Best Cities to Retire in Illinois
One of the top reasons to retire in Illinois is that Social Security benefits, pensions, and income from most retirement plans are tax exempt. Plus, the state’s flat income tax rate of 4.95% is relatively low comparably. Healthcare wise, IlliniCare Health has been rated one of the top Illinois Medicaid plans in the state, offering an Integrated Care Plan for seniors. The state enjoys four full distinct seasons with summer highs hitting the mid-80s, and winter lows averaging the upper teens. Most of the cities in Illinois fall below the national cost of living average with affordable rent and offering several senior living housings, and reasonable assisted living facilities.
We considered many factors when developing this guide – such as weather, cost of living, transportation, and community – the results are the following top ten cities to retire in Illinois.
Jump to a City:
Best for Senior Activities
Alton, IllinoisA charming Mississippi River city near St. Louis
Alton has made Forbes’ Best Places to Retire for several years and topping the list of all cities in Illinois, most recently in 2018. Described as “a charming Mississippi River city near St. Louis,” Alton ranked high on the Milken Institute of best places for successful aging. Just over 20 miles north of St. Louis, MO, Alton is quaint without losing that small-town feel, yet not sacrificing the big-city conveniences close by.
Best For Arts And Recreation
Aurora, IllinoisThe City of Lights
Aurora is considered an outer suburb of Chicago, full of economic and cultural diversity, as well as a thriving arts environment. Aurora has a livability score of 71/100, with plenty of amenities, attractions, and history to be found. It adopted the nickname “City of Lights” in 1908 because it was one of the first cities in the United States to utilize an all-electric street lighting system in 1881. The Riverboat Hollywood Casino is a big attraction for seniors, close to plenty of little shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Best Senior Community
Champaign, IllinoisHub of the Silicon Prairie
Champaign is often thought of as a college town, and while that helps keep a youthful vibe, more and more seniors are choosing it as a place to retire for its rural, medium-town feel and low cost of living. The University of Illinois offers state of the art medical facilities and training which benefits all members of the community. Not to mention some of the best in arts, culture, and sporting events that also stem from the University. Champaign maintains a rustic appeal, while only a few hours away from a number of major city centers.
Decatur, IllinoisPride of the Prairies
Another rural/medium town retirement spot is Decatur. Its small-town atmosphere affords a low cost of living. Decatur is known as the “Pride of the Prairies,” boasting some of the warmest and welcoming people in the country. Golfing seniors especially enjoy the Scovill and Hickory Point Golf Courses.
Best for Healthcare
Elgin, IllinoisFox River's Center of Commerce
Elgin is a moderately-sized city with a livability score of 71/100. It’s roughly 40 miles outside of Chicago and offers all the amenities of big-city life. There’s plenty of recreational activities, special events, and cultural arts. In the 1990s, Elgin became one of the first cities in northern Illinois to host a riverboat casino. Since then, the Grand Victoria Casino has been ranked as one of the top tourist attractions in the state.
Best For Low Cost Of Living
Galesburg, IllinoisHome of the Railroad Days Festival
Galesburg is a medium-sized city with a livability score of 68/100, with the best cost of living ranked on our list. It is rich in history and is inextricably linked to the railroad industry.
Best For Transportation
Peoria, IllinoisHome of the Caterpillar Headquarters
Peoria is a quaint, mid-sized town on a bluff overlooking the Illinois River. The community enjoys a wide variety of arts, cultural events, and sporting events thanks to local colleges like Bradley University. The city also boasts plenty of parks and scenic trails, not to mention many riverboat casinos.
Best for Senior Living Facilities
Rockford, IllinoisThe Forest City
Rockford boasts a high senior population, an hour and a half northwest of Chicago it has a variety of affordable housing options, notably lower than the national average. It’s referred to as “Forest City” due to an abundance of elm trees and is home to thousands of acres of parks and grasslands. Seniors in the city are supported through several programs through Lifescape, and there are some community centers with programs designed for aging adults.
Best for Senior Services
Springfield, IllinoisFormer Home of Abraham Lincoln
Springfield is the capital of Illinois about 100 miles north of St. Louis, MO. It enjoys a hearty culture of arts, festivals, and sporting events. Of its more than 30 parks, two stand out: Carpenter Park, which is a natural preserve on the banks of the Sangamon River, and Washington Park and Botanical Garden on the city’s southwest side.
Best For Lowest Crime Rate
Naperville, IllinoisOne of the safest cities in the state
Naperville is another moderately-sized city that is considered a suburb of Chicago, just 28 miles west of the big city. It is ranked as the wealthiest city in the Midwest, and as such has a higher cost of living. But it is also one of the safest cities in the state with a very low crime rate. In addition to a lot of history, Naperville boasts several colleges and universities, offering plenty of arts, culture, and sporting events, not to mention several hospitals and medical groups in the area.