains: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cross Plains is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the Madison area. We'll tell you the good about "Awesome Cross Plains."

Everyone here is rich; families average $84,861 a year, which is the 7th highest in the Madison region. And only 0.32% are out of work. Homes average more than $276,300 each.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,277
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $123,200
Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
Poverty Rate: 5.4%
More on Shorewood Hills: Real Estate | Data

Shorewood Hills is the second best 'burb we looked at near Madison for 2021.

It ranks 1st for incomes in the area and only 0.92% of residents lack insurance, good for 2nd best.

Waunakee, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,730
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $112,845
Unemployment Rate: 2.5%
Poverty Rate: 4.9%
More on Waunakee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Here in Waunakee, it's really safe, and residents are just about as rich as you'll see in the Madison metro area.

The bad side? Schools are more crowded, and the cost of living puts a large part of the city out of reach for most families.

But price is based on demand and a lot of people want to live in Waunakee.

Mount Horeb, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,449
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Income: $79,900
Unemployment Rate: 1.3%
Poverty Rate: 4.5%
More on Mount Horeb: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Mount Horeb ranks as the 4th best suburb of Madison for 2021.

You won't find many better places to raise your kids in the region than in Mount Horeb and the schools are some of the best around.

Oregon, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,353
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $83,885
Unemployment Rate: 1.3%
Poverty Rate: 3.6%
More on Oregon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Oregon.

Oregon gets kudos for having the 10th most expensive homes in the Madison area, where houses sell for an average of $256,500. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Mcfarland, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,650
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $92,944
Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
Poverty Rate: 3.0%
More on Mcfarland: Real Estate | Data | Photos

McFarland is proud of its 6th place finish on this list. And here's why.

Most residents have great jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 3.1% which is 18th best in the area.

According to online reports, McFarland is quickly becoming one of the more affluent suburbs in the Madison area, meaning you need to get in soon.

Middleton, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,487
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $76,011
Unemployment Rate: 2.5%
Poverty Rate: 5.2%
More on Middleton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The 7th best suburb on our list goes to Middleton.

Middleton schools are some of the best in the region, and crime is really low. The cost of living makes it a lot more desirable for many families, especially first-time home buyers.

And, it's only 4.1 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

Verona, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,004
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $96,990
Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
Poverty Rate: 2.7%
More on Verona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Verona is growing quickly, and for a good reason. Crime is far below average, and most residents are gainfully employed. Even the cost of living is reasonable.

A solid 3.52% of people lack insurance, good for 19th in the area.

Monona, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,122
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Income: $74,474
Unemployment Rate: 1.9%
Poverty Rate: 6.2%
More on Monona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Is 'Everything Better In Monona?'


It placed 9th on our list thanks to the fact that it's really expensive to live here, but the schools are great, so you get what you pay for in that regard.

Cottage Grove, WI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,020
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Income: $99,322
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Poverty Rate: 2.5%
More on Cottage Grove: Real Estate | Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten for 2021 is Cottage Grove.

This city is far above average in every category, and the best part? It's far more affordable than the other cities listed above. So, you get a big bang for your buck here.

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Madison for 2021

Figuring out the best suburbs around Madison was pretty simple; we just needed to list several things that people like, and then find out which cities have the most of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:

  • Low unemployment rate
  • High Median household incomes
  • Population density (lots of things to do)
  • High home values
  • A lot of college educated people
  • Low poverty
  • High rate of insured families

Then we used the newest American Community Survey data for 2015-2019 to research each suburb.

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Madison.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 25 suburbs to evaluate around Madison.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 25 in each category, where 1 was the "best.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the best quality of life index the "Best Suburb near Madison." We're lookin' at you, Cross Plains. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the best of the best. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from best to worst.

Welcome to the Best Madison 'Burbs of 2021

We said it once and we'll say it again--life in the big city isn't for everyone. At least not all the time.

So if you're hankering for some of the amenities of a larger city like Madison, but don't want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might just be for you.

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Madison Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Cross Plains, WI 4,187 $84,861
2 Shorewood Hills, WI 2,277 $123,200
3 Waunakee, WI 13,730 $112,845
4 Mount Horeb, WI 7,449 $79,900
5 Oregon, WI 10,353 $83,885
6 Mcfarland, WI 8,650 $92,944
7 Middleton, WI 19,487 $76,011
8 Verona, WI 13,004 $96,990
9 Monona, WI 8,122 $74,474
10 Cottage Grove, WI 7,020 $99,322
11 Deforest, WI 10,179 $88,151
12 Evansville, WI 5,312 $70,828
13 Sun Prairie, WI 33,321 $77,139
14 Lodi, WI 3,060 $72,117
15 Prairie Du Sac, WI 4,347 $59,842
16 Stoughton, WI 13,097 $67,329
17 Poynette, WI 2,496 $81,330
18 Belleville, WI 2,556 $77,841
19 Deerfield, WI 2,538 $73,015
20 Lake Mills, WI 5,895 $70,239
21 Fitchburg, WI 29,450 $72,324
22 Waterloo, WI 3,337 $75,438
23 Columbus, WI 5,058 $58,606
24 Edgerton, WI 5,550 $65,641
25 Marshall, WI 3,966 $61,339

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.