The 10 Best Counties To Live In Illinois For 2021


Using science and data, we can tell you which counties in Illinois have the most for people looking to make the move to Illinois.

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Some of you might be asking yourself, at this very moment: is Illinois a good place?

The answer is unequivocally yes… if you know where to locate the best places to live in Illinois.

Lucky for you, we’re here to help you identify the best counties to live in the Prairie State based on the most recently available data from the Census. And this isn’t our first rodeo — we’ve been helping people find the best places to live in America for years.

So, the question becomes, if you wanted to relocate to the best part of Illinois, where would you go? To answer that we looked at crime, cost of living, and demographic data for all 102 counties in the state.

After the analytic dust settled, we identified the 10 best counties to live in Prairie State for 2021.

Monroe County is the county to be when it comes to living the good life in Illinois. And you might want to avoid Alexander County if you can — at least according to the data.

So if you’re thinking of making the move Illinois, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out the best places to live in Illinois and the cheapest places to live in Illinois.

The Best Counties To Live In Illinois For 2021

1. Monroe County

Columbia, IL

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Columbia

Population: 34,168
Median Income: $85,747 (6th best)
Median Home Price: $211,300.0 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (5th best)
More on Monroe County: PhotosData

2. Putnam County

Biggest Place: Granville

Population: 5,721
Median Income: $63,638 (16th best)
Median Home Price: $126,800.0 (30th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (2nd best)
More on Putnam County: Data

3. Menard County

Athens, IL

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Petersburg

Population: 12,306
Median Income: $74,684 (9th best)
Median Home Price: $146,900.0 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (44th best)
More on Menard County: PhotosData

4. Grundy County

Biggest Place: Morris

Population: 50,666
Median Income: $77,350 (8th best)
Median Home Price: $199,300.0 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (24th best)
More on Grundy County: PhotosData

5. Piatt County

Monticello, IL

Biggest Place: Monticello

Population: 16,401
Median Income: $70,849 (11th best)
Median Home Price: $138,600.0 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (39th best)
More on Piatt County: PhotosData

6. Woodford County

Metamora, IL

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Eureka

Population: 38,700
Median Income: $72,808 (10th best)
Median Home Price: $168,700.0 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (18th best)
More on Woodford County: PhotosData

7. Mchenry County

Barrington Hills, IL

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Crystal Lake

Population: 307,714
Median Income: $86,799 (5th best)
Median Home Price: $224,500.0 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (23rd best)
More on Mchenry County: PhotosData

8. Calhoun County

Source: Public Domain

Biggest Place: Hardin

Population: 4,830
Median Income: $63,009 (20th best)
Median Home Price: $121,000.0 (3best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (11th best)
More on Calhoun County: Data

9. Tazewell County

Mackinaw, IL

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Pekin

Population: 133,195
Median Income: $63,454 (17th best)
Median Home Price: $142,000.0 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (30th best)
More on Tazewell County: PhotosData

10. Kendall County

Aurora, IL

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Aurora

Population: 126,054
Median Income: $96,563 (best)
Median Home Price: $235,600.0 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (3best)
More on Kendall County: PhotosData

How do you determine which Illinois county is the best?

To give you the best county in Illinois, we have to look at a handful of metrics that signal the quality of a place. To do that, we need to make some assumptions about what’s a “best county” and what isn’t. And, for reference, we are trying to make the kind of argument you’d make at a bar using facts, don’t take this analysis to court.

With that in mind, we went to two of the best sources of data on the internet; the American Community Survey data and FBI Crime data for the most recent time period.

We paid particular attention to:

  • Violent Crime Rates
  • Property Crime Rates
  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Unemployment Rates
  • Adult Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty Rates

We then ranked each county in Illinois across each of the criteria from one to 102, with one being the best.

Taking the average rank across all criteria, we created a quality of life score with the county posting the lowest overall score being the “Best County To Live In Illinois”.

The result is some of the safest, quiet, and best counties to raise a family in the Prairie State.

Read on to see why Monroe County is the best county, while Alexander County is probably in contention for being the worst county in Illinois.

There You Have It – The Best Counties In Illinois To Call Home For 2018

It turns out living in Illinois can vary from one part of the state to the next — who woulda thought?

But now you the know the really good parts and the parts to avoid and that’s why you came here to learn at the end of the day. And for that, you are welcome.

Here’s a look at the worst counties in Illinois according to the data:

  1. Alexander County
  2. Pulaski County
  3. Hardin County

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Counties In Illinois

County Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Monroe County 1 34,168 $85,747 $211,300.0
Putnam County 2 5,721 $63,638 $126,800.0
Menard County 3 12,306 $74,684 $146,900.0
Grundy County 4 50,666 $77,350 $199,300.0
Piatt County 5 16,401 $70,849 $138,600.0
Woodford County 6 38,700 $72,808 $168,700.0
Mchenry County 7 307,714 $86,799 $224,500.0
Calhoun County 8 4,830 $63,009 $121,000.0
Tazewell County 9 133,195 $63,454 $142,000.0
Kendall County 10 126,054 $96,563 $235,600.0
Washington County 11 14,058 $61,763 $113,500.0
Will County 12 689,315 $86,961 $232,000.0
Mercer County 13 15,589 $59,787 $107,600.0
Marshall County 14 11,679 $58,465 $104,900.0
Jersey County 15 21,937 $63,028 $147,900.0
Shelby County 16 21,737 $52,953 $96,500.0
Scott County 17 5,005 $57,118 $89,200.0
Mclean County 18 172,578 $67,675 $167,000.0
Dupage County 19 929,060 $92,809 $308,500.0
Effingham County 20 34,137 $56,685 $143,600.0
Jo Daviess County 21 21,588 $57,946 $149,100.0
Lee County 22 34,389 $58,194 $119,900.0
Lake County 23 701,473 $89,427 $265,100.0
Clinton County 24 37,634 $66,639 $146,200.0
Bond County 25 16,589 $57,289 $119,700.0
Johnson County 26 12,494 $52,774 $109,500.0
Hancock County 27 17,983 $52,561 $85,600.0
Bureau County 28 33,122 $57,436 $111,700.0
Kane County 29 531,376 $79,394 $238,300.0
De Witt County 30 15,932 $55,587 $99,500.0
Cumberland County 31 10,836 $56,206 $105,800.0
Clark County 32 15,716 $56,531 $92,500.0
Whiteside County 33 56,016 $54,232 $106,700.0
Henry County 34 49,267 $59,933 $119,200.0
Hamilton County 35 8,176 $54,046 $93,500.0
Logan County 36 29,003 $57,308 $103,200.0
Christian County 37 32,931 $52,834 $90,900.0
Adams County 38 66,085 $52,993 $127,800.0
Livingston County 39 36,040 $55,160 $109,400.0
Lasalle County 40 109,737 $58,142 $127,200.0
Champaign County 41 209,922 $52,797 $162,100.0
Ford County 42 13,270 $52,092 $98,300.0
Sangamon County 43 196,861 $61,912 $141,200.0
Randolph County 44 32,295 $53,816 $110,200.0
Ogle County 45 51,025 $60,986 $146,900.0
Moultrie County 46 14,641 $61,456 $107,400.0
Morgan County 47 34,247 $51,437 $110,100.0
Douglas County 48 19,623 $56,714 $111,400.0
Williamson County 49 67,102 $50,734 $114,900.0
Jasper County 50 9,594 $54,256 $99,500.0
Henderson County 51 6,809 $53,676 $92,000.0
Dekalb County 52 104,366 $63,317 $173,100.0
Wabash County 53 11,546 $50,770 $82,800.0
Madison County 54 264,776 $60,738 $135,600.0
Greene County 55 13,132 $49,885 $81,000.0
Montgomery County 56 28,828 $52,748 $84,100.0
Stark County 57 5,447 $54,907 $87,700.0
Brown County 58 6,628 $61,655 $96,200.0
Iroquois County 59 27,812 $52,700 $102,800.0
Pike County 60 15,672 $47,492 $85,400.0
Gallatin County 61 5,064 $44,076 $73,900.0
Kankakee County 62 110,637 $58,902 $147,900.0
Boone County 63 53,537 $69,272 $153,400.0
Perry County 64 21,251 $52,428 $86,500.0
Carroll County 65 14,466 $52,410 $106,100.0
Edwards County 66 6,455 $51,080 $79,300.0
Macoupin County 67 45,463 $55,159 $100,600.0
Stephenson County 68 45,093 $48,805 $97,800.0
Edgar County 69 17,407 $53,647 $82,800.0
Rock Island County 70 143,873 $54,858 $119,400.0
Wayne County 71 16,402 $50,251 $86,400.0
Peoria County 72 182,770 $55,842 $129,800.0
Winnebago County 73 284,819 $54,489 $120,400.0
Warren County 74 17,146 $50,310 $83,900.0
Richland County 75 15,766 $48,894 $89,600.0
Clay County 76 13,287 $48,500 $84,500.0
Coles County 77 51,353 $46,202 $100,500.0
Cook County 78 5,198,275 $64,660 $246,600.0
Crawford County 79 18,972 $49,779 $87,800.0
Macon County 80 105,528 $50,480 $98,400.0
Mason County 81 13,621 $48,417 $83,000.0
St. Clair County 82 262,338 $55,179 $128,000.0
Fulton County 83 35,092 $51,643 $88,600.0
Lawrence County 84 16,033 $46,636 $78,400.0
Franklin County 85 38,923 $42,769 $76,100.0
Schuyler County 86 6,953 $52,357 $86,600.0
Knox County 87 50,508 $44,129 $83,000.0
Mcdonough County 88 30,479 $44,471 $91,800.0
Union County 89 16,968 $50,625 $109,900.0
Massac County 90 14,219 $47,481 $83,600.0
White County 91 13,868 $49,290 $71,500.0
Fayette County 92 21,565 $46,650 $88,300.0
Pope County 93 4,203 $38,056 $93,000.0
Jackson County 94 57,977 $37,241 $108,600.0
Cass County 95 12,493 $52,373 $80,800.0
Saline County 96 23,994 $44,090 $73,800.0
Jefferson County 97 37,985 $49,896 $96,700.0
Marion County 98 37,743 $47,519 $77,900.0
Vermilion County 99 77,563 $46,515 $79,900.0
Hardin County 100 3,939 $51,250 $80,500.0
Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best counties to live in Illinois.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.