These Are The 10 Worst Madison Suburbs For 2019


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

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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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the worst suburbs around Madison.

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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 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 2019:

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

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:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Madison for 2019

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 2013-2017, 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.

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.

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,977
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $70,102 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $161,300 (4th 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 12th 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.

Fitchburg, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 27,914
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $66,110 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $287,200 (23rd lowest)
More on Fitchburg:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Fitchburg. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 7.0 miles to Madison. Income levels here are the 9th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $66,110 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.

Waterloo, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,345
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $74,045 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $140,700 (1st lowest)
More on Waterloo:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Madison suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Waterloo 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

8.5
/10

Population: 5,496
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $52,075 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (21st highest)
Median Home Value: $141,100 (2nd lowest)
More on Edgerton:  Data

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 21st worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Madison. Remember, we looked at 26 cities for this study.

Edgerton is about 25.0 miles to downtown.

Lake Mills, WI

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 5,816
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $65,208 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (16th highest)
Median Home Value: $176,000 (8th lowest)
More on Lake Mills:  Data | Photos

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 $176,000. To put that into perspective, in Shorewood Hills, the median income is $125,000, which is the best in the area.

Lake Mills has an unemployment rate of 3.0% which ranks 15th worst.

Evansville, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,222
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $58,870 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $165,100 (6th lowest)
More on Evansville:  Data | Photos

Evansville has 5,222 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 6.3%.

Stoughton, WI

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 13,058
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $63,333 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $191,200 (11th lowest)
More on Stoughton:  Data | Photos

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

It’s the place with the 5th most out of work residents in the Madison metro area (4.4%).

Columbus, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,004
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $59,824 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $148,600 (3rd lowest)
More on Columbus:  Data | Photos

Columbus is a city about 26.4 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. Columbus has the 16th most uninsured people, 4th worst incomes, and has the 23rd highest unemployment rate (1.9%) in the entire Madison metro area.

Homes only cost $148,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Madison standards.

New Glarus, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 2,002
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $59,223 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.9% (24th highest)
Median Home Value: $161,700 (5th lowest)
More on New Glarus:  Data | Photos

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

About 0.9% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 2,394
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Median Income: $71,705 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $170,800 (7th lowest)
More on Poynette:  Data

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 8th highest unemployment rate (3.6%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Madison where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019

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
  • Waunakee
  • Oregon

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Madison Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Marshall 3,977 $70,102 $161,300
2 Fitchburg 27,914 $66,110 $287,200
3 Waterloo 3,345 $74,045 $140,700
4 Edgerton 5,496 $52,075 $141,100
5 Lake Mills 5,816 $65,208 $176,000
6 Evansville 5,222 $58,870 $165,100
7 Stoughton 13,058 $63,333 $191,200
8 Columbus 5,004 $59,824 $148,600
9 New Glarus 2,002 $59,223 $161,700
10 Poynette 2,394 $71,705 $170,800
11 Sun Prairie 32,112 $67,512 $216,800
12 Deerfield 2,492 $75,625 $192,900
13 Belleville 2,314 $72,273 $180,400
14 Monona 7,989 $64,125 $246,400
15 Cottage Grove 6,795 $91,698 $263,900
16 Lodi 3,052 $68,301 $179,300
17 Middleton 18,951 $70,105 $309,900
18 Deforest 9,663 $74,477 $217,400
19 Prairie Du Sac 4,248 $60,538 $200,700
20 Mcfarland 8,235 $79,152 $242,600
21 Cross Plains 3,992 $82,188 $259,900
22 Verona 12,465 $87,536 $285,100
23 Mount Horeb 7,383 $71,660 $236,000
24 Oregon 10,033 $88,250 $238,800
25 Waunakee 13,284 $98,224 $312,900
26 Shorewood Hills 2,105 $125,000 $627,300

 Worst 

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