Aerial view of downtown Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

13 Best Places to Live in Wisconsin in 2024

Wisconsin has much to offer, from natural beauty and outdoor recreation to charming small towns and world-class cities. However, with over 5.8 million people spread across 72 counties, it can be difficult to pin down the very best places to call home in the Badger State. To help narrow down the options, learn more about some of the most desirable communities in Wisconsin heading into 2024 based on factors like job opportunities, affordability, culture and arts, education, access to amenities, and overall quality of life.

From serene suburbs in the outskirts of large metro areas to idyllic lake country villages, these top places represent some of the finest locations the state has to offer residents and families looking to plant roots. Whether you have called America’s Dairyland home your whole life or just moved in from another part of the country, keep reading to discover the top places to live in Wisconsin this year.


Root River Valley in Franklin, Wisconsin
Root River Valley in Franklin, Wisconsin.

As one of the most sought-after suburbs in the state, Franklin is an excellent option for those who want to enjoy all the urban comforts without having to break the bank to access it all. It is a generally affordable town, with the median home listing price is around $399,000. The atmosphere favors kids' play and development, thanks to outdoor venues like Kayla’s Playground and Whitnall Park. Furthermore, the Franklin Public School District is among the best in the region, offering seven schools with test scores above the national average. 

The job prospects are pretty enticing, and depending on your career, you can bring in a decent annual pay. This close-knit community enjoys a safe environment, a crime rate below the national average, and charming gathering spots where you can mingle and socialize, highlighted by Franklin Field.

Sturgeon Bay

Canal in the town of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Canal in the town of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Home to less than 10,000 people, Sturgeon Bay offers a beautiful setting on Door Peninsula to call home. It is surrounded by laidback open spaces with plenty of recreational opportunities, such as Potawatomi State Park and Cave Point County Park. It also boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage well preserved at sites like the Door County Historical Museum and Door County Maritime Museum.

The area is affordable; the median home price is around $382,000. Furthermore, the public school system is fantastic, and fun social events like the Fire & Ice Festival enhance close bonds among community members.


Aerial view of 7400 West State Street in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
Overlooking downtown Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Image credit James Meyer via Shutterstock

Wauwatosa is another safe suburban location in Wisconsin, delivering a great balance between small-town charm and big-city comforts. There are numerous urban conveniences to take advantage of, including premium shopping locations like Mayfair Mall and charming outdoor spots like Hoyt Park, a hub for recreational activities like swimming, leisure hiking, picnicking, and sports. The median home price is a reasonable $369,000.

The downtown area is a bustling hub of activities, with exciting fine dining options, music venues, libraries, and galleries. Among the top spots in the neighborhood is the Arte Wine and Painting Studio, which invites the public to enroll in art lessons, along with wine, cocktails, and snack refreshments.


Summer's day view of the bicycle and pedestrian bridge on the Capital City Trail crossing Fish Hatchery Road, Fitchburg, Wisconsin
Capital City Trail crossing Fish Hatchery Road, Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Image credit Dave Jonasen via Shutterstock

If you love being surrounded by lots of greenery in a quiet and serene environment, this adorable community of about 30,000 beckons you to revel in the beauty of rural Wisconsin. There is every reason to be in the open spaces, with locations like Quarry Ridge Recreation Area and Tower Hill Park providing countless outdoor opportunities. Fitchburg also boasts a rich German heritage, whose influences show across several businesses in town. The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company offers a taste of German craft beer, whereas the Bavaria Sausage Kitchen lets you sample a mainstay in German cuisine.

With the average house costing less than $465,000 and a monthly rent average of around $1,200, Fitchburg is a pretty affordable town to settle in.

Whitefish Bay

Aerial view of Whitefish Bay Wisconsin looking north featuring Lake Michigan
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin and Lake Michigan. Image credit James Meyer via Shutterstock

Sitting less than 15 minutes from Milwaukee, this waterfront suburb charms with a serene rural atmosphere without denying you the conveniences of the big city. The laidback community of about 15,000 enjoys a wealth of outdoor opportunities at the popular Klode Park, which serves as a hub for recreation enthusiasts. Also, residents enjoy gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, making the most of water-based fun throughout the year.

While homes here cost an average of about $515,000, the thriving job market offers numerous opportunities to be in a position to afford one. The town has an unemployment rate of 1.5%, which is way below the national average.


Aerial view of Spur 16 commercial and residential area in Mequon, Wisconsin.
Overlooking downtown Mequon, Wisconsin.

This bay town in Ozaukee County ranks high among the best places to live in Wisconsin, thanks to its remarkable natural scenery, which features delightful outdoor spots like Mequon Nature Preserve. While the median home price in Mequon is about $675,000, the thriving job market puts you in a comfortable position to afford a mortgage. The downtown corridor has lovely hang-out spots, with a chance to enjoy the delectable local cuisine at establishments like Spanky’s Hideaway.

The nightlife is not too shabby, allowing patrons to enjoy a scene close to nearby Milwaukee. With a crime rate below the national average and an unemployment rate of just 1.6%, the stars are lined up for you to live a high-quality life in Mequon.


A brown stone mill and bridge over the Milwaukee River in Cedarburg, Wisconsin
A brown stone mill and bridge over the Milwaukee River in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

Cedarburg has come a long way from its milling days, transforming into a cozy suburb outside of Milwaukee. It is an enticing option for anyone seeking a rural setting with an impressive mix of old-time charm and a rich arts scene, which you can explore at venues like the Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts and Cedarburg History Museum. The town is an excellent option for raising a family, boasting a good public school system.

The cost of living here is reasonable, with a median home price is about $459,000. You are also not too far from different urban conveniences, as Milwaukee is only a 30-minute drive away.

Cottage Grove

Dairy Farm near Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
Farm near Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. Image credit Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About 15 miles from Madison is the charming community of Cottage Grove, home to about 7,500 residents. It is a brilliant home option that checks all the boxes, from a reliable public school system to an affordable cost of living. Add this to the proximity to the University of Wisconsin, and your kids won’t have to stray too far away after high school to get a quality education, and the home median price is $524,000.

The town also offers delightful opportunities to explore the open spaces at different parks, including Bakken Park and McCarthy Youth and Conservation County Park. It is also a vibrant space for those who want to shop and dine, with establishments like Oakstone Recreational offering the best of local cuisine.


Verona, Wisconsin: Epic campus. Epic Systems Corporation healthcare software company.
Campus in Verona, Wisconsin. Image credit EWY Media via

A tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby Madison, Verona is an easy choice for anyone looking for small-town charm. It boasts pristine natural surroundings, drawing outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of hiking opportunities along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and bask in Mother Nature’s bounty at Fireman’s Park Beach. A home in Verona costs an average of about $609,000, which is slightly on the higher side, but you can always take a mortgage.

The town also enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the area, at 1.9%. A strong sense of community makes Verona a great place to raise a family. Members gather frequently at Verona Downtown Farmers Market to mingle and socialize while trading in fresh-from-the-farm produce.


American flags waving at wisconsin memorial park cemetery to honor and celebrate fallen soldiers and veterans of united states wars for usa memorial day in Brookfield, Wisconsin
American flags waving at Wisconsin Memorial Park Cemetery in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Image credit Aaron of L.A. Photography via Shutterstock

If you fancy the convenience of living close to Milwaukee without having to deal with its crowded streets and polluted air, Brookfield is the type of setting you should consider. This sparse suburban zone is an excellent site to raise a family, offering top public schools and plenty of parkland for kids to play, including Fox Brook Park and Wirth Park. With the median house price at about $419,000, living in Brookfield comes at a price, but the reward is access to all the premier social amenities in Milwaukee, about 20 minutes away.

Various events in town lined throughout the year result in a bubbly atmosphere with elevated relationships among community members. Some of these include Brookfield Days, held across June, and the popular farmers’ markets on Saturdays.

Eau Claire

Chippewa River approaching the confluence in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Chippewa River in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Image credit Matthew A Reddy via Shutterstock

This scenic hamlet along the banks of the Chippewa and Eau Clair Rivers has one of the most spectacular sceneries you can find in a small town. It is an enticing prospect for nature lovers, who will fancy exploring recreational opportunities at Mount Simon Park and Phoenix Park. Eau Claire has abundant job opportunities for young professionals, with a large chunk of the positions coming from the medical field. Fortunately, the town has a fairly well-educated populace, with more than 30% of the demographic holding at least a degree.

Despite this, the average home price is below the national average at $334,000. The quaint community also organizes a few festivals that bring people together, including the Eaux Claire Music & Arts Festival.

Fond du Lac

Family members come together to play mini golf at Lakeside park. in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Family members come together to play mini golf at Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Image credit Aaron of L.A. Photography via Shutterstock

This rural oasis in Fond du Lac County is a nature lover’s perfect playground, thanks to its proximity to sprawling landscapes like the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Winnebago. Home to around 45,000 residents, the town welcomes swimmers, hikers, boaters, and other recreational enthusiasts to make the most of attractions like Lakeside Park and Mascoutin Valley State Park Trail. There is an impressive mix of aspects that will draw anyone to this beautiful community, including quality schools, a low cost of living, and limited crime.

With the median home price at around $228,000, affording a home may not be out of reach. Also, the Walleye Festival stands out as one of the best cultural spectacles held in the town, featuring an exciting fishing tournament.


Farm in Germantown, Wisconsin
Farm in Germantown, Wisconsin.

This tiny village in Washington County was named among America’s most appealing places to live in. It has a lovely small-town atmosphere with plenty of greenery, offering beautiful parks like Spassland Park and Schoen Laufen Park. Rich golfing communities for adults and kids alike await at Swing Time Germantown and Blackstone Creek Golf Club, presenting exciting recreation opportunities. Although the housing market in Germantown has been rising in the recent past, with a median home price of $515,000, the median rent is still manageable at around $1,300.

Meanwhile, one of the best events to look forward to in Germantown is the farmers market, which best exemplifies the close ties within the community.

Wisconsin continues to provide many wonderful communities with both natural beauty and vibrant small-town culture. These towns and cities represent only a sampling of what the Badger State has to offer for residents seeking top-tier schools, safe neighborhoods, ample recreation opportunities, and reasonable costs of living. No matter your lifestyle or priorities, you are sure to find the perfect match among these towns. Their welcoming environments, enriching amenities, and high quality of life make any of them ideal places to establish a permanent home in 2024.

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