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Safe, Affordable Neighborhoods in Madison in 2024

Thinking about living in Madison? Wisconsin’s capital city is one of the best places to live in the U.S., thanks to its waterfront recreation, higher education opportunities, budding tech industry, and family-friendly living. If you’re moving to Madison, here are five safe, affordable neighborhoods to consider!

Hill Farms-University

Small Tudor Style Home in Hill Farms-University, Madison. Photo by Instagram user @thehubrealty

Photo via @thehubrealty

  • Home Price: $274,000 median purchase price; $708 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 81% of Madison neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Originally developed as a planned community in Madison’s West Side, Hill Farms-University is an excellent place to live if you want safety and affordability. Here, you’ll find tree-lined streets with modest ranches, Colonial-style homes, and mid to high-rise apartments. In addition, Hills Farm-University is home to the expansive Rennebohm Park, great schools like Van Hise Elementary School and Velma Hamilton Middle School, and local community events like the Spring Social and Halloween Parade at Rennebohm Park.

Things to Do in Hill Farms-University

Shop at stores like Macy’s, Apple, Madewell, and more at Hilldale Shopping Center. Go for a jog, play a game of ping-pong, or let the kids play on the swings at Rennebohm Park. Participate in water aerobics or sign up for an adult deep water running class at Hill Farm Swim Club. Become a member at Blackhawk Country Club, where you can attend charitable golf outings. Grab fresh produce or canned goods at the Hilldale Farmers’ Market. Swing by Cafe Hollander to see live music from talented bands and musicians, or get your fix of Bier Battered Cheese Curds or Soft Pretzel Bites. Indulge in dishes like Steamed Dumplings, Harvest Noodle Soup, or Braised Pork at Dumpling Haus. Order a Fiesta Bowl, Cultured Cobb Salad, or Thai Cashew Bowl at Forage Kitchen, a sustainable and healthy fast food joint that brews their own kombucha. Or hit up Otto’s Restaurant & Bar for drinks like a Lemon Drop Martini, Italian Margarita, or Cosmopolitan.

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  • Home Price: $334,433 median purchase price, $313 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 77% of Madison neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Want a safe neighborhood within 15 minutes of Downtown Madison? Check out Nakoma! This Mad City neighborhood is surrounded by green spaces like Nakoma Golf Club, Odana Hills Golf Course, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, making it an ideal spot for anyone who loves outdoor recreation. There are also plenty of affordable housing options in Nakoma that can accommodate all kinds of household sizes, including Colonial and Tudor-style houses, stylish bungalows, and contemporary apartments.

Things to Do in Nakoma

Spend an afternoon fishing, kayaking, or canoeing on the beautiful waters of Lake Wingra. Stroll through the park or let the kids play on the slides at Odana Hills Park. Hit up the Nakoma Golf Club to play golf or tennis with friends. Check out University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, which has over 1,200 acres of forests, wetlands, and trails to explore. Visit Longenecker Horticulture Gardens, where you can see over 2,500 kinds of plants and one of the largest lilac displays in America. Fill up on a Bucky Burger, Turkey Wrap, or a BLT at Badger Tavern. Order a Carne Asada Taco, Chimichanga, or Chicken Fajita at La Taqueria El Jalapeno. Or dig into Chinese cuisine like Sweet & Sour Chicken, Beef Chow Mein, or Egg Drop Soup at Great Wall.


  • Home Price: $289,450 median purchase price; $1,466 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 68% of Madison neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Students, singles, young professionals

If you’re looking for a hip neighborhood in Madison that’s both safe and affordable, look no further than Vilas! Located just three minutes away from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Vilas neighborhood is home to a mix of students and young professionals, thanks to its local dining, nightlife, and entertainment scene. You can find quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants on Regent Street and nighttime fun on Monroe Street—and Vilas also offers ample green space and bike-friendly paths, which provides recreation as well as quick commutes!

Things to Do in Vilas

Take a trip to Henry Vilas Zoo to check out intriguing animal exhibits like Arctic Passage or sign up for a Behind-the-Scenes tour to learn more about the zoo’s animals. Head to Vilas Park to go ice skating, fishing, or kayaking on the waters of Lake Wingra. Tour the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum to learn more about Wisconsin’s geological past and see a variety of rocks, minerals, and fossils on display. Grab fantasy novels or science fiction books at bookstore Mystery to Me. Shop eclectic global and bohemian-style decor, including handmade jewelry, furniture, clothing, trinkets, and holistic goods at Art Gecko. Get the best soul food in town like Fried Chicken or Pork Ribs at Marie’s Soul Food. Or spend a night out at Garth’s Brew Bar, where you can attend Bingo Night or Trivia Night while sipping on a Plaid Panther or Old Town Lager.

Walnut Grove

  • Home Price: $286,300 median purchase price; $797 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 80% of Madison neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Tucked away in a quiet residential area, Walnut Grove is one of the safest neighborhoods in Madison. With access to top-rated schools like John Muir Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School, as well as fun neighborhood events like the 4th of July Bike Parade and Sunday Funday Picnic, Walnut Grove is an ideal Madison neighborhood for families. Along with walking and biking paths winding each block, you’ll also have access to outdoor recreation spots like Walnut Grove Park and Mineral Point Park when living here.

Things to Do in Walnut Grove

Get in some retail therapy or meet up with friends for lunch at Prairie Towne Center or West Towne Mall. Check out Owen Conservation Park, a 97-acre park with scenic hiking trails. Run around with your pup at Walnut Grove Dog Park. Head out to Schwoegler Entertainment Center for a family game of bowling. Make your way to Sauk Point Square to learn Ninpo or Koryu Karate at Soyokaze Dojo or sit down at Swagat for authentic Indian cuisine like Aloo Tikki Chat. Start off your morning with a Cold Brew or Espresso while sitting on the patio at Yola’s Cafe. Try a Brie Sandwich, Champagne Tartine, or a salad at La Baguette French bakery. Satisfy your tastebuds with Beef Bulgogi, Kimbop, or Tofu Soup at New Seoul Korean Restaurant. Or pop into Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro for happy hour and order hand-crafted cocktails like a Prickly Pear or Mr. Tangerine Man.


Small Single Family Home in Westmorland, WI. Photo by Instagram user @midmodmidwest

Photo via @midmodmidwest

  • Home Price: $259,200 median purchase price; $1,250 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 74% of Madison neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Westmorland is one of the best neighborhoods in Madison, thanks to its low crime rates, laid-back atmosphere, and easy access to public transportation. Tree-lined streets, spacious Mid-Century houses, and quality schools within the Madison Metropolitan School District make Westmorland a great place to settle down, particularly for families. Not to mention, you can get out and meet your neighbors at one of Westmorland’s many community events like the Winter Play Day or Halloween Parade & Party.

Things to Do in Westmorland

Walk your dog or play some tennis at Westmorland Park. Take the kids to Storytimes in the Park or let them participate in the kids chess club at Sequoya Library. Visit Usonia 1, the first of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian home collection that has since become a national historic landmark. Get your pizza fix at Luigi’s Pizza, where you can indulge in a Margherita Pizza, Luigi’s Lasagna, or a Meatball Sandwich. Try a Bistro Burger, Pork Chop Sandwich, or Bratwurst for dinner at Laurel Tavern. Grab a seat at Gates & Brovi and feast on Bluepoint Oysters, Calamari, or a Pan Fried Bluegill BLT. Or get your fill of sweet treats by ordering a Pecan Bar, Espresso Fudge Chip Brownie, or S’more Cookie at Madison Chocolate Company.


Moving to Madison? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage facilities located throughout Mad City that can help with your transition. Find cheap storage units in Madison!

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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.