15 Best Places to Live in Wisconsin

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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Wisconsin is famous for being a cheese and beer wonderland. It is America’s largest cheese producer, with more than two billion pounds of cheese produced yearly. The beer industry employs more than sixty-thousand people

America’s Dairyland is also known for big-time football, and the third-most successful football team calls this Midwest state home.

In terms of natural beauty, Wisconsin has a beautiful geography characterized by dense forests, rolling hills, and over fifteen thousand lakes, making it an outdoor lover’s dream.

If you are looking to move to Wisconsin, the 23rd most densely populated state in America offers several options: large urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison (its capital), smaller towns, or villages that promise that classic, laidback Midwest style.

Wisconsin has some big-name universities, including the University of Wisconsin and the private institution Marquette University. Manufacturing is an even bigger industry than the dairy business, generating over twenty billion a year, with agriculture accounting for more than three hundred and fifty thousand jobs.

The cost of living in Wisconsin is affordable, and data from Bloomberg puts Wisconsin in a position one of the states with the highest rates of volunteerism. This isn’t much of a surprise given the state’s long history of community involvement and the constant need to improve the livelihoods of its residents.

Suffice it to say out-of-towners shouldn’t take long before they gel in. Here is our selection of the 15 best places to live in Wisconsin.

1. Whitefish Bay

Whitefish Bay, WisconsinSource: Tony Webster / Flickr
Whitefish Bay

Whitefish Bay is one of Wisconsin’s best places to live because of its welcoming community, high-quality life, excellent public schools, diverse housing, convenient shopping areas, and safe environment.

The Whitefish Bay area currently consists of single-family residential neighborhoods with over fourteen thousand residents. The Village comprises over three hundred businesses and public schools and is bordered by Shorewood, Wisconsin.

With its proximity to the Chicago area, Whitefish Bay attracts visitors for its Fish Day events. This city has many natural parks, including Klode Park and the Milwaukee River. With its small-town atmosphere and big-city attractions, you can have the best of both worlds while living in Whitefish Bay.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do or see in Whitefish Bay are:

  • Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall
  • Klode Park
  • Cahill Square Park
  • Shopping on Silver Spring Drive
  • North Point Lighthouse
  • Bradford Beach

2. Waunakee

Waunakee, WisconsinSource: benet2006 / Flickr

Situated just five miles north of Madison, Waunakee has become one of Wisconsin’s best places to live and one of the fastest-growing towns. This town has one of the top-rated school districts with great testing scores.

Located within Waunakee is the community of Southbridge, an elegant community inspired by the charm of the South. Southbridge features three parks, fields for sports, a neighborhood swimming pool, and more!

While living in this community, you can walk through its many nature parks, including the Bolz Conservancy, Ashlawn Settlers Park, and Lake Mendota. For a small town, it sure offers a lot for any family considering moving here!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Waunakee are:

  • Tierney Park
  • Centennial Park
  • WaunaFest (Annual Event)
  • Wauktoberfest (October)
  • Rex’s Innkeeper
  • Indian Lake Park
  • Middleton Sport Bowl
  • Chalet Ski and Patio
  • Henry Vilas Zoo

3. Shorewood

Shorewood, WisconsinSource: Aaron Volkening / Flickr

An urban village and one of the best places to live in South Carolina is the town of Sherwood. Located north of Milwaukee, Sherwood lies on the shores of Lake Michigan and is bordered by Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee River, and Whitefish Bay. Shorewood is known as the fourth-oldest suburban town in Milwaukee.

In the town of Sherwood, the residents love the urban feel of this community, the convenience of being within walking distance to close stores, and its excellent public school system. With its proximity to downtown, unique architecture, and fascinating residents, Sherwood is one of the most-desirable towns among families.

As far as the economy goes, the town of Sherwood has experienced tremendous growth over the years with the arrival of new businesses and developers.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in the town of Sherwood are:

  • High Cliff State Park
  • Jeanne’s Bar
  • Wanick Choute Park
  • Mulberry Lane Farm
  • Bay Beach Amusement Park
  • Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Michigan’s Adventure

4. Elm Grove

Elm Grove, WisconsinSource: www.elmgrovewi.org
Elm Grove

Situated only ten miles west of Milwaukee and one of the best places to live in Wisconsin is the peaceful suburb of Elm Grove. This small, peaceful town offers its residents plenty of activities, including shopping and nature parks.

Elm Grove has a great choice of restaurants and local boutiques to make this town more than I unique. Residents love the town of Elm Grove for its safe and friendly neighborhoods and excellent school systems. This alone makes it an ideal town to raise a family.

With this town being located so close to Milwaukee, you’re only forty miles north of the border if you ever need something extra.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Elm Grove are:

  • Sunset Playhouse
  • Elm Grove Recreational Trail
  • Elm Grove Village Park
  • O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub
  • Elm Grove Art

5. Brookfield

Brookfield, WisconsinSource: chris favero / Flickr

Just a short drive from Chicago land and off I-94, you’ll find the town of Brookfield. Brookfield has various amenities, some of the best shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

Brookfield has unique boutiques that will win over your heart and the best selection of national retailers. From Brookfield Square to Calhoun Crossing, residents simply can’t get enough of this town’s big-city options.

From quick and casual to family-friendly, the city of Brookfield has just what you need on its menu. With hundreds of restaurant options serving everything from steak to pizza, you won’t ever need to leave the city to satisfy your cravings. Some of Brookfield’s popular restaurants are:

  • Flemings
  • Uncle Julio’s
  • Outback
  • Honeyberry

Entertainment & Activities

When you live in Brookfield, there’s so much to do. Some of the best things to do in Brookfield are:

  • Milwaukee Brewers Game
  • The Marcus Center
  • Milwaukee County Zoo
  • Milwaukee County Museum
  • Movie Tavern
  • X Golf Brookfield

6. Fox Point

Fox Point, WisconsinSource: Freekee / Wikipedia
Fox Point, Wisconsin

One of Wisconsin’s best places to live is Fox Point, a suburban community with more than six thousand residents. While strolling along the community, you’ll find quiet neighborhoods with tree-lined streets, wooded areas, and beautiful Lake Michigan vistas.

Residents here love the community for its excellent school system, high-quality life, housing options, and local businesses. While living in Fox Point, you’ll enjoy the suburban feel and its wide variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and nature parks.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Fox Point are:

  • Doctors Park
  • Pygmy Elephant
  • Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
  • Lynden Sculpture Garden
  • Brown Deer Golf Course
  • Oak Leaf Trail
  • Schulz Aquatic Center
  • Maxfields Pancake House
  • Jose’s Blue Sombrero

7. Mequon

Mequon, WisconsinSource: Aaron Volkening / Flickr

Mequon, WI may not sound exactly like one of Wisconsin’s best places to live. Until you hear the likes of Eric Benet and Halle Berry own homes in this quaint neck of the woods in Ozaukee County.

With a population of over twenty-five thousand, Mequon is filled with majestic bluffs, gorgeous homes, open space, and lush farmland. The residents of this community enjoy its beautiful nature parks, golf courses, Milwaukee River, and convenient access to the interstate.

The city of Mequon is known for having one of the lowest crime rates in Wisconsin and one of the lowest tax rates in the area. Mequon also has one of the best school systems in Wisconsin.

Mequon has many outdoor activities and is the perfect place to combine the big city feel with nature. In addition, Mequon also has plenty of attractions, including art galleries and restaurants.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Mequon are:

  • Kapco Park
  • Virmond Park
  • Barthel Fruit Farm
  • Mequon Nature Preserve
  • Thiensville Farmers Market
  • Mequon Chancery
  • Skippy’s Sports Pub

8. Verona

Verona, WisconsinSource: Corey Coyle / Wikimedia

If you work in Wisconsin’s capital city or just fancy the city life but would instead retreat to a quieter environment near the city, few places are as desirable as Verona.

Verona is often referred to as Hometown, USA, and is one of Wisconsin’s best places to live. Families with a population of over two thousand residents love to live in Verona because of its natural beauty and proximity to employment and commerce.

This charming town has farms, forests, and rivers, while around seventy percent of the land is actively farmed. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll enjoy the Military Ridge Bike and National Ice Age trails.

If you talk to any residents in Verona, they’ll tell you that they enjoy the high quality of life and being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you’re looking for a place with a small community character, Verona is the perfect place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Verona are:

  • AMC Fitchburg
  • Appleberry Farm
  • Candinas Chocolatier
  • The Farley Center
  • Verona Area Aquatics
  • Verona Area Community Theater

9. Fitchburg

Fitchburg, WisconsinSource: gas_station_sushi / Flickr

Situated between Madison and the farmlands of Wisconsin, you’ll find Fitchburg. This town has six biking paths that stretch from downtown Fitchburg to Madison.

Wisconsin has activities that suit every season, from basking in the summer sun to snowboarding after a snowfall. Residents in Fitchburg also rave about their local breweries and delicious restaurants.

Home to more than twenty-five thousand residents, Fitchburg has plenty of open space and is surrounded by nature, thanks to Wisconsin State Park. With its attractive downtown area, college-town amenities, and architectural interest, what’s not to love?!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Fitchburg are:

  • Rollstone Hill Rock Walk
  • Fitchburg Art Museum
  • Great Wolf Lodge
  • River Styx Brewing
  • Coggshall Park
  • Boulder Art Gallery
  • Fitchburg Public Library

10. Wauwatosa

The Dr. Fisk Holbrook Day House in Wauwatosa, WISource: Teemu008 / Flickr

Located just fifteen minutes from downtown Milwaukee, you’ll find the town of Wauwatosa, an urban area with a charming small-town feel. Known by the residents as “Tosa,” this city has unique local shops and restaurants, with many of their stores opening up a second location in neighboring cities.

Wauwatosa is also home to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, colleges, and universities. The town of Wauwatosa has exclusive shopping opportunities with a boutique shopping experience.

Wauwatosa is also one of the top towns for families as it has plenty of activities for outdoor fun that the kids and parents can enjoy.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Wauwatosa are:

  • Mayfair Mall
  • Big Head Brewing Co
  • Jacobus Park
  • Hoyt Park
  • Mo’s Irish Pub

11. Maple Bluff

Maple Bluff, WisconsinSource: Eli White / Flickr
Maple Bluff

Maple Bluff is a small, charming village in Wisconsin’s capital of Madison and is highly sought after by families looking for a storybook feel. The village acquired its name from a large bluff, and maple trees lined the neighborhood.

Residents in this village keep a tight community and have many social gatherings, whether it’s a tournament or a group spending the day kayaking on the water. Maple Bluff gets a lot of its architectural charm from its traditional-styled homes, most built between the 1920s and 1950s.

This is one of those tiny, exclusive neighborhoods in almost every state. As for Maple Bluff, it is where the residence of Wisconsin’s Governor is located.

Other famous names that have called this village home include the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright Thornton Wilder, the late actor Chris Farley, not to mention the home of another actor, Bradley Whitford, and Olympic speed skater Connie Carpenter-Phinney.

Even though Maple Bluff is a small village, it has many amenities for the neighborhood and is close to everything, such as downtown, the airport, and biking trails.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Maple Bluff are:

  • Warner Park
  • Beach Park
  • Maple Bluff Country Club
  • Tenney Park
  • Blind Shot Social Club
  • High Noon Saloon

12. Brewer’s Hill

Brewers Hill, WisconsinSource: Freekee / Wikimedia
Brewer’s Hill

If you are a young family with education on your mind, Brewer’s Hill is not the place for you.

The historic neighborhood is best suited for retirees because purchasing a home is within reach of many; there is virtually no crime in the area; and its historic nature means it provides just the kind of serene environment they need.

However, Brewer’s Hill is quickly growing, and several developments are everywhere.

To a point, the affordable cost of living can also support young professionals. And just because it suits retirees doesn’t mean the two demographics can’t live in harmony. Because guess what, the nightlife in Brewer’s Hill far trounces every area on this list.

Here, you will find the Lakefront Brewery, one of the best in Milwaukee, and the Beerline, a section of the River Walk that also runs through Brewer’s Hill.

Its combination of historic and trendy makes for a perfect balance, as the almost 2,800 residents will admit.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Brewer’s Hill are:

  • Lakefront Brewery
  • Milwaukee Art Museum
  • Milwaukee Public Museum
  • American Family Field
  • Mitchell Park Domes
  • Lakeshore State Park

13. Stevens Point

Stevens Point, WisconsinSource: recubejim / Flickr
Stevens Point

If you are looking for a beautiful community to live in Wisconsin that doesn’t blow a hole in your budget, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option than Stevens Point, a town in Portage County home to more than twenty-seven thousand people.

The low cost of living is its major selling point, which explains the dense habitation. But don’t mistake these two factors to mean this is a rundown neighborhood for those who can barely make a living.

Entirely on the contrary actually.

Steven’s Point has gained accolades from various publications, some calling it a Top 10 Dream Town, others naming it one of the Top 10 Places to Live in Wisconsin, while others list it as one of the top places to retire in Wisconsin.

Stevens Point has an unforgettable historical district that is great for walking tours while allowing the chance to have a drink at one of many of their breweries. From biking trails, festivals, and shopping, Stevens Point is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Stevens Point are:

  • Green Circle Trail
  • Stevens Point Brewery
  • Stevens Point Sculpture Park
  • Schmeeckle Reserve
  • Sunset Point Winery
  • Mead Park
  • Riverfront Arts Center
  • Stevens Point Farmers Market

14. Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay, WisconsinSource: Gerald A. DeBoer / shutterstock
Sturgeon Bay

The nature-loving town of Sturgeon Bay is located between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This hidden gem of a destination has historical lighthouses, five state parks, and over thirty islands.

Sturgeon Bay is surrounded by water on three sides, so ideally, there would be plenty of water activities to do here. Many residents love to kayak up the coast to Cave Point County Park, where caves are along the beach.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Sturgeon Bay are:

  • Cave Point County Park
  • Door County Maritime Museum
  • The Farm
  • Door Peninsula Winery
  • Whitefish Dunes State Park
  • Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery

15. Franklin

FranklinSource: Pdw3franklin / Wikimedia

Rounding us off is a suburb many city dwellers will feel at home in. Franklin is a suburb of Milwaukee with a population of over thirty-six thousand

It warrants a mention on our list of 15 best places to live in Wisconsin because first and foremost, the cost of living is affordable.

The public school district in Franklin is also one of the best in the Badger State, and residents enjoy fairly high incomes.

Some of the biggest employers in town mostly revolve around manufacturing, education, healthcare, and retail. In closing, it probably pays to know the town gets its name from Benjamin Franklin.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Franklin are:

  • Wehr Nature Center
  • Kayla’s Playground
  • Crystal Ridge
  • Hideaway Pub and Eatery

15 Best Places to Live in Wisconsin:

  • Whitefish Bay
  • Waunakee
  • Shorewood
  • Elm Grove
  • Brookfield
  • Fox Point
  • Mequon
  • Verona
  • Fitchburg
  • Wauwatosa
  • Maple Bluff
  • Brewer’s Hill
  • Stevens Point
  • Sturgeon Bay
  • Franklin