10 Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois For 2019


We used data and science to determine which places in Illinois go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Illinois.

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You don’t have to win the lottery or detassel hundreds of acres of corn by yourself, to live in most cities in Illinois: it’s extremely affordable.

Yes, learning the value of the dollar is important, but you don’t want to stress about it daily when looking for a great place to live, good food, and low cost of living. Well, you don’t have to look any further if you choose Illinois to set up shop. The Land of Lincoln is one of the most affordable in the country.

Most people think that Illinois cities are filled with a bunch of fancy steakhouses, Lincolnshire snobs, and a boatload of wealthy farmers. While all this might be true for some Illinois cities, the country bumpkins and city folk of this Midwest state would beg to differ. Illinois cities have a lot to offer to all income levels; and surprisingly, there are cities in this flyover state that won’t break your bank.

Now, don’t go all crazy and drown your financial woes at the local Family Dollar. Just because The Prairie State is affordable, doesn’t mean it’s all ‘subsidized housing’ cheap. It means the cost of living is doable. And that means you have more money to do the fun stuff that Illinois has to offer: like buying Chicago Bears’ season tickets or taking an RV trip to the Shawnee National Forest. #GoBears

So, grab yourself a fried tenderloin the size of your head and a cold pop, and read on.

What does the most affordable place to live in Illinois look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living for cities with over 5,000 residents, Hoopeston brings home the bacon as the cheapest place in Illinois.

And even though Hoopeston may be the cheapest, every place in the top ten let’s you live like a king on a pauper’s salary.

So, if you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Illinois, where your salary will let you live like royalty.

And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Illinois and the cheapest places in the country:

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois For 2019

Hoopeston, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,186
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.6x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 82.8x (47th cheapest)
More On Hoopeston: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Hoopeston is a city in Grant Township, Vermilion County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 5,351.

The median income in Hoopeston comes in at $41,313 and the median home value is $64,100 for 2019.

Clinton, IL

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,260
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (13th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 83.9x (43rd cheapest)
More On Clinton: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Clinton is the largest city in DeWitt County, Illinois, United States. The population was 7,225 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of DeWitt County.

The median income in Clinton comes in at $45,877 and the median home value is $79,100 for 2019.

Dixon, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 15,257
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (10th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 84.5x (39th cheapest)
More On Dixon: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Dixon is a city and county seat of Lee County, Illinois, United States. The population was 15,733 as of the 2010 census, down from 15,941 in 2000. The city is named after founder John Dixon, who operated a rope ferry service across Rock River, which runs through the city. The Illinois General Assembly designated Dixon as “Petunia Capital of Illinois” in 1999 and “The Catfish Capital of Illinois” in 2009.

The median income in Dixon comes in at $54,353 and the median home value is $92,300 for 2019.

Mount Carmel, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,032
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (12th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.9x (77th cheapest)
More On Mount Carmel: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Mount Carmel is a city in and the county seat of Wabash County, Illinois, United States. At the time of the 2010 census, the population was 7,284, while the next largest town in Wabash County is Allendale, population 475. Located at the confluence of the Wabash, Patoka, and White Rivers, Mount Carmel borders both Gibson and Knox counties of Indiana. A small community known informally as East Mount Carmel sits near the mouth of the Patoka River on the opposite side of the Wabash River from Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel is 5 miles northeast of the Forest of the Wabash, a National Natural Landmark within Beall Woods State Park and about a mile north-northeast of one of its main employers, the Gibson Generating Station. Mount Carmel is also the home of Wabash Valley College, part of the Community College System of Eastern Illinois.

The median income in Mount Carmel comes in at $44,500 and the median home value is $76,400 for 2019.

Salem, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,044
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (15th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.3x (86th cheapest)
More On Salem: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

The median income in Salem comes in at $41,122 and the median home value is $71,600 for 2019.

Hillsboro, IL

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,231
Rank Last Year: 48 (Up 42)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.6x (6th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 73.9x (92nd cheapest)
More On Hillsboro: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Hillsboro is a city in Montgomery County, Illinois, United States. The population was 6,207 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Montgomery County.

The median income in Hillsboro comes in at $48,682 and the median home value is $80,000 for 2019.

Du Quoin, IL

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,876
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 9)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (24th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 72.7x (98th cheapest)
More On Du Quoin: Homes For Sale | Data

Du Quoin is a town in Perry County, Illinois, United States. The population was 6,109 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Du Quoin comes in at $37,442 and the median home value is $69,200 for 2019.

Pana, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,572
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.2x (115th cheapest)
More On Pana: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Pana is a city in Christian County, Illinois, United States. The population was 5,614 at the 2000 census.

The median income in Pana comes in at $41,197 and the median home value is $69,900 for 2019.

Litchfield, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,951
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 13)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (21st most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 74.2x (91st cheapest)
More On Litchfield: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Litchfield is a city in Montgomery County, Illinois, United States. The population was 6,939 at the 2010 census, and 6,588 in 2009 and 7,012 in 2015. It is located in south central Illinois, south of Springfield and northeast of Metro-East.

The median income in Litchfield comes in at $43,045 and the median home value is $76,900 for 2019.

Lincoln, IL

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 13,912
Rank Last Year: 33 (Up 23)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (14th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.9x (78th cheapest)
More On Lincoln: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Lincoln is a city in Logan County, Illinois, United States. It is the only town in the United States that was named for and by Abraham Lincoln before he became president; he practiced law there from 1847 to 1859. First settled in the 1830s, Lincoln is home to three colleges and two prisons. The three colleges are Lincoln College, Lincoln Christian University, and Heartland Community College. It is also the home of the world’s largest covered wagon.

The median income in Lincoln comes in at $52,245 and the median home value is $90,300 for 2019.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Prairie State For 2019

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Illinois to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 326 places in Illinois that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in Illinois according to the data is Hoopeston.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Illinois Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Illinois, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in illinois for 2019.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Illinois according to the data:

  1. Lincolnshire
  2. Highwood
  3. Lincolnwood

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Where Are The Most Affordable Places To Live In Illinois?

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Hoopeston 19.33 5,186 1.6x 82.8x
2 Clinton 29.67 7,260 1.7x 83.9x
3 Dixon 36.67 15,257 1.7x 84.5x
4 Mount Carmel 38.67 7,032 1.7x 75.9x
5 Salem 40.0 7,044 1.7x 75.3x
6 Hillsboro 44.0 7,231 1.6x 73.9x
7 Du Quoin 45.33 5,876 1.8x 72.7x
8 Pana 46.67 5,572 1.7x 70.2x
9 Litchfield 47.0 6,951 1.8x 74.2x
10 Lincoln 50.33 13,912 1.7x 75.9x

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.