The Madison Region has solidified its reputation as one of the country’s most well-rounded places to live.
As a travel writer, Kevin Revolinski has roamed the globe, but the Madison Region calls him home.
“Madison has the friendliness you associate with Midwestern living,” says Revolinski, who has been a resident of the Region since the 1990s. “It’s positive and homey, yet at the same time, there’s this sophistication that comes with being the capital city and having a world-class university.”
Once one of the Midwest’s hidden gems, the secret’s now out about the eight-county Madison Region, as it has solidified its reputation as one of the country’s most well-rounded places to live. Madison ranked No. 1 on Livability.com’s Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2021.
A winning combination of affordability, career opportunities, highly livable communities, standout recreation opportunities and big-city features without the big-city hassles draws top talent to the Region.
Affordability Offers So Much to Do
The Madison Region boasts a low cost of living: The median home sale price in the Madison metro area is around $243,000, which is far below East Coast and West Coast markets, but not only can you find affordable homes, there are also several free or low-cost events happening around the Region in addition to the vast network of walking and biking trails that contribute to the high quality of life. (Madison alone has 270 parks and several beaches.)
Mark Huntsman, who grew up in Madison and earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin- Madison, explains that there’s a spirit of volunteerism embedded in the Region that gives way to there being so many free things to do, from visits to the zoo, arboretum, botanical gardens, frequent concerts and tours of the Capitol.
“A lot of things are free here because we have volunteer staff,” says Huntsman, who volunteers to lead architectural tours on behalf of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation.
His mother, Randi Huntsman, a longtime Madison resident, says she was “captured by Madison” because there’s so much to do, from the biking and snowshoeing trails to all the recreation opportunities (and views) that Lake Monona and Lake Mendota afford. Plus, she says, the friendly, involved and kind residents make the Madison Region a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
One treasured tradition that residents especially love coming together for is the Dane County Farmers’ Market. You can nosh your way around the market, sampling honey and cheese and produce, Randi Huntsman says.
Abundant Career Opportunities
The Madison Region is the ideal place to be, whether you are looking to start a career or take a career to the next level. The Region’s innovation-driven economy includes robust bioscience, agriculture, health care, advanced manufacturing, financial services and information technology sectors.
Shaun Huffman, who has a career in marketing, says Madison is a “big-small city” that has a charm like no other place he’s ever lived in or even visited. After living in major metros, he never imagined staying in Madison, but he still calls it home a decade later.
“The people, the lakes and the culture keep me here, and I couldn’t be happier,” Huffman says.
Affordability and career opportunities combine to make the Region highly desirable for remote workers, who, with the freedom to work from anywhere, find their dollar goes further, larger living spaces are in easier reach and career options are abundant.
In late 2020, the National Association of REALTORS® placed Madison on its list of top metros expected to have the strongest housing markets over the next three to five years, in part because of the strong in-migration of new residents, a faster local job market recovery and an environment conducive to work-from-home arrangements.
A College Town With Big-City Perks
The Region also offers a wealth of standout higher education options, including the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System, several four-year institutions and a network of technical colleges. Residents have a wide and deep selection of higher education and post-graduation learning options, plus the presence of the university gives the area a youthful vibe.
It’s also easy to get to and from – and around – the Region, with commute times of around 22 minutes, well below the national average. Dane County Regional Airport is convenient and easy to get in and out of and offers direct service to more than two dozen cities.
“Madison has the friendliness you associate with Midwestern living It’s positive and homey, yet at the same time, there’s this sophistication that comes with being the capital city and having a world-class university.”
Sarah Davidson, who works as an events industry consultant, planner and strategist, is a mom, and has lived in Madison for the past 15 years. She loves that the Region is large enough to have everything she wants out of a community, yet small enough to feel comfortable and accessible.
“We’re excited to raise our girls in a forward-thinking environment, and we regularly make use of the easy access to Milwaukee, Chicago and the Twin Cities,” she says.