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Have you heard of Midwestern Hospitality?
Yes, it’s a thing. And, yes, it’s what makes Illinois one of the best states in the country. Now, if you talk to the flatlanders that call Illinois home, they would definitely agree that their hospitality is gold star worthy. They would also tell you, however, that there a ton of other qualities that make Illinois a state you should call home.
Take for instance the variety of delicacies the state has to offer. There is nothing like a loaded horseshoe or fried tenderloin after a long night of drinking. And you can’t visit Chicago without trying Chicago’s deep dish pizza. (Illinoisans have deemed it its own food group.) More importantly, if weren’t for the Land of Lincoln, we wouldn’t have Twinkies; and that, folks, would be a travesty.
When you think of Illinois, it’s easy to think that the entire state revolves around Chicago. While that might be the case for most, here at HomeSnacks we know that there are many fantastic smaller places in Illinois that make it the best.
We also know that a Portillos’ chili hot dog shouldn’t be the only reason to move to the state Chicago calls home. So, we made sure to look at very important factors when determining the best places to call home in the Land of Lincoln — low cost of living, strong economy, strong job market, and low crime to name a few.
Grab a slice of deep dish pizza and a pop and read on.
What city is the best place to live in Illinois for 2022? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Western Springs is the best place to live in Illinois if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.
While not everyone can afford to live in our top ten best Illinois cities — they come with a hefty Chicago price tag — there are other amazing places in Illinois to call home. And lucky for you, we have found them.
If you didn’t see your city in the top ten, don’t freak out. We analyzed over 326 cities. Read on to see where your city landed and a detailed breakdown of each.
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- Best Counties To Live In Illinois
- Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Illinois
The 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois For 2022
Located between Chicago and Naperville, Western Springs is the best place to live in Illinois. Western Springs’ poverty level of 3.0% and unemployment rate of 2.6% are among the most impressive in the state. It’s not like people are just floating by here either, because at $184,412/year, Western Springs enjoys the 8th highest median household income statewide. And if you enjoy a side of culture with your cash, the Theatre of Western Springs is always putting on shows and plays.
Western Springs is also known for its excellent schools and safe streets. In fact, there were only 1 violent crimes committed in Western Springs in 2022, which gives Western Springs the 23rd lowest rate in Illinois. Even though violence is quite unlikely, Western Springs residents are prepared if it does come. That’s because 98.9% of folks in Western Springs have health insurance, which is the 10th highest rate in Illinois.
We start our tour of the best places to call home in Illinois with Deerfield, a North Shore suburb of Chicago. Deerfield ranks as the 28th least violent place in the state and has a total crime rate about 70% below the national average.
Deerfield’s economy is largely driven by the healthcare industry, as it is home to the headquarters of big name companies like Walgreens, Baxter, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. If you’re working in one of those fields, you should have no trouble locking down a job here. And based on Deerfield’s rank as the 11th best-paid populace in the state, with a median household income of $162,064/year, we think you should do pretty well for yourself at that job. And with a sub-3% unemployment rate and poverty level, Deerfield’s economy is working at every level. For a village where healthcare looms large, it’s not surprising that 98.5% of residents have health insurance, one of the highest rates in Illinois.
If you’re planning on moving with your family, or starting a family soon, know that Deerfield’s school district is among the best in the state, with GreatSchools awarding a 9/10 score or higher to every single public school in the area. Speaking of education, the local Historic Village is a staple of the Deerfield school experience that’s fun for the whole family. But if you’re looking for something a tad bit more modern, “The Square” in Deerfield’s downtown has everything you need to keep your shopaholism satisfied.
Next on our tour of the best places to live in Illinois is Libertyville. Libertyville is a city of 20,300 about 40 miles north of Chicago near the Wisconsin border. Why is Libertyville such a good place to live? Well it’s safe and clean, and that’s not something you can say about a lot of the greater Chicago area. People living here say it’s a walker’s paradise – with all the restaurants and shops that are easy to get to and enjoy.
As you would expect, the overall cost of living is high, but not that high for being so close Chicago. Homes in Libertyville are listed for about $450,300 each. And when you consider this place is so close to Chicago and that most families here bring in about 150,580, this is actually kind of a good deal.
Plus, it’s a great place to raise a family. Over 30% of adults have a master’s degree or higher and the local schools have the 12th lowest high school dropout rate. On top of that, there’s Adler Memorial Park and Butler Lake Park to take the kids on the weekend.
Another Chicago suburb finds itself on our list of the best places in the Prairie State. This time it’s Northbrook, a city of 33,216 25 miles north of Chicago. The city is known for the Northbrook Park District, Northbrook Court shopping mall, and the infamous Chicago Curling Club. For you family folks, there’s also the Northbrook Public Library which is a nice activity for the kids.
Economically, Northbrook is thriving. The unemployment rate is a low 2.1%, less than 10% of residents live below the poverty line, folks are earning 128,883 a year and the median home value is $563,200.
What’s not to love? Well, if you’re in your early 20s, there might not be enough going on here to peak your interest because the median age is over 50, but if you’re looking for a great place to start a family, Northbrook would be the perfect fit.
Lake Bluff is a village of 5,540 on the North Shore of Lake Michigan. At 45, Lake Bluff is the oldest place on this list, so keep that in mind if the relative age of your neighbors is a priority for you. Around 80% of adults in Lake Bluff have a college degree, and about half of those people have a master’s degree or higher. Which helps explain why, at 3.2%, Lake Bluff has the 27th lowest poverty level in Illinois. It’s also one of the reasons why Lake Bluff has the 9th highest median household income in the state, at $174,444/year.
Lake Bluff also only experienced 2 violent crimes in 2022, the 44th lowest rate in Illinois. So you don’t have to worry about pickpockets or hooligans when you go to catch a show on the village green for the Bluffina Summer Concert Series.
In what’s becoming a pattern, Buffalo Grove is yet another Chicago suburb to rank among the best places to live in Chicago. At 40,804, Buffalo Grove is the most populous place to make this list, so you won’t have to worry about being far from the action here. Especially with Fine Art Festival and the Buffalo Grove Days popping off every summer.
You won’t have to worry about crime here either, because Buffalo Grove experienced the 27th lowest amount of violent crime per capita in Illinois and had a total crime rate about 75% below the national average. And if you’ve got kiddos, you can feel confident sending them through one of the best educational systems in the state.
With a median household income of $117,921/year and a median home price of $338,400, Buffalo Grove has the second lowest cost of living of places we’re covering on this list.
La Grange Park is our final Cook County representative on this list, meaning more than half the best places to live in Illinois can be found in this county. LGP is the most densely populated place on this list and the 22nd most densely populated in the state, so if you like the hustle and bustle, La Grange Park might just be your jam. And it’s not like all this activity comes with crime, because La Grange Park has the 52nd lowest crime rate in Illinois, about 80% lower than the statewide average.
The fact that La Grange Park has the lowest median household income on this list at $107,945/year should give you a fair idea of the commonality between places on this list; namely, wealth. In any case, we think it’s pretty cool that, from La Grange Park, you can be exploring peaceful and undisturbed nature along the Salt Creek Trail System or find yourself in a crowd of 40,000 at Wrigley Field within a half hour.
We’re sticking around western Chi-Town suburbs for our 8th best place to call home in Illinois, the village of Hinsdale. People in Hinsdale know the importance of education, from start to finish. All the elementary schools in Hinsdale received a score of 9/10 from GreatSchools, and both the local middle school and high school got a perfect 10/10. That educational excellence is just one of the reasons we named Hinsdale as the best family city in Illinois. Seeing as over 40% of Hinsdale’s population has a master’s degree or higher, we think the success of early education carries over nicely into success later in life.
After all, Hinsdale does have the 4th highest median household income in the state, $206,701/year. Which comes in handy when you’ve also got the 3rd priciest homes. And since smart, moneyed individuals rarely feel the need to engage in criminal activity, Hinsdale’s crime rate being about 80% below the national average makes a lot of sense.
If you’re craving a bit more action, though, Chicago’s downtown is just 20-minute train ride away, so you can be walking The Magnificent Mile any time you like.
Lincolnshire is a 7,694 town located about 30 miles north of Chicago. One of the smallest places on this list, Lincolnshire punches above its weight in quality of life. The small town life includes the Marriott Theatre, mini-golf for the kids and real golf for the adults, and Spring Lake Park for the whole family. It’s the kind of great place to raise a family near the city without having to be in the city.
In terms of the numbers, Adlai E Stevenson High School earns a perfect 10/10 on GreatSchools. There’s a very low poverty rate, the cost of living isn’t crazy high, and incomes average about 130,076. Put it all together and you have a great place to live in Illinois.
Located 15 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, Park Ridge ranks as the 10th best place to call home in Illinois.
For starters, you never have to worry about how you’ll get to the airport in Park Ridge, because O’Hare International Airport is basically right there. Park Ridge also has several top-notch amenities, from the trails at the Wildwood Nature Center, to the historic Pickwick Theatre, and a ton of spas per capita.
As for the data, everything points to Park Ridge being an excellent forever home. Crime is low, schools are great, and the local economy works for everyone — we don’t hand out 10/10 SnackAbility scores for nothing, after all.
The median household income in Park Ridge sits at an impressive $113,809, and homes typically sell for $451,200. It’s also one of the most densely populated spots on this list, which translates into more amenities and less boredom.
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Illinois
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Springfield with a population of 115,075 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 326 cities, 376 towns, and 620 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Illinois have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Illinois
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Illinois across a number of criteria from one to 326, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Illinois”.
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Illinois? That would be Western Springs.
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Illinois.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Western Springs at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Summary: The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Illinois
If you’re looking at areas in Illinois with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Western Springs made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Illinois for 2022.
Best Towns To Live In Illinois
- Leland Grove (Pop. 1,625)
- Dunlap (Pop. 1,351)
- St. Joseph (Pop. 4,109)
- Germantown Hills (Pop. 3,491)
- Hudson (Pop. 1,704)
- Rochester (Pop. 3,687)
- Sherman (Pop. 4,404)
- Philo (Pop. 1,627)
- Kenilworth (Pop. 2,613)
- Forsyth (Pop. 3,421)
Best Small Towns To Live In Illinois
- Irwin (Pop. 79)
- Georgetown (Pop. 516)
- Indian Creek (Pop. 768)
- Ogden (Pop. 732)
- Bartelso (Pop. 619)
- Spaulding (Pop. 766)
- Downs (Pop. 971)
- Pesotum (Pop. 514)
- Goodfield (Pop. 931)
- McNabb (Pop. 305)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Illinois according to the data:
- Robbins (Pop. 5,068)
- Cahokia (Pop. 14,035)
- Riverdale (Pop. 12,530)
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Illinois
- Richest Cities In Illinois
- Safest Places In Illinois
- Worst Places To Live In Illinois
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Illinois?
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|77||Lake In The Hills||28,617|