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10 Best Cities To Live in Illinois

Updated on:
June 21, 2024
Best Cities To Live in Illinois

Image Source: Canva

When considering a move to the Midwest, Illinois often stands out due to its diverse range of cities and towns, each offering unique benefits and charm.

From the dynamic metropolis of Chicago to the quaint, serene settings of smaller towns, Illinois provides a variety of living environments suited to different lifestyles and preferences. 

The state boasts a rich history, cultural diversity, and a vibrant community spirit that makes it an attractive place to settle down. Whether you’re seeking a bustling urban environment, a peaceful suburban retreat, or a blend of both, Illinois has it all.

Finding the best places to live in Illinois involves considering factors such as quality of life, safety, education, recreational activities, and affordability. Each city or town on this list has been selected for its outstanding attributes, making it a prime candidate for anyone looking to relocate within the state. 

Whether you’re a young professional seeking career opportunities, a family looking for excellent schools and safe neighborhoods, or retirees in search of a peaceful yet engaging community, the best places to live in Illinois offer something for everyone. 

Join us as we explore ten of the most desirable locations in the Land of Lincoln, each contributing to the state’s reputation as a great place to call home.

1. Chicago

Chicago, the largest city in Illinois, is a hub of culture, entertainment, and economic opportunities. Known for its iconic skyline, deep-dish pizza, and vibrant arts scene, Chicago offers an unparalleled urban experience. 

Neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Wicker Park provide a mix of historic charm and modern amenities. With top-tier schools, world-class museums, and a diverse culinary scene, Chicago stands out as one of the best places to live in Illinois.

2. Naperville

Naperville consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in Illinois due to its excellent schools, low crime rates, and a strong sense of community. This western suburb of Chicago boasts beautiful parks, a charming downtown area, and a variety of family-friendly activities. 

The Riverwalk, with its scenic views and recreational facilities, is a popular spot for residents. Naperville's blend of suburban tranquility and urban convenience makes it an ideal place to call home.

3. Evanston

Evanston, home to Northwestern University, offers a perfect blend of academic excellence and lakeside living. Located just north of Chicago, Evanston features beautiful historic homes, tree-lined streets, and a bustling downtown area. 

The city's commitment to education, cultural diversity, and sustainability makes it a top choice for families and young professionals. The proximity to Lake Michigan adds to Evanston's appeal, providing residents with easy access to beaches and waterfront activities.

4. Springfield

As the state capital, Springfield holds a special place in Illinois' history. The city is famous for its association with Abraham Lincoln, and visitors can explore numerous historical sites related to the 16th president. 

Beyond its historical significance, Springfield offers affordable living, excellent healthcare facilities, and a strong sense of community. The city's vibrant arts scene, numerous parks, and family-friendly events make it one of the best places to live in Illinois.

5. Champaign-Urbana

Champaign-Urbana, home to the University of Illinois, is a dynamic college town known for its lively atmosphere and cultural diversity. The twin cities offer a range of recreational activities, from art galleries and theaters to sports events and outdoor festivals. 

Image Source: Canva

The presence of a major university brings a youthful energy and innovative spirit to the area. With affordable housing, excellent public schools, and a strong job market, Champaign-Urbana is an attractive option for families and young professionals alike.

6. Oak Park

Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, is renowned for its stunning architecture and strong community values. The village is home to many Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes and other historic buildings, giving it a unique character. 

Oak Park's vibrant downtown area offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. The excellent public schools, safe neighborhoods, and easy access to Chicago make Oak Park one of the best places to live in Illinois.

7. Highland Park

Highland Park, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, is known for its picturesque setting and affluent community. The city boasts beautiful parks, top-rated schools, and a charming downtown area with a variety of boutiques and restaurants. Highland Park is also home to the Ravinia Festival, a renowned music venue that attracts world-class performers. 

The combination of natural beauty, cultural amenities, and high quality of life makes Highland Park a top choice for families and retirees.

8. Peoria

Peoria offers the perfect balance of urban amenities and small-town charm. As one of the largest cities in central Illinois, Peoria features a diverse economy, excellent healthcare facilities, and a wide range of recreational activities. 

The city's cost of living is relatively low, making it an attractive option for families and young professionals. Peoria's strong sense of community, quality schools, and beautiful parks contribute to its reputation as one of the best places to live in Illinois.

9. Elgin

Elgin is a rapidly growing city that combines historic charm with modern conveniences. Located along the Fox River, Elgin offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking. The city has a diverse population, excellent public schools, and a vibrant arts scene. 

Elgin's affordable housing and strong job market make it an attractive destination for families and young professionals. The city's commitment to revitalizing its downtown area has also enhanced its appeal as one of the best places to live in Illinois.

10. Rockford

Rockford, located in northern Illinois, is a city with a rich industrial heritage and a promising future. The city offers affordable housing, excellent healthcare facilities, and a variety of cultural and recreational activities.

 Rockford's beautiful parks, museums, and historic sites provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. 

The city's strong sense of community and efforts to revitalize its downtown area make Rockford a hidden gem among the best places to live in Illinois.


Illinois is home to a variety of vibrant communities, each offering unique benefits and lifestyles. Whether you’re captivated by the dynamic urban life of Chicago, the serene suburban charm of Naperville, or the rich historical atmosphere of Springfield, Illinois has a place that will feel like home. 

These ten cities showcase some of the best places to live in Illinois, each providing exceptional quality of life, excellent amenities, and a strong community spirit. 

Many people love moving to these diverse locales, which cater to a wide range of preferences and needs. If you’re planning your next relocation, consider using a reliable moving company to help you settle into one of these top Illinois cities.

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