Illinois, popularly known as ‘The Prairie State’ or the ‘Land of Lincoln’, has a lot to offer to its present-day residents that make it such a popular place sought out by many. As evident by both the names given to Illinois, the state is steeped in history. Largest producer in the US for pumpkins and the second largest for corn, the state is packed with many such fascinating things. If you have plans in place to relocate here, keep reading ahead to find out what you need to know about moving to Illinois.


What Should I Know Before Moving To Illinois?

It’s a state in the midwestern region of the United States and is the 25th largest by area in the country. It is spread over an area of 57,915 square miles (149,997 km2) of which 2320 square miles (5981 km2) is water. The state is also the 6th most populous, with a total of 12,671,821 residents.

One important thing you should know right away about Illinois is that you must choose between cubs and cardinals. The baseball rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals is quite strong. Another state-dividing rivalry is the Chicago Bears versus the St. Louis Rams. Your loyalties must be very clear and there is no room for neutrality. Also, it is a major faux pas to put ketchup on your hotdog. Illinois people consider that to be the murder of the hotdog flavor.

Something else you can expect from Illinois comes from its reputation of being at the forefront of music education. Everybody has heard of ‘Chicago Blues’ and ‘Dixieland Jazz’. The orchestra is quite popular here as are the many number of music festivals that take place in Illinois.

One of the first things that comes to mind when people talk about Illinois is the deep-dish pizza. But the state’s culinary favourites are not limited to that. There are the Italian beef sandwiches and the horseshoe which is an open-faced sandwich. Oh wait, there’s also the gyros which are actually Greek meat sandwiches served with cucumber yogurt sauce. And finally, the pierogis – essentially just dumplings with filling of choice.

As the second largest producer of corn in the US, something else that would be interesting to try is the popcorn. Sounds basic? Well, you should know that Chicago style popcorn is a blend of salted and sweet caramel, a flavour that just hits the home run in the most delicious of ways.

Illinois is often called a ‘microcosm of the United States’. You can enjoy the Lallapalooza in the summer and take part in the sports events in the winter. Life in Illinois is coveted and it is comparatively easy to land on one’s feet given some forethought and planning.

Read Also: 15 Reasons to Move to The Midwest


Crime Rate In Illinois

The crime rate in Illinois, per 1000 people, is 4.07. According to the data from NeighbourhoodScout, the chances of being the victim of a violent crime are 1 in 246. The rate of property crime per 1000 residents is 18.46, placing the chances of being a victim at 1 in 54. The national rate of violent crime is 4, which is not far from the Illinois rate and the rate of property crime is 21, meaning that the rate is lower in Illinois than that of the country.


Illinois Weather

While Illinois’s climate is classified as ‘humid continental’, it does vary across the state owing to the state’s length and positioning. Illinois is a flat state with little elevation. The summers are hot and the winters range from cool to downright freezing temperatures. The average temperature in summer is 800 F (26.70 C) during the day and about 600-700 F (15.60-21.10 C) at night. The state experiences urban heat island effect which further increases the temperatures by a degree or two.

People of Illinois call themselves ‘the winter warriors’, considering the harsh weather of the winter months. It is a point to note that the weather can change drastically in a matter of a week and sometimes, there are multiple weather conditions in a single day. However, every Illinoisan possesses the skill of driving in the snow and adjusting their life whenever the state shuts down for a few days.

Rains in Illinois can average 48 inches (120 cm) in the south to 32 inches (81 cm) in the north. May and June experience the most rainfall and the state takes stringent precautions for the possible event of flooding.
Illinois is susceptible to thunderstorms more than the rest of the country with there being about 50 of them annually. It is also particularly prone to tornadoes, dealing with almost 35 of them, on average, every year.

The climate of Illinois has seen a rise of 10 in its temperature and that has impacted the state visibly. Public health will be at risk if this goes unchecked. Floods have increased in frequency and though unconfirmed, it has been observed that the areas affected by tornadoes have been on the rise, rather than in decline or at least the same. It is predicted that if stringent measures are not taken, future Illinois would turn into much like present-day Texas, but with a higher number of hot days.


Is It Expensive To Live In Illinois?

The most obvious thing that the regular person does every month right after receiving their pay check is to see the amount go down immediately for the purpose of rent, utilities and general cost of living. How much it goes down is subject to the place of residence.

In terms of taxes, Illinois has a flat tax rate of 4.95%. For sales tax, the rate is 6.25%, though it may go up to 11% depending upon the additional rate charged by local municipalities. Illinois is surprisingly tax-friendly towards retirees, as social security benefits as well as withdrawals from retirement accounts are not taxed.

Cost Of Living In Illinois

Life makes sense when expenses are lesser than the income. The cost-of-living index of Illinois is 93.4 and the median household income is $65,886. A family of four could live with $3,671, excluding rent, for their monthly expenses while a single person would require $1,019 for the same.

Going to the supermarket here would mean spending $0.8 on a litre of milk, $3 on a loaf of bread, $2.26 on a dozen eggs and $2.68 on a kilogram of potatoes. But if you are someone who doesn’t fancy cooking much or just need the occasional break, a meal at a restaurant for a single person costs $12 and that for two people costs $50, if the restaurant is mid-range.

When it comes to people of Illinois taking care of their health, a major medical insurance for an individual would cost $589, though this is subject to the current status of health of the person which can also affect the premiums they would have to pay.

See also: Cheap States to Move to

Buying A House

The median home value in Illinois, according to Zillow is $223,455. The property prices have seen a rise of about 7% in the last year, making it quite an opportune time to buy a house in the state.

Renting A House

The average rent for a regular sized two-bedroom house in Illinois is about $1,600. Rents have the advantage of being pretty stable compared to the price of buying a house. So, in a lot of cases, renting might be more financially viable than buying a house.

Utility Bills

Utility bills and transport costs are the small leaks on the ship of your income. Bills like electricity, water, heating, cooling and garbage can cost $147 monthly for an average apartment. An internet connection, with an unlimited plan of course would be $64, on average.

For transportation costs, you would spend $2.5 on a one-way ticket on public transport and $105 for a monthly pass. The base fare of a taxi is $3.25 and the price per kilometre after is the same. Vehicle owners rejoice because the cost of a litre of gas is as low as $0.73.


Illinois Economy And Employment Opportunities

Before understanding the opportunities present in Illinois, let us reiterate a previous point – Illinois is considered a microcosm of the United States. Let us now evaluate the economy of the state. The gross state product for Illinois in 2019 was $909 billion and the minimum wage is predicted to rise to $15 by 2025, making it the highest in the country. Illinois’s economy is constituted by agriculture, manufacturing, investments, tourism and both fossil and sustainable fuels.

In regards to agriculture, Illinois’s outputs are corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, wheat and dairy. The state ranks either first or second yearly in the production of soybeans and corn while being in the lead for food manufacturing and meat processing as well. A lot of processing places and distributors for such are concentrated in Chicago. The state is also known for the production of apples, peaches and other fruit orchards which often go hand-in-hand with the wine production industry. Illinois ranks fourth in the list of ‘Most Productive Manufacturing States in the country’. The state’s manufacturing industry covers chemicals, machinery, food, fabricated metals, computer parts and transportation equipment.

The state also engages in value-added services like financial trading, law, logistics and medicine. Publishing, tourism and energy production and distribution are also active industries. In 2016, Illinois recovered $1.1 billion of the $62 billion that venture capitalists funded into the US economy. Illinois also received $8.7 billion from the federal government by way of contracts.

Illinois exports most of its coal to other countries like China and India. Some of the coal used here is extracted from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. The state also happens to be a leader in the refining of petroleum in the American Midwest. The state is ranked 14th in oil production in the country. Then on top of all this, Illinois also has six operating nuclear power plants in Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad Cities. These are used to supply a substantial part of the state and nation’s energy needs.


Education

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is responsible for the public education in the state as well as audits their performance. This is the institution that makes recommendations to the state concerning the policies to be implemented and the budget required for the education in the state. The state has compulsory education for the ages of 7 to 17 and schools are divided into four vertical levels – elementary school, middle school, junior high and high school.

When it comes to higher education, the state has eleven national universities. University of Chicago is one of the best in the world and it is a matter of honour and merit to get into the Booth School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management. University of Illinois is also where all the engineering students wish to go to. To add to that, the state has more than accredited private and public four-year universities, as well as a number of community colleges. The education system in Illinois is funded by the money from property taxes instead of direct state contributions.


Getting Around Illinois

Air Travel

For air travel in Chicago, it’s the O’Hare International Airport (ORD) which ranks in the top five busiest airports in the world without fail every year. There is another airport called the Midway Airport which serves domestic and international passengers.

Rail Travel

It is without question that Illinois has one of the best rail transport networks in the country. This is the capital of Amtrak and its branch; the Illinois Service functions here. The trains are Illini, Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg among others. Chicago is the most active train hub in the United States as almost every train in North America meets here.

Road Travel

It is in the hands of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to take care of the US Highways in the state. There are 21 primary highways, the only state to have that many pass through it and holds the significance of being the third in terms of highway mileage.

See also: Illinois DMV Change of Address


Best Cities To Live In Illinois

1. Chicago

Of course, Chicago is talked about first. The love of the residents for the city runs deeper than the deep-dish pizza and life here is a lot more exciting than that joke. One can look at the Chicago skyline for hours while savoring one of the many foods that the city is famous for, while taking in the atmosphere of the neighborhood, each unique in its own way. Life in Chicago is a once in a lifetime experience and doesn’t take long to become a choice for a lifetime.

The cost of buying a house in Chicago is $285,579 and the cost of renting a house is $1,250, according to Zillow.

2. Urbana

The city has a population of just over 40,000 and is most famous for sharing the campus of the University of Illinois with Champaign. Urbana was one of the first in the country to have a free public library and the Farmer’s market is something of a community thing. There is a strong sense of community here and people have a lot of civic pride. People come together in the annual Urbana Sweetcorn Festival that has been put together by the ones who work at the Busey Bank.

The average price of a house in Urbana is $200,000 and the rent of that house would be $800.

3. Wheaton

The city is known for its excellent schools and downtown shopping and restaurants. There is a Downtown Wheaton Association that holds events throughout the year for the sake of promotion of local businesses. Some of the most popular ones are the French Market, The Chilli Cookoff, Boo-palooza and Wheaton’s Wine and Cultural Arts Festival.

The average cost of a house in this city is $365,237 and the rent of a house can come up to $700.


Is It A Good Idea To Move To Illinois?

With a state like Illinois, making that decision is not too hard. There’s no denying the harsh weather conditions you could experience here, but the overall cost of living and employment opportunities can make up for that to some degree at least. The lifestyle and culture offered by Illinois sure is coveted. Opportunities here are plentiful and the scope of growth on a personal and professional level make Illinois a much sought-after state to live in. So moving to Illinois can be a good idea if it ticks all the boxes of your personal desires and goals.

Related: List of Top-Rated Movers in the Country