Thinking of moving to Madison? Here’s what you need to know.
Often referred to as the “City of Four Lakes,” Madison, Wisconsin has a significant connection to water. Downtown Madison is located on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, which makes it a great place for boating in the warm summers and ice fishing in the snowy winters. Also called “Madtown,” this capital city buzzes with 245,000 people, while the metro-area population comprises 570,000 folks. Known as a progressive bastion in Wisconsin, Madison has many claims to fame, like The Onion (founded by two college kids) and has been called ‘the San Francisco of the Midwest’ for its large LGBT community. Charmingly, the Madison Common Council declared the plastic pink flamingo as the city’s official bird in 2009.
Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin, which has over 40,000 students, comprising one-sixth of the city’s population. Employing over 2,000 academic staff alone, the university is also the city’s top employer. Other big employers include UW Health, Epic Systems Corp, American Family Insurance, Kraft Foods and American Girl Brands.
Downtown on the isthmus, you’ll find a mix of college students, retirees and professionals. Young families and grad students favor the Marquette neighborhood, and an eclectic bunch of young professionals thrive in the lively First Settlement. The trendy boho ’hood is on Williamson (a.k.a. Willy) Street, while the suburbs are in areas like Sun Prairie and Maple Bluff. The city is well supported by a buses, and is very bike-friendly, with bike lanes along most major roads.
What Do You Do?
Downtown’s State Street is pedestrian-only, full of cool shops and bars, and is the site of Madison’s Freakfest every Halloween. The Mifflin Street Block Party is a popular student-led fest that comes around every May, you can find artisan goods and some of the state’s best cheese at Capitol Square’s Saturday farmer’s market. Madison also boasts over a dozen music festivals, several art museums (including the Madison Children’s Museum) and a zoo with free admission and zero parking fees.