When people think of Wisconsin, they usually think of cheese, the Green Bay Packers or its largest city, Milwaukee.
The best places to live in Wisconsin are scattered throughout the state and include communities both big and small. After all, this Midwest state is home to 777 cities, each with its own strong community and unique personality.
So, whether you’re looking for an apartment while attending one of their excellent universities or colleges, making a move for a new job or looking for something new and different, there is a city and community waiting for you.
Here are 10 of the best places to live in Wisconsin.
Photo source: Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau / Facebook
- Population: 73,637
- Average age: 40.8
- Median household income: $58,112
- Average commute time: 22.3 minutes
- Walk score: 41
- Studio average rent: N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $918
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,281
Creative outdoor murals line the buildings, while cute boutiques, cozy coffee shops, and delicious food is found throughout historic downtown Appleton.
The city is among more than a dozen that make up the Fox Cities community and overlooks the Fox River.
It’s family-friendly and has a dense suburban feel with highly-rated schools. It’s also home to Lawrence University, a residential liberal arts college and conservatory of music.
Photo source: Visit Eau-Claire / Facebook
- Population: 67,250
- Average age: 40
- Median household income: $55,477
- Average commute time: 20.9 minutes
- Walk score: 47
- Studio average rent: $608
- One-bedroom average rent: $722
- Two-bedroom average rent: $844
Whether it’s gathering with friends and neighbors to enjoy some of the many live music options throughout the city, including the Jazz Fest in the spring, followed by Country Fest, Rock Fest and Blue Ox Music Festival in the summer, or taking in some local art or walking along the historic bridges, Eau Claire is known for its welcoming vibe.
It’s especially welcoming to independent artists who create art installations, building murals and more.
According to a study released by Smart Asset, Eau Claire is also the third most livable small city in the country.
- Population: 43,145
- Average age: 42.8
- Median household income: $52,724
- Average commute time: 22.4 minutes
- Walk score: 49
- Studio average rent: n/a
- One-bedroom average rent: $822
- Two-bedroom average rent: $895
Fond du Lac is a family-friendly community with a strong sense of history. The Fond du Lac County Historical Society connects residents to the local history of the town.
The public library and several sporting centers offer programming year-round and there is no shortage of restaurants and bars to enjoy dining and imbibing.
- Population: 104,984
- Average age: 39.8
- Median household income: $49,251
- Average commute time: 22.8 minutes
- Walk score: 45
- Studio average rent: $955
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,152
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,252
Most people know Green Bay for its football team (Fun fact: the Green Bay Packers football team is the only NFL team owned by its fans) but there is more than football in this northeastern part of Wisconsin and at the mouth of the Fox River.
While it can get cold during the winter months, Green Bay residents love spending time outdoors whenever possible. Easy access to the Fox River also means water-based activities such as fishing.
As the state’s oldest settlement, it’s also known for its family and business-friendly community.
- Population: 98,545
- Average age: 40.5
- Median household income: $55,417
- Average commute time: 29.2 minutes
- Walk score: 51
- Studio average rent: $1,254
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,581
Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan and at the northern border of Illinois, Kenosha is sometimes called a bedroom community between Chicago and Milwaukee.
Outdoor activities are popular, whether it’s water-based activities on Lake Michigan or playing a round of golf at one of the Kenosha County golf courses.
Kenosha is also home to Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
- Population: 51,965
- Average age: 39.1
- Median household income: $45,233
- Average commute time: 19.2 minutes
- Walk score: 60
- Studio average rent: $773
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,100
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,245
Nestled along the Mississippi River, La Crosse is the largest city on Wisconsin’s western border. It’s home to a few colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and Viterbo University.
La Crosse has charming historic homes that have since been converted into bed and breakfasts, such as the Castle La Crosse Bed and Breakfast, while the Dahl Auto Museum pays tribute to the eight oldest Ford dealership under continuous family ownership in the nation.
Nature lovers can enjoy scenic views from 600-foot-high Grandad Bluff which overlooks the city of La Crosse.
- Population: 249,409
- Average age: 39
- Median household income: $65,332
- Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
- Walk score: 64
- Studio average rent: $969
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,350
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,935
Madison is the home of Wisconsin’s state capital as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s also one of the best cities for millennials.
The second-largest city in the state, Madison is a progressive urban city that is both affordable and offers great employment opportunities.
Outdoor lovers will appreciate the hiking and biking trails and the walkable downtown has bookshops, coffee shops and restaurants around every corner.
- Population: 599,058
- Average age: 37.8
- Median household income: $41,838
- Average commute time: 27.5 minutes
- Walk score: 70
- Studio average rent: $1,276
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,428
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,803
Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest and most populated city, with almost 600,000 residents calling it home.
Located in the southern part of the state and along Lake Michigan, it’s known for its many cultural offerings, from the architecturally significant Milwaukee Art Museum to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to its wildly popular annual Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the world.
It’s also home to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University campus as well as two major professional sports teams: the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers. Several Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here too, including WEC Energy Group, Northwestern Mutual and Harley-Davidson.
Photo source: Discover Wauwatosa / Facebook
- Population: 47,772
- Average age: 43.9
- Median household income: $82,392
- Average commute time: 24.6 minutes
- Walk score: 57
- Studio average rent: $1,221
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,504
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,962
Wauwatosa, sometimes called Tosa by locals, is just 15 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee. Residents love the small-town feel and having easy access to independently-owned shops and restaurants.
A major employer is the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and Wauwatosa is home to several colleges and universities.
Tosa Village, originally called Hart’s Mill in the 1800s, is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike as the thriving historic district includes parks, cultural attractions, restaurants, and bars.
Architecture fans will appreciate a trip to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956 and completed in 1961. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and among Wright’s last works and completed after his death.
- Population: 71,536
- Average age: 41.3
- Median household income: $65,260
- Average commute time: 26.7 minutes
- Walk score: 33
- Studio average rent: $898
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,012
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,299
Waukesha is a city of neighborhoods, filled with strong schools, great shops, and an abundance of green spaces to play.
An active farmers market during the summer takes place in downtown Waukesha, where families and friends meet up.
It’s ideal for those who want a suburban environment with access to urban amenities and residents include families as well as young professionals.
The city is also conveniently located close to Milwaukee, just 18 miles west of the largest city in Wisconsin, and 59 miles east of Madison, making it easy to get to either place.
Experience the best cities in Wisconsin
Wisconsin checks off a lot of checkmarks when it comes to living in a vibrant Midwest state with great attractions, schools, outdoor and recreational activities.
Whether you’re looking for a slower pace of life or the energy of a busy city, there is a Wisconsin community ready to welcome you. We hope this list of best places to live in Wisconsin helps you choose your next home.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.