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Most Affordable Chicago Suburbs | (2024) Check Our List of the Best & Cheapest Suburbs of Chicago!

Last Updated on: 1st May 2024, 05:23 pm

Do you love the idea of living in Chicagoland but hate the high cost of living? Do you work or live in Chicago now but find yourself ready for the space, natural beauty, and more affordable housing of the suburbs? It’s easy to see why most growth in the state has been in suburban areas.

Between 2020 and 2021 alone, Illinois lost an estimated 114,000 residents – but 40% of them were in Chicago which also has the fastest rate of population decline in the state. Cost of living is a major factor. A recent study named Chicago as one of the most expensive cities in the world based on the cost of living from the average salary. It was just one spot below NYC, the most expensive city in the U.S.

Buyers hoping to buy a home in Chicago face a median home price of $370,000 while renters pay an average of $2,206 per month. Rent increased 11% in the first five months of 2022 alone, more than many people can keep up with.

The good news is the cost of living in Chicago suburbs can be much lower and while offering everything you’re looking for, whether you want to stay within commuting distance to downtown Chicago, want good schools and low crime, or you’re looking for fantastic shopping and recreation.

Here’s a look at the cheapest places to live in Illinois near Chicago that still rank well for safety, amenities, and quality of life. We have sorted this list of affordable suburbs of Chicago by distance from downtown Chicago to make it easier to find the right community for you!

Midlothian, IL – Small-Town Living in One of the Cheapest Chicago Suburbs

  • Population: 14,500
  • Distance to Chicago: 23 miles
  • Median household income: $61,000
  • Median home price: $205,000
  • Average rent: $1,060

Looking for cheap Chicago suburbs where you can afford to buy a home and still enjoy a fairly short commute downtown? Midlothian is where you want to be! This Southwest Chicago suburb boasts a low crime rate and among the lowest home prices in the region. You’ll enjoy beautiful scenery and recreation at the Midlothian Country Club, the affordable Lily Pad Splash Park (just $2 for residents!), and the Athletic & Recreation Center (ARC).

Elk Grove Village, IL – One of the Most Affordable Chicago Suburbs with a Short Commute & Great Amenities

  • Population: 32,000
  • Distance to Chicago: 23 miles
  • Median household income: $85,250
  • Median home price: $325,000
  • Average rent: $1,420

Elk Grove Village is one of the cheapest places to live near Chicago and popular with families and commuters. The community offers housing below the Chicago metro average with good schools and outdoor recreation. It even earned a spot among the 3 top affordable Chicago suburbs for premier living!

It’s hard to beat the prime location of this Northwest Chicago suburb along the Golden Corridor. There are plentiful job opportunities with the Elk Grove business park boasting the Midwest’s largest concentration of manufacturing facilities plus a reasonable 23-mile commute to downtown Chicago. Families appreciate the village’s Rainbow Falls Waterpark, Pirates’ Cove Children’s Theme Park, and the Busse Woods nature preserve and elk habitat with almost 3,600 acres of forests and lakes to explore.

Thornton, IL – One of the Cheapest Chicago Suburbs to Buy a House

  • Population: 2,500
  • Distance to Chicago: 26 miles
  • Median household income: $66,500
  • Median home price: $175,000
  • Average rent: $850

If you dream of owning your own home but you’re pushed out of the market by high prices in the Chicago metro area, Thornton is worth considering. Just 26 miles outside the downtown Chicago loop, this South Chicago suburb ranks highly as the cheapest place to live in Illinois near the urban core. Crime rates are well below the national average and residents enjoy a small town environment close to big-city amenities.

Thornton is best known for its quarry, one of the largest limestone quarries in the world. It’s a popular choice for first-time home buyers and seniors ready to retire.

Tinley Park, IL – One of the Fastest Growing Suburbs of Chicago

  • Population: 56,000
  • Distance to Chicago: 31 miles
  • Median household income: $82,000
  • Median home price: $266,500
  • Average rent: $1,300

Tinley Park is the largest suburb on this list, and it offers some of the most affordable housing in the Chicago area. One of the fastest growing southwest suburbs of Chicago, Tinley Park is perfect for commuters with commuter rail service to Joliet and Chicago. The small city offers great recreation with the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, an historic downtown, and family-friendly attractions like Odyssey Fun World.

Highland, IN – Affordable Home Prices in a Nearby South Chicago Suburb

  • Population: 22,500
  • Distance to Chicago: 32 miles
  • Median household income: $66,000
  • Median home price: $220,000
  • Average rent: $1,420

If you aren’t set on staying in Illinois, the Chicago suburb of Highland is one of the most affordable places to buy a home in the metro area. Bordered by Hammond, the only Indiana city to border Chicago, Highland is a small city known for its beautiful downtown with mid-century modern architecture.

Highland has 26% less crime than the national average with a median home price nearly half the national average. You’ll find plentiful job opportunities in neighboring Hammond or Chicago and many amenities in the city itself. Despite its small size, Highland offers almost 200 acres of parkland plus regular community events and festivals like the Midweek Music & Market and Summer Theatre at the Main Square Park.

Buffalo Grove, IL – Desirable, Family-Friendly & Affordable Suburb of Chicago

  • Population: 41,000
  • Distance to Chicago: 34 miles
  • Median household income: $118,000
  • Median home price: $390,000
  • Average rent: $1,660

Frequently ranked as one of the best places to live in Illinois, Buffalo Grove is also one of the best affordable Chicago suburbs with amenities families love. Buffalo Grove is known for its golf courses, nature preserves, and parks and the Buffalo Grove Farmers’ Market with 30+ vendors from June through October. The Spray ‘n’ Play splash pad is one of the largest in the region!

Buffalo Grove is a great place to live, work, and play with plenty of local job opportunities. There are over 20,000 daytime workers in the city with over 10 million square feet of industrial and commercial space. Travelers can appreciate the close proximity of Chicago O’Hare International Airport just 20 miles south! It’s also a diverse community with 38% of residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree and one of the highest shares of Asian residents among Chicago suburbs with large communities of Indian, Korean, and Japanese Americans.

Check out our complete guide to living in Buffalo Grove, IL to learn more about what this beautiful city has to offer!

Cedar Lake, IN – Affordable Suburb with Lakefront Parks, Beaches & Recreation

  • Population: 13,000
  • Distance to Chicago: 46 miles
  • Median household income: $65,000
  • Median home price: $229,000
  • Average rent: $1,400

Cedar Lake is one of several affordable cheap Chicago suburbs in Indiana offering a great quality of life along with affordable housing. The town is famous for its namesake lake, a 794-acre natural lake and one of the largest in Indiana. The lake is the center of recreation and community events with a public access point at the Chamber of Commerce. Visitors and residents alike love spending time at the lake sunbathing, swimming, fishing, boating, and building sandcastles.

The large Town Complex on the lake features 18 acres of open space and parks with 500 feet of lakeshore, gazebos, and picnic areas. It hosts many community events like the annual SummerFest with the Museum at Lassen’s Resort, a beautifully restored resort hotel.

Homeownership is within reach with homes starting in the $100s! You’ll find new construction starting in the high $200s.


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Chesterton, IN – South Shore Community Affordable for Renters & Buyers

  • Population: 14,000
  • Distance to Chicago: 47 miles
  • Median household income: $76,500
  • Median home price: $292,500
  • Average rent: $1,060

Chesterton is another one of the cheapest suburbs of Chicago in Indiana on Lake Michigan’s South Shore. This small town offers an unbelievable value with average rent 50% lower than Chicago. With average rent in the U.S. topping $2,000 for the first time ever and rent rising by 30% or higher in many cities, Chesterton offers a great value for renters who want affordability without sacrificing safety and amenities.

Along with its low cost of living, Chesterton is a safe place to live with a crime rate 69% below the national average. It’s strategically nestled between I-94 and I-90 for easy access to Chicagoland and other nearby amenities. It’s also surrounded by nature preserves, parkland, and natural attractions. You’ll be just minutes from the Lake Michigan South Shore and the Indiana Dunes National Park, one of the region’s most visited parks.

Crystal Lake, IL – One of the Most Affordable Chicago Suburbs with Good Schools & Amenities

  • Population: 40,000
  • Distance to Chicago: 54 miles
  • Median household income: $91,500
  • Median home price: $345,000
  • Average rent: $1,465

Crystal Lake may be far from the urban core, but it’s a top choice if you don’t need to commute downtown. A recent study named Crystal Lake the #1 best affordable suburb in the United States. It’s not one of the cheapest suburbs of Chicago, but it earns a spot on our list thanks to its decent cost of living and excellent quality of life. Home prices and rent are lower than Chicago and it offers what the study calls “premiere living” with a “city-like lifestyle” that includes low crime, great outdoor recreation, quality housing, and plenty of dining and shopping options.

While living in Crystal Lake, IL, you’ll love strolling through the vibrant downtown and enjoying regular community events and festivals. There are several gorgeous parks like Crystal Lake Main Beach, home to the annual Cardboard Regatta!

Crystal Lake is one of the most affordable Chicago suburbs for families who value a good education. Families appreciate the highly rated elementary schools while the high school district has test scores far above the Illinois average, a 96% graduation rate, and 77% of graduates enrolling in college within a year.

Most Affordable Chicago Suburbs Map

As you can see, the cheapest suburbs of Chicago can still give you everything you need for a great quality of life, from highly rated schools and low crime to walkable downtown areas, shopping, and recreation.

Does one of these affordable Chicago suburbs seem like the perfect new home? Give us a call at Federal Companies for a free moving quote from our 5-star Chicago movers. We handle seamless relocations within Chicagoland as well as interstate moves to Indiana!


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