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:
- Western Springs (Photos)
- Deerfield (Photos)
- Winnetka (Photos)
- Northbrook (Photos)
- Wilmette (Photos)
- Buffalo Grove (Photos)
- Hinsdale (Photos)
- Libertyville (Photos)
- Winfield (Photos)
- Clarendon Hills (Photos)
Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best 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 116,745 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’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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.
1. Western Springs
Population: 13,133Rank 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.
Population: 18,686Rank 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.
Population: 12,437Rank 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.
Population: 33,538Rank 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.
Population: 27,367Rank 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
Population: 41,554Rank 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?
Population: 17,438Rank 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?
Population: 20,435Rank 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.
Population: 9,543Rank 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
- Leland Grove (Pop. 1,625)
- Dunlap (Pop. 1,351)
- St. Joseph (Pop. 4,109)
- Germantown Hills (Pop. 3,491)
- Hudson (Pop. 1,704)
- Sherman (Pop. 4,404)
- Rochester (Pop. 3,687)
- Philo (Pop. 1,627)
- Kenilworth (Pop. 2,613)
- Forsyth (Pop. 3,421)
Best Small Towns To Live In Illinois
- Irwin (Pop. 79)
- Georgetown (Pop. 516)
- Indian Creek (Pop. 768)
- Ogden (Pop. 732)
- Bartelso (Pop. 619)
- Spaulding (Pop. 766)
- Downs (Pop. 971)
- Goodfield (Pop. 931)
- Pesotum (Pop. 514)
- McNabb (Pop. 305)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Illinois:
- Centreville (Pop. 5,127)
- Robbins (Pop. 5,216)
- Cahokia (Pop. 14,574)
For more Illinois reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In Illinois
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Illinois
- These Are The 10 Places In Illinois Where Marriages Are On The Rocks
Detailed List Of The Best Cities In Illinois
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