More than 12 million people call Illinois home, as of 2014, and it’s not hard to see why. From the stunning skyline of the Windy City to the fact that it’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, Illinois is full of culture, thriving business, history, and delicious food.
While these millions of people know why they like calling Illinois their home, you might be deciding if it’s the right place for you. We’ve put together the top 12 reasons why packing up and moving to Illinois is the best choice you can make.
You will be in a safe environment
Many cities in Illinois boast low crime rates and safe neighborhoods. SafeWise’s safest cities in Illinois report gives you 50 of the best cities to live for those looking for good schools, safe neighborhoods, and short commutes. North Chicago keeps violent crimes so low that your chance of being a victim is one in 1,000. No matter where you choose to live in Illinois, you can help keep your home and family safe by using the tools offered through the Illinois State Home security and crime prevention resources.
There’s access to the best food
If you think Illinois is all about deep-dish pizza and ketchup-free hot dogs, think again. Sure, these items are delicious and famous for the area, the list of tasty treats doesn’t end there. Chicago alone is full of many diverse neighborhoods, each with their own culinary traditions. Whether you’re craving Mexican food, Indian, or the famous “Chicago mix” from Garrett Popcorn, you’ll have access to it.
You can enjoy neighborhood festivals no matter what time of year it is
There are more than 400 neighborhood festivals every year in Chicago, each with food, culture, and music to enjoy. The Grant Park Music Festival has been a Chicago favorite for 77 years. This downtown classical music fest is free and goes all summer long. Foodies will enjoy the Taste of Chicago food festival. Grab a plate, sit back, and enjoy music and family-friendly activities.
Children can connect with nature in the middle of a metropolis
Illinois has plenty of family-friendly activities, especially for families who love animals. Get up close and personal with all kinds of creatures at any of the zoos, aquariums, or parks exclusive to Illinois, including the Hamill Family Play Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Starved Rock State Park, The Shed Aquarium, or Wildlife Prairie State Park. The Hamill Play Zoo, located within Brookfield Zoo, allows children to touch, build, and explore.
The jobs are here
Illinois is home to some big-name companies, including 32 Fortune 500 companies with Illinois headquarters. That means there is a good chance of finding a job to further your career. Crain’s Chicago Business reports AT&T employs more than 15,000 Illinois residents, and 18,000 at Advocate Healthcare Systems, two of the largest employers in Illinois. But it doesn’t end there. Major companies like J.P. Morgan, American Airlines, United Airlines, Illinois Toolworks, Chase, and Allstate, also call Illinois home. With all these great companies hiring Illinois residents, it’s no wonder the state sees only a 6.7 percent unemployment rate.
No matter what sports you enjoy, you can find them here
If you’re a sports fan, you’re in luck. You can find all kinds of local sports teams, whether you are a soccer fanatic or hockey, you’ll have a team to root for. You can head into Chicago to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field or the Bulls at the United Center. If you prefer college athletics to professional sports, you’re in luck too. There are even league teams to check out, all across the state.
You can easily have a room with a view
With buildings like The Willis (Sears) Tower, the Cultural Center, The Board of Trade, the Jeweler’s Building, and the Thompson Center, there’s no need to go into an art museum. The amazing architecture in Chicago is the view every art connoisseur loves. You’ll certainly never get tired of seeing these great buildings out your window, but even more than that, you can walk around your neighborhood or local city to enjoy the great local architecture.
Your kids (or you) can get a good education here
Education is a top priority in Illinois. According to the Northern Illinois University’s Interactive Report Care, three-quarters (76.50 percent) of students in Illinois meet or exceed grade levels for standardized tests. There are also 112 colleges and universities in the state, including Northwestern and Loyola University of Chicago.
You can learn outside the classroom too
While we’re on the subject of smart people, Illinois has a lot of opportunities for you to learn from books found at your local library. In fact, Illinois is home to the Harold Washington Library, which appeared in the “Guinness Book of Records” as the world’s largest public library. The state has almost 650 public libraries and about 200 college libraries.
The cost of living is affordable
The cost of living in Illinois is ranked lower than the national average. If you’re looking to go to the Chicago area, the least expensive neighborhoods are Morgan Park, East Garfield Park, and Avondale. As of September of this year, average apartment rent in a 10-mile radius around Chicago was $1,917. While this may seem like a large number, it’s lower than what you’d see in other large cities, like San Francisco (average of $3,413) or New York City (average of $3,288).
There are lots of financial growth opportunities
According to the 2000 census, Illinois has a per capita income of $23,104, making this the 11th wealthiest state in the nation. This puts the state at a higher level than most Midwestern states, as well as its neighbor states. In fact, the per capita income in 2012 was almost $1,500 higher than the national average.
You’ll be surrounded by some of the best cities in the country
Cities in Illinois are high achievers. Peoria was awarded the All-America City Award for 60 years (from 1953 to 2013) and Forbes also ranked it the 47th best place in the country for business and careers.
With a strong culture, good job market, and safe neighborhoods, it’s no wonder this state is a great place to live. Considering making a trip out to Chicago? Here are eight things you need to do this fall in Chicago.