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If your decision to move out of Chicago is already final, you might want to spend as much time at the majestic Lake Michigan as possible because you both are going to dearly miss each other. No doubt Chicago is a great place and attracts people in large numbers for them to live and work, but there are some issues as well which have forced people to find a home somewhere else. Everyone has had a different reason to leave Chicago, from the increasing crime rates, high taxes, a standstill economy, high real estate prices to the severe cold weather during winters, and high traffic.
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In case you’re looking for cities not too far from Chicago to live in, here’s a list for you to go through.
Serving as the capital city of Illinois, Springfield is located in the central part of the state, around 200 miles southwest of Chicago. Before becoming the president and moving into the White House, Abraham Lincoln lived and worked as a lawyer and politician for approximately 24 years in Springfield. Some of the historic sites in Lincoln’s honor in the city are Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Lincoln Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The people of the city are known to be kind and welcoming, and they are always ready to help strangers.
The biggest plus-point of moving from Chicago to Springfield is the low cost of living. Springfield has a cost of living index of 75.4. Compare it with the national average (100) and the cost of living in Chicago (106.9) and you can imagine how much more you’re going to be able to save on utilities, food, groceries, housing, etc. The city experiences a warm and temperate climate with hot, humid summers and snowy, freezing winters. Springfield gets 196 days of sunshine, 38 inches of rain, and 18 inches of snow every year.
The job market in Springfield is booming. Major industries to find work in are healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, food services, hospitality, retail trade, education services, financial services, etc. The main employers are the State of Illinois, Memorial Medical Center, University of Illinois, St. John’s Hospital, Illinois National Guard, PetSmart, Standard Mutual Insurance, Richardson Manufacturing Company, and Aerotek.
Downsides: The crime rate in Springfield is almost double the national average. According to NeighborhoodScout, the city has violent and property crime rates of 9.42 and 37.03 per 1,000 residents respectively. The state taxes are high. If you have your own car, that’ll help a lot because public transportation is not the best in Springfield.
Median Home Value: $139,990
Monthly Rent: $750
Median Household Income: $54,164
Unemployment Rate: 4.8%
Best Neighborhoods To Live In: Bradfordton, Lake Springfield Area, Downtown, Enos Park, Vinegar Hill, Woodside, Devereux Heights, and Old Aristocracy Hill.
Located just over 30 miles to the west of Chicago, Naperville is among the best cities to settle down in not just in Illinois, but the entire country. It’s the ultimate destination for most people to raise a family as it has an extremely low crime rate and top-quality education. In fact, more than 70% of the people living here hold a bachelor’s degree. One of the country’s wealthiest cities, Naperville has an upscale lifestyle for the most part.
In the cost of living index, Naperville has a score of 129.6 which is quite high when compared to the national average (100). However, this high living cost absolutely justifies the high quality of life that the city has to offer. The people of the city get to enjoy all the four seasons and the climate can be described as continental with humid, warm summers and snowy, freezing winters. The city gets a total of 189 sunny days a year, 39 inches of rainfall, and 29 inches of snowfall. There are abundant entertainment options for you in Naperville in the form of great music everywhere, splendid nightlife, numerous restaurants, bars, and shopping venues. It’s the perfect place to raise a family but is equally desired by young professionals and retired folks.
Talking about the work opportunities, you’ll be able to find work easily, especially in sectors like engineering, electronics, technology, retail, finance, insurance, retail trade, education, construction, etc. There are various Fortune 500 companies present in the city and some of the major employers are Edward Hospital, BP America, Dupage Medical Group, Nokia, Western Electric, Calamos, Ineos, Naperville Community Unit School District, Nicor, and North Central College.
Downsides: The cost of living in Naperville is high and so are the real estate prices and the property tax. The summers and winters are severe. Traffic congestion is always an issue in the city.
Median Home Value: $474,811
Monthly Rent: $1,744
Median Household Income: $127,648
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%
Best Neighborhoods To Live In: Hobson West, Cress Creek, Still Water, Downtown Naperville, Ashbury, Carillon Club, Mayfair, Brookdale, and Acron Hill Estates.
Rockford sits just below the border of Illinois and Wisconsin in the northern part of the state and has the Rock River running through the city. The river is an approximately 300-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River. Present in Winnebago County, Rockford is the third-largest city in the state after Chicago and Springfield. Today, the authorities are putting in great efforts to transform the city with a plan called ‘Transform Rockford’ whose aim is to improve the performance of the city on all fronts like the economy, education, employment, neighborhoods, diversity, and safety.
Rockford experiences a cold and temperate climate with humid, warm summers and snowy, freezing winters. In a year, there are 188 days of sunshine, 37 inches of rainfall, and 35 inches of snow. Rockford has a cost of living index of 75.3 which is significantly lower than the national average and that of Chicago (106.9). The biggest advantage is affordable housing.
The job market in the city is on the rise as employers are creating more and more opportunities. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Rockford Public School District, Mercy Health, and the Chicago-Rockford International Airport have been among the top employers in the city. The best industries to work in the city are manufacturing, healthcare, retail trade, accommodation and food services, etc. There are many beautiful public attractions in the city like the Burpee Museum of Natural History and Anderson Japanese Gardens. Also, the largest music festival in Illinois called ‘On The Waterfront’ is held in Rockford.
Downsides: The crime rate and the unemployment rate in Rockford are high but there is continuous improvement. Also, the poverty rate and taxes are high. The summers and winters are harsh.
Median Home Value: $130,534
Monthly Rent: $1,149
Median Household Income: $44,771
Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
Best Neighborhoods To Live In: North End Square, Spring Creek, Edgewater, East Rockfords, Downtown, Rockton, Summerfield Commons, and Haight Village.
One of the most scenic cities in the whole country, Madison is the capital and the second-largest city of Wisconsin. It lies in the south-central part of the state, surrounded by the lakes Mendota and Monona. Madison is famous for its stunning greenery, being the cultural hub of art, music, food, and electric nightlife. More importantly, factors like access to schools, hospitals, infrastructure, affordability, and income make Madison a top-notch place to settle down.
Madison is the focal point of not just medicine and technology, but it also has a promising college town vibe, especially with the renowned University of Wisconsin, Madison. The cost of living index shows a score of 100.6 for Madison which is almost at par with the country’s average. The city’s climate can be described as cold and temperate with warm, humid summers and snowy, freezing winters. Madison gets 187 sunny days a year, along with 38 inches of rainfall, and 42 inches of snowfall.
The best sectors to find work in Madison are technology, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and insurance. Some of the biggest employers are UW Health, American Family Insurance, the University of Wisconsin, Sub-Zero, and Alliant Energy. Popular activities during the cold season include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and camping. When it comes to raising families, there are multiple top-notch schools and universities like Shorewood Hills Elementary School, Monona Grove High School, the University of Wisconsin, and the Madison Area Technical College. The city has violent and property crime rates of 3.18 and 27.68 per 1,000 residents, respectively.
Downsides: The taxes are high. Although you get all four seasons, the summers and winters in Madison are severe. Public transportation isn’t the best and the preferred way to move around is by your personal vehicle.
Median Home Value: $364,642
Monthly Rent: $1,411
Median Household Income: $67,565
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
Best Neighborhoods To Live In: Wexford Village, Glacier Ridge, Highlands Community, Dudgeon-Monroe, Westmorland, Walnut Grove, Nakoma, and Vilas.
Milwaukee is not just Wisconsin’s largest city but the most popular one as well. Located to the west of the mesmerizing Lake Michigan, the city is well within 100 miles of Madison and Chicago. Affordable prices, high quality of life, amazing restaurants and bars, nightlife, craft beer, festivals, and a flourishing job market make Milwaukee a highly-desirable city to set up residence in. The city is home to the headquarters of as many as nine Fortune 500 companies and is known for its cultural diversity, technology infrastructure, and the fact that it’s a major financial center. In 2018, Vogue magazine honored Milwaukee as ‘The Coolest City in the Midwest’. A major reason behind this title could be the numerous festivals that are organized and celebrated in the city.
The city offers top-notch educational opportunities with Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. The climate of the city is continental with extremely cold winters and hot summers. The total number of days of sunshine in a year is 191 and the city receives 35 inches of rainfall, along with 45 inches of snow.
As far as expenses are concerned, Milwaukee has a cost of living index of 84.9 which is lower than the national average and significantly lower than Chicago as well. Harley Davidson, Rockwell Automation, Aurora Health Care, Kohl’s Corp, Ascension Wisconsin, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and Johnson Controls are some of the major employers in Milwaukee. The best-performing industries are food and beverage, manufacturing, technology, healthcare, information technology, and transportation.
Downsides: Along with the property taxes, the crime rate in Milwaukee is also higher than the national average. The city has violent and property crime rates of 16.48 and 28.74 per 1,000 residents, respectively. Traffic is a major issue. During the winters, it gets too cold.
Median Home Value: $177,000
Monthly Rent: $1,308
Median Household Income: $43,125
Unemployment Rate: 4%
Best Neighborhoods To Live In: Brewer’s Hill, Bay View, Menomonee River Valley, Juneau Town, Historic Third Ward, West Allis, Riverwest, and Lower East Side.
Also read: Neighborhoods in Milwaukee for Families
So, these are the five cities not too far from Chicago where you can settle down if you want to experience change. Hope this article helps you in arriving at your final decision. Don’t forget to do your own research if there are any doubts in your mind. Knowing exactly what you want will help you greatly in shortlisting the places that you can consider moving to.
See also: Best Moving Companies in Chicago
Most of the people moving out of Chicago are going to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Denver, Nashville, Austin, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Portland.
The states that have attracted the most number of people from Chicago are California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia, New York State, and Washington State.
The people of Chicago have had their fair share of issues ranging from a stagnant economy, high real estate prices, high taxes, and increasing crime rates to harsh weather conditions and traffic congestion. These are all reasons why people are choosing to leave Chicago.
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