Things to Know Before Moving to Madison WI

Joe Marks
Published on November 30, 2020

Things to Know Before Moving to Madison WI

Moving to Madison WI? Here are just a few things to know about our city as you make the transition.

Navigating is Tricky

The first thing you need to know about moving to Madison WI is navigating the city can be a little tricky. Since the city center is smack dab in the middle of two lakes, also known as an isthmus, navigating Madison can get a little tricky. Wherever you go, you have to work your way around the two main lakes, Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. Because of this, there isn’t a square grid you can easily navigate until you are on either side of downtown. Be ready with your favorite map app handy when you first explore our beautiful, albeit a bit confusing, city.

Biking City

The second thing to know before moving to Madison WI is we are a biking city. With over 60 miles of connected paved bike paths, Madison is a very biker friendly city. Because the city of Madison is spread out, our walkability score isn’t great so many people use bikes as an alternative to walking. You’ll even find bikers commuting to work in the middle of winter! Additionally, the city of Madison is working on a new natural surface/mountain bike path project that will join together the other area off road trail parks. Ride your mountain bike all around the city without ever having to load it in your car again. Included in the city’s biking projects are plans to build several Bike Playgrounds starting in 2021. So, if you love biking, you’re going to love moving to Madison WI!

Car Dependent City

The third thing you need to know before moving to Madison WI is we are a car dependent city. The city of Madison is about 260,000 people and the greater metro area is about 500,000 people which sounds like a lot but we are actually pretty spread out. Because of this, Madison isn’t a particularly walkable city, you’ll need to bring a car when you run errands. There are a few other transportation options, the city has a great ebike rental system and there is a well equipped Metro bus system but the easiest way to get around is by car.

College Town

The fourth thing you need to know before moving to Madison WI is we are a college town. It doesn’t take long to find out that the University of Wisconsin runs this town! Go Bucky! There are always sporting events happening. Camp Randall is an amazing experience for college football in the fall and Badger basketball is as good as it gets! Watching a Badger basketball game in the Kohl Center is an electric experience. The campus is just west of downtown Madison and it is beautiful with much of it lining the shores of Lake Mendota. At the same time, if you are moving to Madison WI, there are many areas where can you live and barely notice its’s a college town, primarily the far east side of Madison as it is the farthest away from campus.

Millennial Population

The fifth thing you need to know before moving to Madison WI is we have a large millennial population. The millennial generation is well represented in Madison with 27% of the population between the ages of 23 and 39. This millennial percentage ranks Madison 5th among US metro areas, meaning we have the 5th most millennials, in terms of percentage, of any other US city. Madison’s beautiful campus and vibrant downtown situated between two lakes make it a very attractive town for young people to live in. Not to mention, the variety of employment opportunities for young professionals, including a huge focus on nurturing entrepreneurs and a booming tech community.

Four Distinct Seasons

The sixth thing you need to know before moving to Madison WI is we have distinct seasons. One of the most awesome things about our city is the changing of the seasons. Summer life in Madison is amazing with countless experiences like playing on the lakes (boating, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, etc.), farmers market, festivals, concerts on the square, live music, amazing outdoor dining like the patio at the union on campus, and lots of recreation. We take advantage of our summers! Fall brings such gorgeous scenery with the changing leaves, plenty of apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and the ever popular experience of deer hunting. One of the few drawbacks we Madisonians like to complain about are the cold winters! Winters can be hard with short days and below zero temperatures plus the snow storms. You may want to consider an all wheel drive vehicle as it can be helpful when trying to commute on the winter days. However, with the cold and snow comes epic ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing, and if you dare, the polar plunge. Spring is a beautiful time in Madison as the outdoors come back to life and you get to see your neighbors out and about again. You’ll be tempted to wear t-shirts as soon as it hits 40 degrees because you’ll have adjusted to the cold weather by then.

Madison is a beautiful and vibrant city with so much to offer. If you are moving to Madison WI and you have questions, please reach out. I would be happy to help answer anything you may be wondering about our amazing city!