THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Illinois For 2020

We used science and data to determine the best places to live in the Prairie State.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Illinois.

Have you heard of Midwestern Hospitality?

Yes, it's a thing. And, yes, it's what makes Illinois one of the best states in the country. Now, if you talk to the flatlanders that call Illinois home, they would definitely agree that their hospitality is gold star worthy. They would also tell you, however, that there a ton of other qualities that make Illinois a state you should call home.

Take for instance the variety of delicacies the state has to offer. There is nothing like a loaded horseshoe or fried tenderloin after a long night of drinking. And you can't visit Chicago without trying Chicago's deep dish pizza. (Illinoisans have deemed it its own food group.) More importantly, if weren't for the Land of Lincoln, we wouldn't have Twinkies; and that, folks, would be a travesty.

When you think of Illinois, it's easy to think that the entire state revolves around Chicago. While that might be the case for most, here at HomeSnacks we know that there are many fantastic smaller places in Illinois that make it the best.

We also know that a Portillos' chili hot dog shouldn't be the only reason to move to the state Chicago calls home. So, we made sure to look at very important factors when determining the best places to call home in the Land of Lincoln -- low cost of living, strong economy, strong job market, and low crime to name a few.

Grab a slice of deep dish pizza and a pop and read on.

What city is the best place to live in Illinois for 2020? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Deerfield is the best place to live in Illinois if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.

While not everyone can afford to live in our top ten best Illinois cities -- they come with a hefty Chicago price tag -- there are other amazing places in Illinois to call home. And lucky for you, we have found them.

If you didn't see your city in the top ten, don't freak out. We analyzed over 328 cities. Read on to see where your city landed and a detailed breakdown of each.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Illinois reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois For 2020

Deerfield, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 18,930
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $510,600 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (29th best)
More on Deerfield: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Just inland from Highland Park is Deerfield, a place where residents earn higher incomes and also enjoy great schools (District 109). Deerfield High School is always atop the state rankings when it comes to academics, and Deerfield is home to several leading technology and medical companies.

The crime rate is actually a lot lower in Deerfield than it is in Highland Park. Statistically, Deerfield is the 46th safest place you can live in Illinois.

Folks who live here get to enjoy "The Square", which is a large multi-use shopping center in the heart of downtown.

Western Springs, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,227
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $590,800 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (16th best)
More on Western Springs: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Western Springs ranks as the 2nd best place in Illinois for 2020. Let's take a look at why.

Western Springs has a lower crime rate than the cities mentioned above. Western Springs's cost of living is a tick higher, but families also earn much higher salaries - to the tune of $161,563 a year.

The knock? We can't really find one 🙂

Hinsdale, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,654
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $878,700 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (39th best)
More on Hinsdale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Crime is something that doesn't happen very often in the Village of Hinsdale. Statistically the 24th safest place in the state, there were only 2 violent crimes in the entire city last year. And that might have been a couple of Packer fans who took things too far after a loss.

It's really beautiful in Hinsdale, and new homes continue to replace older homes. Resident earn $188,684 a year, and homes are valued at more than $878,700. And downtown Chicago is only a 20-minute train ride away.

What else could you possibly want if you're a Midwesterner who likes the city life?

Lake Bluff, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,612
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $626,300 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (26th best)
More on Lake Bluff: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lake Bluff has a strong showing in our best places to live in Illinois analysis, coming it at 4th best.

It ranks highly like many others in the top ten for a low unemployment rate and high adjusted median income. It scored extra points relative to the top ten for its size and things to do.

If you're thinking of moving to Illinois, Lake Bluff is a great option.

Winnetka, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,481
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $1,076,000 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (15th best)
More on Winnetka: Real Estate | Data | Photos

If you want to live in Illinois, you can't go wrong if you decide to make the Winnetka area your home. However, everyone and their mother wants to live here.

Can you blame them? It's a beautiful place with really low crime, where a majority of residents are wealthy (a $220,577 median income will do that).

Plus, the residents are really involved with helping to make Winnetka as great as possible. You can't get it much better than in Winnetka.

Buffalo Grove, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 41,329
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $324,600 (45th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (95th best)
More on Buffalo Grove: Real Estate | Data | Photos

We're probably going to see a pattern here. The Village of Buffalo Grove, another affluent Chicago suburb, also has great schools, low crime and a low unemployment rate.

But here's the kicker: The population here has actually gone down almost 3% in the last 15 years, despite recent gains in real estate prices.

Is it too expensive to live here, or is Buffalo Grove just a hidden gem that's gone under the radar?

Elburn, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,823
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $266,500 (71st best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (18th best)
More on Elburn: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Let's take a look at why Elburn is a great place to call home for 2020.

There's low crime in Elburn, and the residents here are gainfully employed (2.5% unemployment rate).

You can make Elburn your home for only $266,500 which won't be too hard on a $108,500 household salary.

Wilmette, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 27,419
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $680,700 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (106th best)
More on Wilmette: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Village of Wilmette has it made. In fact, according to science, it's by far the best place to live in the state of Illinois.

The unemployment rate is the 106th lowest in the state at 4.4%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $154,738, and the average cost of a home is $680,700. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

Public school kids get a lot of attention. Students in District 39 get the 5th-highest amount of funding in the state, per student.

We're not the only ones to tout it here. This Chicago suburb on the banks of Lake Michigan was called the 7th-best place to raise kids by BusinessWeek Magazine a while back.

Clarendon Hills, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,711
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $561,700 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (6th best)
More on Clarendon Hills: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Crime is even lower in the Village of Clarendon Hills, a tiny little spot right next door to Hinsdale. There was not a single violent crime here in all of 2020. Unbelievably, it's only the 23rd-safest place you can live in Illinois.

The only real downside is affordability. Because the real estate prices are going through the roof, and the cost of living is 40% higher than the rest of the nation, it can be hard for a younger family to afford to live in Clarendon Hills.

La Grange Park, IL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,491
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 12)
Median Home Value: $344,700 (40th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (80th best)
More on La Grange Park: Real Estate | Data | Photos

We wouldn't be surprised to see CNN call La Grange Park one of the best places to live in the United States. Not only do the residents all make great livings, there's essentially no crime in the entire city. And the residents are very involved in the community.

They can't build homes fast enough here as it seems everyone wants a piece of La Grange Park.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Illinois

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Springfield with a population of 116,459 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 5,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 328 cities, 376 towns, and 620 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Illinois have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Illinois

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Illinois across a number of criteria from one to 328, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Illinois".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Illinois? That would be Deerfield.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Illinois.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Deerfield at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Illinois

If you're looking at areas in Illinois with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Deerfield made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Illinois for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Illinois

  1. Leland Grove (Pop. 1,625)
  2. Dunlap (Pop. 1,351)
  3. St. Joseph (Pop. 4,109)
  4. Germantown Hills (Pop. 3,491)
  5. Hudson (Pop. 1,704)
  6. Rochester (Pop. 3,687)
  7. Sherman (Pop. 4,404)
  8. Philo (Pop. 1,627)
  9. Kenilworth (Pop. 2,613)
  10. Forsyth (Pop. 3,421)

Best Small Towns To Live In Illinois

  1. Irwin (Pop. 79)
  2. Georgetown (Pop. 516)
  3. Indian Creek (Pop. 768)
  4. Ogden (Pop. 732)
  5. Bartelso (Pop. 619)
  6. Spaulding (Pop. 766)
  7. Downs (Pop. 971)
  8. Pesotum (Pop. 514)
  9. Goodfield (Pop. 931)
  10. McNabb (Pop. 305)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Illinois according to the data:

  1. Riverdale (Pop. 12,786)
  2. Cahokia (Pop. 14,271)
  3. Centreville (Pop. 5,059)

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Illinois?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Deerfield 18,930 2.9% $510,600
2 Western Springs 13,227 2.4% $590,800
3 Hinsdale 17,654 3.2% $878,700
4 Lake Bluff 5,612 2.8% $626,300
5 Winnetka 12,481 2.4% $1,076,000
6 Buffalo Grove 41,329 4.2% $324,600
7 Elburn 5,823 2.5% $266,500
8 Wilmette 27,419 4.4% $680,700
9 Clarendon Hills 8,711 1.9% $561,700
10 La Grange Park 13,491 4.1% $344,700

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

6 thoughts on “THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Illinois For 2020

  1. I read both articles, Best and Worst places to live in IL. Your data just confirms what Illinoisans already know. All the money and opportunities are poured into Chicago. There are concessions for their counties/region. Those living downstate pay lots of taxes and get no real benefit. It’s ridiculous, you should do another study on the huge exodus of people leaving IL for greener grass (and more green in their wallets) in states like NC and even neighboring MO.

  2. Well, it certainly is an interesting way of calculating things. I’m sure the computer did not take into account why Clarendon Hills was actually able to be ranked so high. The reason is that property values in Hinsdale and Oakbrook are so high now that many have moved to Clarendon Hills and/or the north part of Burr Ridge. Hinsdale should really be number 2 behind Wilmette only because of Wilmette’s size. I mean, seriously, your picture for Clarendon Hills is one of Hinsdale Central, which is located on the south side of Hinsdale!

  3. You sure missed a few. What about Indian Head Trails, Willowbrook and Burr Ridge, which is pricey and next door to Hinsdale?

  4. Did you use the least likely chance of getting shot as the criteria. Or best place that allows fat fucks who are literally making their tie scream by your neck fat pushing it’s weight threshold?

  5. I’m stunned, Naperville didn’t make the list? Whaaaa? Money is being poured into the school system? My ass. There are broken systems statewide and there are hidden gems too. This article is as jaded as they come.

  6. Some of the places listed here shouldn’t be and those that aren’t should be this is a stupid list to say the least.

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