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What's it like to live in Madison, WI
Profile written by local expert:
Against a backdrop of high-tech businesses and acclaimed academic institutions, Madison, Wisconsin, exudes the casual, down-to-earth feel you'd expect in the capital of America's Dairyland. On a given night, Madisonians can dine on food prepared by award-winning chefs and take in performances by national and international musicians and actors. The next morning, Madisonians can buy produce, meats and baked goods at the Dane County Farmers Market, often grabbing breakfast and coffee there or at hot spots like Marigold Kitchen and Michelangelo's Coffee House.
A hotbed of the health care, information technology and manufacturing industries, Madison has steadily welcomed new residents over the past decade and is growing to accommodate and entertain these transplants. Developers are quickly erecting mixed-use luxury housing with ground floors occupied by trendy restaurants and coffee shops. Options for fine dining, microbrews and craft cocktails in Madison are constantly expanding.
Much like in New York City, it's somewhat rare to encounter a native Madisonian. Some who have relocated permanently attended UW-Madison and never left. Others relocated to Madison for work. Nevertheless, the small-town vibe of Madison shines through.
Things to do here
Madison's rich arts and food scenes impress even the most cosmopolitan newcomers. World-class performers and speakers regularly cycle through the region. Meanwhile, Madison appeals to foodies with its locally produced cheese and its local beer from a growing legion of microbreweries and gastropubs like The Great Dane and Ale Asylum.
Drinks and dining are a consistent source of conversation with friendly Madisonians, as is sports, especially if the conversation revolves around the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Division I basketball team, the Wisconsin Badgers.
During the summer, Madison's lakes draw boaters, canoers, kayakers, sailors, swimmers and stand-up paddle boarders. Even more lakes and state parks await within driving distance. Regional bike paths wind outward in all directions for those up for a trek outside the metro area.
Things to avoid here
During the summer, Madison residents waste no time taking advantage of outdoor recreation opportunities, such as jogging and boating. Residents are no strangers to single-digit temperatures during the winter. Ever pragmatic, Madisonians take to the frozen lakes for ice fishing, skating and hockey. Parks and golf courses transition to cross-country skiing trails in the winter.
Advice for those moving here
Young professionals and families, as well as UW-Madison students and retirees, appreciate the relaxed lifestyle Madison offers. Although it is a highly educated region, the poverty rate is nearly 20 percent.
Home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Edgewood College and Madison Area Technical College, Madison is among the most educated metro areas in the country. More than 95 percent of residents above the age of 25 have graduated high school. But among grade school children, the racial education gap is quite large.
A little less than half the population affiliates with a religion, and the largest chunk of the religious population identifies with Catholicism.