With a Big 10 University, a plethora of unique shops and restaurants, a lively selection of sporting events and a rich arts scene, Madison has plenty to offer. That extends to employment. The city has jobs for big thinkers, innovators and problem solvers. Madison is home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and juggernauts like Epic, American Family Insurance, Sub-Zero and American Girl.
It's also an excellent place to get outside. Madison is on the Madison Isthmus with four nearby lakes, which translates to activities and beautiful views year-round. And, if you are a cyclist, you'll join thousands of locals who commute by bike or ride for fun on designated paths throughout the city.
This vibrant, progressive city is a great place to live. With its mixture of historic and modern neighborhoods, you're sure to find a lovely place to call home.
The average rent in Madison is $1,213 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. That has decreased about 0.54 percent over the past year, so now is the time to find something great.
Madison's rent is also cheaper than the national average. In much of the United States, you'd pay $386 more for a one-bedroom.
Experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your pre-tax income on rent. This allows you to have plenty of money for utilities, groceries and other needs, plus leisure activities. Based on Madison's average one-bedroom rent, a single renter needs to make $48,520 per year to live comfortably.
If you want to determine how much you can afford based on your current salary, check out our rent calculator.
Once you choose Madison as your new home, you'll want to think about the general cost of living there, which might be higher than you're used to paying. After all, the city's cost-of-living index is 7.4 percent higher than the national average.
Here's how Madison compares when it comes to specific essentials:
While Madison's living costs are a bit higher, the range of rent prices and neighborhoods make it possible to create a balanced lifestyle that fits within your financial means.
Madison's center is its vibrant downtown area, where the University of Wisconsin campus and Capitol building sit. These areas offer a city-living vibe, with smaller homes and stores packed closely together and many amenities within walking distance.
Though it's called “downtown," this area is actually in the center of the city, spanning from just west of Capitol Square and across much of the Isthmus. Downtown is where you'll find the State Street, Marquette, Third Lake Ridge, Mansion Hill and Shenk-Atwood neighborhoods, among others. These areas boast local charm with art galleries, historic landmarks, dive bars, cute restaurants and unique shops.
Further out in all directions are more suburban areas that still sit within the city limits. These provide modern accommodations and less expensive apartments within older buildings in neighborhoods including Waunona, Burr Oaks and Capitol View. Familiar chains, gyms, grocery stores and office buildings spread comfortably across many locations.
Much of the city connects by Highway 12/18, known as the "Beltline Highway," because with the help of other highways, it's possible to drive in a loop around all of Madison and connect to things quickly.
You can also live in a suburban area without missing out on the offerings of downtown. People who live in the suburbs can reach the Capitol and University area in no more than 30 minutes by car unless it's rush hour.
The closer you are to downtown, the more expensive your rent will probably be. There are exceptions to that rule, and it's possible to find an affordable place near the hustle and bustle of the Capitol and University, but you will likely have less space than if you moved farther out.
Marquette and Third Lake Ridge tie for Madison's most expensive neighborhoods, with an average one-bedroom price of $1,924 a month. These enclaves are just east of the Capitol and feed into Williamson Street, or what Madisonians affectionately call "Willy Street." This combined area runs near Lake Monona and is one of the most charming and historically-infused parts of the city.
Originally a boon for manufacturers, Williamson Street features lots of homey restaurants serving international cuisines, numerous bars, independent stores for everything from glass-blowing to guns, co-ops, coffee shops, a neighborhood theatre, galleries and more.
Another expensive area is State Street, a six-block street running diagonally from the Capitol building to the heart of the University Campus, near its Student Union. A combination of well-known chains and unique local stores, State Street is a lively place day or night and home to many festivals throughout the year.
To stay near the activity but close to large stores and other conveniences, have a look at the Tenney-Lapham and Old Market Place neighborhoods. These comfortable areas have the charm of downtown with the convenience of suburbia and have decreased their average rent in the last year. The Near West neighborhood is also a convenient area with historical housing gems. And, if you're a Badger football fan, it's in easy walking distance to Camp Randall Stadium.
|Rank||Neighborhood||Average 1-BR Rent Price||YoY Rent Price Change|
|2||Third Lake Ridge Historic District||$1,924||10.91%|
|6||Old Market Place||$1,591||-2.52%|
|7||Schenk - Atwood||$1,583||3.83%|
Madison has put a lot of emphasis on affordable housing, and it shows. Spacious and well-kept apartments in safe and quiet areas abound as you head in all directions from the Capitol.
The least expensive area in Madison is actually one of the most conveniently located.
The Burr Oaks neighborhood is a few miles southwest of the Capitol and is brimming with historic charm, a welcoming community and a diverse array of cuisines in local restaurants. It's also close to the bus line and within walking distance to parks, a library, schools and many necessities. It's also seen an 8.08 percent decrease in rent.
The Prairie Hills neighborhood is a quiet, family-friendly suburban area with plenty of housing styles, including traditional apartments and townhomes. Rent has dropped in this area by 10.6 percent. Yet, it's still close to numerous parks, schools and the best sledding hill in the city at Elver Park. Though it's nestled comfortably away, you're never more than a 10-minute drive from groceries, entertainment, stores or restaurants.
You can find a nice, affordable rental in Madison and still enjoy the perks of the city.
|Rank||Neighborhood||Average 1-BR Rent Price||YoY Rent Price Change|
|5||Bridge - Lakepoint||$856||-0.12%|
The rent prices in Madison certainly vary. You can have the full downtown living experience for almost $2,000 for a one-bedroom, settle in suburbia for cheaper with more space or have the best of both worlds in Burr Oaks.
Here's how all of Madison's neighborhoods stack up.
|Neighborhood||Average 1-BR Rent Price||YoY Rent Price Change|
|Bridge - Lakepoint||$856||-0.12%|
|James Madison Park*||$1,275||0.00%|
|Johnson Street Bend||$1,188||1.63%|
|North East Madison||$1,099||-8.62%|
|North West Madison||$1,324||-1.78%|
|Old Market Place||$1,591||-2.52%|
|Schenk - Atwood||$1,583||3.83%|
|South East Madison||$1,172||0.11%|
|South West Madison||$1,069||6.07%|
|Starkweather - Yahara||$1,364||N/A|
|Third Lake Ridge Historic District||$1,924||10.91%|
Thanks to the University's prestige and the numerous local activities, more than 112 million people visited Madison in 2018. The city holds countless treasures, friendly and intelligent people and natural beauty. No matter what you're looking for, you can find it in Madison. Start your search today.