A Guide to Buying a House in: Illinois

(Everything you need to know - and more)
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.


Word on the street is, you might be thinking about buying a house in Illinois. Well, it's a good thing you've come to us - because we already put together a little sneak preview of all things home buying in The Land of Lincoln (their super-impressive state nickname). You'll get important tidbits about the housing market, as well as some fun info about the state. So, without further delay...

The Most and Least Expensive Cities in Illinois

We know making decisions is hard, and narrowing down the list of potential cities to move to in a big state is no exception. Wouldn't it be helpful to know the areas that are the most/least money-hungry? We've compiled a list of a few of each. 

Most expensive cities:

  • Glencoe
  • Winnetka
  • Lake Forest
  • Oak Brook
  • Hinsdale 

Least expensive cities:

  • Galesburg
  • Monmouth
  • Quincy
  • Macomb
  • Pana 

There you have it. You're all set to mark off your list of potential next destinations while considering how your wallet/bank account will feel. And they'll sincerely thank you for it. No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

Illinois's Housing Market

Another good thing to consider before moving to Illinois (or anywhere else) is the current status of the housing market in the place. So we'll keep this party goin' by checking out an overview of Illinois's housing market, next.

Home sales have decreased since the beginning of 2018 due to an increase in the number of buyers and a lack of homes available FOR buying. It's a seller's market right now, but buyers need to get their act together - fast. 

Inventory's on the rise, but not quite enough to satisfy demand - so you'll wanna scoop up your new home ASAP, basically. Homes are selling after an average of about 71 days on the market. Interest rates are also climbing, so that's even more reason to buy soon. The market here's not quite as healthy as some other states, and you're in for a longer search than in other places, according to the experts. 

Obviously, pretty much everyone knows that THE place to go in Illinois is Chicago. But in case you don't, this city has it all - architecture, sports, a huge music/arts scene, good public transportation, parks, a picturesque cityscape, museums and delicious deep-dish pizza. It's also been featured in plenty of movies. 

Anyway, the current home value in Chicago is about $226,300, with the price per square foot being $247. Homes are listed on the market for about $319,900. Renting a house here will cost you about $1,850/month.

But wait, there's more - Illinois has a TON of new construction underway, mainly in the northeast corner of the state. Around Chicago and Rockford is where you'll have the most luck hunting for a brand-new place, if that's what you're after. 

Home Property Values and Costs in Illinois

Knowing WHERE to search is helpful, but knowing how much a place will cost is even MORE helpful. So we'll check out home values and prices, next.

To start off, the average home value in the state is $174,300 currently. The price per square foot is about $149, and it costs around $1,650/month to rent a house. Homes are listed on the market lately for around $230,000, and are closing for about $200,900. As far as home appreciation, values are up 3.8% in 2018, and are expected to rise another 5.8% over the next year.

That's great for house seekers, but what about apartment/condo-hunters? Check out these average monthly rent prices:

  • Chicago - $1,808
  • Rosemont - $1,011
  • Elmhurst - $1,415
  • Westmont - $1,200
  • Downers Grove - $1,348

Alright, townhouse folks - you're up next. The average range in townhouse rent in the state begins at around $450/month for a one-bed/one-bath joint, and ends at around $1,180/month for a four-bed/two-bath joint.


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You'll Need to Double-Check Your Tornado Coverage in Illinois

Now that you've got a better idea of where to search for a house and what it'll cost, you might wanna know about state-specific homeowners insurance policies. Like, did you know that Illinois is prone to tornadoes? In fact, the state's in the heart of Tornado Alley, which runs from the Great Plains to the Appalachian Mountains. 

But what does that mean for you? Well, you'll need to review the insurance you've got, to make sure you don't need any more. Luckily most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for tornadoes, but you'll need to double-check your specific policy to make extra super-duper sure.

Some policies may require you to get an additional, separate tornado insurance rider, or to specifically name tornadoes among events that you want them to cover. Damage to your actual home and personal possessions is typically covered by a regular homeowners policy. 

If you're a renter, your renters insurance should cover your personal property, while your landlord should cover building damage. Your policy is also likely to provide short-term housing in case the storm is extra-nasty and leaves you temporarily homeless, which wouldn't be cool.

The bottom line is, you've gotta know EXACTLY what's covered by YOUR policy, to avoid finding out too late that you needed more insurance. It's absolutely less than zero-percent fun to learn this kind of thing after a storm hits. So don't hesitate to give your agent a call to go over things again, even if you're only slightly unsure. Seriously.

Quality of Schools in Illinois

Those on the quest for knowledge might wanna know about the quality of the school system in their new state, so next up we've got a peek at an overview for Illinois.

Here are some 2018 WalletHub stats about how Illinois schools ranked in the country:

  • #21 overall for the US
  • #15 in quality
  • #40 in safety 

The top-rated schools in Illinois are Payton College Preparatory High School, in Chicago, the University of Chicago (the location of which is self-explanatory) and Northwestern University, in Evanston.

Reasons to Move to Illinois (...or not)

Alright, the more serious stuff is out of the way so now we can dive into a bit of the more fun stuff (yesss!). So why would someone even WANT to move to Illinois, you ask? Well, let's hear some of the arguments for/against moving to the The Prairie State (yup, another crazy state nickname) from some people who already live there.

PROs (as voted by real-life Illinoisans):

  • The food: Chicago's deep-dish pizza and their fancy hot dogs ARE legendary, but the people of Illinois love their food so much that they have several festivals dedicated just to food annually, including: Taste of Chicago (the world's largest food festival), Chicago Food Truck Festival, Collinsville's International Horseradish Festival, Springfield's Downtown Bacon Throwdown and Sausage Fest Chicago. Feel your taste buds watering?
  • The sports: The state is home not only to "Da Bears," but also the Chicago Bulls (once home of the legendary Michael Jordan), the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Blackhawks. No matter your sport of choice, there's something for all to enjoy (or nap through).
  • The sights: Between the famous architecture, movie set locations, museums and national parks, this state packs a mean punch of beauty that'll leave your eyeballs tearing with joy.
  • The sounds: The music scene is huge - and it extends beyond one annual festival. There are several concert venues scattered across the state, made from restored theaters and intimate lounges, and they showcase all genres imaginable - from jazz to hip-hop, blues, country, rock n' roll or a hybrid of all of the above.

CONs (also from the mouths of real Illinoisans):

  • The traffic: There are more than nine million people residing in Chicago alone, and being the third-largest metropolitan area in the US, the freeway is bound to get jammed - badly, and often. 
  • The harsh winters: Illinoisans warn their prospective new neighbors that the summers here are short, hot and humid, while their winters are long, severe and unforgiving. Blizzards and other storms are common, debilitating and costly. If you are Illinois-bound, invest in some excellent winter attire...and shovels.
  • The rising crime rates: Chicago is to blame for 10% of the nation's spike in homicide rates in the past couple of years. The city has also seen a recent increase in aggravated assaults and robberies, including motor vehicle theft.
  • The annual mass exodus: Data from the US Census shows that for the past several years, more people have moved from Illinois than to it. For example, 2015 saw a net loss of about 125,000 people. Further, Illinois was declared the "most moved from state" of 2017. The reason for this (as you may be wondering) seems to be a combination of rising property/income taxes, crime rates, heated politics and sub-zero winters. All important components to contemplate before your next move.

Stuff to Do in Illinois

So, we've covered WHY people move here, but WHAT do those people do, once they become Illinoisified? We also checked in with the locals to find out some insider's secrets to fun stuff to do - from food to parks to music.

Here are just a few of the state's coolest attractions:

  • Chicago deep-dish: Chicagoans pride themselves on having the best deep-dish pizza in the world. Come armed with a fierce appetite, and try it for yourself.
  • The Field Museum of Natural History: Located in Chicago, it houses the skeleton of the largest T-Rex ever found. (Gulp.)
  • The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: They don't call it The Land of Lincoln for nothin' - the 16th president of the US only owned one home in his lifetime, in Springfield. The walking tour serves up sights from Lincoln's lifetime, including a stop at his home and - a bit creepier - his tomb.
  • Wrigley Field: Home of the Chicago Cubs, this is a must-see stop for Major League Baseball fans and Ferris Bueller fans alike.
  • Starved Rock State Park: The city of Lowell offers a beautiful park featuring 13 miles of trails, 18 canyons, cliffs along the Illinois River, waterfalls and fishing/boating. Locals recommend visiting in autumn after the leaves have turned, to expand your visual color palette. 
  • Lollapalooza: Originated in 1991, Chicago's annual music festival takes place in late summer and features dozens of artists, including: punk rock, alternative rock, heavy metal, hip hop and electronic music acts, as well as comedy and dance performers... and crafts. The festival stretches across three days, so your eardrums can soak up their fill.

Setting Your Stage in Illinois

So there you have it, folks - our behind-the-scenes look at the housing market in Illinois, with some state goodies thrown in as bonus features. Obviously we can't hit on EVERY detail about the place before you decide to buy your next house here, but here's hoping you've gleaned some tasty tidbits of knowledge that you didn't have before.

If the Windy City or any other Illinois location, is whispering your name, you'd better go answer it. Make sure your new home is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy.

Good luck.

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