The competition to determine the best places to live in Wisconsin for 2023 was fierce. Mainly because every place in Wisconsin has a lot to offer.
Wisconsin has so many great cities that you could literally throw a dart at the state and live happily wherever it landed. So, we narrowed the list of Wisconsin’s top ten best places by looking at crime data, home prices, and other quality of life factors for every place in Wisconsin.
Now we invite you to grab some 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 is the best place to live in Wisconsin? After crunching data from the US Census regarding factors that include median home prices and unemployment rates for cities with over 5,000 residents, Fox Point is the best place to live in Wisconsin.
Read to learn more about the top ten places to live in Wisconsin, a detailed explanation of how we ranked the places, a map of the best places, and a full table of all the best places in the Badger State.
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- Best Counties To Live In Wisconsin
- Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Wisconsin
Article Table Of Contents
The 10 best places to live In Wisconsin for 2023
|Rank Last Year||2|
|Median Home Value||$344,600|
Wisconsin’s best place to live, Fox Point is a year round playground for all. It’s position on Lake Michigan’s western shore and the fact that it is only 15 minutes north of Milwaukee allow one to spend the day with the kids in the water at Doctors Park and after hours soaking up the night life in the Badger State’s biggest city.
Fox Point is also easy on the wallet. The median household income here is $120,714/year and the median price for a home is $344,600. This small town in Wisconsin ranks the best for home values.
Not to mention, Fox Point’s job opportunities are endless. If you like the outdoors, water, and you have a boat, chartering fishing trips is a hot market in this bay city, and if protecting and serving is your schtick, you could become part of a team that keeps Fox Point’s crime rate 55% below the national average.
|Rank Last Year||3|
|Median Home Value||$380,200|
Not only do happy cows come from Wisconsin’s 2nd best place to live, Waunakee, but a lot of happy people do as well. There’s a reason why notables like former NFL star Lawrence Johnson and the Wisconsin Badgers Women’s Volleyball Coach, Kelly Sheffield, have been singing Waunakee’s praises for years. Not only do they get some of the best ice cream from the happy cows at the local dairies, their cost of living is affordable, and they get to experience what makes Waunakee one of Wisconsin’s best on the daily.
Yes, things like low crime, great schools, low unemployment rates, and year-round fun, have been front and center in Waunakee for quite some time. So, when you’re ready to take charge of your quality of life by moving to Waunakee, this small town in Dane County, just north of Lake Mendota, has homes for $380,200. If that number makes you nervous, don’t let it–the job market is strong here and the average household income is $118,631/year.
|Rank Last Year||4|
|Median Home Value||$412,800|
If you’re looking for a great place to live, Elm Grove is your place. This Milwaukee suburb in Waukesha County is after all one of the richest places in Wisconsin. But, if money is not an issue, then step right up and join this small town of 6,456 residents who can pay $412,800 for a home because they make at least $115,459/year. Elm Grove’s salaries aren’t just handed out to its residents, these people are educated: 38% have a Bachelor’s Degree and 18% have a Master’s Degree.
It also doesn’t hurt that 31% of Elm Grove’s residents make $200,000 or more a year. And with money like this, it’s not surprising that Elm Grove has the funds to pay for the programs to keep its crime rate 62% below the national average.
|Rank Last Year||1|
|Median Home Value||$410,300|
Start popping that champagne Whitefish Bay, you just earned the title, “Wisconsin’s 4th best place to live”. Holding strong with the #4 rank two years in a row, this bay city might not house an NFL Championship Team like Green Bay, but it’s winning at the things that really matter–cost of living, safety, education, and jobs.
Yes, if your real estate budget is $410,300 for a home, you can find that in Whitefish Bay. If you’re looking for job opportunities, Whitefish Bay’s unemployment rate is well below the national average at 3.0%. And if you’re looking for great schools, Whitefish has those, too–it’s one of Wisconsin’s best places to raise a family.
And if that doesn’t seal-the-deal, this should: you have a better chance of having an 80 degree day in January in this Great Lakes region than being a victim of a crime. Whitefish Bay’s crime rate is almost 50% below the national average.
|Rank Last Year||7|
|Median Home Value||$327,100|
Located about 15 miles east of Madison, Cottage Grove is our 5th best place to live in Wisconsin, a spot well deserved. This great place to live checks all the boxes you’d like to see. Niche gives the school system a solid A, it’s super safe, and the cost of living is affordable. Add the proximity to the University of Wisconsin into the mix and there will always be something to do nearby.
The numbers back up the rosy image of Cottage Grove, the city ranks 18th for property crime and 5th for violent crime. Both of those marks are some of the tops in the country given how safe Wisconsin is.
In town you can visit Bakken Park with the kids and then get a babysitter and head to Jack Sprats Restaurant for dinner. And then go home happy and healthy knowing you live in a great place to call home.
|Rank Last Year||6|
|Median Home Value||$339,100|
Cedarburg, Wisconsin, started life as a mill town. While those rustic days are gone, the town has transitioned into a cozy suburb of nearby Milwaukee. It’s also one of the top places in Wisconsin to call home.
Cedarburg likes to flaunt its old-time charm, housing sites such as the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts. Want to see what life in the region was like way back when? You can head to the historic Cedarburg Mill or check out the 1849 Kuhefuss House Museum.
The town has more than homespun charm, however. The community also offers an excellent place to raise a family. The median income stands at $79,935 and the median home value comes in at $339,100. Crime is low and the schools are stellar, with a 10/10 rating from Great Schools. Meanwhile, the area remains affordable. The cost of living is around the national average.
Even if quilts and old buildings aren’t your idea of a good time, Cedarburg offers plenty to do. It’s just a half-hour drive to downtown Milwaukee and, if you want even more action, only two hours from the heart of Chicago.
|Rank Last Year||5|
|Median Home Value||$294,400|
Like trolls? Well, welcome to Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, the “Troll Capital of the World.” More than that, Mount Horeb represents the number 7 best place to live in the state.
First off, let’s talk about those trolls. Drawing on the heritage of Norwegian settlers to the region, Mount Horeb created Trollway, an area in the business district decorated with life-sized troll statues. The town offers more than just kitschy tourist draws, however. Residents also enjoy a solid local economy and easy access to one of the state’s most important cities.
Mount Horeb sports an unemployment rate of 0.9%, the 7th best pace in Wisconsin. The median income is $84,259 and the median home value comes in at $294,400.
The community offers significant draws for families, with 42.91% of households in town having children. The schools in the area rate a 7/10 on Great Schools’ ranking system. Crime is well below the national average and the cost of living is just 10% above the U.S. standard.
Beyond its homegrown benefits, Mount Horeb boasts an excellent location as well. A half hour drive takes you to downtown Madison, the state capital.
|Rank Last Year||9|
|Median Home Value||$292,800|
If you’re looking for that one place in Wisconsin that knows how to balance hard work and play, look no further than the state’s 8th best place to live, Oregon.
Centrally located just south of Madison, this little town of 11,100 residents is starting to see its name in the headlines more and more and this is because the locals here have a front row seat to great schools, an extremely low crime rate, and a strong job market. The numbers don’t lie, folks, Oregon’s unemployment rate is well below the national average at 1.3%.
And if you choose this small town in Dane County to buy your forever home, don’t be surprised if you get asked to take a hike around Lerner Conservation Park or a bike ride on the trails at Anderson Farm: the locals here are very serious about their activities and they can afford this kind of fun because their median income is $89,301/year.
|Rank Last Year||20|
|Median Home Value||$207,200|
Evansville is undoubtedly one of the best places to live in Wisconsin for 2023 with its affordable cost of living, friendly community, and proximity to larger cities. Residents can enjoy a peaceful and close-knit community within easy reach of larger cities like Madison, Janesville, and Beloit. Evansville has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a quiet retreat or easy access to urban amenities.
Evansville is known for its picturesque surroundings, pristine wooded landscapes, and the tranquil Allen Creek. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate Lake Leota, an 18-acre lake formed by damming Allen Creek. Evansville also offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking trails, parks, and fishing spots.
|Rank Last Year||11|
|Median Home Value||$402,900|
You don’t have to use your math brain to figure out why Mequon is the 10th best place to live in Wisconsin. Up two spots from last year, the outstanding numbers this bay city in Ozaukee County reports year after year are pretty straightforward and pretty remarkable.
Yes, if you currently make $135,425/year, you’re going to fit in with the Mequon locals just fine, you’ll be able to buy a nice home at Mequon’s average home price of $402,900, and you’ll have a little extra cash to enjoy the daylife and the nightlife this Milwaukee suburb offers. The perfect day in Mequon might go something like this: first, a day at the beach in Virmond Park and an evening tasting Mequon’s local cuisine at a nice restaurant off Mequon Road.
At this point, the only thing stopping you from improving your quality of life with a new life in Mequon is you… and maybe your bank account. But, with an unemployment rate 1.7% plus the average income here, it shouldn’t be too hard to take care of that second hurdle.
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Wisconsin
Best Places To Live In Wisconsin Size Requirement
Before we even started to collect data on the best places to live in Wisconsin, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Madison with a population of 265,447 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke the best 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 141 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’.
You can see the results of those best place rankings at the end of the article.
Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Wisconsin
Now that we had our set of the best possible cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Wisconsin across a number of criteria from one to 141, 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 to determine the best places were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Wisconsin? That would be Fox Point.
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 Fox Point at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Summary: The Best Places 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.
Fox Point made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Wisconsin for 2023.
Best Towns To Live In Wisconsin
- Shorewood Hills (Pop. 1,996)
- Maple Bluff (Pop. 1,452)
- Howards Grove (Pop. 3,247)
- Bayside (Pop. 4,428)
- Combined Locks (Pop. 3,486)
- Prairie du Sac (Pop. 4,218)
- Merton (Pop. 3,535)
- Cross Plains (Pop. 3,914)
- Wind Point (Pop. 1,785)
- Kohler (Pop. 2,363)
Best Small Towns To Live In Wisconsin
- Park Ridge (Pop. 619)
- Hewitt (Pop. 792)
- Brownsville (Pop. 585)
- North Bay (Pop. 207)
- Dale (Pop. 523)
- Gibbsville (Pop. 473)
- Butte des Morts (Pop. 938)
- Dyckesville (Pop. 510)
- Lake Sherwood (Pop. 315)
- Ephraim (Pop. 266)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Wisconsin according to the data:
- Antigo (Pop. 8,054)
- Milwaukee (Pop. 578,198)
- Beloit (Pop. 36,567)
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Wisconsin
- Richest Cities In Wisconsin
- Safest Places In Wisconsin
- Worst Places To Live In Wisconsin
Best Places To Live In Wisconsin