Moving to Rockford

Perched along the pristine banks of Rock River lies Rockford, Illinois-- a blend of small-town charm, and big city opportunities. So, think about swapping skyscrapers for blossoming cherry trees, and rush hour traffic for tranquil river walks. But, is Rockford the next chapter in your tale? In our comprehensive Rockford relocation guide, we unpack everything to turn that 'maybe' into a confident 'yes'. From scouting neighbourhoods, to understanding the cost of living, we're here to guide your Rockford home-hunting journey. Ready to embark on this exciting adventure? Then buckle up, let's start exploring Rockford!

Moving to Rockford, IL landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Rockford

1. From a Fledgeling Settlement to a Bustling City

For those who appreciate the mesh of historical charm and modern convenience, Rockford is the place to be! Officially settled in the 1830s, Rockford transformed from a sleepy woodland territory to Illinois' third-largest city. Chock-full of beautiful architectural gems that reflect the city's timeline, from Victorian-era homes to landmarks like the Coronado Performing Arts Center, Rockford packs a punch for history hounds. You get to enjoy the best of both worlds - steeped in history yet fully equipped to embrace the 21st-century lifestyle.

2. Art and Cultural Scene is Alive and Well

Potential Rockford residents are in for a treat when it comes to the arts and culture scene. The city is home to an assortment of museums, art galleries, and cultural institutions. An undeniable highlight is the Rockford Art Museum, which hosts an impressive selection of regional and national contemporary art. Plus, the annual ArtScene event is a must-see, showcasing local artists' great works throughout the city's galleries and shops. And of course, the Coronado Theatre - providing a stunning backdrop for concerts, Broadway shows, and other live performances.

3. Embrace the Great Outdoors

Are you a nature enthusiast? If so, Rockford will not disappoint. With 7,000 acres of parkland, you'll get more green space than you could shake a frisbee at! One of the highlights is Rock Cut State Park, offering opportunities for camping, fishing, and hiking. Not to mention the Anderson Japanese Gardens, ranked as one of the highest quality Japanese gardens in North America, it's an absolute haven for tranquility and contemplation.

4. A Hub For Sports Enthusiasts

There's more to Rockford than just its art and outdoors. If you're a sports enthusiast, you're in for a treat. The city is home to several professional sports teams like the Rockford IceHogs (ice hockey), and the Rockford Rivets (baseball). Love skateboarding? Rockford is home to one of the largest outdoor skate parks in the Midwest. And, if that isn't enough, the city is also renowned for hosting numerous state, regional, and national tournaments.

5. Sock Monkey Mania

Here's a charmingly quirky fact about Rockford: it's officially recognized as the Home of the Sock Monkey. These adorable stuffed toys have their roots in Rockford due to the Nelson Knitting Company, which produced the red-heeled socks used to create the original sock monkeys. Today, the city celebrates its iconic toy with the annual Sock Monkey Madness Festival, attracting visitors from all over the country. Now that's a claim to fame!

6. Rockford Has Its Own Rock

Yes, you read that right. Rockford is proud to own the official title of "Forest City" but did you know that it's also the "City of Gardens"? Thanks, in part, to a legendary symbol - a black fossil-bearing rock discovered along the river in 1834. After its discovery, the city was poeticly dubbed "Rockford." While the original rock no longer exists, a replica can still be viewed at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

In conclusion, whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, a sports fan, or just someone who appreciates the unique and quirky, Rockford, IL has something to offer. With its rich history, diverse cultural scene, extensive outdoor activities, sporty spirits, and not to forget - the sock monkeys, Rockford promises a delightful living experience brimming with opportunities for excitement and exploration.

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Pros and Cons of Living in Rockford

Pros of Living in Rockford

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Rockford, IL is generally lower than the national average. This demand means you'll likely be able to find very reasonably priced housing and the overall costs for goods and services tend to be lower as well.

Affordable Real Estate

When comparing with other parts of Illinois or other metropolitan areas in general, real estate in Rockford is incredibly affordable. This affordability is a big drawcard for many people and makes home ownership a much more attainable goal for many residents.

Rich in History and Culture

Rockford is home to several museums, theatres and art galleries, showcasing the city's rich history and vibrant cultural scene. This includes the renown Anderson Japanese Gardens, Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, and impressive historical architecture throughout the city.

Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

With the Rock River running through it, close proximity to multiple state parks, golf courses and biking trails, Rockford offers abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. This makes it a great place for nature enthusiasts.

Community Focused Living

The city puts a heavy emphasis on community involvement with a plethora of local events like the City Market and Stroll on State. These events coupled with a welcoming community, give Rockford a small-town feel.

Cons of Living in Rockford

High Crime Rate

Crime rates in Rockford are higher than the national average. Although efforts are continuously being made to lower these rates and increase safety, this is a caveat to living in this city that one should be aware of.

Job Market

The job market in Rockford can be challenging at times. It's not as dynamic as larger cities, competition is high and there is a lower number of high-paying jobs available.

Long Winters

While some might enjoy the snowy winters in Rockford, many find them to be long, harsh, and fatiguing. The cold season might also restrict some outdoor activities and travelling.

Lack of Public Transportation Options

Rockford lacks abundant public transportation options, making it tough for those without personal vehicles. The city is spread out, so getting from one side of town to other can be time-consuming and inconvenient without a car.

Limited Nightlife

Those looking for a vibrant nightlife scene may feel disappointed, as the city has a lower number of trendy restaurants, bars and clubs. The locals often tend to prefer quiet, early nights, which can be a con for some residents, especially the younger crowd.

Modern day picture of Rockford, IL highlighting pros and cons of living in Rockford, IL

Is Rockford a Good Place to Live?

Rockford, IL is a great place to live because of its vibrant arts scene, gorgeous outdoor spaces like the Anderson Japanese Gardens, and innovative Children's Museum. This charming city boasts friendly communities with plenty of Midwestern charm and offers access to fantastic schools. Not to mention, the city's commitment to revitalization projects ensures it only keeps getting better!

What Is Rockford Famous For?

Symbol of the Midwest

Rockford, IL, sometimes known as "The Forest City," is viewed by many as a symbol of the American Midwest. With its quaint downtown area, historic architecture, and charming local parks, it captures the essence of the region perfectly. It's an ideal destination for those looking to have a genuine Midwest experience!

Home of the Mighty Rockford Peaches

Rockford was home to the Rockford Peaches, a professional women's baseball team that played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The team and the league were highlighted in the movie "A League of Their Own" released in 1992. A visit to Rockford therefore offers a chance to step into this unique part of sporting history!

Anderson Japanese Gardens

One of the most beautiful spots in Rockford is the Anderson Japanese Gardens. This 12-acre garden is considered one of the highest quality Japanese gardens in North America and offers visitors a peaceful and serene place to relax and enjoy nature. Its authentic Japanese architecture, koi-filled ponds and meticulously maintained vegetation make it a must-see while in Rockford.

Birthplace of the Doll-E-Toy

Rockford is known as the birthplace of the iconic Doll-E-Toys, created by the famed Nelson Knitting Company. This cuddly toy, with its patented red heel, became a beloved American relic and led to the creation of the sock monkey, a popular children's toy. It's a great piece of toy history that adds to the numerous charms of Rockford!

Capital building of Rockford, IL in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

As of 2023, the property tax rate in Rockford, Illinois is approximately 2.25%. This is considerably higher than the national average of roughly 1.1%.

Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in Rockford is 8.25%, which combines the Illinois state level of 6.25%, the Winnebago County rate of 1%, and the city rate of 1%. This is slightly above the US median sales tax rate of approximately 7.12%.

Income Tax

Illinois has a flat income tax rate of 4.95% as of 2023, so this applies for Rockford residents. This contrasts with the progressive federal tax system, where tax rates range from 10% to 37%.

Housing Market

The Rockford, IL housing market stands unique compared to other US regions due to its affordability. The median home value in Rockford is around $97,200, appreciably less than the national median ($231,200), making it an enticing spot for buyers. The median rent price is $825; also lower than national median rent ($1,470). Whilst property appreciation rates are slower than the national average, the cost-friendly market paired with a relatively stable economic environment provides excellent opportunities for both renters and buyers seeking feasibility over rapid value growth.

Cost of Living

Rockford, IL is renowned for its affordable cost of living as compared to other cities. Particularly, residents appreciate lower housing costs which significantly contribute to the lower overall cost of living. Despite this, factors such as health and transportation costs align with the national average. Thus, while Rockford presents an appealing financial draw, individuals must consider the broader cost of living spectrum. It's a location where comfort and affordability merge, making it an attractive option especially for families and retirees.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Rockford, IL, experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by large seasonal temperature variations. Summers can be hot and humid, with temperatures peaking in the mid-80sdegF, while winters can be chilly, dropping to the low 20sdegF. Snowfall is abundant, usually starting in November and lasting until March. Precipitation is fairly evenly spread throughout the year, but it is slightly heavier during the summer months. The city is susceptible to a range of natural disasters. Thunderstorms, floods, and snowstorms are common due to its location in the Midwest's Tornado Alley. Rockford has experienced severe tornadoes in the past, with the most destructive ones occurring in 1928 and 1967. Nonetheless, advanced warning systems today better equip inhabitants for such meteorological events. Indeed, Rockford's varied weather pattern presents both challenges and unique beauties relished by the locals.

Typical weather in Rockford, IL

Economy & Job Market



Retail Trade


Accommodation and Food Services

With a rich history of industry, Rockford, IL's economy is an eclectic mix of old-time manufacturing and developing sectors. Hailed as the "Screw Capital of the World" in its heyday, manufacturing still plays a crucial part in its economy alongside emergent fields like healthcare and education. Advanced Machine engineering, Collins Aerospace, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rank among the top manufacturing firms contributing significantly to the job market. However, the healthcare industry, anchored by prominent institutions like OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and SwedishAmerican, leads the surge in job opportunities. Moreover, education and retail trade have remained stable sources of employment, with Rockford Public Schools and UTC Aerospace Systems among the top employers.

If you've got your bags packed for Rockford, you'll want to know what you're getting into! By recent stats, the unemployment rate in Rockford leaps above the national average, but before you get swamped in worry, consider this heartening tidbit: employment in Rockford has been witnessing steady growth over the past years. Areas of job growth include health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and retail trade. Also, the city's government has been proactively working on attracting investments and promoting business development to create jobs. While the education requirements vary across industries, for many positions in the leading sectors, a high school diploma or equivalent is sufficient. So pack up those jitters and unpack your job-hunting gumption because, in Rockford, every job seeker gets their day in the sun!

Traffic and Transportation

Howdy, speedy traveler! Let's zoom into transportation and traffic in Rockford, IL. Now, let's face it; the average commute time in our city is approximately 21.2 minutes. That's less than half the time of watching Titanic (way less, actually). For those who love to mingle or just leave the driving to someone else, Rockford's got you covered with Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD), providing buses that jingle-jangle around town. Need to fly higher? No problemo! The city has its very own Chicago Rockford International Airport, which, fun fact, is among the fastest-growing cargo airports in the world! So, whether you're in a rush or taking it slow, whether you prefer the road or the sky, Rockford stands ready to transport you towards your next adventure. Buckle up, it's going to be a smooth ride!

What is the traffic like in Rockford, IL?

Best Neighborhoods in Rockford

1. Downtown Rockford

Come and fall in love with Downtown Rockford, the beating heart of the city! Downtown Rockford is vibrant, diverse, and electrically alive. Dive into the local art scene at venues such as the Rockford Art Museum or Coronado Performing Art's Center. Wander along the charming Historic River District wandering from unique boutiques to locally-run restaurants, all while enjoying the view of the Rock River. With tons of events happening every day, like the beloved City Market, you're sure to never have a dull moment. Downtown is for lovers of culture, history, food, and fun!

2. Churchill's Grove

If you're moving to Rockford with a family or looking for a quiet, serene place with rich historical relevance, Churchill's Grove should be on your radar. Nestled along the river, this neighborhood offers beautiful, tree-lined streets and stately turn-of-the-century homes. This tight-knit community is perfect for anyone who loves an afternoon stroll in the park, community picnics, or a friendly neighborhood chat. Just a stone's throw from downtown, Churchill's Grove is a peaceful escape within the city.

3. Signal Hill

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Rockford, Signal Hill is synonymous with suburban bliss. This neighborhood is revered for its safe, family-friendly atmosphere and quality schools. Residents hold fast to a sense of togetherness, often gathering at nearby parks for family outings or coordinated neighborhood events. Life in Signal Hill will have you feeling like you're part of an old-fashioned sitcom--in the best way possible!

4. Edgewater

Lake views and charming homes, need we say more? Edgewater is full of green spaces, bike paths, and nearly every home is within walking distance to the stunning shores of Pierce Lake. Many of the local streets are punctuated with public art installations, and nearby Anderson Japanese Gardens offer a tranquil retreat. So whether you're in the mood for a brisk morning jog along the lake or a peaceful afternoon in a picturesque garden, Edgewater is the place to be.

5. East Rockford

East Rockford, or simply "The East Side," is a hidden gem in Rockford. This sprawling neighborhood is home to Rockford University and a number of spacious parks. Shopping enthusiasts will love proximity to the CherryVale Mall while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy Sinnissippi Park that straddles the riverfront. East Rockford offers an appealing blend of suburban comforts with the swiftness of city life.

In conclusion, Rockford, Illinois, is much more than meets the eye. The city is a patchwork quilt of neighborhoods, each with their own unique flavor and charm. From the bustling art scene in Downtown to the tranquil retreat of Edgewater, Rockford has a neighborhood that will match your lifestyle and needs. Happy home hunting in the Forest City!

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Things to Do

Here's a little secret, Rockford, Illinois is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The city, known for its tranquility, charm, and amazing attractions is the perfect stop for those exploring the Land of Lincoln or for those fortunate enough considering relocating and calling it home. But where do you start? Worry no more, here are seven fun activities to do in Rockford for any resident, old or new.

1. Adventure at Rock Cut State Park

Start your exciting journey by exploring the scenic and sprawling Rock Cut State Park. This park offers over 3,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and lakes, making it a bonafide outdoor paradise. From hiking, bird watching, to taking a refreshing dip in Pierce Lake, there's something to capture every outdoors-lover's interest.

2. Explore the Rockford Art Museum

The Rockford Art Museum is a treasure trove for art lovers housing over 1,900 pieces of art. Its contemporary and modern collections display local, regional, and national artists' works. A quiet afternoon getting lost in interpretations of culture and imagination would leave anyone feeling mesmerized and inspired.

3. Kick-back at Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens

This year-round, oasis in the city lets you escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens will whisk your mind away with beautiful tropical plants, shimmering water features, and magical butterfly exhibits. It's a tranquil experience to be remembered.

4. Take a step back in time at Midway Village Museum

This interactive, 137-acre museum offers a glimpse into early 20th-century life in Rockford. Explore vintage homes, a schoolhouse, a barber shop and other buildings from the period at Midway Village Museum. For history buffs, this is a must-visit spot to understand the roots of this fascinating city.

5. Get curious at the Discovery Center Museum

To the uninitiated, this might seem like just another city museum, but this is where the surprise begins; the Discovery Center Museum is one of the top children's museums in the nation! Its hands-on exhibits are designed for kids, and adults who are kids at heart, to learn about science, math, and the world around them in the most fun way possible!

6. Be serenaded at the Coronado Performing Arts Center

Situated in the heart of Rockford, the Coronado Performing Arts Center is more than just a venue, it's a legendary establishment that dates back to the 1920s. From Broadway shows to symphony orchestras and rock concerts, this place is a hive of electrifying performances. Its classic yet regal interior adds to the overall cultural experience.

7. Discover the Secrets of Tinker Swiss Cottage

Now for a hidden gem and a bit of an inside scoop; Tinker Swiss Cottage is a unique and lesser known tourist spot. The exotic architecture of this cottage captures the essence of Swiss design and is even more enchanting when you learn about its connection to Rockford's early history. The peaceful surroundings make it an ideal place for a tranquil afternoon stroll.

In conclusion, whether you have been living the Rockford life for years or you're just starting, you'll never run out of places to visit and see. From outdoor adventures at Rock Cut State Park to being mesmerized by a performance at the Coronado Performing Arts Center, your schedule will be packed with fun and exciting things to do. All you need is time and a sense of adventure to discover and fall in love with Rockford.

Things to do in Rockford, IL?

Find Movers for Your Rockford Relocation

Now that you've gathered all the information you need for a smooth transition to Rockford, let's take the next important step! Great Guys Moving is here to simplify your move by connecting you with the most respected and affordable movers in the industry. Simply tell us about your relocation requirements, and we will provide you with free quotes from our network of licensed, insured movers, renowned for their quality services. Don't let the nuances of moving cause unnecessary stress. Allow Great Guys Moving to streamline your relocation adventure to Rockford - request your free moving quote today!

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