Cost of Living Forum

BaratownLocal @baratownlocal
Joined: 2 years ago

Cost of Living in Baraboo for a Long-Time Resident

Hi everyone, I’m a long-time resident of Baraboo and I’m curious to hear from others about what they’re paying for different expenses in town these days. As someone who has lived here for over 20 years, my monthly costs have slowly crept up over time but it’s hard for me to compare to what newcomers are experiencing. I’d love to get a realistic picture of typical living costs in Baraboo across different expense categories – housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, etc. It would also be great to hear both positive and negative perspectives on the overall affordability. My situation is that I’m a single homeowner with a moderate income, no kids, and a pretty low-key lifestyle. But I’m interested in hearing from people in different situations too. Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences and insights!

Posts: 25

10 Replies

FamilyOf4WI @familyof4wi
Joined: 2 years ago

As a family of four with two school-age kids, our expenses in Baraboo are definitely on the higher side. Housing is one of our biggest costs – we’re renting a decent 3-bedroom apartment outside the city center for around $1,200 per month, which feels a bit pricey but the units in our complex are newer and well-maintained. Groceries for our family of four run us $800-$1000 per month if we shop frugally. Utilities like electric/gas, water, internet tend to be around $300 total. We have two cars so gas, insurance, and maintenance make transportation another $500 or so. Health insurance through my employer is over $600 per month for family coverage. Entertainment and kids’ activities add a few hundred more. Overall it’s not cheap, but the neighborhoods are quiet and feel safe, which is important to us. We make it work on a combined income of around $90K.
Posts: 3
BooFoodTruck @boofoodtruck
Joined: 2 years ago

From my perspective running a small food truck business in Baraboo, the costs for operating seem relatively affordable compared to nearby bigger cities. Rent for my commercial kitchen space is only $800 per month. Food costs for ingredients are pretty average – meats and produce are decently priced. Utilities for the kitchen are high though, probably $500-600 per month. My biggest expenses are actually van fuel and maintenance for doing events, plus labor costs.

As for personal living expenses, I rent a modest 1-bed apartment downtown for $750 including most utilities. Groceries maybe $300 per month shopping deals. Cell phone $50. That’s about it for a single guy! I’m able to save a decent amount on my current income. Baraboo has an active local food scene and pretty good nightlife for its size, so entertainment is affordable. I really enjoy the laid-back vibe here.

Posts: 12
MadisonCommuter82 @madisoncommuter82
Joined: 2 years ago

I’ve been commuting from Baraboo to Madison for work for the past few years. Living costs in Baraboo are significantly cheaper than in Madison, which is why we decided to buy a house here. We were able to get a nice 4-bed, 2-bath house just outside downtown for $275K. Similar homes would easily be $400K+ in Madison.

Property taxes are quite high though – we pay around $6000 per year. Groceries are cheaper than Madison. Gas isn’t too bad with my 25 mile commute each way. Entertainment is very affordable – $8 movies, reasonably priced restaurants. Downside is lack of diverse shopping and culture compared to a bigger city.

Overall, the housing savings make the commute worth it for us. We’re a multi-income household making around $130K combined, so the Baraboo home costs are very manageable. Could be tougher on a single income though.

Posts: 10
Boogirl22 @boogirl22
Joined: 8 months ago

As a young person renting my first apartment in Baraboo, I’ve found the living costs to be pretty decent. I’m paying $625 for a nice modern 1-bed downtown, which is less than I was paying for a room in a shared house back in college. Groceries and eating out are affordable. I spend maybe $300 per month on food, cooking at home a lot.

The biggest shock for me was how cheap downtown parking is – I pay $30 for a monthly ramp pass! That was like $150+ back in Madison. Utilities are very reasonable too, around $100 per month all included with my rental. I just don’t make enough money yet for extra expenses – a doctor’s visit can put a dent in my budget. But overall Baraboo lets me live comfortably on an entry-level salary in the $40Ks. Definitely more affordable than bigger cities for starting out.

Posts: 24
RetireeInTown @retireeintown
Joined: 14 days ago

My wife and I retired to Baraboo about 5 years ago after selling our family home in the Milwaukee suburbs. Even though we had a paid-off mortgage there, the overall costs of living were just too high on our fixed retirement income. Moving to Baraboo has let our money go much further.

We bought a lovely 2-bed condo downtown for just $150K. Our monthly housing costs including HOA fees, taxes, utilities are under $1000 now. That’s a huge savings from Milwaukee. Grocery and health care costs seem average. We don’t drive much anymore so transportation is very low, just periodic car maintenance. Entertainment is cheap – movies, restaurants, golf etc.

The only downside is limited quality healthcare compared to bigger cities. But a few trips per year to Madison hospitals aren’t too inconvenient. Overall we’ve found Baraboo to be an affordable, comfortable place for our retirement living on around $60K per year from my pension and Social Security.

Posts: 21
BaraBuilder @barabuilder
Joined: 2 months ago

As a self-employed contractor doing renovation and remodeling work, I have a bit of a unique perspective on living costs in Baraboo. Housing prices for older homes can be a great deal if you’re handy and willing to put in some sweat equity. I was able to pick up a decent 3-bed, 2-bath fixer-upper for $120K a few years back. Put around $50K into renovations doing a lot of the labor myself. Now it’s a really nice place I could probably sell for $250K.

Material costs are pretty typical – maybe 10% cheaper than bigger cities. Subcontractor labor is very affordable here though. Utility costs for my home are low thanks to energy upgrades. Biggest struggles are the unpredictable income and high health insurance costs as a solo company. But overall, Baraboo offers an affordable lifestyle if you’re smart with your money and DIY skills.

Posts: 4
BabyStepsWI @babystepswi
Joined: 2 years ago

My husband and I just had our first child, so we’re really focused on keeping living costs as low as possible right now with me being a stay-at-home mom. Luckily, we opted for a starter home and locked in an affordable mortgage before the latest price increases. We pay $950 for a cute little 2-bed ranch outside downtown.

Childcare is our biggest expense – we pay $800 per month for a daycare facility downtown which seems to be on the lower end of rates here. Groceries have definitely gone up since I had to start buying all those baby items! We’re probably spending at least $600 per month on food now.

Other than that, costs seem pretty average from what I’ve seen here. Utilities $200, basic cable/internet $100, gas for one car maybe $150 per month. We’re on a tight budget but we make it work with my husband’s $65K salary. No complaints about affordability in Baraboo for starting our little family!

Posts: 11
BaraRenterLyfe @bararenterlyfe
Joined: 2 years ago

As someone who has only ever rented apartments in Baraboo, I’ve generally found living costs here to be quite reasonable, especially compared to some bigger surrounding cities. Right now I’m paying $850 for a nice updated 2-bedroom, which isn’t too bad. Even lower rates can be found if you look hard enough.

In terms of other expenses, groceries can get pricey if you shop at the ritzy supermarkets, but you can definitely stick to a tighter budget by hitting up the local discount stores like Aldi and Woodman’s. Restaurants are affordable with plenty of budget-friendly options.

My only major gripe is the cost of utilities – seems like my electric/gas bills each month are always shockingly high, sometimes over $200 even for a small apartment. Internet and other services are decently priced though. All in all, you can live relatively frugally in Baraboo if you put some effort into it, compared to other places in the region.

Posts: 10
LuxeLivingWI @luxelivingwi
Joined: 2 years ago

I’ll be the one to represent the higher-end living costs in Baraboo! My spouse and I are both well-established professionals, and we made the choice to build our dream home in one of the upscale neighborhoods on the outskirts of town a few years ago. For a brand new 4,000 sq ft custom build on 2 acres, we paid around $850,000 all-in.

Combine that with high property taxes, premium insurance rates, landscaping costs, etc. and our housing expenses are easily $5,000+ per month. We also drive higher-end luxury vehicles which adds to transportation expenses. Utilities run $500+ for the large home.

That said, we still save a ton compared to living in Chicago, where we transferred from for work. Our household income is in the $350K range, so the housing costs are very manageable for us. Baraboo provides a great upper-middle class lifestyle at an affordable price compared to big cities. We get great value here.

Posts: 12
AuNaturaleWI @aunaturalewi
Joined: 12 days ago

Chiming in from the perspective of someone trying to live a more sustainable, natural lifestyle – in many ways the low-cost living in Baraboo is great for that! Being able to afford a modest home with some land on the outskirts of town has allowed me to grow my own fruits and veggies, raise some chickens, minimize household waste and live more off-grid.

My housing costs are very low at $700 per month for a 2-bed house and 1-acre lot I bought several years ago. Minimal utility costs by being conscious of consumption. Grocery spending is next to nothing with my home-grown produce. No car payment. Lots of free/low-cost outdoor activities.

The downside is limited options for alternative healthcare, certain specialty organic/natural products, vegan restaurants, etc. Small town life! But overall I’m able to live an eco-friendly lifestyle very affordably in Baraboo compared to bigger cities. Helps make up for the lower income in this area.

Posts: 12

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 15.00 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 40.00 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 10.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 5.00 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 3.50 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 4.94 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 1.50 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 1.50 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 0.85 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 2.87 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 5.81 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 2.48 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 10.44 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 8.16 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 14.01 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 3.95 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.27 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 9.19 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 6.25 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 2.68 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 3.22 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 1.45 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 2.75 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 14.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 1.73 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.25 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 9.80 $
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) – 2.80 $
  • Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) – 1.60 $
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) – 21.00 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.90 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 26,500.00 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 24,498.95 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 200.00 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 43.00 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 75.62 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 14.50 $
  • Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child – 1,821.67 $
  • International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child – 24,200.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 54.78 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 45.50 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 96.88 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 143.75 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.57
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