Your decision to move to Illinois won’t surprise anyone as the state holds the reputation of being one of the best places to live in the US. Illinois is best known for Chicago, the country’s second-most populous city but it’s more than that. Many people would have decided after gauging both the pros and cons of living in Illinois but there might be many others who need more information about the Midwestern state to decide if it’s right for them.
The state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States is blessed with scenic settings, national parks, and freshwater beaches and it also has a rich history to take pride in. It is so diverse that the diversity is visible even in the nicknames – ‘the Prairie State’ and ‘the Land of Lincoln’.
Our guide briefs about the pros and cons of living in Illinois which will help you make the right call.
Pros and Cons of Living in Illinois
The economy is strong and powerful in Illinois
Illinois is an economic powerhouse of the US. It has the fifth-largest GDP in the country and is also one of the most diversified economies in the world. A major hub for machinery, food processing, electrical equipment, chemical products, publishing, fabricated metal products, and transportation equipment, it also promises better job prospects and standard of living than many other states in the country.
The presence of Chicago has indeed fuelled the growth here but Aurora is also not far behind.
Not just manufacturing, Illinois also has a strong farming sector and the state is one of the largest producers of soybean and corn.
This is a hub of Fortune500 companies and hence a job is not a problem
Illinois is a center for trade and commerce. Almost 36 Fortune500 companies are based here – a majority among them in Chicago and Aurora. You name a big company and its office would be in Chicagoland. That sounds pretty impressive and because of this, there’s no shortage of jobs here. The unemployment rate in Illinois is 4.8% which is much lower than the national average.
Soon the minimum average salary will go up
In Illinois, you will get a better salary as there are many job opportunities. Since the state has many companies and production units, you don’t need to worry about the pay slip. To make things brighter, the Illinois government will soon raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, one of the highest in the US.
Illinois is a sportsman’s state
If you are a sports fan, it’s your luck to be in Illinois. One of the best things to know in Illinois is the passion for sports here. There’s a strong sports culture prevalent here and whether you are a soccer fanatic or hockey, you’ll have a team to root for.
You can head into Chicago to watch the Cubs play at Wrigley Field or the Bulls at the United Center. If you prefer college athletics to professional sports, there are things in stock for you. There are even league teams to check out, all across the state.
Illinois has the best food in the US
Illinois takes pride in its culinary variety. For a foodie, Illinois is a paradise. Though Chicago is the food capital of the US, the entire state has its own flavor in relation to cuisines. Walking through the streets of Chicago or Aurora, the fragrance of cuisines from more hundreds of restaurants will invade your nostrils. It is not just the case with Chicago or any big city but even rural towns have their range of delicacies.
Some of the best Illinois specialties are
- Italian beef sandwiches
- Deep dish pizza
- Frontera grill
You are always near Chicago
One of the benefits of staying in Illinois is that you are near Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the world. A drive to Chicago will soon be your weekend activity and maybe you end up spending more time in and around Chicago.
For an architecture buff, there’s nothing better than Illinois
Illinois is home to some of the best architectural wonders in the world. Living here, you will regularly get opportunities to view some of the best skyscrapers and amazing structures and buildings that have surprised the world.
Interestingly, Chicago is not the only place with magnificent architecture but there are many cities and small towns where you will come across them. Illinois is chock-full of brilliant buildings from luminaries like Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
In Chicago, you will be fresh food and veggie snob
Chicago gets some of the best vegetables and fruits in the country. They are so fresh that you will soon realize that you have transformed into a fresh veggie snob who cannot digest fruits and vegetables two days old.
Your road trip bucket list gets longer
Illinois is comfortably located near to several towns and cities not just inside the US but even in Canada. And as a result, you will unknowingly start driving to Detroit, Nashville, Indianapolis, St. Luis, Pittsburg, and even Toronto. Who knows, every weekend you plan a long trip to one of the best cities in the country or maybe outside as well.
Illinois is culturally and historically significant
For history buffs, Illinois is more than an emotion. There are hundreds of points associated with the state – both historically and culturally. The ‘Land of Lincoln’ was the first state to abolish slavery and Chicago is a symbol of diversity for a century.
There’re hundreds of landmark buildings here which will make you more obsessed with history. And at the same time, you will learn more about Lincoln here because much of his professional life was spend in Illinois. There’s no end to the amount of Lincoln information you can take in at memorials and museums around the state.
Some of the significant buildings in Illinois are:
- Oriental Institute Museum
- Ronal Reagan Birthplace and Museum
- Mendota Museum and Historical Society
- Swedish American Museum
- Illinois Military Museum
- Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum
- Jacoby Arts Center
- Charleston History District
Illinois is the place for the best shipwreck diving
While thinking about scuba diving, Illinois is not the first spot that comes to your mind but Lake Michigan has preserved some of the best shipwrecks for you to scuba dive. And there are more than a dozen such shipwrecks. Go deep down to come face-to-face with a giant sea creature.
It’s affordable to live in Illinois
Do not assume the cost of living to be high in Illinois. Contrary to popular beliefs, Illinois is an affordable place to lead a happy life. Housing is pretty cheap here than in the neighboring states and even buying a home in Chicago is easier than in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, or Los Angeles. Groceries, food, transport, and home rent, everything is below the national average.
‘Midwest Nice’ and Illinois hospitality will conquer you
Moving to Illinois, you will be addicted to the charm of ‘Midwest Nice’ complemented with the famous Illinois hospitality. Illinois has a history of embracing everyone and you can witness almost every culture co-existing here cordially. Illinois is truly multicultural and the credit goes to ‘Midwest Nice’. Sooner, you too will get melted to the Illinois charm.
Don’t you think we are discussing just the best sides of ‘the Lincoln State’ when our goal is to make you understand both the pros and cons of living in Illinois? Do not worry as we are moving ahead to see what are the problems associated with living here.
The crime rate is higher in Illinois
Maybe many factors tempt you to move to Illinois. But one of the things to know about Illinois is that the crime rate is higher than the national average. While 16% of the crimes reported here are violent, 23% of them are related to property.
However, according to Neighborhood Scout, Illinois has 19 of the safest cities in the country, including the #2 spot.
There’s high competition for jobs
Illinois is indeed an economic hub and there are hundreds or thousands of companies. But one of the things to know in Illinois is that the job market is highly competitive. There are more than 10 million residents and each one is vying for the best job. You need to pull up the socks every time you need a hike or perk. Do you need any other reason to be insomniac?
Taxes are frightening in Illinois
On one side we claim Illinois to pay you well but on the other side, the state squeezes you through taxes. It has the second-highest property tax in the US, which is 2.32%. Only New Jersey has a property tax higher than Illinois. The 6.25% sales tax combined with local taxes can range between 6.25% and 11%. And Illinois has a flat individual income tax rate of 4.95%.
Traffic is scary in Illinois
Chicago and its suburb cities are amazingly beautiful, loaded with high-class infrastructure. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend on the road for long hours watching them. In Illinois, especially in cities like Chicago and Aurora, the traffic is a disaster and all major roads get choked up during the peak hours.
Chicago is ranked as the third most congested city and parking is a nightmare here. Other Illinois cities are also not far behind but at country sides and small towns, things can be different.
The climate is unpredictable and winters are extremely harsh
You’ve never felt the cold before until you experience a winter day in Illinois. That’s extremely harsh and everything around you gets frozen. There’ll be long stretches of white layers of snow. Your car doors, patio doors, everything will be frozen.
And there’s no escape as entire Illinois goes below 10°F. It’s normal for the winter temperature to drop down 2°F. To make things worse, ice storms lash the state occasionally.
Illinois is prone to natural disasters
While judging the pros and cons of living in Illinois, you would have learned that the state is highly vulnerable to thunderstorms, lightning, floods, and tornadoes. There are almost 50 days of thunderstorms every year and an average of 54 tornadoes sweep Illinois. Flooding routinely causes serious damage. There are also heat and cold waves that cause human casualties every year in Illinois.
Illinois is a great state and Chicago is its gem. No one can deny that the living experience Illinois offers is exceptional and unique. And while comparing the pros and cons of living in Illinois, you also would have realized that the state also ranks high in outdoor entertainment, food scene, and natural beauty. So what is the wait for? It’s time to pack the bags to Illinois.