Located on State Highway 29, a major east-west corridor connecting the Twin Cities with Green Bay and Wausau, Stanley is unique in that it is located in two Wisconsin counties. Originally a logging town settled by German immigrants on the eastern border of Chippewa County, the small city continued to grow and, in 2002, annexed a portion of land in Clark County. City government is a mayoral system. The cost of living and crime rate are both very low in Stanley.
The city is home to public school district Stanley-Boyd, Faith Christian Academy, and Boyd-Stanley Catholic School. Medical facilities include Our Lady of Victory Hospital and Victory Medical Center, Inc. Chapman Lake Reservoir, Chapman Park, and Fandry Park are located on the city's west side.
A major contributor to the economy of the area is the Stanley Correctional Institution. Constructed in 1998, Stanley is an adult institution whose mission statement is to “Maintain a safe and secure institution and provide inmates opportunity for self improvement."