The 10 Worst Madison Suburbs For 2022

We used science and data to determine which Madison suburbs are the real pits.

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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 Cross Plains certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Madison are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

We examined the 26 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.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Madison for 2022:

  1. Marshall
  2. Waterloo
  3. Edgerton
  4. New Glarus
  5. Columbus
  6. Fitchburg
  7. Lake Mills
  8. Belleville
  9. Deerfield
  10. Poynette

What's the worst suburb of Madison? Marshall ranks as the worst suburb of Madison for 2022 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.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in Wisconsin check out the best places in Wisconsin overall or the worst.

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:

The 10 Worst Madison Suburbs To Live For 2022

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 6th 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,975
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $67,500 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $190,300 (5th lowest)
More on Marshall:  Data

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 lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $50,588 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,334
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $50,588 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $166,500 (2nd lowest)
More on Waterloo:  Data | Photos

Waterloo, WI

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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,594
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $65,183 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $163,300 (lowest)
More on Edgerton:  Data

If you live in New Glarus, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 9th lowest Madison suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Madison. Remember, we looked at 26 cities for this study.

New Glarus is about 21.6 miles to downtown.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,074
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 5)
Median Income: $71,250 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (highest)
Median Home Value: $181,800 (4th lowest)
More on New Glarus:  Data | Photos

New Glarus, WI

Source: Public domain

Columbus has the distinction of being a Madison suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Columbus has the 3rd lowest home values in the metro Madison area, where the median price is $169,700. To put that into perspective, in Cross Plains, the median income is $136,750, which is the best in the area.

Columbus has an unemployment rate of 1.31% which ranks 20th worst.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,076
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $65,029 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (20th highest)
Median Home Value: $169,700 (3rd lowest)
More on Columbus:  Data | Photos

Columbus, WI

Fitchburg has 30,032 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 11.12259309014502%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,032
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $76,240 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.1% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $323,400 (23rd lowest)
More on Fitchburg:  Data | Photos

Fitchburg, WI

Source: Public domain

Ah, Lake Mills. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Madison.

It's the place with the 24th most out of work residents in the Madison metro area (0.56%).

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,936
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $69,571 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.6% (24th highest)
Median Home Value: $197,400 (8th lowest)
More on Lake Mills:  Data | Photos

Lake Mills, WI

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 10th most uninsured people, 13th worst incomes, and has the 4th highest unemployment rate (4.36%) in the entire Madison metro area.

Homes only cost $192,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Madison standards.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,682
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $75,735 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $192,800 (7th lowest)
More on Belleville:  Data | Photos

Belleville, WI

If you absolutely have to live near Madison, then Deerfield might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Madison suburb.

About 2.41% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,553
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $74,750 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $223,800 (11th lowest)
More on Deerfield:  Data | Photos

Deerfield, WI

Rounding out the ten worst Madison suburbs to call home is Poynette.

Located 21.1 miles outside the city, Poynettes is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 26th highest unemployment rate (0.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,507
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $72,375 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.0% (26th highest)
Median Home Value: $207,000 (9th lowest)
More on Poynette:  Data

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Madison for 2022

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 2016-2020, 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 26 suburbs to evaluate around Madison.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 26 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.

Summary: The areas around Madison where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022

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. Cross Plains takes the cake as the best place to live around Madison.

  • Cross Plains
  • Mount Horeb
  • Shorewood Hills

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Madison Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Marshall 3,975 $67,500 $190,300
2 Waterloo 3,334 $50,588 $166,500
3 Edgerton 5,594 $65,183 $163,300
4 New Glarus 2,074 $71,250 $181,800
5 Columbus 5,076 $65,029 $169,700
6 Fitchburg 30,032 $76,240 $323,400
7 Lake Mills 5,936 $69,571 $197,400
8 Belleville 2,682 $75,735 $192,800
9 Deerfield 2,553 $74,750 $223,800
10 Poynette 2,507 $72,375 $207,000
11 Evansville 5,374 $70,216 $192,600
12 Prairie Du Sac 4,397 $57,485 $237,100
13 Stoughton 13,146 $65,878 $223,000
14 Deforest 10,473 $84,282 $243,400
15 Middleton 19,764 $73,336 $361,000
16 Lodi 3,073 $76,250 $239,900
17 Monona 8,141 $76,719 $288,700
18 Sun Prairie 33,954 $79,566 $249,400
19 Oregon 10,513 $86,039 $286,000
20 Verona 13,215 $96,056 $316,100
21 Cottage Grove 7,086 $99,858 $294,300
22 Mcfarland 8,845 $82,583 $260,800
23 Waunakee 13,903 $114,983 $358,100
24 Shorewood Hills 2,085 $136,750 $692,600
25 Mount Horeb 7,494 $81,297 $277,700
26 Cross Plains 4,234 $87,125 $271,100

How Is Your Town In ?

Editor's Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don't freak out we updated this article for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the worst suburbs around Madison.