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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Madison.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Madison 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Madison area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Madison proper, although Shorewood Hills certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Madison are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...
We examined the 25 biggest suburbs of Madison to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in wisconsin lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Madison in terms of quality of life.
What's the worst suburb of Madison? Marshall ranks as the worst suburb of Madison for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Madison that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Madison too.
Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin
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The 10 Worst Madison Suburbs To Live For 2020
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $59,828 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $172,500 (5th lowest)
More on Marshall: Data
We'll get the ball rolling with Marshall, the absolute worst place to live around Madison according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Marshall beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Madison area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 5th worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Marshall.
You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
Welcome to Waterloo. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 23.1 miles to Madison. Income levels here are the 17th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $75,261 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Income: $60,208 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $147,700 (1st lowest)
More on Edgerton: Data
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Madison suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Edgerton on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Madison suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Columbus, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 1st lowest Madison suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 19th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Madison. Remember, we looked at 25 cities for this study.
Columbus is about 26.4 miles to downtown.
Fitchburg has the distinction of being a Madison suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Fitchburg has the 22nd lowest home values in the metro Madison area, where the median price is $306,400. To put that into perspective, in Shorewood Hills, the median income is $125,893, which is the best in the area.
Fitchburg has an unemployment rate of 3.65% which ranks 7th worst.
Lake Mills has 5,850 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 8.005544966210362%.
Ah, Deerfield. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Madison.
It's the place with the 3rd most out of work residents in the Madison metro area (5.45%).
Belleville is a city about 16.4 miles from Madison, but Madison probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Belleville has the 3rd most uninsured people, 11th worst incomes, and has the 6th highest unemployment rate (4.19%) in the entire Madison metro area.
Homes only cost $186,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Madison standards.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $74,948 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $184,400 (6th lowest)
More on Poynette: Data
If you absolutely have to live near Madison, then Poynette might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Madison suburb.
About 2.63% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Madison suburbs to call home is Sun Prairie.
Located 11.7 miles outside the city, Sun Prairies is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 13th highest unemployment rate (2.69%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Madison for 2020
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2014-2018, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Madison.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 25 suburbs to evaluate around Madison.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 25 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Madison." We're lookin' at you, Marshall. You can download the data here.
Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
The areas around Madison where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020
Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Madison with Marshall casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Madison aren't all bad. Shorewood Hills takes the cake as the best place to live around Madison.
- Shorewood Hills
- Cross Plains
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
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- 10 Worst Places To Live In Wisconsin
Detailed List Of The Worst Madison Suburbs
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