These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois For 2018


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

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.
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Where are the best places in the state of Illinois?

To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Prairie State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.

However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home in Illinois.

There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.

After analyzing 327 places in Illinois, we came up with this list of the best places:

  1. Western Springs (Photos)
  2. Deerfield (Photos)
  3. Winnetka (Photos)
  4. Northbrook (Photos)
  5. Wilmette (Photos)
  6. Buffalo Grove (Photos)
  7. Hinsdale (Photos)
  8. Libertyville (Photos)
  9. Winfield (Photos)
  10. Clarendon Hills (Photos)

Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best places to live in Illinois.

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

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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 116,745 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 327 cities, 377 towns, and 653 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places 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.

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How We Calculated The Best Place 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 327, 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.

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 Western Springs at the end of the cul-de-sac.

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1. Western Springs

Western Springs, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,133
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $530,800 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (3rd best)
Say what you want about expensive houses. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s A LOT of demand to live in Western Springs.

The median home costs a cool $530,800 and households make $147,361 which is good for 9th in Illinois.

Add that all up and Western Springs places 1st in our ranking of the best places to live in Illinois for 2018.

2. Deerfield

Deerfield, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 18,686
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $508,800 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (16th best)
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 33rd 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.

3. Winnetka

Winnetka, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 12,437
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $989,600 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (8th best)
Winnetka is known for having a great education system and has the 301st shortest commute time.

Additionally, the unemployment rate in Winnetka is the 8th lowest in Illinois and the median income is the 1st highest in the state.

4. Northbrook

Northbrook, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 33,538
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 5)
Home Values: $519,300 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (14th best)
Northbrook is another village on Chicago’s North Shore. The unemployment rate here is 14th lowest in the entire state at 3.5%. Other factors that make Northbrook so desirable is the solid education and home prices. Several school districts serve the area, and, combined, the student-teacher ratio is the 8th-lowest in Illinois. That means lots of ‘me’ time for your kids.

Homes are valued at $519,300, and parents earn a combined $115,243 a year

There’s nothing like the American dream.

5. Wilmette

Wilmette, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 27,367
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Values: $636,900 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (25th best)
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 25th lowest in the state at 4.0%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $138,651, and the average cost of a home is $636,900. 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.

6. Buffalo Grove

Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 41,554
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Values: $299,600 (45th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (66th best)
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?

7. Hinsdale

Hinsdale, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 17,438
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Home Values: $859,400 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (66th best)
Crime is something that doesn’t happen very often in the Village of Hinsdale. Statistically the 83rd safest place in the state, there were only 5 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 $173,558 a year, and homes are valued at more than $859,400. 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?

8. Libertyville

Libertyville, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 20,435
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Values: $414,100 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (25th best)
Taking its place as the 8th best place in Illinois is Libertyville. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of Illinois.

It’s considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too. Which means you can’t be bored here.

An unemployment rate of only 4.0% helps thing too.

9. Winfield

Winfield, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,543
Rank Last Year: 32 (Up 23)
Home Values: $292,700 (50th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (35th best)
The tiny town of Winfield may not remain tiny forever. The word has been out for a long, long time about how special this place is.

The residents are heavily involved in making their community even more awesome, and as many Illinois residents know, Winfield is a great central spot for making the most of life.

10. Clarendon Hills


Population: 8,641
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Home Values: $485,900 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (6th best)
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 2015. Unbelievably, it’s only the 11th-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.

Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best 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.

Western Springs made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for 2018.

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. Sherman (Pop. 4,404)
  7. Rochester (Pop. 3,687)
  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. Goodfield (Pop. 931)
  9. Pesotum (Pop. 514)
  10. McNabb (Pop. 305)

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

  1. Centreville (Pop. 5,127)
  2. Robbins (Pop. 5,216)
  3. Cahokia (Pop. 14,574)

For more Illinois reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Cities In Illinois

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Western Springs 1 1 13,133 2.7% $530,800
Deerfield 2 2 18,686 3.7% $508,800
Winnetka 3 3 12,437 2.9% $989,600
Northbrook 4 9 33,538 3.5% $519,300
Wilmette 5 7 27,367 4.0% $636,900
Buffalo Grove 6 4 41,554 5.1% $299,600
Hinsdale 7 10 17,438 5.1% $859,400
Libertyville 8 8 20,435 4.0% $414,100
Winfield 9 32 9,543 4.3% $292,700
Clarendon Hills 10 6 8,641 2.8% $485,900
Park Ridge 11 91 37,567 3.9% $397,400
Northfield 12 16 5,374 4.7% $597,900
Elmhurst 13 12 45,742 5.2% $381,500
Lake Forest 14 19 18,881 4.6% $831,800
Lake Bluff 15 15 5,758 3.8% $587,100
Lincolnshire 16 13 7,291 5.0% $476,600
Wheaton 17 11 53,568 5.6% $342,000
Barrington 18 116 10,449 4.9% $493,000
Burr Ridge 19 33 10,736 4.5% $645,400
La Grange Park 20 25 13,596 6.2% $321,200
Mahomet 21 27 7,996 3.1% $212,200
Chatham 22 24 12,569 4.1% $178,900
Hawthorn Woods 23 23 7,590 2.7% $504,200
Glenview 24 21 46,559 4.3% $478,400
Highland Park 25 22 29,780 5.2% $534,500
La Grange 26 14 15,688 5.5% $446,100
Arlington Heights 27 18 75,721 5.1% $322,400
Mokena 28 37 19,839 5.1% $289,400
Campton Hills 29 31 11,500 5.4% $414,100
Naperville 30 40 145,789 5.6% $388,400
Glen Ellyn 31 43 27,894 6.0% $410,800
River Forest 32 28 11,217 3.4% $574,600
Roselle 33 29 22,911 5.0% $237,300
Plainfield 34 44 41,881 4.6% $287,100
Geneva 35 26 21,732 6.5% $305,000
Lindenhurst 36 30 14,380 7.6% $201,900
Darien 37 55 22,232 4.5% $298,400
Downers Grove 38 36 49,555 6.1% $331,600
Washington 39 34 16,102 3.0% $172,100
Lake Zurich 40 52 19,950 5.8% $319,900
Morton 41 35 16,343 3.9% $186,700
Vernon Hills 42 38 25,910 5.4% $323,400
Homer Glen 43 45 24,385 4.9% $298,100
Itasca 44 66 8,502 5.2% $282,300
Oswego 45 48 33,245 4.4% $225,100
Glen Carbon 46 59 12,782 5.3% $202,400
Huntley 47 47 25,831 3.9% $231,100
Mount Zion 48 52 5,894 5.5% $134,600
Elburn 49 69 5,594 6.6% $241,800
Lemont 50 63 16,587 6.2% $342,500
Frankfort 51 41 18,415 6.1% $351,200
Lisle 52 65 22,989 6.4% $334,400
Bartlett 53 39 41,475 5.5% $260,500
Manhattan 54 80 7,405 5.7% $212,100
Channahon 55 62 12,329 6.1% $195,400
Columbia 56 99 10,193 4.9% $198,100
Algonquin 57 71 30,413 6.2% $240,600
Morton Grove 58 61 23,413 5.0% $283,700
West Dundee 59 50 7,369 4.0% $249,100
St. Charles 60 42 32,745 4.2% $281,700
Palos Heights 61 54 12,544 7.8% $275,000
Waterloo 62 46 10,197 3.7% $177,900
New Lenox 63 60 25,347 5.8% $273,800
Troy 64 89 10,041 4.5% $169,800
Mount Prospect 65 67 54,552 5.3% $296,500
Willow Springs 66 96 5,677 4.7% $347,400
Oak Brook 67 57 7,988 3.3% $825,400
Glencoe 68 5 8,870 1.5% $891,300
Monticello 69 51 5,609 6.9% $158,500
Gilberts 70 20 7,479 5.9% $255,100
Brookfield 71 141 18,966 5.1% $227,400
Riverside 72 73 8,779 7.4% $387,100
Sugar Grove 73 58 9,288 4.8% $268,200
Orland Hills 74 176 7,241 8.4% $221,600
Spring Grove 75 76 5,578 6.7% $296,700
Long Grove 76 88 8,065 4.6% $652,100
Yorkville 77 72 18,436 4.8% $233,100
Eureka 78 75 5,827 1.8% $130,400
Gurnee 79 90 31,070 5.1% $251,300
Batavia 80 64 26,413 6.9% $278,600
Pingree Grove 81 139 5,983 4.2% $170,800
Willowbrook 82 109 8,603 6.4% $215,300
Lockport 83 93 25,096 6.0% $212,400
Lake In The Hills 84 79 28,908 6.0% $204,000
Maryville 85 68 7,837 8.6% $191,400
Hoffman Estates 86 74 51,727 5.1% $252,600
North Aurora 87 78 17,612 5.2% $229,300
Palatine 88 85 69,098 5.6% $265,800
Orland Park 89 87 58,612 5.9% $273,100
Lake Villa 90 83 8,916 6.6% $233,600
Lincolnwood 91 70 12,637 4.5% $379,500
Roscoe 92 100 10,666 5.2% $153,900
Lombard 93 94 44,025 5.9% $240,600
Schaumburg 94 84 74,366 5.2% $230,800
Flossmoor 95 56 9,215 9.3% $223,500
Woodridge 96 86 33,331 5.0% $249,400
Cary 97 95 17,946 5.8% $213,900
Tinley Park 98 97 57,125 5.4% $220,400
South Elgin 99 49 22,274 5.8% $200,100
Inverness 100 17 7,844 4.4% $616,500

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5 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois For 2018

  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.

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