Known as the Land of Lincoln, Illinois beckons all newcomers with open arms and a friendly face. From Springfield, the capital, to the windy streets of Chicago, Illinois is a state with something for people of every interest and inclination. Illinois is a diverse blend of agriculture, natural resources and industrial productivity. Chicagoans pride themselves on having the best deep-dish pizza in the world. Come armed with a fierce appetite, and try it for yourself.
If you are a sports fan, you’ll love living in Illinois, home to the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. The Chicago Bears are here too, as well as the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks.
- Be aware of the weather and time your move around the seasons. Late spring and early fall is the best time if it is at all possible.
- If you are moving to one of the larger cities, keep in mind that rush-hour congestion can keep you stuck in traffic for hours. There is less need to worry about traffic in the smaller towns.
- You may need permits to leave large moving trucks parked on the street. If you are moving to Chicago, for instance, you should contact your alderman’s office to get “no parking” signs. You need to do this several days in advance and should have identification and proof of residency on hand. If you are moving to a rural area, you are less likely to need any sort of permit.
Change your address online. To make your move from California to Illinois easier, consider changing your address online. It is easy to do, inexpensive, and will ensure that your mail arrives to your new home with you.
Cities and Metro Areas
Illinois is as diverse a state as its cities and people. Located in the heartland of America, the Land of Lincoln may have cultivated a reputation as one of the worst run states, but it still remains a great choice for anyone looking to put down roots.
Springfield is a great place to live for anyone looking for affordable cost of living, a thriving nightlife and plenty to do. Naperville is is considered one of the wealthiest cities in the midwest and is best suited for those who fancy a more upscale quality of life, with a paycheck to match. The crime rate in Buffalo Grove is extremely low and the public education system is one of the best in the country. Other cities to consider are Wheaton, Glenview, Park Ridge and Oak Park.
Cost of Living
Illinois is certainly not the most expensive state, but it’s not the cheapest either. As with any state, the cost of living can vary wildly from one area of the state to another. This is especially true when comparing rural versus city living. Rural is more affordable for certain things, like gasoline and housing prices.
Getting out into the Chicago suburbs means a higher average home price, but also a higher average salary. As you head north and west away from the city, you see many more communities centered around families where commuters usually live.
The state of Illinois’s housing market has been at a steady pace of growth over the last 3 years. The median sales price as of Sept 2022 was $261,200. If we look back at Sept 2019’s median price of $215,700, we can see the increase in the median price has only been up 21%, which is slightly above a 6% yearly rate. This is a much more modest increase in the average home price than many of the other states in the nation.
Highways and Public Transport
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the second largest public transportation system in the nation, covering the city of Chicago and nearby suburbs, and transporting over 545 million riders a year. The CTA system is composed of 140 bus routes and 242 miles of rapid transit rail track. The six-county Chicago region is also served by Metra, the commuter rail agency in Northeastern Illinois, with 11 lines and 241 stations, and an annual ridership of more than 81 million, and Pace, the suburban bus agency, with over 39 million riders.
Chicago has two airports, O’Hare and Midway. O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Midway Airport was, until 1997, a small, almost quaint airport. Now it is a full-sized big city airport.
There are twelve Interstate Highways that traverse Illinois. In Chicago, some of the interstate highways merge with state roads or other highways and toll roads. Sign up for an IPass which will allow you to avoid stopping for tolls.
Illinois gets cold, with average temperatures in winter plummeting to 28.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring is warmer with an average of 51.6 degrees. In early spring, you will likely find temperatures that feel much more like winter. It snows in Illinois, too. Snowfall in the greater Chicago area ranges from 27.1 inches in Aurora to 37.1 inches at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. People from areas where it does not snow will need to familiarize themselves with how to handle driving conditions and snow removal.
According to Northern Illinois University’s Illinois Interactive Report Care (IIRC), 76.50 percent of Illinois students meet or exceed grade level standards on all standardized tests. This score is a composite of all tests and grade levels.Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for parents moving to Illinois.
Over two million students are enrolled in Illinois public schools and the state has 868 school districts. NIU also maintains an “Honor Roll” which tracks high performing schools in low-income areas, schools making substantial academic gains over three years, and schools that have maintained high academic standards for at least three years.
Here are some of the top schools in the state (in no particular order):
- Decatur Classical Elementary School in Chicago
- Lenart Elementary School, Chicago
- Edison Elementary Regional Gifted Center, Chicago
- Keller Elementary, Chicago
- Albers Elementary School, Albers
- Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook
- Goodfield Elementary School, Goodfield
- Northside Coll. Prep, Chicago
- Lane Technical High School, Chicago
- Young Magnet High School, Chicago
- Walter Payton College Prep, Chicago
- New Trier Township, New Trier
- Winnetka High School, Winnetka
- Deerfield Township, Deerfield
Illinois is also home to a number of world class universities like Loyola University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, DePaul University and many others.
There are numerous state and local government resources to assist you in moving and settling in to Illinois.
- Driver’s Licenses & Vehicle Registration: When moving to Illinois you can use your out-of-state drivers’ license for 90 days. If you have a commercial driver’s license, you need to replace it within 30 days. You also have 30 days to purchase a city sticker in Chicago without being assessed a late fee. Check out the Illinois DMV website for more information.
- The Illinois Department of Revenue can provide information on state taxes, from sales tax to property tax.
- The City of Chicago website can assist with everything from city events to payment of parking tickets (Chicago and paring tickets go hand in hand).