The Top Illinois Cities to Live In, Ranked

The Top Illinois Cities to Live In, Ranked

After a recount of U.S. census data, it turns out Illinois’ population grew by 1.9% in recent years, despite reports to the contrary.

So, if you’re one of those people who’s considering moving into Illinois instead of out, start your search for the best cities to live in here.

What makes a city great? Most people consider the job market, cost of living, and quality of life as the most important. Others want a good quality of life, green spaces, and good schools.

Whatever your preferences, most surveys indicate these may be the best Illinois cities to call home.

Peoria Tops the List of Illinois Cities

Located along the Illinois River and Peoria Lake, residents of this city rate their town as the best place for vibrant city life coupled with historic charm.

Peoria’s attraction lies in its many museums, a strong community vibe, and plenty of job opportunities. Companies like Caterpillar, Deloitte, OSF Healthcare, and Peoria Public Schools are the biggest employers in this area.

 The school district provides a solid educational background, and there are plenty of outdoor amusement to keep the whole family busy. It’s a relatively affordable place to embrace Illinois living, with a high quality of life.

Moline Offers Small-Town Bliss

Moline is one of the best Illinois neighborhoods in Rock Island if you want to enjoy a close-knit community. There are also many jobs available thanks to major employers like:

  • John Deere
  • RiverStone Group
  • FCA Packaging
  • Heart of America Management LLC

The cost of living in Moline is lower than the national average, and it also boasts a low crime rate and a solid education rating.

Chicago Offers Excellent Urban Living

Chicago is one of the best Midwest cities to live in if you want every convenience on your doorstep.

The cost of living in Chicago is surprisingly low considering its size, especially when it comes to buying a home. Check out these local properties for sale as an example of Chicago’s affordable prices.

Jobs are abundant in the Windy City, with most people employed in the government, education, and manufacturing sectors. Boeing, Mondelez International, McDonald’s, and Motorola have their headquarters in Chicago.

Decent public transportation means you don’t need to live downtown to reap the benefits of this solid job market, and O’Hare airport allows easy access to the rest of the country.


Rockford is one of the biggest Midwest cities outside of the Chicago area. It nestles along a tributary of the Mississippi River and is one of the top cities in Illinois for jobs in the manufacturing, education, healthcare, logistics, and aerospace industries.

Major employers in this area include Collins Aerospace, Rockford Public Schools, UW Health, and UPS Freight.

The city is home to many architectural showpieces as well as museums, and boast a high quality of life, and great community vibe. When it comes to the cost of living in Illinois, Rockford is 3% cheaper than the state average.

Is Illinois Right For You?

Illinois is a beautiful state with many wild spaces and four distinct seasons. It’s a great place to raise a family, or start a new career in one of the above Illinois cities.

Browse our online magazine for more information on the things you sometimes wonder about.

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