What makes Milwaukee such a great place to live? The communities of the metropolitan area, each of which offers a quality of life that can't be beat. Looking for an urban setting that's close to downtown or a rural outpost where you can enjoy nature? There is something here for everyone. Each of the five counties in the metropolitan area has its own distinct character. Milwaukee County seethes with energy. Waukesha is one of the fasted-growing counties in the state, yet it still boasts thousands of acres of natural habitat. The rolling hills of Washington County offer beautiful scenery, while historic Ozaukee County recalls life in the 19th Century with its miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan beachfront. Racine County has a thriving, modern marina and is an urban center of its own.

Choosing where to live may be one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make. One of your primary considerations will likely be finding a home near where you or your partner will work. Fortunately, Milwaukee’s average commute time is among the lowest in the country, which means it’s possible to live anywhere in the metropolitan area and still be close to the urban amenities of downtown Milwaukee.

Included on our website are descriptions of the five diverse counties in metropolitan Milwaukee: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Ozaukee and Washington. Communities in Wisconsin are either cities, villages or towns, designations that are based on the municipality’s legal and political structure and is not related to the community’s population. Beginning on page 68 of the current edition of Discover Milwaukee, you will find a detailed narrative about life in each county is followed by brief descriptions and statistical data on every municipality. Click on the "Order Copy Now" button to receive your free copy.

Upscale Communities

We have selected two ways to identify upscale communities – communities with the highest median incomes and communities with highest median home sales prices. 

Communities with the Highest Median Incomes

The five communities with the highest median incomes in 2017 were: River Hills ($156,250) and Fox Point ($115,523) in Milwaukee County; and Lac La Belle ($154,375), Chenequa ($144,500) and Merton ($133,315) in Waukesha County.  

Communities with the Highest Home Sales Prices

Home sale prices vary significantly within the five counties. The five communities with the highest median home sales prices in 2017 were: Chenequa ($1.2 million), Oconomowoc Lake ($1.2 million), Lac La Belle ($725,000) and Nashotah ($469,000) in Waukesha County; and Thiensville ($467,000) in Ozaukee County. 

Property Taxes

Not surprisingly, property taxes vary considerably in the five-county region, with higher taxes in more urban communities and lower taxes in rural areas. The average (median) 2016 property tax rate for the metropolitan area was $18.04 per $1,000 assessed valuation. In most communities, assessed valuation is typically 90 percent to 95 percent of market value.

Communities with the Highest Property Taxes

The communities with the highest property taxes in 2016: West Milwaukee ($30.65 per $1,000 assessed valuation), St. Francis ($30.10), Racine ($30.03), Brown Deer ($29.81) and Cudahy ($28.21).

Communities with the Lowest Property Taxes

The communities with the lowest property taxes in 2016 were located in rural communities: Vernon ($12.10), Eagle ($12.44), Genesee ($12.50), and Summit ($13.12) in Waukesha County, and Richfield ($12.95) in Washington County.

Terms & Sources

Following is a description of the community information used:

  • Median Income: Based on the 2010 Census and adjusted to account for wage inflation between 2010 and 2017
  • Median Home Sales Price: Based on January-September 2017 sales prices from the Multiple Listing Service and the Trulio home sale website
  • Tax Rate: The net tax rate levied in 2016 and paid in 2017 by property owners per $1,000 of assessed valuation. It equals the published tax rate less state tax credits, as reported by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. 
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