The “Big Apple of the Midwest” is Chicago, but you’ll find there are plenty of cities in the Land of Lincoln that are worth calling home. Actually, Lincoln is only one of three U.S. Presidents who were elected while living in Illinois, with Ulysses S. Grant and Barack Obama being the other two. There must be something in the water. Or something great about the cities? Looking at economy, schools, amenities, weather, and cost of living, we determined which places are best to call home, and maybe launch a prominent career of your own.
What do you think? Did your city make the list? Have a reason why it should if it didn’t? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
#1 Highland Park
This is the city you want when you’re looking for the peace of a smaller town but the amenities of a big city. Just outside of Chicago, the Windy City is never far away. But the city more than stands on its own, which is why it took our top spot. Not only is it one of the very safest cities in the state, but it has one of the lowest unemployment rates, and the streets are lined with highly-valued, unique homes. And with a downtown that offers plenty to do on its own, you don’t even have to leave if you’re looking for a good time.
Unemployment is low, and home values are high. The school system is one of the best in the state, with lots of funding and support for students which leads to a high graduation rate. Objectively, these numbers make for a great place to live and raise a family. The great park system, charming architecture, location on the shores of Lake Michigan, are really what helped boost Wilmette into the #2 spot.
Northbrook is beautiful. It’s hard to lead with anything other than that. The red brick buildings and preserved historic architecture contribute to the impossibly charming landscape. Oh yeah, this little village on Chicago’s North Shore also has one of the best school systems, and one of the lowest unemployment rates. We suppose those things seem to matter as well when deciding where to live.
All the usual date makes Elmhurst look like a great place to live. The crime rates are low, the schools are great, and average household income is high. The cultural amenities offered here are what really make Elmhurst stand out. The Chicago suburb has a landscape of theaters, art museums (including the nationally-known Elmhurst Art Museum), and plenty of dining and shopping options to keep residents from getting restless.
One of the top schools in the state, Deerfield High School, can be found in Deerfield, so if you’re raising children you know they’ll be in good hands academically. The small city is also a leader in business, especially when it comes to the Medical and Technology sectors (both of which are only poised to grow in the future), so there are options for graduates after school as well.
It’s common to find cities with strong school systems on this list. Glenview takes care of it’s kids from kindergarten through high school. But the support for youth and families doesn’t end with education. The city also has a fantastic park system, and a world-class Children’s Museum to support the city’s youngsters. And to top it off, the crime rate is low so you won’t have to worry about them as they grow.
Yes, Wheaton is another city with an impressive school system. It goes beyond just K-12 here, as the city is also home to three college campuses, a nationally-ranked library for those out of school, and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep both mind and body active. This might be part of the reason the average household income is so high; it’s certainly the reason Wheaton made it onto our list.