A bench on a walkway with buildings in the background in Aurora, Illinois

Elgin and Aurora are both popular Chicagoland cities, but which suburb is right for your retirement?

Active adults who want to live in Northern Illinois have well over 100 suburbs to choose from, providing homebuyers with an abundance of retirement options in Illinois. Located about 20 miles apart, the cities of Elgin and Aurora are two popular Chicago suburbs for active adults.

While each city offers its own unique location, lifestyle options, and things to do, they're both ideal places for a Northern Illinois retirement. Keep reading for an overview and comparison of what these two cities have to offer.

Location and Travel

Located in Northern Illinois, both Elgin and Aurora belong to the Chicagoland area. This metropolitan area, which includes Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, earns the distinction as the third-largest city in the United States. 

Elgin is located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago near Schaumburg and Huntley. Residents can reach Chicago within about 45 minutes by car or less than 90 minutes by the Milwaukee District West (MD-W) Metra Line, which has two stops in Elgin. When residents want to take longer trips, they can drive to O’Hare International Airport in less than 30 minutes. 

Further south, Aurora is located in the western suburbs of Chicago near Naperville and Bolingbrook. It takes about 50 minutes to drive to downtown Chicago and about 90 minutes to ride the BNSF Railway Metra Line into the city. Residents can get to O’Hare International Airport in about 40 minutes and Midway International Airport in about 50 minutes, putting two major airports within easy reach.

Local Attractions and Things To Do

Throughout all four seasons, Northern Illinois residents can find a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment options to explore. With so many world-class cultural events, performances, festivals, and sports, Chicago always offers a wealth of exciting things to do. However, residents of Elgin and Aurora can also find plenty of fun closer to home.

In and around Elgin, some popular attractions include the Fox River Trolley MuseumLords Park Zoo, The Highlands of Elgin Golf Course, Hawthorne Hill Nature Center, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and Sears Centre Arena, which hosts live music, sporting events, and competitions. The area also offers several parks and greenspaces, such as Jelke Creek Bird Sanctuary, Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve, and Otter Creek Forest Preserve

The Fox River runs through both Aurora and Elgin, which means residents of both towns can enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. However, Elgin is closer to Chain O’Lakes, which provides even more opportunities for boating and watersports. 

The local attractions in Aurora include the Chicago Premium Outlets, Phillips Park Zoo, Aurora Regional Fire Museum, Blackberry Farm, Splash Country Water Park, Aurora Country Club, and the historic Paramount Theatre. Some of the area’s best parks include Aurora West Forest Preserve, North Aurora Island Park, and Oakhurst Forest Preserve, which boasts a 55-acre lake and marsh.

Health Care and Physical Activity

For active adults who want to live near top health care in Northern Illinois, both Elgin and Aurora offer a range of options to choose from. Health care options in Elgin include Summit Health Center, AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Elgin, Advocate Sherman Hospital, and Greater Elgin Family Care Center. Residents looking for health care in Aurora can visit Aurora Medical Center, AMITA Health Mercy Medical Center Aurora, and Rush Copley Medical Center.

Residents of Elgin and Aurora also have access to a variety of fitness centers and exercise facilities. Randall Point Fitness Center, The Centre of Elgin, and LGN Performance are some of the fitness centers in Elgin. Residents can also enjoy swimming and water exercises at Wing Park Family Aquatic Center, Lords Park Family Aquatic Center, and Adventure Island at Elgin Family Aquatic Center.

In Aurora, active adults can pursue physical fitness at Prisco Community Center, Anytime Fitness, Ethos 360, and Planet Fitness. Facilities with swimming pools include Vaughan Athletic Center, Delta Aquatics, and Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center.

Cost of Living

According to Best Places, Elgin is slightly more expensive than Aurora on average. The good news is both of these cities offer a slightly more affordable cost of living than the national average. With a cost of living score of 100 as the national average, Elgin scored 93.1 and Aurora scored 91.1.

Despite what you may have heard about Illinois taxes, active adults can find a reasonable cost of living and affordable homes for sale in Northern Illinois. In Elgin and Aurora, the median home cost hovers in the high $100s, with a slightly lower average cost in Aurora. Active adults can find many communities with homes for sale at and below this average home cost as well as more luxury communities with homes for sale.

To explore these price points further, take a look at these five active adult communities. Whether you choose Elgin or Aurora, you can find a comfortable home in an active adult community with a sought-after location and desirable amenities. 

Elgin Active Adult Communities


Low $200s - Mid $400s

With 1,040 single-family homes, Edgewater gives active adults the opportunity to enjoy a gated 55+ community by renowned builder Del Webb. Amenities center around the 23,000-square-foot Creekside Lodge, which hosts a full social calendar of activities and clubs.

Request more information about Edgewater here.

Regency at Bowes Creek Country Club

Mid $200s - Mid $400s 

At Regency at Bowes Creek Country Club, active adults can find both new and resale homes for sale. Upon completion, the gated 55+ community plans to include 351 single-family and attached homes with access to amenities and lifestyle activities.

Request more information about Regency at Bowes Creek Country Club here. 

Aurora Active Adult Communities 

Stonegate West

Mid $100s - Mid $400s

Those looking for an active lifestyle community in Aurora can explore Stonegate West, a neighborhood with 336 single-family and attached homes offering ranch-style floor plans. Residents in this community can enjoy activities, clubs, and classes as well as on-site amenities.

Request more information about Stonegate West here.

Carillon at Stonegate

Mid $200s - High $300s

Located near Naperville, the 55+ community Carillon at Stonegate consists of 336 single-family homes. In addition to a clubhouse and outdoor pool, residents enjoy spacious floor plans and a low-maintenance lifestyle free of landscaping, lawn care, and snow removal.

Request more information about Carillon at Stonegate here.

Chatham Grove

Low $200s - Mid $200s

As one of the most exclusive 55+ communities in Aurora, Chatham Grove includes just 96 attached homes. Ideal for downsizing, the homes range from 1,268 to 1,591 square feet with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and attached two-car garages.

Request more information about Chatham Grove here.