10 Largest Cities in Illinois

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Moving To Illinois

For people moving to Illinois, one of the first things they’ll notice is the natural beauty of the state. There’s no shortage of places to explore, with over 200 state parks and nature preserves. From the towering bluffs of Starved Rock State Park to the scenic view from the top of Cahokia Mounds, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. In addition to its natural beauty, Illinois is also a great place to live and work. The state has a strong economy and is home to many Fortune 500 companies. The state also offers a variety of employment opportunities, with major industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare providing jobs for residents.

Additionally, Illinois ranks highly in education, with several world-renowned universities located within its borders. Whether you’re looking for a place to raise a family or a career change, Illinois is a great option.

When moving, it’s important to research your new home. That includes learning as much as you can about the largest cities in your new state. Illinois is home to several large metropolitan areas, each with its own unique culture and atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a big city with plenty of attractions and opportunities, or a smaller town with a more relaxed pace, Illinois has something to offer everyone.

Here is a closer look at some of the largest cities in this great state.

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1. Chicago, IL

After New York and Los Angeles, Chicago is the third-largest metropolis in the United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan, one of the world’s great lakes.

Chicago, IL, is commonly noted for its architecture which holds a mix of modern, post-modern, and art deco styles. The city is home to popular tourist attractions such as the Cloud Gate, Buckingham Fountain, and the Willis Tower. Chicago’s skyline is also one of the most photographed in the United States. Furthermore, Chicago is a finance, technology, commerce, and industry hub. As a result of its wide array of industries and thriving economy, Chicago has been ranked as one of the “Top 10 Most Employable Cities” in the United States by Forbes. In addition to its many employment opportunities, Chicago is also home to several top-ranked colleges and universities. These include the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and DePaul University.

Upsides:

  • A diverse range of people and cultures
  • Job Opportunities
  • Architecture
  • Public Transportation

Downsides:

  • Weather can be Extreme
  • High Tax
  • High Traffic

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 271,000
  • Median Value of Home – $312,489
  • Median Rent – $2,080
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 106.9
  • Employability Rate – 94.6
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 35.19 (Violent 9.69 and Property 25.49)
  • Some of the top employers in the city are United Airlines, Motorola, Kraft Heinz Company, McDonald’s Corporation, and BP America.

Best neighborhoods in Chicago:

Lincoln Park, West Loop, Wicker Park

2. Aurora, IL

Located in Kane County, Illinois, the city of Aurora is situated just west of Chicago. With a population of over 200,000, Aurora is the second-largest city in the state. The city is home to a diverse array of businesses and industries, and its growing economy has attracted many new residents in recent years. Aurora is also well known for its scenic beauty. The city’s tree-lined streets and parks provide a lovely setting for its many historic buildings and homes. Residents and visitors enjoy the city’s numerous recreational opportunities, including golfing, hiking, biking, and fishing. One of the Midwest’s most popular outdoor shopping destinations, it is also home to Hollywood Casino Aurora, River EdgePark, Paramount Theater, and Chicago Premium Outlets.

The city of Aurora was named the Best City for Living the American Dream thanks to its job opportunities, economic mobility, and diversity. In addition to its economic and physical attractiveness, Aurora is also an excellent place to live and work. The city’s low crime rate and high quality of life have earned it a place on Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” list.Aurora is also home to several excellent schools, including the highly ranked Marmion Academy.

Upsides:

  • Good job opportunities
  • Low Crime Rate
  • Average Cost of Living
  • Diversity

Downsides:

  • High Poverty Rate
  • High Taxes

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 200,500
  • Median Value of Home – $241,209
  • Median Rent – $1,585
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 91.1
  • Employability Rate – 95
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 12.51 (Violent 3.64 and Property -8.87)
  • OSI Group, Jvc, and Glanbia Performance Nutrition are a few major companies in town.

Best neighborhoods in Aurora:

Southeast, Edgelawn Randall, and Fox Valley

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3. Naperville, IL

Located in the heart of Illinois, Naperville is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. The city’s central location, vibrant downtown, and housing options make it an attractive place to live. The city’s commitment to quality of life is evident in its world-class parks and recreation facilities, top-rated schools, and safe neighborhoods.

In addition to its scenic views, Naperville is also home to various businesses and employers. The city’s unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average. In addition, Naperville has been consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the country for raising a family. With its strong economy and high quality of life, it’s no wonder that Naperville is such a popular place to live and work. Naperville was recently ranked the wealthiest city in the Midwest and the 19th most affluent in the United States. This Chicago suburb has also been known to be one of the top 10 Best Places to Live in the United States and one of America’s safest cities!

Upsides:

  • Amazing Nightlife
  • Good Education
  • Low Crime Rate

Downsides:

  • The Cost of Living is High
  • High Traffic
  • Cold Winters

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 148,000
  • Median Value of Home – $474,811
  • Median Rent – $1,744
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 129.6
  • Employability Rate – 95.5
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 4.19 (Violent 0.66 and Property 03.52)
  • Edward Hospital, Nokia, Western Electric, Calamos, Ineos, and Nicor Gas are among the city’s top employers.

Best neighborhoods in Naperville:

Ashbury and Acorn Hill Estates

See Also: Best 5 Moving Companies in Naperville IL

4. Joliet, IL

The University of St. Francis. Joliet is a city located in Northern Illinois, within the Chicago metropolitan area. The city has a population of just over 147,000 people and is the fourth largest city in the state. Joliet is a popular tourist destination due to its many attractions, including the Rialto Square Theater, the Chicagoland Speedway, and Harrah’s Joliet casino. Joliet’s proximity to Chicago makes it a convenient location for commuters. In addition, Joliet’s Amtrak station offers service to New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, and other cities. As a result, Joliet is an appealing option for those looking for a city with access to all the amenities of a big city but without the high cost of living.

Upsides:

  • Proximity to Chicago
  • Amtrak station
  • Cost of Living is Low
  • Good Education

Downsides:

  • Cold Winters
  • Employment is slightly Less

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 148,000
  • Median Value of Home – $195,316
  • Median Rent – $1,162
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 84.5
  • Employability Rate – 90.6
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 17.89 (Violent 5.48 and Property 12.41)
  • Caterpillar, Inc., Exelon is among the top employers in the city.

Best neighborhoods in Joliet:

Cathedral Area, Clublands, Summerfield

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5. Rockford, IL

Rockford, IL is a beautiful city with a lot to offer its residents. From the scenic views of the Rock River to the abundance of parks and recreation opportunities, there is something for everyone in Rockford. You’ll have fun with your family and friends at popular public places like the Burpee Museum of Natural History and Anderson Japanese Gardens. The largest music event in Illinois, the Rockford Air Fest, is also held in the city every year.

The city is also home to several employers that offer good-paying jobs, including hospitals, universities, and manufacturing companies. The city’s largest employers include FCA US LLC, Rockford Public School District, Mercy Health System, and the Chicago-Rockford International Airport.

Upsides:

  • Family-friendly
    • Good job opportunities
    • Low Cost of Living
    • Good Education

Downsides:

  • High Crime Rate.
    • High poverty rate.
    • High State Tax

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 147,000
    • Median Value of Home – $130,534
    • Median Rent – $725
    • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 75.3
    • Employability Rate – 91.3
    • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 41.74 (Violent 14.13 and Property 27.61)
    • OSF Healthcare, Amazon, and Collins Aerospace are just a few of the major businesses in the city.

Best neighborhoods in Rockford:

Edgewater, Downtown

6. Springfield, IL

When most people think of Springfield, Illinois, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Abraham Lincoln. However, there is much more to this city than its rich history. The city offers a high quality of life and ample employment opportunities. Springfield is also a beautiful place to live, with various parks and trails that offer breathtaking views. In addition, the city has a strong economy, with plenty of employment opportunities. Springfield is home to several large businesses and many small businesses and startups. The city also has a highly educated workforce, with nearly half of the residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. The University of Illinois Springfield, Midwest Technical Institute, St. John’s College Department of Nursing, and Lincoln Land Community College are a few of the prominent institutions in Springfield. As a result, Springfield is an excellent place to live and work.

Upsides:

  • Historical city with a lot to offer
    • Beautiful views
    • Low cost of living
    • Good Education

Downsides:

  • High crime rate
  • Limited Public Transportation
  • High State Tax

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 116,000
    • Median Value of Home – $139,990
    • Median Rent – $684
    • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 75.4
    • Employability Rate – 94.9
    • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 46.45 (Violent 9.42 and Property 37.03)
    • State of Illinois, Memorial Health System, and St. John’s Hospital are some of the biggest employers in the area.

Best neighborhoods in Springfield:

Downtown, Vinegar Hill, Enos Park

7. Elgin, IL

Elgin is a city in the Kane and Cook counties, around 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Hezekiah Gifford established and named the town in 1835, and it is now one of the Midwest’s leading dairy producers.

Elgin, IL is a beautiful city with a lot to offer potential employers. The city’s population is growing, and a skilled workforce is available. There are also many amenities nearby, including restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. In addition, the city is located near Chicago and has good transportation options. The cost of living in Elgin is relatively low compared to other areas’ cities. As a result, Elgin is an attractive option for employers looking for a city with a high quality of life.

Upsides:

  • High Quality of Life
    • Low Cost of Living
    • Strong Job Market
    • Excellent Education Options

Downsides:

  • Weather can be Extreme

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 113,500
    • Median Value of Home – $260,997
    • Median Rent – $1,407
    • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 93.1
    • Employability Rate – 94.1
    • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 13.21 (Violent 2.26 and Property 10.95)
    • FisherNuts, the Illinois Department of human services, are some of the most popular employers in the city.

Best neighborhoods in Elgin:

Downtown, Elgin National Watch Historic District

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8. Peoria, IL

Peoria, IL, is a beautiful and employable city. Peoria is a city in Illinois located on the banks of the Illinois River. It was founded by the French explorer Henri de Tonti at the end of the 17th century.The city of Peoria is one of the state’s oldest. With incredibly quiet and clean communities in the city, you’ll feel like you’re in a small town.

The streets are lined with trees, and the homes are well-maintained. There are many green spaces and parks and a riverfront area with a walking and biking path. The city also has a thriving business community. The unemployment rate is low, and job seekers have many options. There are also several colleges and universities in the area, providing opportunities for further education. Peoria is an excellent place to live and work. It offers a high quality of life and a strong workforce. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Peoria is one of the best places to live in Illinois.

Upsides:

  • Low Cost of Living
    • Peaceful Town
    • Good Education
    • Good Air Quality

Downsides:

  • High Crime Rate
  • Cold Winters

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 114,000
  • Median Value of Home – $107,318
  • Median Rent – $648
  • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 74.6
  • Employability Rate – 95.5
  • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 40.62 (Violent 9.58 and Property 31.04)
  • Caterpillar Inc. and OSF Healthcare are some of the leading employers in the area.

Best neighborhoods in Peoria:

East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Chillicothe

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9. Champaign, IL

According to a recent study, the city of Champaign, IL, is one of the most beautiful and employable cities in the United States. The study, conducted by the website Career Trend, looked at several factors, including job opportunities, cost of living, and quality of life. Champaign ranked highly in these categories, making it a top choice for those looking for a new place to live and work. In addition to its beauty and employment opportunities, Champaign is also home to several colleges and universities, providing residents with access to an educated workforce. With its combination of beauty, job opportunities, and quality of life, it’s no wonder that Champaign is quickly becoming one of the most popular cities in Illinois.

Upsides:

  • Beautiful city
    • Job opportunities
    • Quality of life
    • Affordable

Downsides:

  • Crime Rate is High

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 87,636
    • Median Value of Home – $181,463
    • Median Rent – $895
    • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 80.8
    • Employability Rate – 95.8
    • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 30.83 (Violent 9.37 and Property 21.46)
    • University of Illinois, Kraft Heinz, are some of the leading employers in the city.

Best neighborhoods in Champaign:

Campustown, Kenwood, Downtown champaign

10. Waukegan, IL

Waukegan, located in Lake County, Illinois, is a beautiful city with a scenic lakefront, ample parks and green space, and various historic architecture. The city’s crown jewel is Bowen Park, an ancient growth forest, the Jack Benny Center for Performing Arts, a skateboard park, a playground, a history museum, and a greenhouse. Waukegan’s beaches, including the Waukegan Municipal Beach and North Beach Park, are ideal for kiteboarding, sailing, and swimming.

The city also has a diverse population and a vibrant downtown. These factors make Waukegan an attractive place to live and work. The city’s location near Chicago provides residents access to a major metropolitan area, while its proximity to Milwaukee makes it an ideal commuter town. In addition, Waukegan’s schools are highly rated, and the city has a low crime rate. All these factors contribute to the employability of Waukegan residents. Companies located in the city can be confident that they will have a pool of well-qualified workers to draw from.

Upsides:

  • Scenic lakefront
    • Ample parks and green space
    • Variety of historic architecture
    • Diverse Population
    • Good Air Quality

Downsides:

  • Cold Winters
    • Employment is slightly Less

Quick Facts:

  • Population – 87,297
    • Median Value of Home – $187,438
    • Median Rent – $1,095
    • Overall Cost of Living Compared to National Average 100 – 84.8
    • Employability Rate – 90.8
    • Crime Rate per 1000 residents – 20.61 (Violent 3.54 and Property 17.07)
    • Some of the top employers in the city are Lake County, JST, and Yaskawa America.

Best neighborhoods in Waukegan:

Marquette Highlands, The Links at Midlane, and Lake County Gardens

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Conclusion

The ten largest cities in Illinois are listed above. Chicago is the state’s biggest city, while Aurora is its second-largest. There are several alternatives accessible based on your demands, with close proximity to major cities and diverse environments. These towns provide a variety of employment possibilities, cost of living choices, and quality of life options, as well as access to education and culture. Consider all your options before making a final decision on where you’d like to live in Illinois. Each city has something unique to offer, so take your time in choosing the one that’s right for you. Thanks for Reading!

See Also: Illinois DMV Change of Address

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is the Climate in Illinois??

The climate in Illinois is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The state experiences four distinct seasons so that residents can enjoy various outdoor activities year-round.

Is There a Lot of Crime in Illinois?

Overall, the crime rate in Illinois is lower than the national average. However, as with any state, there are pockets of high crime. Be sure to research the areas you’re considering before making your move.

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How Are the Schools in Illinois?

The schools in Illinois are highly rated, with many districts ranking above the national average. In addition, the state has several renowned colleges and universities, such as the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

Is Illinois an Expensive State to Live In?

The overall cost of living index is 94.5, which is 5.5% cheaper to live in than the national average.

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Which Are the Safest Places to Live in Illinois?

Some of the safest places in Illinois include Naperville, Aurora, and Elgin. These communities have low crime rates and are well-regarded for their quality of life.

Written by


Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.