Moving to Waukegan

Is Waukegan, IL calling your name? Fantastic! This port city situated along Lake Michigan is cherished for its rich history, diverse cuisine, and vibrant arts scene. Dive into our comprehensive Waukegan relocation guide! It's packed with vital information, tips, and helpful resources. Whether you're drawn by the allure of freshwater beaches or the calm of nature preserves, lured by business prospects or education opportunities - our guide will help you navigate your move to Waukegan seamlessly. Ready? Let's embark on this exciting journey together!

Moving to Waukegan, IL landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Waukegan

1. Soaking in the Lakefront.

Waukegan, located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, offers a beautifully scenic lakeside view. The city houses a huge harbor, Waukegan Harbor, which is home to over 1,000 docks supporting boat and yacht owners with easy access to the lake. Besides sailing and boating, people engage in a variety of watersports including kayaking and fishing. There are two public beaches, Waukegan Municipal Beach and North Beach, perfect for a sun-soaked afternoon or a starlit picnic.

2. Art and Culture Infusion.

For the culture vultures out there, downtown Waukegan is the place to be! The city is known for its vibrant arts district. The Waukegan Arts Council hosts several annual events like ArtWise, ArtBash, and the ArtStroll. Here, you will find the ingeniously shaped Genesee Theatre, resurrected from the past, now hosting big-name performers. No surprise then, that Ray Bradbury, one of the leading names in American literature and science fiction, found his creative springboard in Waukegan!

3. Diversity Galore.

The city is a melting pot of diverse cultures, races, and ethnic groups, with a vibrant mix of native American, European, African, and Hispanic communities. This diversity has brought about a rich variety of food and festivals that Waukeganites relish. You will find menus with the tastiest tacos to scrumptious soul food - a hearty medley of flavors truly reflective of its inclusive culture.

4. Outdoorsy Fun with a Historical Twist.

If you have a flair for the dramatic and a love for outdoor activities then, believe it or not, Waukegan's got you covered. Jack Benny, the famed comedian who once said, "I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either", has his statue downtown that invites passersby to sit and have a chuckle. Following this light-hearted path, you can walk right into history at the Waukegan History Museum or arrange your own 'Ghost Walk' adeptly organized by the Waukegan Historical Society.

5. Commuting Made Easy!

The colorful town of Waukegan has immediate access to major highways and an efficient public transportation system. The Metra's Union Pacific/North Line provides frequent service connecting Waukegan with downtown Chicago. It's a lovely ride along the lake. And if you're a jetsetter, you're in luck as the Waukegan National Airport is right there!

6. The Scoop on the Unusual.

Now, for the two unique things about Waukegan that many people don't know about. Firstly, the town has the only remaining Carnegie-funded library in Lake County, functioning since 1903, and if that isn't a slice of timeless charm, what is? Secondly, Waukegan has its very own UFO sighting. Since 2004, the sighting has been recognized globally, earning Waukegan a spot in pop-culture and science fiction lore. In other words, you're moving to a place buzzing with historical and extraterrestrial enchantment!

So, if you're planning on moving to Waukegan, you're in for an exciting rollercoaster of multicultural experiences, artistic expressions, water adventures, comedic historical walks, and even some celestial mystery! It definitely promises to add variety, spice and everything nice to your everyday life.

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Pros and Cons of Living in Waukegan

Pros of Living in Waukegan

Proximity to Chicago and Milwaukee

Waukegan is ideally located, being a short drive away from two major cities: Chicago and Milwaukee. This means you can enjoy the tranquility of small-town life while still having easy access to the hustle and bustle of the big city, including job opportunities, entertainment, and cultural experiences.

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Recreation

The city is home to several beautiful parks, including the Illinois Beach State Park, which boasts miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. Residents have numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, boating, birdwatching, and relaxing on the beach.

Rich History and Cultural Diversity

Waukegan has a rich history and diverse culture, which is evident in the town's architecture, public art, and local festivals. This brings a unique character and charm to the city, making it a vibrant place to live.

Affordable Cost of Living

Compared to many other cities in Illinois, Waukegan can be quite affordable. The cost of living is below the national average, making it easier for families and individuals to afford comfortable housing and keep their cost of living manageable.

Community Engagement and Growth

The city is known for its strong sense of community and the initiative its residents take to bring positive change. Programs and projects aimed at urban renewal and community development are growing, making it a city that's invested in its future.

Cons of Living in Waukegan

Education System Issues

While there are some commendable schools in Waukegan, the overall public education system has its struggles. School ratings are lower than average, potentially causing some families to seek alternatives or move to nearby districts for better educational opportunities.

Economic Challenges

Despite some positive growth initiatives, Waukegan faces economic challenges. Unemployment rates tend to be higher than the national average, which can make job hunting difficult for locals.

Crime Rates

Waukegan's crime rates are somewhat higher than the national average. While the city is taking steps to reduce crime and improve safety, it is an ongoing concern for some residents.

Public Transport Limitations

Public transportation could be improved in Waukegan. While there are buses and a Metra station providing links to Chicago, the overall reach of public transport within the city is limited, necessitating a car for most residents.

Winter Weather

The winter in Waukegan can be challenging for those not accustomed to cold, snowy conditions. This can make for difficult driving conditions and even disrupt normal daily routines.

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

Is Waukegan a Good Place to Live?

Waukegan, IL is a great place to live because of its lakeside location and vibrant arts scene that combines history with contemporary flair! Adventurous residents and visitors can explore the city's numerous natural parks, with the summer months bringing in festivals like Scoop Waukegan, for frosty fun, and ArtWauk spotlighting local artists. The downtown district's revitalization provides an array of dining and shopping spots, while Waukegan History Museum and Genesee Theatre broaden cultural enlightenment. It's a splendid blend of enjoying the outdoors and engaging in the city lifestyle!

What Is Waukegan Famous For?

Birthplace of Ray Bradbury

Renowned for being the birthplace of legendary science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, Waukegan is often referenced in his iconic works such as "Dandelion Wine", "Something Wicked This Way Comes", and "Fahrenheit 451". Bradbury's childhood memories have immortalized the town in the world of literature, hinting at the charm and allure that sets Waukegan apart.

Genesee Theatre

This glamorous and historic venue is a testament to Waukegan's vibrant arts scene. The Genesee Theatre has played host to a multitude of performances, from concerts, plays, and ballets to films and comedy shows. Its beautifully restored facade and vintage grandeur invariably captivate audiences, making it a must-visit for arts and culture aficionados.

Waukegan's Lakefront and Harbor

Waukegan sits along the tranquil shores of Lake Michigan, rendering it a haven for nature and water sport enthusiasts. Its harbor, complete with a public beach and marina, offers beautiful views and recreational activities like boating, fishing, or just strolling around, to delight locals and tourists alike. Visit the Waukegan Harbor website for more information


Every third Saturday of the month, Waukegan transforms into an Art walk known as ArtWauk. Boasting a range of galleries, theatre performances, live music, and tantalizing local food, it's an event that authentically showcases the creative energy and unique local talent that the city possesses.

Capital building of Waukegan, IL in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

As of 2023, the property tax rate in Waukegan, IL is approximately 2.22%. This rate is significantly higher when compared to the average property tax rate in the US, which is around 1.08%.

Sales Tax

The combined sales tax rate for Waukegan, IL is 8.0%. This is slightly lower than the country's average combined sales tax rate, which stands at 8.68%.

Income Tax

Illinois has a flat income tax rate of 4.95%, which means it applies to income earned by Waukegan residents too. This rate is relatively mid-range when compared to other U.S. states, with some having no income tax and others having a rate as high as 13.3%.

Housing Market

Waukegan, IL, offers a more affordable housing market compared to the wider US. The median home value in Waukegan is approx $135,000, significantly lower than the national average of $284,600. While roughly 64% of residents are homeowners, 36% are renters. Rental prices range from $860 to $1,645 per month for a one to three-bedroom apartment, respectively. Although property taxes are above the national average, the cost of living in Waukegan, including housing, is still lower than many other parts of the country. It's an area worthy of consideration for both buyers and renters.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Waukegan, IL is considerably lower than the national average and significantly less expensive than many other cities, particularly in housing. Utilities and transportation expenses are somewhat higher, but healthcare and groceries mirror the national average. Relative to other Illinois cities, like Chicago, living in Waukegan offers significant cost-saving opportunities. These affordable living costs make Waukegan an attractive option for both families and single individuals seeking high-quality yet economical living conditions.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Located in the northeastern part of Illinois, Waukegan enjoys a climate that experiences all four seasons. It provides a rather comfortable atmosphere, with summers that typically reach into the upper 80s (degF), usually in July, and winters that often drop down to the 10s, with the coldest month being January. The city gets about 36 inches of rain annually, distributed evenly throughout the year. Snowfall, averaging 30 inches, primarily descends between December and march. The natural disaster risks include occasional tornados, with the risk level slightly above the Illinois state average, and severe thunderstorms which often bring heavy rainfall and strong winds, especially during spring and summer. Despite these risks, Waukegan's climate offers residents the unique charm of experiencing a full range of seasonal variations.

Typical weather in Waukegan, IL

Economy & Job Market

Healthcare and Social Assistance


Retail Trade

Educational Services

Transportation and Warehousing

Waukegan, IL has a rich history as an industrial hub in the heartland of America and that spirit still thrives today with manufacturing remaining as one of the city's top industries. Traditional manufacturing is now being ingeniously spiced up by a diverse array of companies ranging from medical devices to food production. But Waukegan is not all about hard hats and factory floors, it also boasts a thriving healthcare sector, thanks to presence of major medical centers. Education services and retail trade also play a pivotal part in the city's dynamic economic dance, making Waukegan's economy an intricately woven tapestry of industrial might and service sector dynamism.

If you are planning to pack up and move to Waukegan, IL, there's good news from the job front. With an unemployment rate that's generally on track with national figures, Waukegan offers a robust job market. A blend of traditional industrial roles and new-age jobs awaits the prospective job-seeker. Whether you're a detail-oriented number cruncher or a caregiving healthcare hero, opportunities abound. Of course, the city's major employers are an excellent starting point to drop your resume. The manufacturing and healthcare sectors often have the greatest number of vacancies, but roles in retail and transportation are also plentiful. So dust off that resume, oil the job-hunting gears, and ride your way toward your dream job in Waukegan!

Traffic and Transportation

Hey there, roadster! Waukegan, IL is revving up to greet you with a laid-back commute, a smorgasbord of public transportation options, and swift and snazzy air connections. With a breezy 24-minute average commute time, strap yourself in for a fabulous ride which is noticeably shorter than the national average. Feel like sitting back, reading a book, and leaving the driving to someone else? Hop onto the regional PACE buses or the Metra rail, both offer dependable service throughout Waukegan and to the Windy City, Chicago. Prefer a swifter sojourn? The Waukegan National Airport and the bustling O'Hare just a bit further out, ensure that Waukegan is connected to the world. Be it an earthly commute or a flight of fancy, Waukegan, IL has your wheels (and wings) covered!

What is the traffic like in Waukegan, IL?

Best Neighborhoods in Waukegan


1. Uptown Waukegan

If you're a fan of arts and culture, then Uptown Waukegan is the place to be. This vibrant neighborhood is home to the iconic Genesee Theatre, known for hosting an array of performances from live concerts to stand-up comedies. There's a lively arts scene, with galleries and studios dotting the area. The neighborhood offers a diverse food scene as well, boasting a mix of local eateries and exotic international cuisine. With its rich history, a bustling arts scene, and delicious food, Uptown Waukegan is a cultural hub that's sure to delight.

2. Downtown Waukegan

Downtown Waukegan is all about fusion: It's where the charm of the old meets the convenience of the new. It's the administrative hub of the city, filled with government buildings, courthouses, and a library. However, it also houses an array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, guaranteeing a constantly vibrant atmosphere. For history buffs, there's the Waukegan History Museum, nestled right in the heart of this neighborhood. With all the amenities right at your fingertips, it's a neighborhood perfect for both work and play.

3. Lake Michigan Lakeshore

For those who love the outdoors and crave a picturesque view, residing by the Lake Michigan Lakeshore is the ideal choice. This residential neighborhood boasts serene, scenic views of Lake Michigan and offers a ton of recreational activities. You can go fishing, boating, or enjoy a day at the Waukegan Municipal Beach. With the beautiful Waukegan Harbor and Marina nearby, it's a haven for sailing and yachting enthusiasts as well. Enjoy lakefront living in a peaceful setting while being close to all amenities.

4. North Side Waukegan

North Side Waukegan is a delightful mix of suburban comfort and city living. It's a family-friendly neighborhood with several top-rated schools, public parks, and recreational facilities. From farmers' markets to community events, there's always something going on. Complemented by a diverse food scene and easy access to shopping centers, North Side Waukegan offers an inviting suburban experience with an urban twist.

5. South Side Waukegan

South Side Waukegan presents a melting pot of cultures that creates a unique, bustling atmosphere. With diverse dining options serving up food from around the globe and numerous cultural festivals throughout the year, it's a neighborhood that truly celebrates its diversity. Its convenient location provides easy access to downtown and beautiful lakefront parks. South Side Waukegan offers a living experience that embraces cultural diversity and convenience.

In conclusion, whether you're drawn to the arts scene of Uptown or the lakeside views of Lake Michigan Lakeshore, the bustling activity of Downtown, the suburban comfort of North Side, or love diversity of the South Side, Waukegan has something for everyone. Choose the neighborhood that fits your vibe, and enjoy the unique experience that Waukegan has to offer.

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Things to Do

Welcome to Waukegan, IL, a city known for its charm, friendly community, and vibrant cultural scene. Nestled along the western shore of Lake Michigan, Waukegan serves as the perfect blend of scenic beauty and urban amenities. If you're particularly thrilled about exploring your new home, check out our list of the top 7 things to do in this dynamic city!

1. Witness the magic of the Genesee Theatre

This restored grand movie palace is a gem in the heart of Downtown Waukegan. With a lineup of stellar performances, from concerts to comedy shows, and musical theatre to corporate events, every night here at Genesee Theatre is a spectacle in itself. Don't forget to look up and marvel at the gorgeous ceiling when you're inside the theatre!

2. Revel in the natural beauty of Illinois Beach State Park

With miles of stunning shoreline, sandy beaches, and a large marina, the Illinois Beach State Park is indeed the perfect destination for everyone looking to unwind. Spend a day here partaking in relaxing activities such as swimming, boating, hiking, camping, and birdwatching. The sunset over the lake is a sight to behold.

3. Discover the artsy side of Waukegan at ArtWauk

Every third Saturday of the month, Waukegan celebrates its vibrant local arts scene at ArtWauk. This is when the local art, theatre, and music venues open their doors, street performers take over, and a festival-like atmosphere pervades the entire city. Time your visit to coincide with this local tradition for a truly immersive experience.

4. Step back in time at the Waukegan History Museum

To truly understand the community you're about to join, head over to the Waukegan History Museum. Housed in the meticulously preserved Haines Museum, the collection covers the town's development from Indigenous settlement to industrial hub, and everything in between. Plus, admission is free, making for an enlightening way to spend an afternoon.

5. Behold the architectural magnificence of Waukegan's St. Anastasia Church

This may not be the typical 'tourist attraction,' but the St. Anastasia Church, with its stunning gothic revival architecture, breathtaking stained glass, and serene surroundings, is a place for contemplation and admiration. It's certainly a spiritual and aesthetic experience not to be skipped.

6. Stretch your legs at the Ray Bradbury Park

A well-kept secret and local favorite, Ray Bradbury Park is a small, beautiful green space embedded in the center of the city. Here, you'll find a unique collection of literary sculptures that pay tribute to the famous author Ray Bradbury, a Waukegan native. It's a lovely place to relax, read a book, or let the kids play.

7. Enjoy mouth-watering cuisines at local eateries

For food lovers, Waukegan offers a plethora of tasty options. Be it the delicious Mexican food at La Casa de Samuel, the soul food at Big Ed's BBQ, or the sweet treats at La Flor de Morelos Panaderia, your taste buds are in for a treat here!

And there you have it - seven wonders of Waukegan, waiting for you to explore! Whether you're into history, nature, arts, food, or simply strolling around, Waukegan has something for everyone. From the tranquil parks to the lively downtown and everything in between, you're sure to find your own little corner in this beautiful city. Welcome to Waukegan! Have a great time exploring and settling in!

Things to do in Waukegan, IL?

Find Movers for Your Waukegan Relocation

With all that Waukegan, IL has to offer, it's no wonder so many are eager to call it home. Transitioning into this exciting new phase should be as smooth as possible, and Great Guys Moving aims to facilitate just that. Leveraging an impressive catalogue of trusted movers known for quality service and fair pricing, Great Guys makes the process of finding a moving company a breeze. Offering prompt and easy moving quotes from licensed and insured movers, Great Guys Moving is your dependable partner for this exciting voyage to Waukegan. Don't hesitate- request a free moving quote today!

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