These Are The 10 Worst Madison Suburbs For 2018


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 Waunakee 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.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Madison for 2018:

  1. Marshall
  2. Waterloo
  3. Fitchburg
  4. Edgerton
  5. Lake Mills (Photos)
  6. Evansville (Photos)
  7. Poynette
  8. New Glarus
  9. Stoughton (Photos)
  10. Columbus (Photos)

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.

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Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Madison for 2018

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, 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.

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.

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1. Marshall


Population: 3,934
Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
Median Home Price: $156,200
Median Income: $60,313
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 8th worst in the Madison area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 4th 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.

2. Waterloo

Waterloo, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 3,341
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Median Home Price: $138,800
Median Income: $73,594
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 19th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $73,594 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.

3. Fitchburg


Population: 27,254
Unemployment Rate: 5.4%
Median Home Price: $276,200
Median Income: $65,735
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Madison suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Fitchburg 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.

4. Edgerton


Population: 5,494
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
Median Home Price: $142,200
Median Income: $52,054
If you live in Edgerton, 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 15th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Madison. Remember, we looked at 25 cities for this study.

Edgerton is about 25.0 miles to downtown.

5. Lake Mills

Lake Mills, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,796
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Median Home Price: $169,200
Median Income: $60,302
Lake Mills has the distinction of being a Madison suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Lake Mills has the 8th lowest home values in the metro Madison area, where the median price is $169,200. To put that into perspective, in Waunakee, the median income is $93,132, which is the best in the area.

Lake Mills has an unemployment rate of 3.8% which ranks 12th worst.

6. Evansville

Evansville, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,176
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Median Home Price: $162,200
Median Income: $56,198
Evansville has 5,176 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 5.6%.

7. Poynette


Population: 2,441
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Median Home Price: $166,600
Median Income: $63,633
Ah, Poynette. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Madison.

It’s the place with the 7th most out of work residents in the Madison metro area (4.5%).

8. New Glarus

New Glarus, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,014
Unemployment Rate: 1.0%
Median Home Price: $160,600
Median Income: $57,337
New Glarus is a city about 21.6 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. New Glarus has the 14th most uninsured people, 5th worst incomes, and has the 25th highest unemployment rate (1.0%) in the entire Madison metro area.

Homes only cost $160,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Madison standards.

9. Stoughton

Stoughton, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,041
Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
Median Home Price: $182,400
Median Income: $60,990
If you absolutely have to live near Madison, then Stoughton might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Madison suburb.

About 4.9% of residents are out of work.

10. Columbus

Columbus, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,004
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
Median Home Price: $153,400
Median Income: $60,000
Rounding out the ten worst Madison suburbs to call home is Columbus.

Located 26.4 miles outside the city, Columbuss is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 22nd highest unemployment rate (2.1%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Madison where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018

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. Waunakee takes the cake as the best place to live around Madison.

For more Wisconsin reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Madison Suburbs

City Rank Population Unemployment Rate Median Home Price Median Income
Marshall 1 3,934 8.8% $156,200 $60,313
Waterloo 2 3,341 5.3% $138,800 $73,594
Fitchburg 3 27,254 5.4% $276,200 $65,735
Edgerton 4 5,494 3.6% $142,200 $52,054
Lake Mills 5 5,796 3.8% $169,200 $60,302
Evansville 6 5,176 4.3% $162,200 $56,198
Poynette 7 2,441 4.5% $166,600 $63,633
New Glarus 8 2,014 1.0% $160,600 $57,337
Stoughton 9 13,041 4.9% $182,400 $60,990
Columbus 10 5,004 2.1% $153,400 $60,000
Sun Prairie 11 31,721 4.0% $206,200 $65,203
Monona 12 7,919 4.1% $232,800 $56,481
Deerfield 13 2,488 7.4% $188,800 $73,281
Cottage Grove 14 6,729 4.5% $257,400 $87,386
Lodi 15 3,044 3.5% $175,000 $65,833
Belleville 16 2,515 3.3% $180,700 $71,382
Middleton 17 18,707 4.9% $293,100 $67,729
Deforest 18 9,468 2.1% $207,100 $72,373
Cross Plains 19 3,914 2.9% $255,200 $79,643
Prairie Du Sac 20 4,218 1.2% $199,700 $56,043
Oregon 21 9,912 3.5% $226,900 $76,480
Mount Horeb 22 7,389 3.8% $235,300 $67,793
Mcfarland 23 8,168 3.0% $243,000 $78,009
Verona 24 12,113 2.8% $273,200 $89,965
Waunakee 25 13,092 3.7% $300,600 $93,132

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