City of Madison

One of the Best Metro Areas for Millennial is Madison, Wisconsin

Millennials are quickly taking over the world of homebuying as they become older and start families. This has driven many to relocate due to jobs, affordability and the livability of a certain city. Madison may just be high on the millennial list, too.

Recently, released a list of the top 75 metro areas for millennials in the United States. They looked specifically at jobs, affordability and livability. This including looking at both the sales price for homes and the average rent price for the areas.

Madison came in at #3 behind Pittsburgh and Provo, Utah. It was one of only three metro areas considered to have a perfect A+ score for a mixture of job market strength, housing affordability and livability of the city.

At the Top for Job Market

Madison ranked very high for the job market and even Nerd Wallet thought so when they ranked the city at the top of the "Best Cities for Recent College Grads" list.

The Apartment List article shows strong scores for Madison when it comes to the millennial unemployment rate, median wages and wage growth.

A Very Livable City

The highest score for livability in the entire country from Apartment List was given to Madison, Wisconsin. They surveyed renters to come up with this score and asked about:

  • Nightlife
  • Community Activities
  • Access to Parks
  • Weather
  • How Safe They Feel
  • ...

How You can Give Back During the Holidays in Madison

The holiday season is the time to start thinking about shopping for gifts, decorating and preparing for time with family. It's also a great time to consider giving back to those in need throughout the Madison area.

There are several ways you can give back during the holidays all throughout Madison. This year, maybe it's time to trim the budget for presents a bit and help someone in need enjoy a hot meal, help a child actually receive a present on Christmas day or help in another way. Here are some of the best ways you can help others during the holidays in Madison.

The Road Home Dane County

An organization helping the homeless throughout Dane County, The Road Home Dane County helps families with children find a place to live. However, when these families find a place to live, as much as 90% of their income will be spent on rent. This doesn't leave much for those other things we all need to survive.

You can help out The Road Home Dane County by donating the following:

  • Diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Razors
  • Soap
  • Gas and Grocery Gift Cards
  • Dish Soap
  • Bleach
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Toilet Paper
  • And More!

Get a full list of the items they need, along with the donation location and the hours here:

Neighborhood House Community Center

Many families throughout Madison don't have a winter coat, glove, hats or other things they need to stay warm. The Neighborhood House Community Center has a number of programs to help those in need this holiday season. You can participate in the Winter Wear Drive, the Holiday Gift Drive or even sponsor a family for a thanksgiving meal. Find out more by contacting them directly... Names Madison to 'Super Cool' List

Recently, releases a list of 21 cities they consider to be "Super Cool." This list featured two cities tied at #1 and one of those cities was Madison, Wisconsin!

How This List Was Compiled

The list created by Expedia used a point system with the maximum number of points possible 28. The points were based on the following factors:

  • Lyft available
  • Farmers markets
  • All-service restaurants
  • Zagat’s Best Food Cities List from 2016
  • Arts districts or bar/restaurant districts
  • Large amount of population between ages 20-34
  • Less than 2 hours from a big city
  • Score on Sperling's Best Places
  • More than 5 museums/major art galleries
  • Annual festivals
  • AreaVibes livability score

Overall, Madison, WI scored 26 out of 28 points. The city made the second spot, but the score was the same as Austin, TX, which was in the first spot.

What Expedia Had To Say About Madison

Some of the reasons Madison scored so well and was named to the top of the list included the incredible festival season and large number of restaurants. The city has more than eight restaurants per 10,000 capita and offers many fine dining options. With a number of great festivals, such as the Revelry Music and Arts Festival, Madison scored very high in this category, as well.

Expedia also ranked Madison high due to other attractions, such as:

Madison Area Lakes

One of the coolest things about the Madison area is that it's built around the Yahara chain of lakes. This really makes the Madison area unique and beautiful compared to many other cities. The three most prominent lakes are Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, and Lake Waubesa. Lake Kegonsa is connected and further south in Dane county but is not accessible via a powerboat to the other three lakes.

Lake Monona (ma-know-na) is shown here with the skyline of downtown Madison.

Below is a picture of me riding my bike around Lake Monona, which is a classic 12 mile ride for just about anyone. Along the shores of Lake Monona is surrounded by mostly Madison with the city of Monona on the East and South end of the lake.

Probably the most prominent landmark on the lake is the Monona Terrace Convention Center. This Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure features numerous local events, including the Iron Man, weddings, graduation ceremonies, government functions, and more.

Lake Mendota (men-doe-dah) is the largest lake in the Madison area and has a little more diversity of communities that includes Madison, Maple Bluff, Shorewood Hills, Middleton, and Westport. One of the best places to hang out during warm weather is certainly at the UW Memorial Union. On a beautiful sunny day, it's a great place to relax and watch the sunset, or listen to some music.

Lake Waubesa (wah-bee-sah) only has part of Madison along the shores....

Want to see Madison Wisconsin at a glance?

Here's a cool time lapse video you!
Thinking of moving to Madison? This video is a cool time lapse of various sites around Madison Wisconsin and the UW campus. Enjoy!

Source: Hixee

Okay, after viewing that, are you more serious about moving to Madison? If so, we can help! We are a local real estate team of committed agents. Contact us when you're ready.


Top 10 Cities for Biking - Madison Makes the Cut

Some of you may have heard of Walk Score, which gives a numerical value to a property and certain amenities within walking distance. The same people who brought you Walk Score have recently introduced a new Bike Score. And it's with great news that Madison Wisconsin is among the top 10 most bikeable of larger U.S. cities.

As an avid biker, I certainly appreciate a bike friendly community. I also can attest to the bikeability of Madison, as I frequently bike to my office on the "bike boulevard" along E Mifflin st and take classic rides around Lake Monona.

Looking for a new home along the bike path? Find yours by searching homes in Madison here

Josh Lavik - Keller Williams Realty - 608-234-1523 - joshlavik (at) kw (dot) com.


Isthmus Living - Its good

Here's a short video showing the benefit of living on or near the Isthmus in Madison Wisconsin. This house is located in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood on the near east side of Madison. Contact Josh Lavik for more information about homes for sale in the area.


Downtown Madison Condos via Bicycle

Yesterday I had some showings via bicycle!  That's right, I went with a client to look at downtown condos for sale via bike.  That was a first for me.  I have had many clients that enjoy biking, but this is the first time that I've actually shown property for sale by pedaling from place to place.  It was fun!  We looked at Das Kronenberg, the Blair House, Doty School, the Baskerville, and Wilson St condos.  Maybe in the future I can work with more clients that like to bike.  That would be fun!


Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Programs for Madison

My office recently had Linette Rhodes come visit from the Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development. She works as the grants administrator for the city of Madison and was able to share some information about the funds available for down payment assistance and closing costs.

Dane County Housing Authority

Designed to assist first time homebuyers at or below 80% Dane County Median Income who wish to purchase a home in Dane County outside the City of Madison.

City of Madison- American Dream Downpayment Initiative

Down Payment program available in the City of Madison to households at or below 80% Dane County Median Income. Property to be purchased must be located within the City of Madison.

City of Madison- Home Buy and Homebuyer Rehabilitation Assistance

The Home Buy loan is available for downpayment and closing cost assistance to first time home buyers purchasing in Dane County. Households must be at or below 80% County Median Income. The Homebuyer Rehabilitation Assistance loan is for downpayment assistance and rehabilitation for a home purchase within the City of Madison.

Movin Out

A non-profit organization designed to help households at 80% County Median Income and with a family member with a permanent disability.

Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development

The Partnership is a private nonprofit corporation working to expand affordable housing opportunity through innovation in housing development, consulting, finance and advocacy.


LOVE Madison - Serving

Last week our church decided to not have any services.  Instead, we went out to the community and helped out in various ways.  My wife and I had an opportunity to volunteer at Oakwood Village retirement community on the east side of Madison.  We met some great people in the process of doing some landscape work.


Green Madison - Save money and energy

If you've been considering ways to save money and energy, then check out some of the programs offered by the city of Madison.

"Now more than ever, Madison residents and businesses are looking for ways to save energy and money. Green Madison is a federally funded program to help you do just that. Green Madison works with City of Madison residents and businesses to lower energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy.

The City of Madison has teamed up with Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, to help you make smart energy choices at home or work - all while keeping the costs of efficient improvements affordable." -

Or if you're thinking of building a new home, there are number of builders in the Madison area that can do a "green built home". Both of these programs are sponsored by Focus on Energy.


Will high speed rail come to Wisconsin?

Scott Walker is the new governor in Wisconsin and has pledged to kill the funding for a high speed rail project from Milwaukee to Madison. I recently took a trip to Southern California and was blown away at the major traffic congestion on a 12 lane superhighway. During rush hour it can take an hour to go 10 miles. That tells me one thing, roads and more roads is not necessarily the solution. I love the freedom my car gives me, but can't we have a better alternative for travel within our urban environments?

I recognize that rail travel is not for everyone. Just like an old farm pickup truck is not for everyone. Although, rail can be a great alternative. I know of a friend in the Chicago area that intentionally bought a new condo right near the rail line. He owns and drives a car, but he wanted to live close to the rail line for an easier commute to work and/or downtown. I can think of numerous other friends that love traveling on trains. Why? Because it's a more relaxing way to travel. There's no road rage to worry about and you can actually read, work, or take a nap while traveling. Brilliant!

In the Madison area, Amtrack goes to Columbus, not Madison. What's with that? Really? I fully recognize that there's a big recession going on and people are struggling, but having a high speed rail line from Milwaukee to Madison can create more opportunities, which equals jobs. Let's look for alternative ways to grow our economy rather than, "wait for it to recover."

Here's a recent article in the local paper - Train supporters respond to Walker's moves to kill the project

grab this widget | start a petition | by Care2

If this actually does happen and you want live close to the train station, then click here to search real estate in downtown Madison by the train station.


Moving Day for UW Students

For those not familiar with Madison, you may or may not know about "moving day". This famous day falls on August 14th and 15 of every year. And if you can imagine, most of the downtown and campus area is a complete mess for a few days. For anyone who lives in downtown Madison or close to downtown, you'll easily recognize the madness with moving trucks everywhere, junk on the curbs, and lot's of busy people hauling boxes. For whatever reason, the rental community has chosen for most of the leases around campus to end on August 14th and the new ones to begin on August 15th. If any improvements or cleaning needs to be done by the landlords, there is often little time to do so during this transition. A few years ago, I even helped a friend do some work at his income property on Johnson Street.

Have you ever lived in a large apartment building? Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in the building moved in and out on the same day of the year? Yep, probably a lot of stuff on the curb, like the one in this photo. I know change is hard, but maybe the landlords would benefit by spreading this mess out a little more. Besides, school doesn't start until August 23rd.


Ownership improves our community - regardless of age

This blog article is a response to Rebecca Thorman's recent write-up on

Thorman recently wrote that, "Life and community, my friends, just isn’t the same. And nowhere is this so obvious, in-your-face and damning than the current alarm of the real estate market."

Not the same? I would have to agree. It's not the same, but would argue that it's not due to the real estate market decline. Life and community has changed dramatically with the increase in flow of information (email, cell phone, text, facebook, twitter, etc.) Community is all about how we interact in this crazy world. If anything our interactions have been increased by this heightened level of communication in the information age of the past 10-20 years.

She goes on, "Before the economy collapsed, young people were being locked out of the housing market by astronomical housing prices and by our predecessors, Generation X and the Baby Boomers, who grew even richer."

I don't believe that's entirely true. Many people (young, old, and in between) flooded the real estate market more than ever between 2000 and 2006 because a lot more people could finally qualify for a loan without much of anything. During that time there were loan programs that would lend money for a mortgage to someone with no income, no job, and no assets. Aha...young (or old) person with not much money says, "sweet, I can buy a house." Then all of a sudden they lost their job at XYZ company and had a difficult time paying their mortgage. But it's all good because they didn't really have any money (aka down payment) in the game anyway, so they just walked away. And foreclosure rates are higher now than a year ago. Big surprise.

Thorman goes on, "Now that the housing market has collapsed, it means more young people are content with not owning a home. But as the prevailing American sentiment goes, if you don’t own something, you don’t have a stake in the future of our country. Young people don’t...

Awesome places to live in Madison

This past week I've been pretty busy with buyer clients. I worked with three fairly different types of people: lakefront buyers, a downtown condo buyer, and a guy looking in Oregon (just south of Madison).

For the couple looking on the lake, they really would like to buy a house but not have to spend a million dollars. In my experience, most lakefront homes in the Madison area start around $350,000 to $450,000. In fact, last year (April 13, 2008 to April 13, 2009 according to the south central Wisconsin multiple listing service) homes on Lake Kegonsa ranged from $415,000 to $665,000, Lake Waubesa ranged from $349,000 to $660,000, Lake Monona ranged from $417,000 to $1,300,000, and the highest range of lake front property went to Lake Mendota, ranging from $559,000 to $2,700,000.

I've always grown up near water and been impressed with the ability of lakefront property to give a tremendous sense of calm. As one agent in my office says, "You can just tell if they are 'lake people' when they walk into the house because they walk right up to the window facing the lake." I think I must be one of those types of people because I have a tendency to do just that when viewing lake property.

Another one of my favorite areas of Madison is downtown. Downtown Madison has an incredible vibrancy to it. Living downtown means that you can walk to the farmer's market, state street, Badger games, and more. If you like cities and the urban culture that it offers, then downtown Madison is the place to be (one of my favorites). You can catch a show at the Overture center, a parade around the capitol, or just browse the unique shops on State Street. This past winter I even did a snowshoe race with some friends by the capitol. It was quite an experience with my Alaskan style snowshoes. Although living downtown is not for everyone. If you like a little quieter community, then consider just outside of Madison.

My other friend was looking south of Madison in the Oregon area. This is an area...

Building Madison into a World Class Region

Tom Murphy of the Urban Land Institute spoke at this year’s annual Downtown Madison Inc (DMI) dinner. Murphy is the former mayor of Pittsburgh and had some suggestions for Madison's future. He showed passion as he communicated four ingredients to build a world class region. Investment in infrastructure, regional cooperation, improvement of quality of life, and leadership are some of the key issues facing the future of Madison.

"The US Highway Interstate system was the last major investment in America's infrastructure. China is investing over $160 Billion into new projects this year," exclaimed Murphy. Madison has certainly invested a lot of money in an assortment of public infrastructure projects. Such notable projects include the Monona Terrace, Overture Center, and Dane County airport. Murphy is a self-proclaimed zealot for landscape architecture and gives props to Madison for the architectural excellence in its public buildings. “Too many cities have just settled for an infrastructure that says ‘it’ll do’. Madison doesn’t have that problem yet.” However, Murphy argued that there’s still much to do in terms of regional transportation.

Transportation can be a hotly contested issue and is of critical importance to the mission of DMI. John Robison, Chair of the DMI Transportation & Parking Committee, says, “With our university and our progressive tradition, Dane County has always looked to the future. We need a progressive regional transportation system to help ensure a vibrant future for our county.”

Of course regional transportation is important because Madison is not an island unto itself. Many people live in some the surrounding communities of Fitchburg, Middleton, or Stoughton and yet work in Madison. As our community continues to grow, Murphy argues that we need to start thinking with more regional cooperation. He cited examples from Denver as 32 municipalities came together recently to come up with their...

Tis the season for giving back

One of my goals for this blog is to further engage with my community. For me this means finding different ways to get involved and not remain a passive observer. I find that many times it's too easy to come home after a hard days work and just lounge on the couch. Not anymore. I've made a commitment to myself to get out more and get involved. This time of year can be a great way to get involved with others.

There are many reasons to get involved in your community. Some people want to meet new people. Some want to make a difference in the world. Some want to feel better about themselves. Some do it because it's cool. Some just do it because they care. I am constantly amazed at how much there is to see and do in the world.

Every time I travel my world view grows to see a perspective that I didn't know about before. I didn't fully understand the differences and similarities among other cultures until I traveled to Europe. Practicing Spanish came to a whole new level when studying abroad in Central America. These events in my life were life changing because I felt like a new age explorer of the world. My thirst for culture and life experiences grew with every new trip.

In Madison, I find a similar phenomenon. The more I get involved and talk to people in the community, the more I find out about interesting things that I can do. Last month I went to a government 101 lecture series with Madison Magnet and learned how EASY it is to make a difference in local politics. I love learning about new businesses and local issues through Downtown Madison, Inc. A few days ago I signed up to ring bells for the Salvation Army (it's my first time ringing bells). I also signed up to voluntarily jump into Lake Monona in February to raise money for the Special Olympics (crazy, I know).

There really is a ton of opportunities to get involved in activities that make a difference. This time of year many people focus on family, gifts, and friendship. I encourage you to find a way to get yourself...