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Cost of living in Madison

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One isthmus, 100+ neighborhoods, and endless personality.

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With Madison constantly growing and undertaking multiple high-profile developments this year, we figured it was time to talk about the cost of planting some roots in the 608.

The median household income in Dane County is $64,994 according to the US Census Bureau. State-wise, Madison is 24th in the country for median income at ~$63,923 per household.

A chart showing the cost of living in Madison

The overall cost of living in Madison is higher than the national average.

Screenshot via bestplaces.net

The overall cost of living in the 608 is higher than the national average, and higher than the rest of the state.

In Madison, the cost of healthcare is lower compared to other parts of the state and the US. And the cost of groceries, housing, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses in the city have higher average costs than other cities in Wisconsin and the country overall.

Breaking down the numbers
Hypothetically speaking, if you live in a household that brings in $50,000 annuallyaccording to experts — you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly gross income on rent and utilities. Don’t worry, we did the math for you — your max monthly budget would be $1,250. The average monthly rent for an apartment in Madison is $1,459 — putting you over budget.

According to a recent study by Attom Data Solutions, it’s actually more affordable to buy a home in Dane County than to rent.

Take a look at the chart below to see how 608’s cost of living compares to that of Milwaukee.

A chart comparing the cost of living in Madison and Milwaukee.

608 has less affordable food and housing than Milwaukee.

Screenshot via bestplaces.net

Interested in seeing 608’s cost of living compared to cities in other states? We played around on nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator, where you can put in any city along with your current pre-tax household income to find out what other cities you could actually afford to live in.

We took a look at the cost of living in Madison compared to Minneapolis. Here’s what we found:

  • The cost of living is 1% lower in Minneapolis.
  • To maintain our standard of living, we would need to bring in $49,440 to our household.
  • The median cost for a two-bedroom home is $387,070, which is $38,933 less than Madison.

The 608 also has entities such as WHEDA — the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority — and other government-funded programs to help develop more affordable units.

There are a number of local development firms working on apartments seemingly all the time:

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