Where Everybody in Madison, WI is Moving From

In some places, having an advanced degree makes you stand out. In Madison, it helps you fit in. More than one out of every six adults in the Wisconsin city has a master’s, professional or doctorate degree. For the country as a whole, about one of every nine adults has that level of education.

Of course, it helps that Madison is home to a large research university, but the city also hosts biotechnology and tech companies, which often employ lots of highly educated people.

Madison isn’t just smart—it’s also growing. The metro-area population went from 647,432 to 654,230, a 1.0 percent increase, between July 2016 and July 2017, according to the latest census data. During that time, the population of Dane County, where Madison is located, went from 530,257 to 536,416, a 1.2 percent increase. (The metro area includes five total counties, so it has a larger population than Dane County does.)

Some of that growth is due to local births, of course, but Madison is also attracting new residents from other places. In fact, a total of 33,664 people moved to Dane County between 2011 and 2015, according to another census study.

So where are all those people coming from? That same study gives us a pretty good idea.

It’s almost evenly split between people coming from elsewhere in Wisconsin and people coming from other states. The biggest chunk of out-of-state movers are relocating from Chicago, about 12 percent of the total. But out-of-staters have a slight edge: they made up 50.5 percent (16,993 people) of total domestic movers to Dane County. The rest, 49.5 percent (16,671 people), were Wisconsinites before they became Madisonians.

Below are rankings for the top five counties of origin for movers to Dane County:

Movers outside of Wisconsin:

  1. Cook County, IL (Chicago): 2,037 movers
  2. Hennepin County, MN (Minneapolis): 867 movers
  3. Winnebago County, IL (Rockford): 434 movers
  4. Linn County, IA (Cedar Rapids): 408 movers
  5. Kings County, NY (Brooklyn): 327 movers

Movers from Wisconsin:

  1. Milwaukee County: 2,331 movers
  2. Columbia County: 1,279 movers
  3. Waukesha County: 1,188 movers
  4. Rock County: 870 movers
  5. Brown County: 706 movers


U.S. Census Bureau

Educational attainment data is for adults 25 and over.

Elizabeth Whalen