Moving to Illinois

Are you considering taking the plunge and moving to Illinois? You've come to the right place! Welcome to our comprehensive Illinois relocation guide, where we'll explore everything this fascinating state has to offer. Before you know it, you'll feel like a true Illinoisan, indulging in mouthwatering deep-dish pizza, joining enthusiastic sports fans, and experiencing the alluring mix of vibrant city life and quaint, small-town charm. So let's dive in, and let us assist you in discovering the wonders of the Land of Lincoln, making your move to Illinois a smooth and delightful adventure!

Moving to Illinois landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Illinois

1. Land of Lincoln

If you're planning to move to Illinois, get ready to immerse yourself in the state's love for Abraham Lincoln. Illinois is often referred to as the "Land of Lincoln," as it was the 16th president's home for over 30 years before he moved to the White House. You'll find plenty of nods to Honest Abe throughout the state, from statues to historic sites and the impressive Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

2. Experience all four seasons

When you move to Illinois, you'll truly get to experience all four seasons, as the state's weather is quite the roller coaster ride. Summers can be hot and humid, with temperatures soaring into the 90s, while winters in Illinois can be incredibly cold, with plenty of snow and ice. Fall offers beautiful displays of foliage colors, and spring brings blooming flowers. Stock up on appropriate clothing, and be prepared for a little bit of everything!

3. Taste test that deep-dish pizza

No listicle about moving to Illinois would be complete without mentioning the state's most famous culinary delight: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. This hearty, cheesy, and tomato-y pizza pie is unlike any other pizza you've ever had, and the toppings are limited only by your imagination. Some of the most famous deep-dish providers in Illinois are Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, and Pequod's. Just remember, be prepared to face the great deep-dish pizza debates with your new Illinois friends.

4. Prairie State roots

Did you know that Illinois is nicknamed the Prairie State? This is because the majority of Illinois was once covered in prairies, or vast flatlands of tall grass. The prairie ecosystem was vital for sustaining diverse wildlife, specifically the now-endangered Illinois state animal, the white-tailed deer. While the agriculture industry has since taken over much of the prairies, you can still find beautiful remnants of this history in natural areas across the state. One hidden gem is the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is working to restore more than 20,000 acres to its native state. And besides enjoying the beauty of the natural landscapes, keep an eye out for the buffalo that roam the grounds!

5. Be prepared to pay some tolls

When moving to Illinois, you should expect to be on the hook for some road tolls. Illinois has a fairly extensive tollway system, especially around the Chicago area. Good news: the tolls help support the state's road infrastructure! Bad news: it can get expensive if you're driving on these highways frequently. To make life easier, it's a good idea to invest in an I-PASS, a prepaid electronic toll collection system. That way, you won't have to dig through your change while driving on the expressways.

6. Discover the surprisingly beautiful nature spots

Although Illinois may seem like a flat and sometimes dull landscape, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the number of unique natural spots throughout the state. One such example is the stunning Starved Rock State Park. This park features 18 canyons, beautiful waterfalls, and scenic overlooks of the Illinois River. Enjoy hiking, fishing, and bird watching in this spectacular Midwestern setting. Another gem is the Garden of the Gods, located in the Shawnee National Forest. Here, you'll find ancient sandstone cliffs and rock formations, perfect for hiking, climbing, and photography.

In conclusion, moving to Illinois can be a delightful and rewarding experience once you get used to the weather changes and lean into the rich history and local culture. Embrace the Land of Lincoln, feast on deep-dish pizza, and take advantage of the state's surprisingly beautiful natural spots. Good luck on your move, and welcome to Illinois!

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Pros and Cons of Living in Illinois

Pros of Living in Illinois

Cultural Diversity and Entertainment Opportunities

Illinois, particularly in urban areas like Chicago, is known for its cultural diversity, offering an appealing mix of global cuisine, vibrant arts scene, and popular entertainment venues. Residents have easy access to world-class museums, theater performances, and multiple major league sports teams, making it an exciting place to live for those who enjoy a rich, cultural experience.

World-Class Education Institutions

Illinois is home to some of the top universities and educational institutions in the country, such as the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. These institutions contribute to the state's strong research, development, and innovation ecosystem, and attract students and professionals from around the world.

Natural Beauty and Recreational Opportunities

Illinois offers a diverse array of outdoor recreational activities, with state parks, lakes, rivers, and forest preserves providing ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching. Additionally, Illinois is home to the famous Great River Road, which stretches along the Mississippi River and offers an incredible opportunity for scenic drives and small-town exploration.

Transportation Infrastructure

Illinois has a well-developed transportation infrastructure, offering residents a mix of highways, railways, and public transportation options, such as the Metra rail system and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is a global hub for air travel, providing frequent flights to major destinations around the world.

Business and Job Opportunities

Illinois is home to a robust economy, with numerous major corporations headquartered in the state, such as Boeing, Caterpillar, and McDonald's. This creates a diverse range of job opportunities for residents, including careers in industries like finance, healthcare, retail, hospitality, and education.

Cons of Living in Illinois

High Cost of Living

Illinois, particularly in urban areas like Chicago, is known for its high cost of living. Housing, utilities, transportation, and even groceries can be more expensive than the national average, making the state less affordable for those on a tight budget or with limited financial resources.

Cold Winters

Illinois is known for its brutal winters, which can be accompanied by freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and dangerous wind chills. These conditions can make everyday activities like commuting and outdoor recreation difficult and unpleasant during the colder months of the year.

State Fiscal Issues

Illinois has experienced ongoing fiscal issues, which have contributed to budget deficits and concerns regarding the state's ability to fund essential services and programs. As a result, residents may face higher taxes and fees, as well as potential cuts to public services such as education and infrastructure.

Traffic Congestion

Illinois, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area, is notorious for its traffic congestion. Drivers can experience long commutes and frequent delays, especially during peak morning and evening hours. This can lead to increased stress and a lower overall quality of life for residents who heavily rely on their vehicles for transportation.

Weather-Related Natural Disasters

Illinois is susceptible to weather-related natural disasters, such as tornadoes, flooding, and severe thunderstorms. These events can pose significant risks to life and property, as well as disrupt daily life and create ongoing challenges for both residents and emergency response teams.

Nighttime picture of Illinois highlighting pros and cons of living in Illinois

Is Illinois a Good State to Live In?

Illinois is a great place to live because of its diverse culture, a wide range of recreational activities, and affordable housing options. Its world-class city, Chicago, keeps the cultural scene lively, while its vast rural areas ensure plenty of outdoor fun for nature lovers.

What Is Illinois Famous For?

Chicago, The Windy City

Illinois is home to Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States. Known for its stunning skyline, diverse neighborhoods, and delicious deep-dish pizza, the Windy City also boasts numerous cultural attractions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the famous Navy Pier.

Route 66: America's "Mother Road"

Originating in Chicago, the iconic Route 66 stretches across Illinois, inviting road trippers and history enthusiasts alike. This legendary highway, dubbed the "Main Street of America," once spanned over 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, serving as a major path for travelers from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Famous Figures from Illinois

Illinois has been home to many notable figures, including the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, whose political career began in the state before he led the nation through the Civil War. Other famous individuals from Illinois include Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, and Ernest Hemingway.

The Great River Road: Scenic Byway Along the Mississippi

Another road not to be missed in Illinois is the Great River Road, a designated National Scenic Byway running along the Mississippi River. With stunning views of limestone cliffs, rolling hills, and lush forests, this picturesque route offers visitors a chance to explore charming river towns, parks, wildlife refuges, and historic sites.

Capital building of Illinois in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

As of 2023, Illinois holds some of the highest property tax rates in the United States, typically averaging around 2-3% of a property's fair market value. This is nearly double the national average and consistently ranks as one of the worst states for property taxes.

Sales Tax

The state of Illinois has a base sales tax rate of 6.25%, with local jurisdictions having the ability to add their own sales taxes on top, which can bring total rates up to a maximum of 10.25%. While not the highest in the country, these rates place Illinois in the upper tier of states with higher sales tax rates.

Income Tax

Illinois has a flat income tax rate of 4.95% for all individual taxpayers. This means regardless of income level, all residents pay the same percentage of their income in taxes. This flat rate places Illinois in the middle of the pack when comparing income tax rates across the United States.

Housing Market

Illinois has a diverse housing market with varied opportunities for both renters and buyers. The median home value in the state is $209,783, which is lower than the national median of $248,857. The average rent in Illinois is $1,661, slightly higher than the national average of $1,650. Although the market offers more affordable options compared to other states, Illinois experiences relatively high property taxes, leading to increased monthly housing costs for homeowners. Nevertheless, the state's strong job market, excellent transportation infrastructure, and quality educational institutions make it an attractive destination for prospective residents.

Housing market analysis of Illinois

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Illinois is relatively moderate compared to other states in the US. Ranked 21st overall, Illinois has a cost of living index of 95.3, meaning it is slightly below the national average score of 100. Significant factors influencing the cost of living include housing, taxes, and utility costs. Housing costs, in particular, can vary significantly depending on location, with the Chicago area being notably more expensive than the southern regions. Comparatively, states such as Hawaii, New York, and California hold the highest cost of living indexes, while states like Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arkansas are among the lowest.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Illinois has a diverse climate characterized by cold winters, warm summers, and substantial changes in temperature and precipitation throughout the year. Typically, the state experiences a humid continental climate, with variations influenced by the southerly winds from the Gulf of Mexico. Summers are warm and humid, with average temperatures in the low 80s Fahrenheit, while winters can be quite chilly, with temperatures often below freezing and occasional snowfall.

Precipitation levels vary, but Illinois generally receives adequate rainfall, averaging around 40 inches annually, with heavier rainfall in the southern portion. Thunderstorms are common in the warmer months, and they can sometimes give rise to tornadoes, especially in the spring and early summer. Illinois is part of the infamous Tornado Alley, which makes it prone to experiencing these destructive natural disasters. Floods and winter ice storms are also potential hazards, with the former affecting low-lying riverine areas and the latter causing disruptions in transportation and utility services.

Economy & Job Market

Agriculture and Food Production

Advanced Manufacturing

Energy and Natural Resources

Life Sciences and Biotechnology

Transportation and Logistics

Illinois’s economy has historically been synonymous with agriculture, particularly corn and soybean production. Over time, it has diversified and now features industries such as advanced manufacturing, energy and natural resources, life sciences and biotechnology, and transportation and logistics. The great state of Illinois has seen major advancements and breakthroughs occur within its economy, fostering growth and providing countless job opportunities for residents. There's definitely something for everyone in this prosperous state!

So, what should you know if you're moving to Illinois and plan on diving into the job market? As of September 2021, the unemployment rate in Illinois sits at 6.6%, which is slightly higher than the national average. However, that shouldn't dampen your spirits! There are plenty of opportunities in flourishing industries to explore. The Chicago metropolitan area is one of the largest in the United States and offers the most job opportunities in the state. Additionally, cities such as Rockford, Peoria, and Springfield also boast thriving industries. So pack your bags and come on down, the Land of Lincoln is ready to welcome you with open arms and career opportunities galore!

Traffic and Transportation

Get ready folks, let's dive into the exhilarating world of traffic and transportation in Illinois! We all know that big city commutes can be quite the adventure. In Illinois, big cities like Chicago and Springfield boast average commute times of around 33 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively. Not too shabby, right?

Now, onto public transportation, the ultimate urban jungle expedition! In Chicago, you can conquer the famous "L" (short for "elevated") train system. With 8 majestic lines, cover the ground with ease like Indiana Jones! Or, tame the Windy City's city buses to navigate the urban landscape smoothly.

For those who prefer to soar like an eagle, Illinois has got you covered too! Many flights take off daily, with Chicago's O'Hare International Airport holding the crown as one of the busiest airports in the world. So, buckle up, adventurers, whether you're hitting the road, riding the rails, or taking to the skies, Illinois promises endless excitement in the realm of traffic and transportation!

What is the traffic like in Illinois?

Things to Do

Illinois is so much more than just the home of the Windy City. This diverse state is teeming with unique, fascinating experiences, and we're here to help you discover the best that Illinois has to offer. Whether you're a lifelong local or just moving in, check out these 7 captivating activities and sights to add to your must-see list. Warning: You might end up falling for the Prairie State by the time you're done!

1. Soak in Nature at Starved Rock State Park

Located two hours southwest of Chicago, Starved Rock State Park offers breathtaking canyons, majestic waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts. This is Illinois' best-kept secret for hikers, photographers, and birdwatchers. Make sure to check out the park's Visitor Center for interactive displays and exhibits, and don't forget to bring your camera to capture the park's geological wonders!

2. Play Vintage Arcade Games at Galloping Ghost

If you're feeling nostalgic, head over to the Galloping Ghost in Brookfield. This vintage arcade boasts over 550 games, including classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Street Fighter II. It's one of the largest arcades devoted to retro games in the nation, and with a single-entry fee, you'll get access to unlimited free play without the need for pesky quarters. Talk about a blast from the past!

3. Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Did you know that Illinois is the official starting point for the legendary Route 66? The “Mother Road” begins in Chicago and meanders through the state before continuing through seven more states. Along the way, you'll encounter quirky roadside attractions, kitschy gift shops, and retro motels and diners that encapsulate the spirit of the open road. Don't forget to snap a picture with the iconic “Begin Route 66” sign in Downtown Chicago for bragging rights.

4. Head Underground at the Illinois Caverns

For something uniquely off the beaten path, venture underground into the Illinois Caverns in Monroe County. This hidden gem offers visitors the chance to investigate an incredible subterranean world filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and various other mesmerizing geological formations. Guided tours are recommended, and make sure to pack sensible footwear for your trek through this natural marvel.

5. Float Among the Clouds in a Hot Air Balloon

Why not see Illinois from a bird's eye view? Experience the magic of floating above the landscape in a serene hot air balloon ride. There are multiple companies offering hot air balloon tours in the state, including Galena On The Fly and Sky's The Limit Ballooning Adventures. As you sail across the sky, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of rolling hills, lush forests, and charming towns--a bucket-list-worthy experience for sure!

6. Take the Amish Country Tour

Discover the simple life on a tour of Illinois' Amish Country, located near Arthur and Arcola. These tours offer insight into the fascinating culture and traditions of the Amish, and you'll get to see the charming countryside dotted with barns, homes, and gardens. Along the way, you can visit the famed Amish store, Beachy's Bulk Foods, or enjoy a homestyle meal at an authentic Amish restaurant. Embrace the slower pace of life and take in a cultural experience you won't soon forget.

7. Laugh it up at Second City

Finally, no list of Illinois experiences would be complete without a nod to Chicago's famed Second City comedy club. This revered institution is the birthplace of many comedic legends like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert, and you never know who might take the stage at their iconic performances. Catch a show, take a workshop, or even try your hand at improv to unleash your inner comedic genius.

With so much to see and do, it's no wonder Illinois is a lifestyle destination for many. From natural wonders to cultural delights, you'll undoubtedly find yourself captivated by the Prairie State. So, what are you waiting for? Start your journey through Illinois today, and who knows - maybe you'll even add a few more favorites to this list!

Things to do in Illinois?

Find Movers for Your Illinois Relocation

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