The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2021


We used science and data to determine which cities in Wisconsin that will put a big dent in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the most expensive places to live in Wisconsin.

Everyone wants a home that mixes affordability with comfort and Wisconsin does this very well. Families love the Badger State's beaches, midlands, and mountains as tourists before moving here and calling it home.

But before you decide to relocate, you have to do some research into the exact cost of living around the state -- and that's how we're going to help you.

These are the places in Wisconsin that cost a pretty penny -- the most expensive cities in the state.

After we saved up for months and could finally afford it, we landed on this list of the ten most expensive cities in Wisconsin for 2021.

So where is the most expensive place to live in Wisconsin? That would be Madison.
the 2015-2019 American Community Survey for the 141 places in Wisconsin with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the 10 most expensive places to live in Wisconsin for 2021:

  1. Madison
  2. Delafield
  3. Fitchburg
  4. Lake Geneva
  5. Middleton
  6. Whitewater
  7. Pewaukee
  8. Hudson
  9. Shorewood
  10. Mequon

What's the most expensive place to live in Wisconsin? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Madison is the most expensive place to live in Wisconsin.

So hopefully Waupaca (the cheapest place to live in Wisconsin) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Wisconsin and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2021

1. MadisonMadison, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 254,977
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.4x (13th most expensive)
More on Madison: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Madison comes in at $65,332 and the median home value is $246,300 for 2021.

2. Delafield

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 7,457
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 8)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.5x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.2x (57th most expensive)
More on Delafield: Real Estate | Data

The median income in Delafield comes in at $86,897 and the median home value is $387,200 for 2021.

3. FitchburgFitchburg, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 29,450
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.6x (48th most expensive)
More on Fitchburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Fitchburg comes in at $72,324 and the median home value is $315,900 for 2021.

4. Lake GenevaLake Geneva, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,894
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.8x (4th most expensive)
More on Lake Geneva: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Lake Geneva comes in at $51,875 and the median home value is $197,300 for 2021.

5. MiddletonMiddleton, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 19,487
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (4th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.3x (58th most expensive)
More on Middleton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Middleton comes in at $76,011 and the median home value is $336,900 for 2021.

6. WhitewaterWhitewater, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,722
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.7x (most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 46.7x (most expensive)
More on Whitewater: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Whitewater comes in at $36,176 and the median home value is $168,700 for 2021.

7. PewaukeePewaukee, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,164
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (11th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 61.9x (24th most expensive)
More on Pewaukee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Pewaukee comes in at $60,909 and the median home value is $211,100 for 2021.

8. HudsonHudson, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 13,795
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.2x (24th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 64.3x (33rd most expensive)
More on Hudson: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Hudson comes in at $75,000 and the median home value is $243,400 for 2021.

9. ShorewoodShorewood, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 13,290
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.5x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 74.4x (85th most expensive)
More on Shorewood: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Shorewood comes in at $74,745 and the median home value is $338,400 for 2021.

10. MequonMequon, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 24,144
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 15)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (9th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 74.6x (86th most expensive)
More on Mequon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Mequon comes in at $116,486 and the median home value is $407,000 for 2021.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Badger State For 2021

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2015-2019 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Wisconsin to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 141 places in Wisconsin that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in Wisconsin according to the data is Madison. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Wisconsin For 2021

Well there you have it, the places in Wisconsin that have the highest cost of living, with Madison ranking as the most expensive city in the Badger State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in Wisconsin according to the data:

  1. Waupaca
  2. Merrill
  3. Rothschild

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Wisconsin

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Madison 17.33 254,977 3.8x 58.4x
2 Delafield 20.67 7,457 4.5x 70.2x
3 Fitchburg 21.33 29,450 4.4x 68.6x
4 Lake Geneva 21.67 7,894 3.8x 51.8x
5 Middleton 23.0 19,487 4.4x 70.3x
6 Whitewater 25.0 14,722 4.7x 46.7x
7 Pewaukee 27.67 8,164 3.5x 61.9x
8 Hudson 30.0 13,795 3.2x 64.3x
9 Shorewood 31.0 13,290 4.5x 74.4x
10 Mequon 32.0 24,144 3.5x 74.6x
11 Bellevue 34.0 15,701 3.4x 62.6x
12 New Berlin 35.33 39,718 3.1x 68.9x
13 River Falls 38.0 15,638 3.3x 66.6x
14 Waukesha 39.33 72,412 3.3x 69.1x
15 Platteville 39.33 12,264 3.3x 56.3x
16 St. Francis 39.33 9,549 3.4x 59.2x
17 Brookfield 42.0 38,358 2.9x 70.9x
18 Elkhorn 42.67 9,925 3.2x 65.3x
19 Menomonie 42.67 16,408 3.3x 57.9x
20 Hartford 43.0 14,977 3.3x 69.4x
21 Monona 43.33 8,122 3.7x 79.7x
22 Sun Prairie 44.0 33,321 3.1x 71.0x
23 West Salem 44.33 5,005 3.2x 66.2x
24 Stoughton 44.67 13,097 3.2x 71.4x
25 Oak Creek 45.17 36,066 3.1x 70.4x
26 Onalaska 45.33 18,662 3.2x 69.0x
27 La Crosse 47.67 51,666 3.2x 57.0x
28 Hales Corners 48.33 7,646 2.9x 67.7x
29 South Milwaukee 49.33 20,957 3.1x 62.9x
30 Watertown 51.33 23,633 3.0x 59.9x
31 Greenfield 51.67 37,099 2.9x 62.6x
32 Verona 51.67 13,004 3.2x 83.0x
33 Elm Grove 52.0 6,153 3.5x 111.6x
34 Mount Horeb 53.0 7,449 3.3x 84.7x
35 Pewaukee 53.33 14,431 3.0x 78.2x
36 Jackson 55.0 7,081 3.0x 71.0x
37 Cedarburg 55.33 11,527 3.4x 102.9x
38 Slinger 55.33 5,389 3.3x 85.2x
39 Franklin 55.67 36,064 3.0x 77.5x
40 Hartland 55.67 9,268 3.2x 87.1x
41 Stevens Point 56.0 26,229 3.1x 61.7x
42 Hobart 57.0 9,053 3.4x 97.5x
43 Wauwatosa 57.67 47,971 2.9x 73.8x
44 Whitefish Bay 58.33 13,972 3.1x 100.1x
45 Grafton 58.5 11,646 3.1x 79.6x
46 Greendale 59.33 14,176 3.0x 75.2x
47 Baraboo 59.67 12,138 2.9x 65.1x
48 Menomonee Falls 60.33 37,160 3.0x 78.3x
49 Sussex 60.33 10,833 3.1x 92.6x
50 Glendale 60.67 12,943 2.8x 72.2x
51 Muskego 60.67 24,946 3.1x 86.9x
52 Germa 61.0 20,166 3.0x 82.3x
53 Milwaukee 61.67 594,548 2.9x 48.8x
54 Chippewa Falls 62.0 14,101 2.9x 57.3x
55 Waunakee 62.33 13,730 3.1x 111.4x
56 New Richmond 62.67 9,034 3.0x 72.0x
57 Plover 62.67 12,803 2.9x 69.8x
58 Richfield 62.67 11,690 3.1x 101.6x
59 Kenosha 63.0 99,688 2.8x 61.0x
60 Fort Atkinson 63.67 12,443 2.8x 66.1x
61 Lake Mills 64.0 5,895 2.8x 71.8x
62 Twin Lakes 66.0 6,107 3.0x 77.5x
63 West Allis 66.33 60,025 2.8x 61.9x
64 West Bend 66.67 31,596 2.9x 71.0x
65 Cottage Grove 66.67 7,020 2.8x 80.6x
66 Eau Claire 66.67 68,187 2.8x 66.4x
67 Rice Lake 67.33 8,367 2.9x 62.5x
68 Mukwonago 67.67 8,035 3.0x 86.9x
69 Oregon 68.0 10,353 3.1x 95.4x
70 Brown Deer 69.33 11,965 2.6x 65.7x
71 Port Washington 69.67 11,761 2.9x 76.6x
72 Lake Hallie 69.67 6,667 2.7x 69.4x
73 Howard 70.33 19,658 3.0x 84.9x
74 Portage 70.67 10,406 2.8x 59.0x
75 Ashland 71.33 7,892 2.8x 57.1x
76 Delavan 72.0 8,303 2.7x 62.9x
77 Oconomowoc 72.0 16,698 2.9x 91.2x
78 Altoona 72.33 7,625 2.8x 71.4x
79 Fox Point 73.0 6,650 2.8x 94.2x
80 Columbus 74.0 5,058 2.8x 72.4x
81 Ashwaubenon 75.0 17,149 2.9x 75.0x
82 Holmen 75.0 9,854 2.8x 77.8x
83 Cudahy 76.33 18,271 2.7x 69.7x
84 Beaver Dam 77.0 16,345 2.6x 61.9x
85 Green Bay 77.67 104,777 2.8x 67.5x
86 Jefferson 80.33 7,991 2.7x 73.3x
87 Racine 81.33 77,081 2.5x 53.0x
88 Janesville 81.33 64,245 2.5x 65.6x
89 Pleasant Prairie 81.5 20,832 2.7x 81.5x
90 Sparta 82.33 9,717 2.5x 60.6x
91 Mcfarland 82.33 8,650 2.7x 87.6x
92 Superior 83.33 26,223 2.6x 61.9x
93 Mount Pleasant 83.33 26,928 2.7x 80.9x
94 New London 85.0 6,879 2.8x 71.1x
95 Deforest 86.17 10,179 2.7x 87.6x
96 Suamico 86.33 12,701 2.5x 85.1x
97 Burlington 86.33 10,847 2.7x 81.0x
98 Wausau 86.67 38,735 2.6x 66.1x
99 Kimberly 86.83 6,770 2.7x 73.1x
100 Monroe 88.67 10,625 2.5x 67.2x

How Is The Area 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.