Madison, Wisconsin, isn’t just the home of the flagship UW campus and the state legislature. It’s also the economic center of the state, home to a booming economy and — buoyed by the presence of healthcare software giant Epic — a growing tech scene.
Where there are tech startups and politics, there will be young professionals. You know the type: gingham button-down shirts, recently-granted diplomas, and a taste for all things local and farm-to-table. YPs are professional enough to have decent salaries, but young enough to not spend them entirely on families or children… yet.
That means that they’re often looking for cheap one bedroom apartments. And though there are a lot of affordable one-bedroom apartments in Madison, not all of them are in neighborhoods suited to YPs. Never fear — Madison is ABODO’s hometown, and we’ve done the research for you. Here are the best neighborhoods in Madison for YPs.
Some of the most exciting residential construction Madison has seen in decades has occurred on East Washington, a short walk from downtown. Two high-rise apartment complexes — the Galaxie and the Constellation — have been constructed in the past two years, aimed squarely at young professional renters, many of them Epic employees. It’s not particularly subtle: The complexes also house Google’s Madison offices, as well as a host of amenities, like a grocery store, a yoga studio, and Sujeo, Madison star chef Tory Miller’s Asian fusion restaurant.
But it’s not all modern high rises in Tenney Lapham. Venture north a block or two and you’ll find older apartment buildings and houses for rent, as well as one of Madison’s hottest bar and restaurant scenes, home to The Robin Room, Johnson Public House, and Salvatore’s Tomato Pies. The area is packed with tech workers, graduate students, and other post-college, pre-family adults.
On the south side of the Isthmus, the Marquette neighborhood is home to one of Madison’s iconic places: Willy Street. Once the center of Vietnam-era counterculture, the area retains a certain laid-back, hippie flair, full of quirky coffee shops, laid-back bars, and one of the crunchiest (and best) grocery stores in the country: The Willy Street Co-Op. Don’t expect high-rise apartments here — most of the rooms for rent in this Madison neighborhood are in old houses. But the neighborhood’s tree-lined streets and easy access to Lake Monona make it one of the city’s most popular for young professionals and aging hippies alike.
Atwood is a neighborhood on the rise. The rents are cheap, the streets are quiet, and it’s just close enough to downtown to make commuting a breeze. In recent years, a few apartment and condo complexes have been built, as well as a number of new restaurants (Alchemy, Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace) and even a brewery (One Barrel). Atwood is a calmer, less crowded Willy Street… but probably not for long.
Madison is a small enough city that it’s still totally possible to live downtown on a young professional’s budget. And though the city has ordinances about building height — no structure can be taller than the Capitol rotunda if it’s within a mile of it — the past decade has brought a slew of new apartment complexes downtown. They offer convenient access to some of the city’s best bars (Merchant), restaurants (l’Etoile), and cultural institutions (the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art) — not to mention the state’s center of power.