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The Best Places to Retire in Illinois 🧓 | Where to Retire in Illinois

Last Updated on: 28th May 2024, 06:24 pm

Are you thinking about retiring in Illinois? Illinois, nicknamed the Land of Lincoln, offers retirees a healthy mix of larger cities and rural influences and caters to a variety of diverse lifestyles. Choosing one of the best places to retire in Illinois will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and other things, but the options are many.

In a big city like Chicago, you’ll be right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. If the big city isn’t your idea of retirement, the small town and laid-back feel of Galesburg or Woodstock might be for you. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it in Illinois.

If you like four distinct seasons, you’ll love Illinois. The winters are cold and snowy, spring is full of greenery and new life, summers are warm and inviting, and fall brings brisk, chilly evenings and a myriad of colors. The changing scenery offers a wide array of recreational activities throughout the year.

Healthcare is at the top of the list for many retirees, and Illinois has some of the best healthcare facilities around. You’ll also find a rich culture with world-class museums and theaters, major professional sports teams, and scenic nature to explore.

Once you find your perfect retirement spot in Illinois, our senior movers can have you settled in and enjoying your best life in no time!

Is Illinois a Good Place to Retire?

smiling senior couple sitting around table and looking over sheets of paper

When deciding where you want to retire, you should consider some important factors, including healthcare, cost of living, climate, transportation, crime, and taxes. Other considerations include which activities and social scenes are important to you, such as golf or social clubs. Here are some of the things to consider when retiring in Illinois:


Is Illinois tax friendly? The good answer is yes! Illinois is considered a tax-friendly state for retirees. Many retirees consider Illinois thanks to the social security benefits. Your qualified retirement income, such as Social Security income, pension payments, and withdrawals from retirement savings accounts are exempt from income tax.

The state income tax rate is 4.95%. The sales tax in Illinois is 6.25%, which is below the national average. However, property taxes are high in Illinois. At an average of 2.29%, the property tax rate is more than double the national average of 0.99%. 


Access to high-quality healthcare is a big consideration for retirees when deciding where to retire. Rest assured that Illinois has excellent medical facilities throughout the state that prioritize the specific needs of seniors.

In a big city like Chicago, you’ll find world-class medical institutions, including Rush University Medical Center, offering superior geriatric patient care and cutting-edge medical research. The Illinois Community Care Program helps seniors who require assistance with daily activities maintain their independence by providing personal care, homemaking, meal preparation, and more. 

Recreational and Outdoor Activities

If you’re looking for an active lifestyle in your retirement, Illinois offers a wide variety of choices for outdoor activities. You’ll find over 300 parks, 475 miles of hiking and biking trails, forests, nature preserves, canyons, stunning landscapes, and more to explore.

In addition, golf courses abound in Illinois for those who enjoy getting on the greens, as well as lakes and rivers that offer opportunities for fishing, boating, and other water sports. 

Cultural Experiences

If you’re interested in culture, Illinois has numerous museums, theaters, art galleries, and historical sites. In Chicago alone, there are more than 74 museums and galleries, including the acclaimed Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum and the Field Museum of Natural History.

The state hosts many festivals and events throughout the year, including the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Illinois State Fair, and the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual Block Party.


Illinois offers four distinct seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. Temperatures in Illinois can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and dip down to as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. The clear distinction between each season gives you different opportunities for things to do throughout the year. 


According to USNews, Illinois ranks 12th in crime and corrections in the country, making it overall a safe state to retire to. It’s important to note that crime rates are higher in big cities, such as Chicago, but there are many safe communities throughout the state to retire to with a low cost of living. 

Cost of Living 

Forbes Advisor ranks Illinois fourth in the country for disposable income and 19th for cost of living. Illinois also has the 13th lowest average median home price, $266,100.  

Best Places to Retire in Illinois

When deciding on the best place for you to retire, it’s important to remember that personal preference will play a big part. You will also want to consider factors such as budget, safety, amenities, and community. With that in mind, here are some of the top places in Illinois to retire:

Chicago – All the Amenities of a Big City and World-Class Healthcare

view of downtown chicago from the east side

  • Population: 2,746,388
  • Share of population 65+: 13.3%
  • Crime rate: 58% above the national average

Chicago is the third-largest city in the nation and features all the amenities you could ask for.  The city is known for its impressive skyline and diverse, vibrant neighborhoods. In Chicago, you’ll have access to world-class museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you’re moving to Chicago, it has an abundance of restaurants, shops, entertainment, music, art, historical attractions, festivals, concerts, and more. You’ll never run out of things to do and see. Housing prices in Chicago are close to the national average.

A great feature of Chicago for retirees is its excellent transportation system, with buses, elevated “L” trains, commuter railways, water taxis, and bikeshares. For active retirees, Chicago has many parks and public beaches. While the Chicago climate does get cold, the public transportation makes it easy to get to appointments and other places.

Two highly rated hospitals, Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, are located in the city, and healthcare is very good.

Chicago has plenty of major professional sports teams to root for, including MLB’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, the NFL’s Chicago Bears, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, and MLS’s Chicago Fire. 

Galena – Best Place to Retire in Illinois on a Budget

galena illinois park with a creek and trees during autumn

  • Population: 3,308
  • Share of population 65+: 42.1%
  • Crime rate: 53% below the national average

Galena is a popular retirement destination in Illinois for good reason. Located in northwest Illinois near the Mississippi River, Galena is a small, picturesque city with a low crime rate, affordable housing, and access to great healthcare at the Galena-Stauss Hospital & Healthcare Center.

Galena offers plenty of fun things to do, including snowshoeing in winter, watching the Great Galena Balloon Race in summer, and many hiking and biking trails in the surrounding area.

Downtown features boutique shops, art galleries, bars, and interesting restaurants. Over one million tourists visit Galena each year, and 85% of the structures in the city are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.           

Champaign – Bustling College Town with Lots to Do for Retirees

cabin in the woods surrounded by green hills in champaign il

  • Population: 88,302
  • Share of population 65+: 11.1%
  • Crime rate: 2% above the national average

Champaign is known as a college town and the home of the University of Illinois. But it’s also a great place for retirees, offering entertainment opportunities for all ages. The city is very affordable. The median home price in Champaign is $195,000, well below the Illinois median housing price of $266,100.

Champaign has 11 senior living and retirement communities to choose from, or you can find your perfect home in any neighborhood. At the University of Illinois, you’ll have access to state-of-the-art medical facilities. Champaign has plenty of things to do, including world-class arts, culture, and sporting events at the University of Illinois.

Champaign has good public transportation options, allowing you to get around town without driving yourself. This bustling college town offers retirees lots of recreation options, cafes, restaurants, and bars to keep you busy and having fun.

Rockford – Many Retirement Communities and Lots of Outdoor Activities

  • Population: 148,655
  • Share of population 65+: 17.4%
  • Crime rate: 75% above the national average

Rockford is located about 90 minutes from Chicago, giving residents a short drive to all the amenities it has to offer. Rockford also offers lots of housing options for retirees, including 40 senior or retirement living communities.

Outdoor lovers and active retirees will find an abundance of beautiful parks, trails, botanical gardens, golf courses, and much more in Rockford.

The small town of Silver Creek is also near Rockford, which is known for its beautiful retirement community. The Anderson Japanese Gardens is widely recognized as one of the top Japanese gardens in the U.S, and it’s located right in Rockford.

Rockford has lots of museums as well, such as the Rockford Art Museum and the Burpee Museum of Natural History, which is perfect for those history buffs!

Other top features in Rockford include a minor league hockey team, a downtown entertainment arena, and an outdoor theatre. Rockford’s low housing costs also make it an attractive place for retirees.

Peoria – One of the Top Places to Retire in the US

downtown peoria right after sunset with a clear sky

  • Population: 113,150
  • Share of population 65+: 16.5%
  • Crime rate: 86% above the national average

Potential retirees should definitely look to Peoria. Peoria is consistently listed as one of the 100 top places in the country to live for retirees. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the city the 73rd best place to retire. Bradley University provides free arts, cultural, and sports entertainment.

The numerous scenic trails offer opportunities to get out in nature and stay fit. If you like gambling, you’ll love Peoria’s riverboat casinos. No matter what you’re interested in, this charming town with numerous parks will steal your heart!

The cost of living in Peoria is 11% below the national average, and housing is very affordable in Peoria. Housing costs are 26% below the US average. Peoria has a thriving arts and culture scene that includes several museums and galleries. The Peoria Civic Center hosts concerts and sporting events.

This is one of the dream retirement cities in Illinois.

Palos Hills – One of the Safest Cities in Illinois

  • Population: 18,530
  • Share of population 65+: 20.5%
  • Crime rate: 77% below the national average

What’s great about Palos Hills for retirees is that it’s only about 20 miles away from Chicago, yet it offers the peace and quiet of a small town and is one of the safest cities in the state. You’ll get access to all the amenities and attractions that Chicago has to offer, as well as excellent healthcare facilities and good public transportation.

Although the cost of living in Palos Hills is 6% higher than the national average, the city has lots to offer retirees. Nature lovers will enjoy hiking or biking in the 48-acre Palos Fen Nature Preserve. If golf is part of your retirement plans, Palos Hills has a renowned 9-hole course at Palos Country Club.

There’s also The Moraine Valley Community College Fine and Performing Arts Center, which hosts an array of cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions throughout the year. Palos Hills offers great healthcare as well and is home to Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital.

Map of Best Towns in Illinois to Retire

It’s your golden years, and you should be going somewhere with a lower cost of living, great health care, and weather that delights you no matter how you spend your time. Once you’ve made your final decision on these Illinois cities, you’ll need help getting to your new place!

Thankfully, it’s easy to find the best senior movers around. If you’ve found one of the best places to retire in Illinois, and now you’re relocating, call Federal Companies. As the best movers in Illinois, we’re here to help! Call us at 800-747-4100 for a free quote now.


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