The 5 Best Places in Wisconsin to Raise a Family

Written by Claire Wilson
Published: February 24, 2024
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Wisconsin offers a fantastic quality of life and ranks as one of the top 10 best states to live in. Scoring sixth for education and twelfth for healthcare, the state has many opportunities. Many move here for the low cost of living and peaceful landscape. Though the winters are sometimes hard to endure, the summers are close to perfection. That is why many families relocate to the Badger State. If you are considering a move to Wisconsin, here are the five best places in Wisconsin to raise a family.

#5 Eau Claire

aerial photograph of the Chippewa River approaching the confluence in downtown eau claire wisconsin

There are over 70 miles of bike trails in Eau Claire to explore.

©Matthew A Reddy/

The cost of living in Eau Claire is 9.4 percent lower than the national average. Plus, housing is quite affordable here. While the average American home costs $338,000, the typical home in Eau Claire sells for $272,600. Renting is also 32 percent cheaper in Eau Claire than the average in the United States.

Eau Claire has always been a safe city, with violent crimes being 56 percent lower than the national average. And between 2010 and 2016, property crimes were also below the national average. However, in the past five years, Eau Claire has seen a six percent rise in thefts. Despite this, 96 percent of Eau Claire residents report feeling safe, and 90 percent say Eau Claire is an excellent place to raise children, according to

Eau Claire has seven parks and 931 acres of county park. And that doesn’t count the playgrounds of the 12 elementary schools in the city! Eau Claire has a network of bike trails to visit the local children’s museum, indoor sports center, or newly updated public library. Eau Claire also has a trampoline park, three arcades, one water park, and a large mall. All in all, Eau Claire is one of the best places in Wisconsin to raise a family.

#4 Sheboygan

Sheboygan is one of the top five best places to raise a family.

Sheboygan is known for its freshwater surfing off of Lake Michigan’s waves. It’s been nicknamed “Malibu of the Midwest” by the surf community.

©Jordan M. Lomibao, CC BY-SA 4.0 - License

Analyzing the cost of housing, food, childcare, healthcare, and other considerations, Sheboygan is 16.6 percent lower than the national average. And with the average home cost of $338,000 in the U.S., buying a home in Sheboygan is 47 percent cheaper. Rent is also 40 percent lower than in the rest of the country.

In Sheboygan, the crime rate is 1.3 times smaller than the national average. In fact, the crime rate has fallen slightly in the last couple of years. Overall, the rates are below the U.S. average when looking at violent and property crimes. That is ideal when scouting for the best places in Wisconsin to raise a family.

Besides the many parks and public libraries, Sheboygan has unique opportunities for young children. In addition to their children’s museum, there is a botanic garden themed after children’s literature. The GameBoard is a game rental shop where families may visit and explore various board games. There is also a lake water park, a youth sailing center, a railroad museum, and a classic ice cream parlor.

#3 La Crosse

Aerial drone view of the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse

Grandad Bluff, the 600-ft high bluff that overlooks the city of La Crosse, is one of the most scenic views in the state.

©Wirestock/iStock via Getty Images

The cost of living in La Crosse is about 10 percent lower than the national average. In fact, La Crosse received the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award for the city’s affordable housing project in 2021.

While the violent crime rate is lower than the average in Wisconsin, theft and burglaries are higher than the state’s average. But overall, the violent crime rate in La Crosse is 30 percent lower than the national average.

Offering many parks and trails, hiking along the gorgeous bluffs in La Crosse is a favored family activity. There is also a children’s museum, water park, skating center, and indoor adventure park with a Ninja Warrior course. There are many opportunities for family fun in La Crosse.

#2 Appleton

University building at college in autumn

Harry Houdini liked Appleton so much that he claimed Appleton as his hometown, even though ship manifests later revealed his family immigrated from his birth city of Budapest.

©KevinKlimaPhoto/iStock via Getty Images

The cost of living is about 11.9 percent lower than the national average. Housing costs are about 34 percent lower than the national average. However, there is a shortage of affordable housing in Appleton. But, the city has assembled a task force to survey the city and develop creative solutions to this shortage.

The crime rate is 1.6 times lower than the national average. In categories such as violent crime, thefts, burglaries, and robberies, Appleton is below the state’s average in all four categories.

Activities in Appleton include an environmental center, trampoline park, science centers, apple orchards, and more. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions to keep your family busy all year round.

#1 Wausau

Wausau, Wisconsin seen during the sunset across the river.

Wausau is known as “Arts Town, USA.” It has an art museum, a visual arts center, and a large theater. 

©Henryk Sadura/

A study by Rocket Homes found that Wausau is the most affordable place to buy a home in the U.S., with a household income of $65,000. The cost of living, in general, is about 15 percent lower than the national average.

According to, the crime rate in Wausau is nearly 1.2 times lower than the national average. Both property crime and violent crime rates in Wausau are lower than the national average from 2010 to 2018.

The city has over 60 parks and forest areas to explore. There are also many venues like the Greater Wausau Children’s Museum, outdoor pools, art museums, and the Marathon County Public Library, which host activities for kids and families. Wausau is one of the best places in Wisconsin to raise a family.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Claire Wilson is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, travel, and historic places and landmarks. Claire holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Wisconsin, Claire enjoys hiking, visiting parks, and biking nature trails.

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