Most leases are signed in February to give landlords plenty of breathing room for the strict August 1st and 15th move in date. Madison Apartments are available off season, but expect to increase your budget, or lower your expectations.
For a city of its size, Madison apartments aren't cheap. A budget of around $700 a month for studios, $800 for 1 bedrooms, and $1000 for 2 bedrooms are a good starting points.
Madison landlords can be tough. High demand for their apartments means that your applications need to be on time and looking sharp. Expect the apartment landlords to be sharp, tough, but fair.
In Madison, you likely live, play, and shop in your neighborhood. The University of Wisconsin's flagship Madison Campus and student living occupies a fourth of the city, while the business professional downtown areas and hipster east-side comprise almost all the rest. Here's some of the most popular neighborhoods to help you get sorted.
Getting around in Madison is not always easy -- either with or without a car. Parking downtown can be spotty and pricy, while the east-west bottleneck on the isthmus makes navigating... interesting. However, most neighborhoods have the essentials within walking distance, but getting to the large shopping center on the outside of town takes a car and patience or an iron will to navigate the bus system. The Madison bus system is reliable, won't get you everywhere, and is definitely not 'on-demand'. On the other hand, if you're a bicyclist, you're in great company with enthusiastic cyclists on biker friendly trails and streets everywhere you look.
Madison is called the cultural hub of Wisconsin for good reason. The University brings in top tier performers and more college sports than you can handle. On the other hand, the Capital Square's Overture Center and dive-bar-to-fine-dining restaurant selection will keep you full and entertained. If you want something with a little more grunge, head to the east side and check out live bands, improv performances, and poetry readings at some of Madison's more eclectic bars and cafes.