The 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2022

These are the cream of the crop in the Badger State.

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Happy cows come from Wisconsin and so do some of America’s best cities.

Hip millennial cities like Milwaukee, fun college cities like Madison, and sports crazy cities like Green Bay are not only some of Wisconsin’s fastest growing cities, but they also lead the charge in making Wisconsin one of the fastest growing states in the country. And surprisingly folks, they did not make the top ten best places in Wisconsin for 2022.

The competition to determine the best places in the Badger State for 2022 was fierce. Mostly because the entire state of Wisconsin has a lot to offer in terms of quaint cities that border its Great Lakes and cities that offer employment in one of its nine Fortune 500 companies. And it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention cheese. Yes, cheese. Wisconsinites know how to make a good cheese. So much that every city on our top ten list has at least one down home, country cheese store. (It probably should have been a ‘best of the best’ category.)

Wisconsin has so many great cities, that you could literally throw a dart at the state and live happily wherever it landed. So, you can understand how difficult it was to narrow down a list of the top ten best places. We invite you to grab yourself some string 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 does the best city in “America’s Dairyland” look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median home prices and unemployment rates for cities with over 5,000 residents, Whitefish Bay is the best place to live in Wisconsin.

Take a look at the list below to see the cities that gave Whitefish Bay a run for their money. And if you don’t see your favorite Wisconsin city in the top ten, head to the bottom of the page.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2022

Start popping that champagne Whitefish Bay, you just earned the title, “Wisconsin’s best place to live”. Holding strong with the #1 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 $393,300 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 2.2%. 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,890
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $393,300
Unemployment Rate: 2.2%
More on Whitefish Bay: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Whitefish Bay, WI

Source: Public domain

Wisconsin’s 2nd 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 $90,063/year and the median price for a home is $336,000. This small town in Wisconsin ranks the 2nd 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,623
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $336,000
Unemployment Rate: 0.6%
More on Fox Point: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Fox Point, WI

Source: Public domain

Not only do happy cows come from Wisconsin’s 3rd 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 $358,100. If that number makes you nervous, don’t let it–the job market is strong here and the average household income is $114,983/year.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,903
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $358,100
Unemployment Rate: 1.6%
More on Waunakee: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Waunakee, WI

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 6,156 residents who can pay $395,500 for a home because they make at least $112,500/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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,156
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $395,500
Unemployment Rate: 0.3%
More on Elm Grove: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Elm Grove, WI

Like trolls? Well, welcome to Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, the “Troll Capital of the World.” More than that, Mount Horeb represents the number 5 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 1.1%, the 7th best pace in Wisconsin. The median income is $81,297 and the median home value comes in at $277,700.

The community offers significant draws for families, with 42.17% 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,494
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $277,700
Unemployment Rate: 1.1%
More on Mount Horeb: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Mount Horeb, WI

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 $79,868 and the median home value comes in at $325,300. 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,592
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $325,300
Unemployment Rate: 1.7%
More on Cedarburg: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Cedarburg, WI

Source: Public domain

Located about 15 miles east of Madison, Cottage Grove is our 7th 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 6th for property crime and 3rd 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,086
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $294,300
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
More on Cottage Grove: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Cottage Grove, WI

McFarland may only have 8,845 residents, but big things are happening in Wisconsin’s 8th best place to live in terms of safety, great schools, great jobs, and fun stuff to do.

Located 20 minutes southeast of Madison on the eastern side of Lake Wauseba, this small town’s crime rate is almost 60% below the national average. This number is especially important for McFarland as they rely on the tourists who visit this year-round playground.

Incidentally, don’t be afraid to start your new life in McFarland with a rental as the average rent is $1,185/month. But, if you want to jump all in, the median home price here is $260,800. This number shouldn’t be a problem, either, if you join the other 27% of McFarland’s residents who hold a Bachelor’s Degree and are earning $82,583/year.

Basically, you’d be pretty lucky to call McFarland home, but only you can pull the chute.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,845
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $260,800
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
More on Mcfarland: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Mcfarland, WI

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 9th best place to live, Oregon.

Centrally located just south of Madison, this little town of 10,513 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 1.9%.

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 $86,039/year.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,513
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $286,000
Unemployment Rate: 1.9%
More on Oregon: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Oregon, WI

Built along Lake Mendota, Middleton, Wisconsin, provides a scenic suburb to the nearby state capital of Madison. With excellent access to both the seat of government and the University of Wisconsin, the community of 19,764 residents represents the number 10 top living area in Wisconsin.

Don’t worry about criminal activity in Middleton. The crime rate sits about a third below the national average. The schools are superior as well, garnering a 7/10 rating from Great Schools.

Home prices in the area can get daunting. The median home value sits at $361,000, the 5th highest mark in the state. Those expenses help make the cost of living in Middleton relatively high, about 15%-20% above the national average.

The median income in the community stands at $73,336, with an unemployment rate of 2.1%.

Interested in the history of condiments? Middleton might be a stop for you. It hosts the National Mustard Museum. Thanks to its lake access, the town also provides plenty of outdoor fun. You can also check out the local Pheasant Branch Creek Conservancy, with plenty of hiking and other activities.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,764
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $361,000
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
More on Middleton: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Middleton, WI

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Wisconsin

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Madison with a population of 258,366 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke 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 140 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’.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Wisconsin

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Wisconsin across a number of criteria from one to 140, 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 at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Wisconsin? That would be Whitefish Bay.

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 Whitefish Bay at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Summary: The Best Places When It Comes To Living 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.

Whitefish Bay made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Wisconsin for 2022.

Best Towns To Live In Wisconsin

  1. Shorewood Hills (Pop. 1,996)
  2. Maple Bluff (Pop. 1,452)
  3. Howards Grove (Pop. 3,247)
  4. Bayside (Pop. 4,428)
  5. Combined Locks (Pop. 3,486)
  6. Prairie du Sac (Pop. 4,218)
  7. Merton (Pop. 3,535)
  8. Cross Plains (Pop. 3,914)
  9. Wind Point (Pop. 1,785)
  10. Kohler (Pop. 2,363)

Best Small Towns To Live In Wisconsin

  1. Park Ridge (Pop. 619)
  2. Hewitt (Pop. 792)
  3. Brownsville (Pop. 585)
  4. North Bay (Pop. 207)
  5. Dale (Pop. 523)
  6. Gibbsville (Pop. 473)
  7. Butte des Morts (Pop. 938)
  8. Dyckesville (Pop. 510)
  9. Lake Sherwood (Pop. 315)
  10. Ephraim (Pop. 266)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Wisconsin according to the data:

  1. Wisconsin Rapids (Pop. 17,691)
  2. Milwaukee (Pop. 592,649)
  3. Beloit (Pop. 36,804)

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Wisconsin?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Whitefish Bay 13,890 2.2% $393,300
2 Fox Point 6,623 0.6% $336,000
3 Waunakee 13,903 1.6% $358,100
4 Elm Grove 6,156 0.3% $395,500
5 Mount Horeb 7,494 1.1% $277,700
6 Cedarburg 11,592 1.7% $325,300
7 Cottage Grove 7,086 2.8% $294,300
8 Mcfarland 8,845 3.9% $260,800
9 Oregon 10,513 1.9% $286,000
10 Middleton 19,764 2.1% $361,000
11 Mequon 24,357 1.6% $396,700
12 Hales Corners 7,609 1.7% $231,200
13 Sun Prairie 33,954 1.5% $249,400
14 Verona 13,215 3.7% $316,100
15 Port Washington 11,881 2.3% $213,400
16 Brookfield 38,626 3.4% $331,500
17 Grafton 11,718 2.7% $241,000
18 De Pere 25,009 2.2% $188,800
19 Wauwatosa 48,143 2.4% $251,300
20 Evansville 5,374 2.7% $192,600
21 Kronenwetter 7,891 2.5% $192,000
22 Sheboygan Falls 7,898 1.1% $145,400
23 Holmen 10,023 3.3% $206,100
24 Shorewood 13,248 2.8% $352,600
25 Hartland 9,317 4.3% $295,600
26 Rothschild 5,286 2.0% $143,400
27 Muskego 25,077 4.2% $304,400
28 Greendale 14,160 3.0% $227,700
29 New Berlin 39,794 3.0% $271,400
30 Monona 8,141 1.6% $288,700
31 Suamico 12,890 2.1% $265,600
32 Delafield 7,541 2.7% $374,900
33 Oconomowoc 16,931 2.8% $271,700
34 Stoughton 13,146 1.8% $223,000
35 Richfield 11,782 1.8% $341,700
36 West Salem 5,010 3.3% $190,400
37 Glendale 12,890 1.7% $219,500
38 Deforest 10,473 1.0% $243,400
39 Little Chute 11,704 2.9% $161,700
40 Plymouth 8,654 6.9% $152,700
41 Slinger 5,500 3.0% $266,600
42 Menomonee Falls 37,611 2.5% $264,800
43 Kaukauna 16,165 1.5% $148,200
44 Kimberly 6,804 4.2% $150,100
45 Milton 5,594 2.0% $156,600
46 Allouez 13,853 2.1% $166,100
47 Lake Hallie 6,710 1.6% $191,200
48 Hobart 9,499 0.2% $267,400
49 Howard 19,879 1.9% $225,200
50 Onalaska 18,814 3.9% $208,600
51 Sturgeon Bay 8,927 3.9% $154,100
52 Cudahy 18,211 3.0% $157,100
53 Mukwonago 8,142 5.1% $254,300
54 Caledonia 25,182 4.0% $220,100
55 Hudson 13,912 1.7% $255,100
56 Sussex 10,884 4.0% $288,800
57 Waukesha 72,419 3.1% $223,600
58 Franklin 36,013 4.3% $262,200
59 Waterford 5,520 1.5% $211,200
60 Waupun 11,264 3.1% $127,300
61 Lake Mills 5,936 0.6% $197,400
62 Oak Creek 36,321 2.7% $238,100
63 River Falls 15,870 2.9% $222,300
64 New Richmond 9,212 0.6% $199,800
65 Madison 258,366 2.8% $262,400
66 Brown Deer 11,987 2.6% $169,800
67 Ashwaubenon 17,130 3.5% $179,900
68 Sturtevant 6,606 7.0% $172,900
69 St. Francis 9,600 1.8% $159,000
70 Reedsburg 9,508 1.3% $149,100
71 Plover 12,981 1.8% $189,700
72 Pewaukee 8,139 2.8% $198,600
73 Fort Atkinson 12,455 1.8% $161,500
74 Columbus 5,076 1.3% $169,700
75 Mount Pleasant 27,008 2.3% $207,300
76 Bristol 5,079 11.6% $277,200
77 Burlington 10,911 2.7% $210,900
78 Neenah 26,083 3.3% $144,200
79 Beaver Dam 16,322 3.4% $141,000
80 Weston 15,139 2.1% $163,500
81 Hartford 15,228 3.4% $196,400
82 Fitchburg 30,032 2.1% $323,400
83 Greenfield 37,117 3.9% $184,400
84 Ripon 7,802 2.3% $121,800
85 Pleasant Prairie 20,969 5.5% $248,800
86 West Bend 31,587 3.1% $183,300
87 Monroe 10,573 3.2% $137,200
88 Manitowoc 32,558 3.3% $112,000
89 Elkhorn 10,034 2.5% $186,500
90 Edgerton 5,594 5.3% $163,300
91 Marshfield 18,214 3.3% $139,700
92 Appleton 73,891 4.1% $157,700
93 South Milwaukee 20,857 4.1% $166,000
94 Two Rivers 11,079 2.3% $93,400
95 Menasha 18,280 4.6% $134,500
96 Union Grove 5,031 1.4% $193,700
97 Jackson 7,149 5.4% $211,500
98 Stevens Point 26,144 4.6% $150,500
99 Lake Geneva 7,872 5.3% $214,600
100 Rhinelander 7,617 1.2% $89,100

How Is Your Town In ?

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the best places to live in Wisconsin.

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.