U.S. Growth City No. 4: The Buzz over Madison Continues to Build

Feb 2, 2016

From Retirees to College Students, Wisconsin Capital Draws New Residents

Yes, it gets chilly during Wisconsin’s white winter months. But if you think a little weather is going to slow the arrival of do-it-yourself movers in Madison, think again.

Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin, secures the No. 4 ranking on the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Growth Cities for 2015. Growth rankings are determined by the net gain of incoming one-way U-Haul truck rentals versus outgoing rentals for the past calendar year.

3 Reasons people are moving to Madison

Moving in Madison? Get winning tips from the moving experts

What is $100 worth in Madison

$100 goes further in Madison than it does for the national average. (source: taxfoundation.org)

U-Haul locations in Madison saw 52.2 percent of truck rental customers coming into the city as opposed leaving. Madison welcomed 2 percent more U-Haul arrivals year-over-year, while its departures were down fractionally over the same span.

Mayor Paul Soglin said that while the university and government remain major employers in the state capital, the tech and food industries have seen significant job growth. Soglin added that zoning code changes a few years ago led to an explosion in new housing construction, making Madison’s home-buying options more appealing to professionals, families and retirees alike.

“There was all this pent-up demand (for housing),” Soglin said. “People are finding this to be an exciting place. We were just rated one of the top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs. With the University of Wisconsin, they come here for school. And if they decide to stay … it’s the young professionals that I think are ringing up your U-Haul sales.”

The University of Wisconsin is not only a prestigious academic institution, but its athletic teams are consistently among the best in the Big Ten, giving Madison residents a reason to don red and cheer for the Badgers. Then there is famed State Street, a downtown pedestrian zone packed with shopping and eateries that is a favorite among locals and tourists.

“We’ve got enough special events year-round to exhaust anyone,” Soglin said. “We have the largest and most successful farmers’ market in the country during growing season. We have more bicycle races than you can shake a handlebar at. We have the largest fireworks show in the Midwest, and the most exciting minor-league baseball team east of the Mississippi. And we have the lakes. If you do it, we got it.”


While U-Haul migration trends don’t correlate directly to population or economic growth, the growth cities data is a strong gauge of how well cities are attracting and keeping residents. Continue following the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Growth Cities countdown at myuhaulstory.com and via Twitter @uhaul.

More on Madison

  1. Livability.com ranked Madison No. 3 among its best places to live in 2016 and No. 1 in 2015 (population 20,000-350,000).Things to do in Madison
    A good healthcare setup and the perks from a great university help, but don’t forget about the active lifestyle Madison promotes with 247 parks and all the winter sports to make use of the snow.
  2. There is no shortage of events in the state capital. From the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival featuring more than 150 craft breweries, to the annual summerWhere to go in Madison Art Fair on the Square, there is always something fun to do.
  3. U-Haul owns and operates four stores in Madison, including U-Haul Moving & Storage at Downtown Campus for “textbook” student convenience. There also are seven U-Haul neighborhood dealers with Madison addresses ready to meet the needs of our customers.


  • “The unemployment rate for this area is very low, and housing is going up everywhere downtown. It’s a very green city; a very organized town. The university is a big thing here. All the stadiums are right downtown. One of our stores is pretty much neighbors with the Kohl Center and we help them with event parking. U-Haul traffic seems to be everywhere and the number of college moves is quite ridiculous. Every house has a U-Haul truck at it.” — Adam Sonnleitner, president of U-Haul Company of Southwestern Wisconsin and Rockford
  • “It’s no secret that Madison is a great place to live and work, and we are proud of our contribution to the dynamism of this region. For more than two decades, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has ranked in the top five annually in total research dollars among all academic institutions in the country, helping our research enterprise to drive innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the state of Wisconsin. In addition, we are among the top-ranked public institutions in terms of academics in the U.S., drawing instructors and students from around the world to Madison.” — Charles Hoslet, University of Wisconsin Interim Vice Chancellor for University Relations

Tips for moving to Madison

View the full infographic here!

Do you have any tips on moving to or living in here? Share with us in the comments below.

Photo courtesy of Joey Reuteman.

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