Madison, Wisconsin, is the state’s capital and second-largest city, with a population of 263,003 throughout its 101 square miles. In addition to being the state capital, the University of Wisconsin is located in this city.
For good reason, Madison has become a regional hotspot, attracting a diverse population that includes young professionals and established families. The Madison area is an excellent alternative due to its stable housing market, rising number of available jobs, and low unemployment rate.
Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Kegonsa encircle the city, earning it the moniker “City of Four Lakes.” Madison is a great place to settle down if you enjoy water sports like kayaking and living near lakes.
What’s there to know about this city? Let’s look at ten things to know before moving to Madison, WI!
1. Find employment in finance, health or insurance
Hoping to get a job in Madison? The capital of Wisconsin is one of the best places in the country for young people to start their careers. Madison is among the best places to find employment due to its low unemployment rate of 2.8% and the wide range of available professions in fields ranging from healthcare and government to bioscience and education.
For anyone looking to start a business, Mad City offers a wide variety of venues for networking and co-working, as well as other useful services. Explore a career in finance at TASC, a multi-award-winning company located in Madison. Apply for a position at UW Health, the best hospital in the state, and advance your medical career as a nurse, lab technician, or another medical professional. Gain insurance industry experience at the Madison headquarters of American Family Insurance.
Apply for positions at Alliant Energy’s Madison headquarters if you’re interested in working in the energy industry. Join Promega Corporation and contribute to the future of medicine through ground-breaking scientific research.
2. Get around easily on bikes
Thanks to its dedication to its bicycling community and building a world-class cycling infrastructure, Mad City has been recognized as a Platinum Bicycle Designation Community.
No bike of your own? You can pick up a pedal-assist bike at any Madison B-cycle station in the city. Downtown Madison and other parts of the city are especially well-suited to pedestrians. Residents who need to get somewhere quickly can use the city’s rapid transit system, known as Madison Metro Transit. Dane County Regional Airport is another option for frequent fliers.
3. One of the most affordable cities in the U.S
With an index of 101, living in Madison is only slightly higher than the national average. Considering all of the fantastic things this city has to offer, it’s definitely a catch! In fact, Madison has been ranked among the most affordable cities to live and work in the U.S.
Housing in this city is also cheaper than the national average, with a median home price of $378,224. If you want to live in a city that offers many benefits without breaking the bank, then Madison is just right for you.
4. Attend festivals like Magic Pride or Brat Fest
One of the best ways to spend a weekend in Madison is at a festival. The annual Magic Pride Festival is a daylong celebration of the LGBTQ community featuring performances, activities, parades, and more. Taste of Madison features free concerts, local beer, and food vendors selling treats like fried cheese curds and barbecue ribs.
Brat Fest is the largest festival of its kind and features a variety of brats, in addition to a fairground and live music. The Monona Community Festival is one of the top Madison events for families to enjoy burgers, jewelry, and fireworks. Participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade to honor Irish heritage and tradition. The Wisconsin Film Festival runs for eight days and features films from various genres.
5. Enjoy night time at City Bar
Madison’s nightlife doesn’t end when the sun goes down, so you don’t have to worry about being bored. City Bar is the place to go if you want to shoot pool, play darts, and drink specialty drinks like the Madison Bulldog, A Pear of Mules, or Hot Toddy. Listen to local bands perform on the outdoor stage at High Noon Saloon’s bar.
The courtyard beer garden at Great Dane Pub & Brewing is a great place to relax with a Black Earth Vanilla Porter, Dog Daze Citrus hard seltzer, or Cotton Candy cocktail. You can also try some of Ale Asylum’s unfiltered and natural beers like the Velveteen Habit, Ambergeddon, or Kaboom Yo.
6. Pursue a degree at the top-rated universities and colleges
Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin and is well-recognized as both a top college town and a highly educated city. Pick from more than 600 degree options at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Madison Area Technical College offers more than 180 associate degree programs and more than 140 transfer options to help students prepare for four-year institutions.
Edgewood College is a Christian institution where you can earn degrees in fields including art therapy, thanatology, and bilingual education. You could also enroll in Herzing University’s nursing program.
7. Outdoor enthusiasts would love this city
Madison has many lakes perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, fishing, and other forms of outdoor leisure throughout the warmer months. The Allen Centennial Gardens are a sight to behold. When the temperature drops, head to the Elver Park Ice Rink to work on your slap shot or triple axel jump.
Lake Waubesa is a good place to go ice fishing for bass and musky. After a long day of snowshoeing down Lakeshore Path, warm up by the fire at Picnic Point. There’s also Winter Carnival, where you can participate in various winter-themed events, such as an ice fishing derby, ice climbing, and gingerbread house-building.
8. Visit the Wisconsin Historical Museum or the Madison Museum of Art
Attend Art Fair on the Square to show your support for local artists, or visit the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art to see works by national and international artists on display year-round. Check out the Arts + Literature Laboratory for a writing class, live performance, or film screening.
The Wisconsin Historical Museum is a great place to learn about the area’s past, and it can be found on Museum Row in downtown Madison. The Madison Symphony Orchestra features beautiful soloists and classical arrangements such as Debussy’s “La Mer.” Visit the Overture Center to attend a performance of Pretty Woman or another musical, or watch the Madison Ballet perform The Nutcracker or Cinderella.
9. Winter temperatures drop below 0°
There aren’t many days of extreme heat in Madison’s summers, with temperatures averaging in the 60s and 70s. The downside is the rainy and cold weather in the winter. Temperatures in the 20s and 30s are expected during the winter, and lows frequently fall below freezing.
During the winter, the city sometimes has prolonged periods in which temperatures remain consistently below freezing and snow does not melt. Madison sees a yearly snowfall of 48 inches, which is roughly double the U.S. average.
When it’s -30 degrees outdoors, it isn’t easy to take advantage of all the outdoor and aquatic opportunities in the city
10. Madison is America’s dairyland capital
Being at the heart of America’s dairy industry means plenty of opportunities to indulge in cheese, chocolate, and other dairy treats. Visit Fromagination for a cheese tasting and to check out a selection of more than a hundred handmade cheeses.
Visit The Old Fashioned to try a local Madison favorite, Cheese Curds. Curd Girl, a popular food truck in Madison, serves up some of the city’s greatest fried cheese curds. Or, at Babcock Dairy Store, you can watch your favorite ice cream flavors being made while enjoying the view from the observation deck.
Madison sure has a lot going on for it; a reasonable cost of living, an abundance of job opportunities, lots of fun festivals and events to attend, and a high-quality school system. However, if you’re not a fan of chilly winters, this city might not be for you.