Why Madison, Wisconsin, Is One of America’s Best Cities

Why Madison, Wisconsin, Is One of America’s Best Cities

For the past two years, Madison has landed atop Livability.com’s list of the “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” No argument here. 

“With a famous farmers market, tons of free cultural attractions, outdoor concerts rocking all summer long and 200 miles for hiking, biking and snowshoeing, Madison earns its rank,” according to the website, which praised the capital city’s economy and welcoming environment for recent college graduates, families and retirees. It also noted the city’s short commute time, diverse industries, beaches and parks, bikeability and beautiful lakes.

We won’t be surprised if Livability’s 2023 list (due out later this year) slots Madison in the No. 1 spot again. While we wait, here’s a rundown — with excerpts from the experts — of how Madison stacks up in a variety of other categories.

Most Caring Cities (No. 1, 2021, WalletHub.com)

WalletHub compared the country’s largest 100 cities across 39 key indicators of a “compassionate spirit.” “Caring means having a connection with others and being concerned for their wellbeing. … Madison ranked No. 1 for its teachers’ care for students’ wellbeing [among other metrics].”

Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance (No. 1, 2020, SmartAsset.com)

Out of 100 cities, Madison ranked in the top 10 percent for six out of the 10 metrics — especially low unemployment and short commutes. “Workers there have an average commute time of less than 20 minutes and work less than 37 hours per week on average. With all the time they’re saving, they’ll be able to enjoy other meaningful activities such as checking out art galleries or spending time with friends.” SmartAsset.com also ranked Madison among the top 10 Best Cities for Runners (2021).

Best Places to Retire (No. 2, 2020, Money)

Madison boasts 38 retirement communities (the most on the magazine’s list) a low sales tax, free events and a “bustling” restaurant scene. “A college town in the Badger State might not spring to mind as an ideal place to retire. But with tons of recreational activities and natural beauty, Madison’s many charms come at an affordable price.”

America’s Happiest Cities (No. 2, 2020, Men’s Health)

The magazine consulted data from surveys about physical and mental health to statistics about financial and general well-being of residents in 100 of the largest cities in the United States. “Madison ranked second on the happiness charts because of its high score in the physical health category, particularly because of … access to exercise opportunities and low physical inactivity scores.”

Best Cities for Dogs (No. 8, 2023, Forbes.com)

“The capital of the Badger State is a great place for a furry friend. Ninety-five percent of Madison residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk and there are 4.15 dog parks per 100,000 residents. You’ll find nine off-leash parks in Madison, including Warner Park Dog Park Lagoon, where your dog can cool off during the hot summer months.”

Best Cities to Eat Local (No. 8, 2023, LawnStarter.com)

We don’t know what a lawn care company is doing ranking cities, but who are we to argue with this one — other than that Madison should be higher on the list? Madison is a college town, but don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s all Busch Lite and Keystone. There are 17 breweries in Madison, [and] Madison ranks 30th in terms of the number of bars per 100,000 residents.” For what it’s worth, the same site also compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities to determine the Best Cities for Naked Biking — who knew that many cities promoted naked biking? — and named Madison No. 8.

All of this makes you want to live here, doesn’t it? I’m here to help make that happen.

(Photo by Arran Kranz, Purple Circle Media)

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