Is Illinois a Good Place to Live? (14 Pros and Cons)

Things To Know About Living In Illinois Before You Move

Are you wondering if Illinois is a good place to live? If yes, I will address the question head-on and then support my answer with the critical pros and cons of living in Illinois. All the good things you need to know before you move.

Is Illinois A Good Place To Live?

Yes. Illinois is an excellent place to live. The state offers a diverse and robust economy, access to the world-class city of Chicago, and close-knit rural communities. Furthermore, its central location makes for convenient travel throughout the country.

Here’s how the Illinois pros and cons stack up.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Illinois: Side By Side Comparison

Living in Illinois ProsLiving in Illinois Cons
1. Access to Chicago8. Harsh winter weather
2. Strong job market9. Natural disasters
3. Low cost of living10. Heavy tax burden
4. Fun things to do11. Bad traffic
5. Tasty regional foods12. High crime rate
6. Seasonal weather13. Potential for boredom
7. Conveniently located14. Population decline
Table 1: Pros and Cons of Living or Retiring in Illinois

Next, let’s dive deeper into these points about living in Illinois.

Route 66 mural in Pontiac, ILPin

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Living in Illinois: The Pros

1. Illinois Residents Have Easy Access to Chicago

Living in Illinois means having convenient access to the world-class city of Chicago. Some of the positive aspects of Chicago include:

  • Good-hearted hard-working people
  • Plenty of cultural activities
  • Great food scene
  • Vast racial and ethnic diversity
  • Diverse neighborhoods to explore
  • O’Hare International Airport
  • Robust public transportation system
  • Rabid sports culture
  • Amazing architecture
  • Beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline
  • Easy to navigate grid system
  • World-class shopping
  • Dozens of festivals and street fairs
  • Many jobs in a massive economy

2. Illinois Has A Strong Economy And Plenty Of Job Opportunities

Illinois has the fifth-largest state economy in the country and one of the most diversified economies in the world. The state has over 30 Fortune 500 headquarters and thousands of small to mid-sized businesses.

The most significant industries operating in Illinois include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Machinery
  • Food processing
  • Transportation
  • Financial services
  • Agriculture
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Farmland in Illinois

In Illinois, Chicago business activities get the headlines. However, 75% of the state’s land is dedicated to agriculture. Thus, Illinois is a good place to live if farming, farmland, or livestock meet your interests and expertise.

3. The Cost Of Living In Illinois Is Affordable

The cost of living in Illinois is 8% cheaper than the national average (source: MERIC cost of living data series). Furthermore, the median home price is nearly 40% less than the comparable national figure (source: Redfin and the U.S Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).

Living in Chicago, however, is more costly and skews the statewide data higher. Thus, you can find many inexpensive places to live in central and southern Illinois.

Related reading: Another low-cost-of-living state located nearby

Finally, shave a few more dollars off your budget by using the cash rebate app from Rakuten. The app is easy to use and perfect for earning cash back on your online purchases.

Learn more about Rakuten here.

4. Illinois Has Lots Of Fun Things To See And Do

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Gameday at Wrigley Field

Professional And Collegiate Sports

Illinois has a great sports culture. Residents love to follow and root for their favorite teams.

There are so many options, depending on your interest. For example, the major professional teams include:

  • Cubs baseball
  • White Sox baseball
  • Bears football
  • Blackhawks hockey
  • Bulls basketball
  • Sky basketball
  • Fire soccer

The state’s most popular college teams hail from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University. The schools belong to the highly competitive Big Ten conference.

The Land of LincolnPin


Illinois has historic architecture in and around Chicago. There are massive skyscrapers and other amazing structures.

Renowned architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and others did some of their finest work here.

Wright’s buildings are very famous. They can be found throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, too.


Illinois residents love their music, whether blues, jazz, rock, or country. Many venues, large and small, cater to the live music-loving crowd.

5. There Are Excellent Regional Food Choices To Enjoy In Illinois

Illinois is known for some popular and tasty comfort foods, including:

  • Italian beef sandwiches
  • Horseshoe sandwiches
  • Breaded pork tenderloin cutlet
  • Deep dish pizza
  • Greek gyros
  • Chicago style hotdogs
  • Polish sausage
  • Pierogies

Chicago has a food and restaurant scene that is second to none. You will find great chefs in and around the city. Plus, ethnic influences from around the world.

Related reading: Another Midwestern State with great regional foods

6. Illinois Residents Benefit From The Changing Seasons

Illinois weather offers a lot of variety. The climate is ideal for different outdoor adventures and seasonal moods.

Summers are warm. Temperatures frequently reach the 80s and 90s, sometimes accompanied by high humidity.

Cool, crisp temperatures bring in the autumn season. The seasonal changes encourage the leaves to put on their fall color display.

Winter often brings a white Christmas and ushers in cold temperatures during January and February.

Finally, in Illinois, spring is always a welcome time of year. The thawing temperatures and cleansing rains bring the shrubs and trees to life as the seasons start anew.

Related reading: The pros and cons of Midwestern living

7. Illinois Is Centrally Located For When Family, Fun, Or Business Call You Away

Illinois is centrally located within the lower 48 United States and is a major transportation hub.

Fly out of O’Hare International Airport and get anywhere in the country in a few hours. You can also travel by car via the robust interstate highway system. Or, choose high-speed rail provided by AmTrack.

Okay. That concludes the great things about living in Illinois.

However, an article addressing the pros and cons is incomplete without a run-down of the worst things about living here.

So, let’s keep moving…

Living In Illinois: The Cons

8. Illinois Residents Deal With Harsh Winter Weather

reasons not to live in IllinoisPin
Snowy day on the streets of Chicago

Illinois experiences tough winter weather conditions starting in December and continuing through February.

Sub-zero temperatures, frequent snowfall, strong winds, dangerous wind chill factors, and limited daylight hours contribute to the winter season. The seemingly endless days of heavy cloud cover can get you down.

Thus, moving to Illinois may not be the right choice for people seeking year-round warmth and sunlight.

Related reading: Best Midwest State to Move to

9. There Is Risk Of Natural Disasters After Moving To Illinois

In Illinois, tornados pose a significant risk, especially during spring, summer, and fall. The state is considered part of “Tornado Alley.” Despite advanced warning systems and preparedness measures, these severe storms can cause loss of life and significant property damage.

Additionally, flooding is a concern. Heavy rainfall causes the state’s rivers and streams to exceed their banks, flooding nearby communities.

10. Illinois Residents Have A Heavy Tax Burden

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Illinois is not a tax-friendly state.

Income taxes

Illinois has a flat income tax, meaning everyone pays the same 4.95% tax rate regardless of income.

Property taxes

Illinois property tax rates are outrageous. The average real estate tax rate exceeds 2%, one of the highest rates in the country.

Sales taxes

Illinois has a statewide sales tax rate, and local municipalities can add additional percentages. Thus, plan on paying nearly 9% on top of the cost of things you buy to support your Illinois lifestyle.

Gasoline taxes

Illinois charges over 45 cents a gallon every time you get gas at the pump. The rate is one of the highest in the country.

Finally, Illinois is heavily indebted, even with all of these taxes. Residents attribute the budget issues to corruption, mismanagement, and poor governance.

Related reading: Consider moving to Tennessee to save money on taxes

11. Illinois Has Bad Traffic Congestion

pros and cons of living in IllinoisPin
Chicago skyline

Illinois drivers contend with heavy traffic.

The Chicago metropolitan area is the worst. It is one of the most congested cities in the country.

The Illinois interstate highway system is also heavily traveled. Thousands of cars and 18-wheel tractor-trailers transport goods on the roads every day.

Rain, snow, and road construction add to the misery. Consequently, no matter where you are in Illinois, take life into your own hands on the roads and drive safely.

Related reading: Moving to Iowa is the better choice to avoid traffic jams

12. High Crime Rates

Illinois has a high crime rate and, more recently, civil unrest in and around Chicago. The metropolitan area increases the state’s overall crime levels.

Violent and property crimes are issues.

Thus, choose your location carefully, as safety levels vary widely across the state and within Chicago’s city limits.

13. Living In Most Areas Of Illinois Is Boring

Most of Illinois comprises small towns and mid-sized cities that are flat, dull, and boring. The main reasons you may get bored after moving to Illinois include:

  1. Limited nightlife
  2. There aren’t any mountains
  3. No ocean beaches
  4. Farmland covers the state
  5. It’s either too cold or too hot

14. Illinois Residents Are Leaving The State For Good

Illinois is one of only a few states where residents feel the bad outweighs the good. As a result, people are moving out of Illinois, and the population is declining, according to U.S. census data.

Enough said! Please allow me to wrap up with some concluding thoughts.

Living In Illinois: Wrap-Up And Resources

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I hope this discussion has helped you learn what Illinois is like and provided information to answer some important questions, including:

1) Is Illinois a good state to live in?


2) Should I move to Illinois?

All the best with your decision, no matter where you move!

More Reading About Living In Illinois And Beyond

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Illinois Explained