Home to the City of Chicago, Illinois is not just about big city living. Offering three distinct regions – The Central Plains, the Shawnee Hills, and the Gulf Coastal Plain – this Midwestern state has a wide variety of wonders, opportunities, attractions, and more. Two things that unify the Prairie State’s small towns and big cities are the overall friendliness and affordability (especially compared to the rest of the nation).

Are you considering a move to Illinois? We’re here to help! Great Guys Moving has put together this handy guide, so you don’t have to work so hard to research the state. This guide includes what to know before moving to IL, the best cities to call home, an interstate moving checklist, and a ranked list of the best Illinois moving companies. Whether you’re looking for stellar education, jobs, outdoor activities, city living, country life, or a combination of it all, this Midwestern gem is worthy of deep consideration.

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Living in Illinois: What to Know Before Moving to Illinois

Moving to Illinois? As the 6th most populous state (12.8 million) and the 25th largest state (57,914 square miles), there’s a lot to consider before relocating to this great Midwestern state.

Pros and Cons of Living in Illinois


  • Job opportunities: This is especially true near Chicago and other big cities. Growing fields include mobile development, clinical research, engineering, food science, and project development.
  • Cost of living: Though it may be higher than the national average in some counties, Illinois offers a highly reasonable cost of living, particularly when compared to many other states and cities.
  • Housing: With a median home value of under $185,000, there are plenty of bargains to be had here! If you’re looking to buy, Illinois is a great state to do so.
  • Sports: If you’re into athletics, you’ll love it here. It’s home to the Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Sky (WNBA), Chicago Bulls (NBA), and more.
  • Food: From hotdogs to Chicago deep dish pizza, Illinois is a foodie’s paradise. On top of all the great restaurants, there are several food fests (including Taste of Chicago and Sausage Fest)
  • Sights: Filled with history, agriculture, and national beauty, the state is home to numerous attractions, national parks, historical sites, architecture, and much more.
  • Sounds: Last but not least, music is big here. From blues and jazz to country and rock, there’s always a music festival or vibrant music venue to check out.


  • Traffic: If you’re planning on moving to Chicago, be prepared for congestion. Ranked as the #3 most congested US city, you can spend a lot of time in traffic. Parking can be a nightmare, too.
  • Crime rate: Again, the main culprit is the City of Chicago. The government has made great strides to combat property and violent crime, but it’s still a major issue.
  • Intense winters: This isn’t the case for the entire state (especially Southern Illinois), but if you live in the northern region, you know how intense blizzards and other storms can get.
  • Job competition: This is especially true in the Chi-Town. With nearly 3 million residents, everyone is vying for the best positions. It may take time to find a job, so be patient.
  • Taxes: With the second highest effective real-estate tax in the country, the overall tax rate can be quite high. Of course, this depends on the county in which you reside.
  • Weird laws: This may not necessarily be a con, but it’s interesting nonetheless. A prime example is a law in the town of Normal that states you can be arrested for making faces at a dog. Ha!

Is Illinois a Good Place to Live?

Illinois is one of the best states to live in because of its quality of life, safety, and quality healthcare. Not to mention, it has the most restaurants per capita and is home to world-famous, original Chicago deep-dish pizzas. It’s also home to many sports teams from many different leagues, so if you’re into athletics, you’ll feel right at home.

What is Illinois best known for?

  • The Prairie State: A major grassland of the United States, Illinois was once covered in prairie grass, earning it the moniker “The Prairie State”. Today the state’s landscape is marked by farmland, forests, and rolling hills.
  • Route 66: Opened in 1926, Route 66 was one of the original highways in the US. This iconic roadway stretched all the way from Chicago to California. It has many attractions and has been featured in many prominent films including National Lampoon’s Vacation.
  • The First McDonald’s: Illinois is home to the very first McDonald’s in the world. A replica museum now sits on the exact same spot of the original restaurant.
  • Nuclear Power: The state has the most nuclear power plants in the country, which has created many job opportunities across the state.
  • Sports: Mostly centered around Chicago, one of the largest cities of the United States, Illinois is home to many sports teams like the Bulls, the Cubs, the White Sox, and Blackhawks.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: With the #2 highest in the US, Illinois has an effective property tax rate of 2.32%.
  • Sales Tax: State sales tax is 6.25%. Combined with local taxes, it can range from 6.25% to 11%.
  • Income Tax: The state of Illinois has a flat individual income tax rate of 4.95%.

Housing Market

To Buy or Rent? Illinois State is a great place to buy. In fact, most areas are well under the national average for home prices.

  • Median Home Value: $181,000
  • Median Rental Expense: $913 (1 BR) and $1,096 (2 BR)

Cheapest Places to Live in Illinois:

  1. Hoopeston
  2. Clinton
  3. Dixon
  4. Mount
  5. Salem
  6. Hillsboro
  7. Du Quoin
  8. Pana
  9. Litchfield
  10. Lincoln

Cost of Living

Illinois ranks #21 for cost of living among U.S. states (according to the 2019 MERIC data series) with a cost of living index of 94.5. The state scores below the national average in housing, groceries, and healthcare.

Let’s compare the living expenses of two cities. Using the Family Budget Calculator, we’ll look at the average costs for a family of four in Chicago and Springfield.

First, we have the Chicago metro area:

  1. Housing = $1,180
  2. Food = $739
  3. Childcare = $1,537
  4. Transportation = $1,054
  5. Healthcare = $1,053
  6. Other necessities = $774
  7. Taxes = $1,042
  8. Grand total = $7,378 per month or $88,536 per year

Next, we have the Springfield metro area:

  1. Housing = $826
  2. Food = $705
  3. Childcare = $1,268
  4. Transportation = $1,170
  5. Healthcare = $1,286
  6. Other necessities = $618
  7. Taxes = $912
  8. Grand total = $6,785 per month or $81,424 per year

Weather & Natural Disasters

Illinois State has a continental climate with warm, humid summers and cold winters. Of course, due to its size, the state’s climate can vary significantly depending on region. Average summer temps range from 70°F to 85°F, while the average winter temp is 37°F in the south and 20°F in the north.

The southern portion of the state, also known as Little Egypt, experiences a subtropical climate which results in milder winters. Snowfall fall in Southern Illinois is less than 15 inches per year, while snowfall in Chicago and other northern counties usually exceeds 35 to 40 inches.

Natural Disaster – Threats & Risks:

  1. Blizzards
  2. Tornadoes
  3. Wildfires
  4. Severe storms
  5. Hurricanes
  6. Severe flooding
  7. Extreme heat
  8. Drought

Economy & Job Market

According to US News & World Report’s Economy Rankings, Illinois is the #41 economy in the nation. Its business environment ranks #15.

Top Industries:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Retail
  4. Education
  5. Professional, scientific, and technical services
  6. Hospitality
  7. Finance & Insurance
  8. Transportation
  9. Construction
  10. Administrative

Top Employers:

  1. McDonald’s
  2. Walgreens
  3. Sears Holdings
  4. Caterpillar
  5. United Airlines
  6. Mondel Z International
  7. JLL
  8. Abbott
  9. John Deere
  10. ITW

Looking for work in Illinois? Here are some handy links:

  1. Government page: Find Jobs – Illinois.gov
  2. Job search: Indeed, LinkedIn, CollegeRecruiter, CareerBuilder
  3. Resume help: Monster, TopResume, ResumeRobin

Traffic and Transportation

The state of Illinois offers 63 public transit providers. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the #2 biggest public transportation system in the country, behind only New York City.

Major Highways:

  1. I-24
  2. I-39
  3. I-41
  4. I-55
  5. I-57
  6. I-64
  7. I-70
  8. I-72
  9. I-74
  10. I-80
  11. I-88
  12. I-90
  13. I-94

According to US News’ Cities with the World’s Worst Traffic Congestion, Chicago ranks as the third most congested cities in the United States (2018). According to INRIX, Illinois State has an impact rank of #23.

Things to Do

  • Family Friendly: Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm, Krape City Park, Boo Rochman Memorial Park, Maggie Daley Park, Independence Grove Forest Preserve, Discovery Center Museum, Tivoli Theatre Downers Grove, Riverwalk, Great Rivers Scenic Route, Cantigny Park, First Division Museum at Cantigny, Gail Borden Public Library, Spring Valley, World’s Largest Mailbox, Blackberry Farm, Lake Katherine Nature Center, Skydeck Chicago – Willis Tower
  • Food & Drink: Berghoff Café, Red Apple Buffet, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, The Aviary, Goose Island Beer Company, M. Henry, Au Cheval, Maize Mexican Grill, Longman & Eagle, The Chili Parlor, Katy’s Dumpling House, Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Intelligentsia Coffee, Molly’s Cupcakes, Dat Donut, Green City Market, The Fat Shallot, Kuma’s Corner, BIG & little’s, Ryba’s Fudge Shop, Harold’s Chicken Shack, Nature’s Best Fresh Market, Superdawg, Margie’s Candy, Cumin, Spiaggia
  • Sights & Landmarks: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Exhibit, Hamilton: The Exhibition, Adler Planetarium, Chicago Segway Tour, Viator VIP: Chicago Helicopter Tour, Chicago Bike Tour, Field Museum of Natural History, American Writers Museum, Ayer Public Library, Chicago Water Tower, Columbus Park, O’Hare International Airport, Robert S. Abbott House, Woodstock Opera House, Wrigley Field
  • Nightlife: Chicago Detours, Chicago Magic Lounge, Jazz Showcase, Lagunitas Taproom, Kingston Mines, Buddy Guy’s Legends, Winter’s Jazz Club, B.L.U.E.S., Andy’s Jazz Club, Rosa’s Lounge, House of Blues Chicago, The iO Theater, Second City, Green Mill, The ComedySportz Theatre, Signature Lounge, Kings Dining & Entertainment Lincoln Park, Royal George Theatre, UP Comedy Club, Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Matthew’s Haunted Pub Crawl, Headquarters Beercade
  • National Parks & Historic Sites: Shawnee National Forest, Lincoln Home National Historic Site Visitor Center, Archery Park, Pullman State Historic Site, Lewis & Clark Historic Site, Joseph Smith Historic Site, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area
  • Museums: The Art Museum of Chicago, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, First Division Museum at Cantigny, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Cantigny Park, American Writers Museum, Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Historic Auto Museum, Discovery Center Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, Museum of Science and Industry, Oriental Institute Museum, DuPage Children’s Museum, Field Museum
  • Art Galleries: River Bend Gallery (Galena), Cedarhurst Center for the Arts (Mount Vernon), Mangelsen – Images of Nature Gallery (Galena), Larry Kanfer Photography Gallery (Champaign), J. Draper Glass (Peoria), Outside the Lines Art Gallery (Galena), Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park (Skokie), The Vault At Gallery (Tuscola), Galena Center for the Arts (Galena), History Center Lake Forest-Lake Bluff (Lake Forest)
  • Events & Festivals: Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, Pitchfork Music Festival, Windy City Smokeout, Chicago Blues Festival, Live in Lincoln, Tater Tots & Beer Festival, Strawberry Festival, Budweiser Blues Festival, Corn Festival, Vintage IL Wine Festival, Illinois State Fair, Summer Dance Chicago, Morgan County Fair, Ruido Fest, Old Settlers Days, Color Vibe, Naperville Ale Fest, Southport Art Festival, Midwest Independent Film Festival, Kite Flying Festival, Cavalcade of Planes
  • Fun & Games: BATL – The Backyard Axe Throwing League, The Escape Game Chicago, Fox in a Box Chicago, Champaign-Urbana Adventures in Time & Space, Escape Factor, iFLY Indoor Skydiving, PanIQ Room Chicago, The Game Show Game Show, Galloping Ghost, Team vs Time, Escape Artistry, Ragnarok Axe Throwing, Escapology Orland Park
  • Zoos & Aquariums: Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago), Cosley Zoo (Wheaton), Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield), Shedd Aquarium (Chicago), Miller Park Zoo (Bloomington), Peoria Zoo (Peoria), Phillips Park Zoo (Aurora), Aikman Wildlife Adventure (Arcola), Scovill Zoo (Decatur), Niani Zoo (Coal Valley), Henson Robinson Zoo (Springfield)
  • Vineyards & Wineries: August Hill Winery & Illinois Sparkling Co. Tasting Room, Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard, Blue Sky Vineyard, StarView Vineyards, Lynfred Winery, Alto Vineyards, Fergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery, Lincoln Heritage Winery, Galena Cellars Vineyard, Owl Creek Vineyard, Pomona Winery, Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, Massbach Ridge Vineyard, Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Aerie’s Winery, Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery, Fox Valley Winery
  • Casinos & Gambling: Jumer’s Casino Rock Island (Rock Island), Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Harrah’s Joliet Casino (Joliet), Harrah’s Metropolis (Metropolis), Hollywood Casino Joliet (Joliet), Arlington International Racecourse (Arlington Heights), Rivers Casino (Des Plaines), Fairmount Park (Collinsville), Argosy Casino Alton (Alton)
  • Spas & Wellness: Healing Touch of Galena, SaltTreeYoga, Galena Day Spa, RestorationSpirit, King Spa & Sauna, Aire Ancient Baths, The Spa at Eurostars Magnificent Mile, Allure De Vie Salon & Day Spa, MySpa, Urban Oasis, Kohler Waters Spa at Burr Ridge, The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Chicago, Spa Space, The Spa at Trump Chicago, Primal Oceans Salt Cave, Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Sacred Sole Massage & Bodywork Theresa Young LMT, Five Points, Indulge Day Spa
  • Cool & Unusual: Oz Park, Tiffany Dome, Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co., Woolly Mammoth Antiques & Oddities, Willis Tower Glass Platform, The Violet Hour, International Museum of Surgical Science, Myopic Books, Garfield Park Conservatory, Graceland Cemetery, Merz Apothecary, American Science & Surplus, Chicago Freight Tunnels, Eternal Silence, Alinea Restaurant, Chicago Temple, The Fountain of Time, The Secret Mermaid, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive & Outsider Art

Schools and Universities

Illinois is home to several acclaimed universities and public school districts. Here are our top choices.

Top IL Colleges:

  1. University of Chicago
  2. Northwestern University
  3. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
  4. Loyola University of Chicago
  5. Illinois Institute of Technology
  6. DePaul University
  7. University of Illinois – Chicago
  8. Illinois State University
  9. Benedictine University
  10. Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Top IL Public School Districts:

  1. Community High School District No. 128 (Vernon Hills)
  2. New Trier Township High School District No. 203 (Northfield)
  3. Naperville Community Unit School District No. 203 (Naperville)
  4. Barrington Community Unit School District No. 220 (Barrington)
  5. Indian Prairie Community Unit School District No. 204 (Aurora)
  6. Glenbrook High Schools District 225 (Glenview)
  7. Hinsdale Township High School District No. 86 (Hinsdale)
  8. Community Unit School District No. 200 (Wheaton)
  9. Elmhurst School District No. 205 (Elmhurst)
  10. Township High School District No. 113 (Highland Park)

How to Become an Illinois Resident

To qualify as a resident of Illinois, you must establish residency (purchase a home, rent an apartment, etc.). For students that want to pay in-state tuition, you must prove physical residency in the state for at least 12 months before the beginning of the academic year.

Documents to prove IL residency include:

  • Illinois driver’s license or ID card
  • Valid state tax return or federal tax return
  • IL high school or college transcript
  • Illinois voter’s registration card
  • Rent or utility bills
  • Illinois auto registration card
  • Residential lease
  • Property tax bill
  • Wage and tax statements
  • Statement of benefits history in Illinois

Moving to Illinois DMV

Acquiring a new driver’s license:

Once you’ve moved to the state, you have 90 days to get an Illinois driver’s license (valid for four years). If you have a valid out-of-state license, you must:

  1. Visit a Secretary of State facility
  2. Verify identification (see document requirements)
  3. Pass a vision test
  4. Pass a written test
  5. Pay fees

*Note: in some cases, it may be required to pass a road test.

Vehicle registration:

New residents have 30 days to title and register out-of-state vehicles.

  1. Visit a Secretary of State Driver Services facility
  2. Have valid liability insurance that covers property damage/injuries
  3. Pay titling and registration fees

To qualify to vote, you must be:

  1. A United States citizen
  2. At least 18 years old on election day
  3. A resident of your precinct for least 30 days before election day

For more info, check out the Voting in Illinois page.

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Best Places to Live in Illinois

Buffalo Grove

Population: 41,200
Median Home Value: $302,200
Region: Northern Illinois

Considered one of the best Chicago suburbs, Buffalo Grove is also consistently ranked as the #2 best place to live in the state. Crimes rates are low, homeownership is strong, and residents tend to be politically moderate. Along with an assortment of topnotch suburban amenities, the city is also one of the safest in America and has highly rated public schools.

As a northern suburb located in Lake County and Cook County, Buffalo Grove offers plenty to do: downtown adventures (live music, bars, coffee shops, stores), shopping (Chase Plaza, Country Court, Dundee Point), parks (Emmerich, Greenfield, Lions, Old Farm, Prairie, Winfield), museum (Raupp Memorial Museum), restaurants (Starfish Sushi, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Walker Bros. Original Pancake House, Wildfire), and much more. Job opportunities are expansive, and Chicago is right down the road.

Families will be delighted with the K–12 academic selection here. Top public schools include Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Deerfield High School, Buffalo Grove High School, Daniel Wright Junior High School, and Wheeling High School. Private schools include St. Mary School, Buffalo Grove Montessori School, KinderCare Learning Center, and Torah Academy. Those looking for higher education are just a short commute away from several acclaimed colleges in Chicago.

If you’re looking for a caring place to raise a family, or you’re a single professional wanting to live in a safe village close to Chicago, Buffalo Grove is an exceptional choice.


Population: 2.74 million
Median Home Value: $228,000
Region: Northern Illinois

The Windy City. Paris on the Prairie. The City in a Garden. Chi-Town. Chicago is a Midwestern city of nearly 3 million that offers a multitude of world-class opportunities, attractions, and amenities that easily rivals its long list of great nicknames. The city is one of the greatest in America, and whether you’re a single professional or family of six, anyone can find the perfect fit in Chicago.

Need reasons to make Chicago your new home? Here’s a few: the job market (Hyatt Hotels, Ultimate Software, Edward Jones, to name just a few), housing (significantly cheaper than many major US cities), mobility (very walkable with the 2nd largest transportation system in the country), and sports (Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire, Chicago Sky, and Chicago Red Stars). And if we listed all the amazing food, music, museums, shops, festivals, and cultural events, we’d be here all day. Suffice to say, Chicago offers too much to list!

As with many American cities, most residents rent and tend to be liberal. If you’re in the market for a house, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Some of the best bargains can be found here. On the downside, the crime rate is a big issue, but the city continues to make great strides towards reducing violent crimes and property crimes.

Top public schools: Walter Payton College Prep, Northside College Preparatory High School, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Jones College Prep High School, and Lane Tech Prep School. Top private schools: University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Latin School of Chicago, Francis W Parker School, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School, and Morgan Park Academy. Top colleges: University of Chicago, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, and Moody Bible Institute.

Are you looking for a great Chicago neighborhood? Take a look at Printers Row, Greektown, Loop, West Loop, Streeterville, Lake View, Near South Side, River North, Gold Coast, and Old Town.

With its rich history, culture, attractions, amenities, and opportunities, the third most populous city in the nation offers everything you’d want from urban life minus the outrageous cost of living of cities like NYC, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Clarendon Hills

Population: 8,700
Median Home Value: $468,300
Region: Northern Illinois

Considered as a Top 3 suburb to live in Illinois, Clarendon Hills is a small village just southwest of Chicago in DuPage County that offers a great suburban lifestyle. Comprised mainly of upper-middle-class folks, the majority of residents are homeowners and tend to lean on the conservative side. Public education is excellent here, and the crime rate is relatively low.

This safe, clean, and family-friendly community is close-knit. Everyone knows everyone which can be a good thing or a bad thing. There’s an adorable downtown and plenty of parks, restaurants, and coffee shops. If you want to head to the city, downtown Chicago is a quick train ride or drive away. The village is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, while still being within a stone’s throw of Chi-Town if you need to commute for work. On the downside, there is a lack of diversity.

Looking for great public schools? Consider Hinsdale Central High School, Monroe Elementary School, Prospect Elementary School, Clarendon Hills Middle School, and Walker School. Top private schools include Seton Montessori School and Notre Dame School.

Though it may have a considerably higher cost of living, Clarendon Hills offers a strong sense of community, some of the best schools in the country, high marks in safety, beautiful homes, and a great environment for raising children.


Population: 148,000
Median Home Value: $398,600
Region: Northern Illinois

Rounding out our list of top Chicago suburbs is Naperville, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Located less than 30 miles west of the city in DuPage and Will counties, the city of Naperville is the fifth largest in Illinois. As one of the wealthiest and safest cities in the state, it is home to many young professionals and families. Most residents own their homes and tend to lean moderate.

Ranked #1 on Niche’s list of 2019 Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, the city of fewer than 150,000 ranks high in education, diversity, health & fitness, housing, job & recreational activities, commuting, and the list goes on. It also ranks as one of the Top 10 cities to live in the United States. Not too shabby!

If you’re in search of some of the finest public schools in Illinois, Naperville offers a plethora of choices. Top picks include Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville Central High School, Naperville North High School, Metea Valley High School, and Waubonsie Valley High School. Top picks for private schools include Ss. Peter & Paul School, All Saints Catholic Academy, and St. Raphael Catholic School.

Like its counterpart in Clarendon Hills, the cost of living is higher. If you can afford it, however, Naperville is not only one of the top places to live in Illinois but also one of the greatest cosmopolitan suburbs in all of America.


Population: 78,000
Median Home Value: $153,700
Region: Central Illinois

Moving our way to Central Illinois, we have Bloomington. This city of less than 80,000 found in McLean County is known for its friendliness and affordability. Coupled with higher paying job opportunities, Bloomington continues to attract people from all walks of life. Many residents are homeowners, and the public school system is highly rated.

Bloomington offers many reasons to move here: jobs (top employers include State Farm Insurance, Country Financial, and Mclean County School District No. 5), recreation & entertainment (Pepsi Ice Center and the Grossinger Motors Arena), nature & wildlife (the Bloomington Parks & Recreation Dept., Miller Park Zoo, the Bloomington-Normal Constitution Trail, and the Genevieve Green Gardens), arts & theatre (the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the McLean County Arts Center, the Community Players Theatre, and the USA Ballet), and much more.

The best public schools include Normal Community High School, Tri-Valley Elementary School, Tri-Valley Middle School, Grove Elementary School, and Bloomington High School. Looking for top private schools? Consider Central Catholic High School, Holy Trinity Catholic School, Corpus Christy Catholic School, Trinity Lutheran School, and St. Mary’s School. Colleges include Illinois Wesleyan University and Hairmasters Institute of Cosmetology.

With the cost of living significantly lower than the national average, Bloomington is a smaller city that offers comfortable living perfect for families, students, artists, and entrepreneurs alike.


Population: 115,000
Median Home Value: $106,500
Region: Central Illinois

Next on our list is the capital city of Springfield. Located in Sangamon County, the city is home to Abraham Lincoln and rich American history. Overall, Springfield scores above average in public schooling, housing, nightlife, and diversity (with room for improvement for the crime rate). Residents tend to own their homes and have more moderate views.

Top attractions: Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Governor’s Mansion, Dana-Thomas House (Frank Lloyd Wright), Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival. Places to eat: Augie’s Front Burner, Cozy Dog Drive-In, Incredibly Delicious, Long Nine Junction, Maldaner’s, Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery, and Saputo’s. Shopping: Cardiologist, Recycled Records, Simply Fair, and Springfield Vintage. There is a great downtown, but you should also keep in mind that Springfield isn’t the most walkable city overall.

Those in search of good public schools should look at Springfield High School, Rochester High School, Iles Elementary School, Glenwood High School, and Williamsville High School. Top private schools include Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, Lutheran High School, Calvary Academy, Blessed Sacrament School, and Christ the King Elementary School. Looking for a college? Check out the University of Illinois at Springfield, Benedictine University – Springfield, and Midwest Technical Institute – Springfield.

Folks looking for a small-town vibe with urban amenities at a more affordable rate than Northern Illinois will find an assortment of attractive selling points in Springfield.


Population: 41,700
Median Home Value: $76,100
Region: Southern Illinois

French for ‘beautiful city,’ Belleville is located in the southern portion of Illinois. This region is home to four distinct seasons and unique history. As a suburb of St. Louis and the most populated city in Southern Illinois, Belleville is a charming community that offers great schools, diversity, and more. Most residents are homeowners and tend to be politically moderate.

As one of the Top 5 most affordable cities in Illinois, Belleville offers plenty: history (the Belleville Historic District), sports (Rowdies Rugby, Lindenwood Stadium, Bellville Running Club), events (St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Ale Fest, Art on the Square, Oktoberfest, Chili Cookoff, Wine Dine and Jazz), performing arts (the Belleville Philharmonic Society), and more than can be listed here.

It is also in close proximity to casinos (Argosy Casino, Harrah’s, Casino Queen, and Pair-A-Dice), wineries & orchards (Alto Vineyards, Bella Terra Winery, Blue Sky Vineyards, and many more), and parks (Beall Woods State Park, Cave-in-Rock State Park, Cache River State Natural Area, the list goes on).

Top public schools serving Belleville include Belleville High School – East, Wingate Elementary School, Belleville High School – West, Signal Hill Elementary School, and Mascoutah Middle School. Private schooling options include Governor French Academy, Althoff Catholic High School, St. Teresa Catholic School, Zion Lutheran School, and Our Lady Queen of Peace School. Southwestern Illinois College also serves the city.

Are you looking for a great mixture of country and urban living? How about a short commute to St. Louis? Either way, Belleville should be on your radar.


Population: 25,900
Median Home Value: $117,600
Region: Southern Illinois

Last stop on our tour of the best places to live in Illinois is Carbondale. Part of the so-called ‘Little Egypt’ region, the city of less than 26,000 is known for its humid subtropical climate. Carbondale is a small city with big charm, ideal for nature lovers. Home to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, education is highly rated here. Most residents rent and hold moderate political views.

Surrounded by numerous lakes, waterfalls, trails, and the Shawnee National Forest, Carbondale offers endless opportunities to get out and explore nature. Offering a bit more spark than your typical town with a college-town atmosphere, this small city holds numerous concerts, shows, and tourist attractions.

As the economic hub of Jackson County, Carbondale employs 6,500+ people via the university. The city is not without its issues, however. Crime is an ongoing concern, and there has been a slight rise in alcohol and drug use, particularly meth (which has sadly hit a lot of small towns in America).

Along with being home to SIUC, the southern Illinois city offers several top public schools, including Carbondale Community High School, Giant City Elementary School, Unity Point Elementary School, Carterville Intermediate School, and Murphysboro High School. Private schools to consider are Trinity Christian School of Carbondale and Brehm Preparatory School.

Filled with natural wonder, cultural attractions, and educational opportunities, Carbondale earns its place as one of the best (and most inexpensive) cities in Illinois.

How to Move to Illinois

Whether it’s your first time or tenth, it pays to be prepared. From hiring a reputable moving company to performing that last walkthrough, the following IL interstate moving list will help you stay on top of everything when preparing to move to Illinois.

8 to 12 Weeks Before Move

  • Make a plan: Start by giving yourself ample time to perform your relocation. At least 2 to 3 months, if possible. Create a budget and list of logistics. Delegate work to family members and anybody else that will be lending a hand. Make sure everyone knows their role.
  • Research IL movers: The last thing you want to do is hire a subpar moving company. Take the time to comparison shop (at least 3 to 5 movers). Make sure each one you consider is fully licensed and insured for your type of move.
  • Compare quotes: Now that you have a handful of prospective companies to choose from, consider the services you need. Long-distance or local? Custom packaging? Storage-in-transit? Remember that different companies provide varying levels of services.
  • Hire movers ASAP: To secure a great rate and availability, don’t wait to book. Great Guys Moving makes it easy to find top-rated Illinois moving companies that fit your requirements. Request free estimates today!
  • Create lists: There are two main lists you’ll want to make: 1) a packing list and 2) a contact list. A packing list will help you keep tabs on your home inventory and what you want to keep, sell, or donate. A contact list should contain info on current and future doctors, teachers, schools, etc.
  • Inform landlord, realtor, neighbors, etc.: Do you rent? Notify your landlord as soon as you know you’re moving. This step will save you from having to face a penalty. Homeowners looking to sell or rent should contact a real estate professional ASAP as well.
  • Purge & downsize: Okay, now it’s time to purge. This process will help to save money and space. Start by touring your home to get a sense of everything you have. Then, beginning in one room, decide which items you want to keep or discard — label or place in piles.
  • Sell, donate, or recycle: Once you’ve performed the downsizing process, you’ll want to find a new home for any disused possessions. Throw a yard or garage sale, sell online (Amazon, eBay, etc.), donate to charity or thrift shop, and recycle any leftover items.

4 to 6 Weeks Out

  • Start packing: First, gather quality packing materials. Make sure to pack heavier items at the bottom of the boxes. Properly wrap, tape, and clearly label. If you’re not feeling it, you can always tap us for cheap packing services – from partial packing to full-service packing from start to finish.
  • Transfer any important records: This can include medical, dental, school, and prescriptions. If you have children, don’t forget to transfer their important records as well.
  • Change your address: To update it, complete a form at your local post office or go online to USPS.com. Don’t forget to change your address for online services or subscriptions, too.
  • Hire cleaners: Want to ensure a great showing or that you’ll receive a full security deposit? Arrange for professional cleaners to return your old home to its former glory.
  • Review insurance coverage: Hopefully, you don’t have to experience damage or loss, but you never know what’s going to happen. Contact your movers and insurer for coverage info.
  • Prepare pets: Schedule a vet visit. Check out state and local pet laws. Moving day can be distracted, so consider pet care to ensure your furry friend is safe and secure.
  • Turn off and connect services: About a month or so out, schedule for services and utilities to be disconnected (preferably the day after moving).

Moving Week

  • Meet up with friends & family: Plan to say a proper goodbye with your loved ones. Schedule a group outing, individual lunch dates, or a house party to celebrate your move!
  • Create an essentials box: When you have some free time, fill up a box with everything you’ll need during your first 24 to 48 hours at your new home. This essentials kit can include meds, prescriptions, food, toys, bedding, and anything else you’ll need during the first couple of days.
  • Confirm travel: Driving? Double check route. Also look over the vehicle (tire pressure, oil level, etc.). Flying? Check itinerary, luggage, and flight times.
  • Confirm with movers: Don’t forget to exchange numbers for easy communication on the road. Check arrival time and provide any final instructions at least a few days before your move.
  • Rest up: Finally, moving day is tomorrow! Consider staying in. Keep things mellow, hydrate, eat well and get plenty of sleep.
  • Be present: You and your movers may have last-minute questions. If doable, be there in person to go over the plan with the moving team.
  • Take one last tour: Once your movers have loaded up, perform one last walkthrough. Keep an eye out for any trash, messes, or items that you may have missed.

Quality Moving Services from Illinois Movers

Great Guys Moving wants you to enjoy a smooth experience. Whatever your needs, we connect you with top moving services for a safe, secure, and affordable move to Illinois.

Long Distance Moves

Looking for a top state-to-state moving company? We make it easy! Our interstate movers are fully licensed, insured, and qualified to handle any out-of-state relocation, big or small. Sit back and relax while your professional movers handle your Illinois move with skill.

Intrastate & Local Moves

If you’re relocating within Illinois state lines, you need a short distance moving company you can trust. We can find you a local mover that offers the right balance of affordability and reliability. Whether you’re moving across the street or the state, Great Guys has you covered.

International Moves

Moving to another country? This transition is an exciting time, but you’re probably nervous about all the details and logistics. Moving around the world comes with a certain set of challenges. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right page! Let us help you navigate all the ins and outs with our international relocation service.

Small Load Moves

Don’t hire a big moving company that will charge you a big-company rate. If you’re moving out of a studio or another one-bedroom space, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Save money and time with cheap small load movers.

Furniture Shipments

Need help with bulky or fragile furniture? Check out our furniture moving specialists. We help you track down a local moving crew that can safely and effectively transport everything from a single antique dresser to an entire household filled with couches, beds, armoires, and more.

Piano Transport

Relocating a piano, organ, or another large instrument? Hire a top-rated piano moving specialist today. Our piano movers come prepared with the right tools, knowledge, and experience to ensure your precious instrument arrives unscathed at its destination (church, music venue, house, etc.).

Art Shipping & Transport

When it comes to relocating fine art and antiques, you shouldn’t settle. Have peace of mind as our specialized art shippers carefully and expertly transport your collection or exhibit. Our professional art handlers utilize the latest packing techniques and see to every last detail.


Looking for short-term or long-term storage? Whether for personal or business reasons, we provide convenient storage solutions in Illinois for any size haul. This service can be added to your moving service package or purchased separately.

Last Minute & Short Notice Moves

An unexpected move is never fun. Whatever your situation, we know how stressful it can be. That’s why we specialize in locating inexpensive last minute moving companies in your area. If you’re facing an emergency move, give us a call today.

Residential Moves

Great Guys Moving wants to help you have a smooth relocation in Illinois. From packing and storage to professional transport and unboxing, our reputable residential movers are the best in the business. They can even set up your furniture, rugs, and appliances. Talk about service!

Packing Services

Overwhelmed by all the stuff you need to pack? Don’t have the time or ability to get it all done right? Our pro packers will help you breathe a sigh of relief. From partial packing to a complete packing solution, we provide just the right service to fit your needs and budget.

Commercial and Office Moves

In need of a highly qualified commercial moving company in the state of Illinois? Look no further. Whether you’re moving to a small office or a large retail space, our office moving specialists help you to efficiently plan and execute a successful business move with little to no downtime.

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Want a drama-free transition in the Prairie State? Request free moving quotes today from top Illinois moving companies!

Get price estimates for your move right now.

Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More