Waunakee was named the best suburb of Madison in a comprehensive study released last month. Researchers found that the village’s school system makes up for its expensive cost of housing.
The study was conducted by GoBankingRates, an online publication about personal finance.
In an effort to determine the best suburb of every major metropolitan area in the United States, GoBankingRates’ research team analyzed statistics on communities within 45 miles of each.
“To find the best suburbs in every state,” the publication stated, “GoBankingRates conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the cost of living, quality of schools and safety in suburban areas surrounding the biggest cities across the country.”
Metrics used to compare the outlying districts included violent crime rate, property crime rate, median home listing price, median monthly rent, annual cost of living and school-district score.
Crime rates came from NeighborhoodScout, a nationally-recognized source for crime data.
According to its website, Waunakee crime rates were far below the national average in 2017. The village saw just 6.76 crimes per 1,000 residents – compared to the 27.55 seen nationwide.
“NeighborhoodScout analyzed all cities and towns in America with a similar population size,” the website stated. “We found that the crime rate in Waunakee is one of the lowest in the nation. This means Waunakee is one of the safest places in America in which to live for its size.”
The site has classified its data into two categories: violent crimes, and property crimes.
Fourteen violent crimes were reported in 2017 for an average of 1.02 per 1,000 residents. Meanwhile, the United States saw an average of 3.94 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.
In other words, Waunakee residents were far less likely to be a victim of violence.
“For Waunakee,” it stated, “NeighborhoodScout found that the violent crime rate is well below the average for all communities of all population sizes. Violent crimes such as assault, rape, murder and armed robbery happen less often in Waunakee than in most of America.”
Property crimes were more prevalent, but still came in under the national average.
Waunakee reported 79 property crimes in 2017 which resulted in an average of 5.74 per 1,000 residents. The nation as a whole saw approximately 23.61 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
“The property crime rate in Waunakee is below average to all cities and towns in the nation,” NeighborhoodScout found. “This means that you are less likely to become a victim of arson, motor vehicle theft, larceny, or burglary in Waunakee than in most communities in America.”
Housing data was sourced from Zillow, an online real-estate database of property listings.
Zillow found that the average home value in Waunakee has increased more than one percent over the past 12 months, and forecasts that the number will continue to rise over the next year.
“Waunakee home values have gone up 1.1% over the past year,” concluded Zillow’s home-value index at the end of August. “Zillow predicts they will rise 0.4% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Waunakee is $165.”
The average cost of rent came in at more than $1,700 – greater than that found in most cities, according to Zillow.
School-district data came from Niche, a company that compiles information on K-12 education and then ranks school districts against others in their metropolitan area and the state as a whole.
Niche has ranked Waunakee Community School District among the top seven in Wisconsin.
“Waunakee Community School District is a top rated, public school district,” Niche reported. “It has 4,181 students in grades PK, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1. According to state test scores, 72% of students are at least proficient in math and 69% in reading.”
The company created a report card for the school district with grades for academics, teachers, administration, college prep, sports, clubs and activities, resources and facilities, and diversity.
Waunakee received a C-minus for diversity, but an A or A-plus in every other category.
It was one of two schools in the Madison area to receive an overall Niche grade of A-plus. The other was Waunakee’s academic rival, the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District.
The publication determined that, although Waunakee is a very expensive community to live in, the village has compensated for it with a school system that ranks among the top in Wisconsin.
“In Madison’s top suburb,” the GoBankingRates report stated, “the average home costs $449,950 and residents typically pay $1,786 per month in rent. However, with its stellar A-plus grade for overall quality, the Waunakee Community School District is superior.”
For some, the study confirmed what they already knew: there’s only one Waunakee in the world.
A full list of suburbs determined to be the best in the area has been uploaded to the publication’s website, at www.gobankingrates.com/investing/real-estate/best-suburb-in-every-state.