I would agree the apartments are fairly expensive here, but if you check around you actually get a lot for your money. I used to live on the West Side and i had a 11 sq ft apartment for 900 a month.
Yes the restaurants around the square and downtown are more expensive, but at least your not eating at apple bee's every night.
You could absolutely live in Madison without a car they have a fantastic transit system.
Madison is very cosmopolitan it's like living in a little big city, with much less crime.
What kind of job is it and where would it be?