Looking for the BEST place to retire in America?

Madison should be on top of your list on the places to consider for retirement and here is why:


Population: 256,000

Population 50-plus: 28.2%

Days of sunshine a year: 185

Median home price: $292,000


Madison has been ranked third in Livability’s 2020 Top 100 Best Places to Live for its culinary breadth, outdoor spaces, sports scene and economic opportunity.

Madison is a town that defies definition. It’s a sports-crazy college town, but also the staid seat of state government. It’s a great place for millennials and recent grads, with a high employment rate, but also rated among the best places in the country to retire.

It’s an active urban city with a spectacular food scene that runs the gamut from stellar cheap eats to award-winning fine dining, and it’s an outdoor paradise surrounded by lakes and public land. Full of contradictions, Madison is many things to many people and that’s what makes it a great place to live.

Livability notes the city’s top employers are in health care, specifically at UW Hospitals, Meriter and Dean Healthcare and Epic.

A college town in the Badger State might not spring to mind as an ideal place to retire. But with tons of recreational activities and natural beauty, Madison, Wis. — a metropolitan area sandwiched between two lakes — has taken the top spot on our list.

Home Pricing:

Its many charms come at an affordable price. The city’s median home price, $292,000, is one of the lowest of all our winners.


Usually, living near the University of Wisconsin has its perks. People aged 60 and older can also audit courses at the university for free, and during this fall semester, 800 did so virtually, according to the university. During a typical weekend, people can stroll in the university Arboretum and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve on campus.


Madison has a bustling restaurant scene and free events, like Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra concerts on the lawn of the state Capitol. Also near the Capitol is the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which touts itself as the largest producer-only market in the country and has extended its outdoor season during the pandemic.

Finca Coffee is rated as the best coffee shop and Delta Beer Lab as best local beer/brewery. Heritage Tavern offers a must-have meal and the Avenue Club is the best meet-up spot.

The city’s art institutions, like the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and many movie theaters can provide a safe haven during a cloudy day. And when family visits, you can easily entertain kids by visiting the Madison’s Children Museum and Henry Vilas Zoo, or renting a paddle board or kayak at one of the nearby lakes.

Read the full list of things to do in Madison, WI.

Retirement Communities:

The state capital has 38 retirement communities, the most of all our winners.


Wisconsin’s sales tax is just around 5% — among the five lowest in the country — and the state provides a property tax deferral loan program for older residents with a household income below $20,000.

Covid Impact

COVID-19 has certainly taken its toll on Wisconsin, but its workforce has fared better than much of the country, with its unemployment rate at 5.7% in October compared to the country’s 6.9%.

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