There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Illinois:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Illinois, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Prairie State.
To do that we are going to look at places in Illinois that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.
The best deal in Illinois at the moment? That would be Washington according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Illinois:
- Washington (Photos | Homes)
- Swansea (Photos | Homes)
- Berkeley (Homes)
- Bridgeview (Photos | Homes)
- Chatham (Photos | Homes)
- Lakemoor (Homes)
- Berwyn (Photos | Homes)
- Sycamore (Photos | Homes)
- Stickney (Photos | Homes)
- Troy (Photos | Homes)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Illinois?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Illinois. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Illinois with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for Illinois with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 1,364 cities and towns in Illinois, only 38 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 38 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Washington is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Prairie State.
Read on for more on these places.
Washington was founded in 1825 by William Holland, Sr., who came from North Carolina and was hired by the U.S. government to provide blacksmith services to the local Native Americans. During his long and eventful life he was married three times, and was the father of twenty-one children: fourteen by his first wife and seven by his second wife. He had eighty-two grandchildren and fifty great grandchildren. He died in Washington on November 27, 1871, at the age of ninety-one. The post office (and later the city) was originally named Holland’s Grove in 1833 before being renamed in honor of the first U.S. president, George Washington, in 1837.
In the late 19th century the area that is now Swansea was a mix of farming and commerce. It was home to underground coal mines, foundries, brickyards, and the Gundlach Drill Works, manufacturers of the most efficient grain drills of that era. The early residents were fiercely independent and bent on conducting their own affairs. When the municipality that sat on their doorstep reached out to annex their lands and businesses they decided to start their own community.
Beginning in 1835 the area that was to become Berkeley was home to farmers, most of German and Dutch ancestry. Settling on farms that ranged from 40 to 160 acres, the Dutch tended to be truck farmers, while the Germans did general farming. This small group of farm families established a one-room school called Sunnyside in 1848. Now housed in a larger and newer building, Sunnyside Elementary School still operates today. A short distance west on St. Charles Road (which was completed in 1836), farmland was donated for what is now known as Old Settler’s Cemetery.
The earliest settlement in Bridgeview occurred in the 1830s, when the area was still populated by Native American groups. By the 1870s German and Italian settlers began moving into the area for farming purposes. Dutch migrated to the area by the 1920s, at which time farming began to decline; real estate and industry began to develop the area considerably. After Lake Michigan water became available to the area, the population grew significantly. The Bridgeview Community Club was founded in 1938 and became the center of local activities.
Before being settled, the land that is now Berwyn was traversed by Native American trails. The most important trails converged near the Chicago portage, and two significant routes crossed what is today Berwyn. A branch of the Trail to Green Bay crossed Berwyn at what is now Riverside Drive, and the Ottawa Trail spanned the southern end of the city.
The first European settlers to the Sycamore-area arrived in 1835 and concentrated themselves mostly north of the Kishwaukee River and the present site of Sycamore. The original town was platted by a New Yorker named Christian Sharer. A mill was constructed and the Kishwaukee dammed but the town failed. By 1837, after some controversy, the location of county seat was settled in favor of Orange, Sycamore’s original name, and the settlement moved to the present-day site of the city.
Troy was platted in 1819.
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Illinois
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Illinois. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 0 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more Illinois reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Illinois