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Why You’ll Love Living in Peoria IL! 🏬 | COMPLETE Moving to Peoria Guide

Last Updated on: 17th July 2023, 10:46 am

Nicknamed the River City, Peoria, Illinois is a vibrant city on the banks of the Illinois River. Established in the late 1600s by the French when they still controlled the area of the Louisiana Purchase, Peoria is considered the oldest settlement in Illinois. The community received its distinctive name from the Native American tribe which lived in the area and began its life as a simple French fort until it further developed into a town. Peoria today is a bustling urban center of Central Illinois offering affordable housing, plentiful job opportunities, and endless outdoor recreation.

Is living in Peoria IL right for you? Here’s everything you have to look forward to in this beautiful city on the water.

Where Is Peoria Illinois?

Peoria is located in Central Illinois in Peoria County, Illinois on the Illinois River. The only large city near Peoria is East Peoria, across the river. Peoria is bordered by East Peoria, Creve Coeur, and Spring Bay Township across the Illinois River and several villages and unincorporated towns in Radnor, Medina, and Kickapoo townships.

Small cities and towns near Peoria IL include:

  • Peoria Heights village (pop. 5,908) which is surrounded by the City of Peoria (except for its border on Peoria Lake) and sometimes called Uptown
  • Bartonville village (pop. 5,945)
  • Norwood village (pop. >500)
  • Pottstown
  • Alta
  • Mossville
  • Dunlap

It’s 38 miles from Peoria IL to Bloomington, the closest large city of similar size. The city is close enough for easy road trips to Chicago. It’s 167 miles from Peoria IL to Chicago on I-55.

Peoria Illinois Map

Peoria Information

Peoria, IL Population & Demographics

The population of Peoria IL is 113,150 according to the 2020 census, down slightly from the 115,007 population in 2010. Peoria is the principal city of the Peoria Metropolitan Area which covers six Central Illinois counties: Peoria, Marshall, Stark, Tazewell, Woodford, and Fulton. The Metro Peoria area has a population of 402,391.

Peoria is one of the largest Central Illinois cities: only Springfield is larger by population with just 1,244 more people than the Peoria Illinois population. It’s also one of the largest cities in Illinois!

Additional Peoria IL demographics:

  • Median household income: $53,568 (Illinois: $72,205)
  • Median age: 37.5 years (Illinois: 39)
  • Sex ratio: 54 females to 46 males over 18
  • Foreign born population: 12.8% (Illinois: 14.2%)
  • Veteran population: 6.1% (Illinois: 5%)
  • Educational attainment: 38.7% bachelor’s degree or higher (Illinois: 37%)
  • Homeownership rate: 61% (Illinois: 68%)

The Peoria population is diverse. The racial and ethnic composition is 58.7% white (55.5% non-Hispanic), 26.7% Black or African American, 6.8% Hispanic, 6.5% Asian, 0.2% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 5.8% two or more races.

Comedian Richard Pryor is one of the most famous people from Peoria IL.

Transportation & Getting Around Peoria

Peoria is served by I-74 running northwest-southeast through downtown, I-474 through parts of the city and the Creve Coeur and Bartonville suburbs, and I-155 running south from I-74 to I-55. You can easily cross the Illinois River in Peoria IL via the Murray Baker Bridge (I-74) or the Shade-Lohmann Bridge (I-474).

Peoria is the largest Illinois city without passenger rail service. The only public transportation system is the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District which operates bus routes under CityLink. The Peoria International Airport offers nonstop flights on United, American Airlines, and Allegiant.

 

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Peoria IL Cost of Living

Peoria is a very affordable place to live with very low housing costs and plentiful job opportunities to give you a great quality of life. The Peoria cost of living index is just 74 – 26% below the national average. Groceries and utilities are about 7% below the national average while transportation is even more affordable. Affordable home prices and rent are the biggest contributors to Peoria’s affordable living.

According to Doxo, the average household in Peoria pays $1,596 in monthly bills, 20% lower than the national average and about 38% of the average household income. This includes:

  • Average mortgage payment: $912 (US: $1,368)
  • Average rent: $794 (US: $1,129)
  • Auto loan: $384 (US: $433)
  • Car insurance: $122 (US: $196)
  • Utilities: $347 (US: $328)

Learn more about the Peoria IL cost of living with our in-depth guide.

Peoria Real Estate | Home Prices & Average Rent in Peoria IL

One of the benefits of living in Peoria IL is the low cost of living, especially when it comes to housing. Whether you’re planning to buy a home or rent, you’ll find your money can go far.

Apartments in Peoria IL usually start at $725 to $1,350 for a one-bedroom apartment with two-bedroom apartments starting at $850. That’s well below the U.S. average rent of $1,794.

If you plan to buy a house after moving to Peoria, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! The median price of houses for sale in Peoria IL is $143,000, up 11% year-over-year, with a median sales price of just $99 per square foot. Many people moving to Peoria look at homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range, but you’ll find new construction in the immediate suburbs over $300,000 and homes under $40,000.

Peoria was recently named the cheapest place to buy a house in the United States. You can explore Peoria IL homes for sale online to see just how far your budget goes in the River City!

Why are houses so cheap in Peoria IL? There’s plenty of undeveloped land that’s cheap to buy and develop – many people do just that and have a custom home made. The city also has a slightly declining population which helps reduce demand. That means you’ll find it very easy to enjoy a high standard of living.

Best Neighborhoods in Peoria IL

Ready to find the best place to live in Peoria IL? The city is divided into several districts, but some are actually their own small villages, cities, or communities outside the city limits like Peoria Heights and West Peoria. Here are just a few of the best neighborhoods in Peoria IL for families, young professionals, and more.

Downtown Peoria

Downtown Peoria is one of the most exciting Peoria IL neighborhoods for young professionals and millennials and packed with cultural attractions, shops, restaurants, lounges, and parks, not to mention some of the city’s best events. The Peoria downtown area is divided into four unique districts: West Main Street, the Warehouse District, the Central Business District, and Riverfront Peoria. You’ll enjoy the best Peoria has to offer within walking distance including the hopping Peoria Riverfront Farmers Market. From mid-May through September, shop for local breads, cheeses, meats, and produce with live music.

You’ll find plenty of great Downtown Peoria IL apartments like EMR Apartments and Civic Center Plaza Apartments that keep you right in the center of the action.

Peoria Heights

Peoria Heights isn’t actually a neighborhood, but it’s often considered one. This village is almost entirely surrounded by the City of Peoria. It’s one of the best places to live in Peoria IL with gorgeous river views, historic estates, the Rock Island Greenway, and the Forest Park Nature Center. With a median home price in the low $100s, Peoria Heights offers affordable living and amazing outdoor recreation.

Sherwood Forest

This established, family-friendly community has single-family homes built in the late 1950s and 1960s. You’ll find ranch and quad-level homes in the mid $100s with spacious yards and tree-lined streets. The Sherwood Forest neighborhood is quiet and tucked away yet minutes from Shoppes at Grand Prairie and I-74.

Peoria, IL Weather & Weather

The Peoria climate is humid continental (Köppen Dfa) which means hot, humid summers and snowy, cold winters. You’ll get to experience all four seasons while living in Peoria IL with average daily temperatures ranging from 22°F to 75°F.

Average Peoria rainfall is 38”, average for the US, with 23” of annual snowfall, lower than average. Snowfall in Peoria IL varies significantly from one year to the next though. The average low temperature in winter is 16°F while the July high temperature is 86°F. On average, you can expect about 20 days per year with high temperatures over 90°F and 126 days with nighttime temperatures below freezing.

Peoria does get severe weather. While blizzards are uncommon, tornadoes, especially during the spring and summer, are more likely.

The best time to visit Peoria May to June or September to avoid the chilly winter months and the hot, humid summer months.

Restaurants in Peoria IL

Alongside dozens of things to do, there are also many fabulous Peoria restaurants to check out! Here are some of the best.

One World Cafe

Serving a wide variety of dishes from all over the world, One World Cafe is the place to stop by if you’re looking for multicultural cuisine! Among the highest-rated establishments of its kind in Peoria, One World Cafe is sure to please!

1245 W Main St, Peoria, IL 61606 (309) 672-1522

Burger Barge

It’s what it says on the tin! Burger Barge is a burger joint (go figure) that provides the very best examples of America’s favorite food in Peoria! If you’re looking to chow down on America’s favorite dish while living here, look no further than Burger Barge!

1401 N Main St, East Peoria, IL 61611 (309) 694-9191

Things to Do in Peoria IL

After moving to the River City, you’ll enjoy seemingly endless things to do in Peoria Illinois, especially if you love the outdoors. If you’re looking for things to do in Peoria IL for adults, you can spend an afternoon exploring several Peoria IL wineries or the downtown nightlife. Peoria Lake Illinois is a popular destination for fishing and boating with waterfront parks. The award-winning Peoria Park District is the oldest and one of the largest park systems in Illinois and maintains dozens of parks and public facilities to enjoy.

Families enjoy regular community events. Steamboat Days Peoria is a major festival with music, a carnival, and food vendors centered around the Steamboat Classic, the world’s largest 4-mile running race. Peoria Santa Claus Parade is America’s longest running holiday parade with a history going back to 1888!

Here are some ideas of what to do in Peoria once you’ve settled into your new home.

 

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Peoria IL Attractions

  • Peoria Zoo is the most well known Peoria Illinois attraction. This small 14-acre zoo is operated by the Peoria Park District with an Australia Walkabout exhibit for wallabies, an Asian Trail exhibit with Siberian tigers, and a large African exhibit with giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, lions, and more.
  • Luthy Botanical Garden is a 5-acre public botanical garden in Glen Oak Park with gorgeous themed areas and a gift shop.
  • Caterpillar Visitors Center is a fun place to learn about the company and its history in Peoria. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Peoria, IL with kids with interactive exhibits and Caterpillar trucks, diggers, and tractors.

Peoria Museums, Entertainment & Arts

  • Peoria Riverfront Museum is one of the best things to do in Peoria Illinois by the picturesque riverfront. The museum has five large galleries with exhibits on art, history, science, and achievements plus a sculpture garden, large-screen theater, and planetarium.
  • The Peoria Playhouse is one of the best Peoria IL things to do with young kids. This children’s museum has with play areas and interactive exhibits on music, art, and science.
  • Louisville Slugger Sports Complex (Slugger Peoria) features 12 synthetic turf sports fields and a 125,000 SQ FT stadium dome that seats 1,300 people.

Parks in Peoria & Outdoors

  • Forest Park Nature Center is one of the largest parks in Peoria IL. Explore 500+ acres with hiking trails, a bird observatory, and a natural history museum.
  • Detweiller Park is a 720 acre Peoria park with a nature center, trails, sports fields, and other amenities. It’s a great place for hiking on flat terrain to see unique flora.
  • Glen Oak Park is one of the most visited parks in Peoria IL. Established in the 19th century, the park is home to the zoo, a children’s museum, and botanical gardens.
  • Wildlife Prairie Park is just outside Peoria but worth the short drive. This huge zoological park has train rides to see more than 60 animal species that are or were native to Central Illinois including bison, cougars, and bears plus camping, kayaking, and fishing.

Shopping in Peoria

  • The Shoppes at Grand Prairie is an upscale outdoor shopping center with big-name and specialty retailers and restaurants.
  • Northwoods Mall has everything from major retailers and restaurants to bowling and bungee trampolines!

Map of Things to Do in Peoria IL

Is Peoria IL Safe? | Peoria Crime Rate

Before relocating to Peoria, you probably want to know about crime in the city. The Peoria IL crime rate is 2,039 total crimes per 100,000 people with 1,053 property crimes and 986 violent crimes per 100,000.

The Peoria crime rate is 13% below the U.S. average, although it’s almost 3% higher than the Illinois crime rate. However, the violent crime rate is more than 131% above the national average.

The good news is there are many safe places to live in the city and, after one of the deadliest years in Peoria history in 2021, the Peoria Police Department reported a 27% decline in homicides in 2022 and a drop in violent crime.

Jobs in Peoria, IL

The Greater Peoria economy is thriving with diverse industries. After moving to Peoria, you’ll find job opportunities in many sectors, especially health care, manufacturing, and education.

 

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Major employers in Peoria and the Peoria area:

  • OSF HealthCare (careers) – headquartered in Peoria with facilities in 14 Central Illinois communities
  • Caterpillar – facilities in Peoria and five surrounding communities
  • UnityPoint Health – facilities in Peoria and 12 surrounding communities
  • Peoria Public Schools (jobs)
  • Illinois Central College
  • Bradley University
  • Advanced Technology Services – headquartered in Peoria and ranked one of America’s Best Midsize Employers
  • SC2 Services – an employee-owned supply chain services company
  • Liberty Steel & Wire – one of the country’s biggest wire and rod mills
  • City of Peoria (jobs)
  • CEFCU – Peoria-based credit union
  • Komatsu American Corp – construction machinery manufacturer in Peoria
  • Peoria County (jobs)
  • Pekin Insurance – affiliated agencies throughout Greater Peoria
  • Eaton Corp – multinational power management firm with a manufacturing facility in Lincoln
  • Par-a-Dice Hotel and Casino – major employer in East Peoria
  • Morton Industries – tube and sheet metal fabrication and laser cutting facility in Morton
  • Matcor – two metal fabrication manufacturing facilities in Morton

The average salary in Peoria is $66,000 with an average hourly wage of $18.96 according to Payscale. Wages have recently trended up 0.6% while the cost of living has trended down 10%! The BLS reports an average hourly wage of $27.48 in the Peoria metro area across all industries. You can check the BLS Peoria OEWS Survey to see a breakdown of average salary or wages by occupation.

You can find additional career opportunities by exploring Peoria IL jobs on Indeed.

Schools in Peoria IL | Public & Private Schools + Colleges

After moving to Peoria, you will be served by Peoria Public Schools District 150 which serves about 13,000 students in 27 schools. Richwoods High School is one of the best high schools in Peoria IL with a 55% AP participation rate and test scores well above the district and state average.

There are many other school districts in the area if you decide to settle in one of the towns around Peoria Illinois. Dunlap High School, which serves Radnor Township and parts of surrounding areas, is one of the highest rated high schools in Peoria. Other highly rated schools in the area include Metamora High and Morton High.

Families can also choose from many private Peoria high schools and elementary schools. Highly rated private schools in Peoria include:

  • Aletheia Christian School (PK-8)
  • Concordia Lutheran School (K-8)
  • Peoria Christian School (PK-12)
  • Peoria Academy (PK-8) is one of the only secular private schools
  • Montessori School of Peoria in Peoria Heights (PK-6)
  • South Side Christian Academy (K-8)
  • St. Philomena Catholic School (PK-8)
  • Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic School (PK-8)

Pursuing higher education while living in Peoria IL is easy with several local colleges and universities. The city is home to the highly ranked Bradley University, Illinois Central College, and Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing.

Pros and Cons of Living in Peoria IL

  • Pro: Low cost of living and affordable housing
  • Pro: Beautiful parks and downtown riverfront
  • Pro: Plentiful job opportunities
  • Con: Long drive to Chicago
  • Con: High violent crime rate

Ready to take that last step and start your journey to making Peoria your new home? Our 5-star Peoria movers will ensure a stress-free, on-time relocation. Call Federal Companies today for a free moving quote!

 

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