7 Reasons Why Madison, Wisconsin Is Officially The Best Place To Live In America

Madison, Wisconsin

Flickr/Alan Wolf

A view of Madison on the isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.

Residential resource company Livability recently released its annual list of the 100 best places to live in the US, looking at factors like access to schools, hospitals, and infrastructure; affordability and income; and how residents take advantage of those opportunities.

(The list only looked at cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000. You can read the complete methodology here.)

Since Madison, Wisconsin topped Livability's list, Business Insider took a closer look at 7 things that make Madison, a northern midwest city of 235,000, stand out from the rest. Advertisement

1. It's a vibrant cultural hub of art, music, food, and beer

Madison also had more rock shows per capita than any other city with the exception of Austin, Texas, according to a 2010 report by Songkick, which also hailed Madison for having some of the cheapest concert ticket prices.

great taste of the midwest


Madison's annual Great Taste of the Midwest festival in 2012.


2. It's a college town where students actively support the community

The University of Wisconsin-Madison believes strongly in a tradition of improving people's lives outside of the classroom, known as the Wisconsin Idea. Examples cited by Livability include collecting and distributing farm crops for needy families, mentoring and tutoring programs for local school children, and a university policy of offering free humanities courses to low-income adults.

3. It's a naturally beautiful city with plenty of outdoor activities

Madison's iconic State Street is a beautiful downtown center for shopping, eating, and entertainment, notes Livability. Spanning a narrow strip of land between the scenic Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, the street is also banked by the impressive Wisconsin State Capitol building and University of Wisconsin-Madison.Advertisement

Five lakes in the city's vicinity offer ample recreational opportunities such as fishing and boating, in addition to the 20 miles of trails in the 1,260-acre University of Wisconsin Arboretum. Being a northern city also has its benefits, as residents can drive short distances to ski resorts.

Madison, Wisconsin, State Street

Flickr/Ali Eminov

A view of the capitol building on State Street.

4. There is very little concentrated poverty

While Madison has poverty like any city, only 20.4% of its poor population lived in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 20% or higher from 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution. That represents the lowest share of the poor population living in high-poverty and distressed neighborhoods among the 100 U.S. cities studied.Advertisement

madison wisconsin

Wikimedia Commons

Houses along Madison's frozen Lake Monona.

5. It is one of the most accommodating cities for cyclists

USA Today ranked Madison number 4 in its list of best cycling towns for its widespread network of biking paths and lanes and convenient bike share program, B-cycle.


6. Young professionals are benefiting from a boom in downtown housing development

7. Madison is the "greenest" city around

NerdWallet named Madison the greenest city in America, awarding high marks for air quality and a ratio of 12.7 parks per 10,000 residents, more than any other city. The ranking took into account Madison's 200 miles of hiking and biking trails and the fact that there are more bicycles in the city than cars.Advertisement

Madison has also received praise for providing a relatively high number of green jobs and many Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and conference venues.