Study includes Waukesha County municipalities among Wisconsin's top 20 best cities

By Rachel Italiano - Special to The Freeman

July 3, 2014

WAUKESHA - Wisconsin is a great place to live, according to a study done by NerdWallet. The study analyzed the 85 cities in Wisconsin that have a population of over 10,000 residents.

According to study done by NerdWallet, the top places to live in Wisconsin have home values under $250,000, and homeowners spent less than 30 percent of their median income on their homes. 16 of the top 20 cities met the former criteria, and 14 of the top 20 met the latter.

Waukesha County had several cities rank in the top 20: Pewaukee, Muskego, and Oconomowoc.

Criteria used to determine city ranking were home availability, affordability, and population growth.

Home availability is a key factor in determining a city’s ranking, according to NerdWallet. A low ownership rate signals a competitive inventory, which means more people rent instead of owning a home. Additionally, ownership in these areas is expensive. Areas with a high ownership rate scored better.

Affordability was determined by median household income, monthly homeowner costs, and median home value. Areas with a high median income and a low cost of living scored better.

Population growth ensures that the locale is attracting new residents. This also typically means that the local economy is doing well, according to NerdWallet.

The City of Pewaukee, with a rank of 10, has an 84.2 percent home ownership rate and a median monthly household income of $6,867. Over the two-year period of 2010-12, the city experienced a 2.4 percent growth in population.

Muskego, ranking 12, has a homeownership rate of 85.3 percent with a median income of $7,006. The twoyear growth rate was 1.7 percent.

Oconomowoc, which ranked 14, has a 74.5 percent homeownership rate and a median income of $6,017. The two-year growth rate was 2.6 percent.

Menomonee Falls and Brookfield ranked 27 and 29, respectively. Menomonee Falls has a 75.1 percent homeownership rate and a 1.1 percent growth rate. Brookfield, on the other hand, did not have any growth in population from 2010 to 2012. Instead, the study showed a decrease of -0.5 percent. it did, however, have a homeownership rate of 87.5 percent.

New Berlin, ranking 33, and Sussex, ranking 38, have similar median monthly household income; New Berlin’s is $6,353, and Sussex’s is $6,046. Waukesha is on the low end of the list. With a rank of 70, it has a 58.9 percent homeownership rate. Homeowner costs are 34 percent of household income, and the median monthly household income is $4,839.

According to NerdWallet, the southern region specifically is an excellent place to live, as 12 of the top 20 cities are near Madison or Milwaukee. The top three cities are Suamico, Verona, and Howard.