Nicknamed “Heart of the Fox River,” McHenry is a perfect retirement location for those looking for a quaint, small-town environment with access to a metropolitan area. Retirees will love McHenry for its many outdoor recreation opportunities and proximity to the Chicagoland area.
Climate & Geography
Located in Northern Illinois, McHenry experiences a hot-summer humid continental climate, characterized by four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid with frequent heat waves, and winters are cold and snowy, while spring and fall are short and prone to rainfall. Although its further inland than the rest of the Chicago area, McHenry does receive some of the regulating lake effect of Lake Michigan. The city experiences average rain and slightly above average snowfall, as well as about 189 days of sun each year.
McHenry resides in Fox Valley, a shallow valley carved out by the Fox River. As part of the Great Lakes Region, the terrain surrounding McHenry is comprised of mostly flatland punctuated by lots of lakes, rivers, and wetland. Moraine Hills State Park, just to the east, is home to many glacier-formed lakes and landforms.
Recreation, Culture, & Entertainment
Stade’s Farm in McHenry offers fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables and gourmet foods for purchase. The farmer’s market also has a pick-your-own strawberry farm with sugar snap peas, raspberries, green beans, tomatoes, and pumpkins to pick during the respective season.
For active adults hoping to explore nature, at Moraine Hills State Park retirees can fish, boat, and hike. Volo Bog State Natural Area has hiking trails, hunting opportunities, and in the winter, cross country skiing. During the summer, active adults can visit Peterson Park Beach to swim, rent a boat or kayak, or just relax in the sand.
With a trip of less than an hour and a half going northeast or southeast, residents of McHenry will find themselves in Milwaukee and Chicago. These cities offer a multitude of activities that are perfect for day trips.
Cost of Living & Taxes
In Illinois, Social Security benefits and income from most retirement plans are exempt. If income is taxed, the state has a 4.95 percent income tax rate. Though the property tax rate in the state is high, there are homestead exemptions of up to $5,000.
The cost of living in McHenry is lower than the national index and just above the state average. Transportation costs are the biggest factor in the cost of living difference, although other categories including housing, utilities, and groceries are all below the national average. The city has a 7.75 percent sales tax.
The Chicago metro area scores well in Gallup’s Well-Being Index, ranking in the top 85 communities across the country.
Centegra Hospital-McHenry is ranked No. 20 in Chicago and No. 25 in Illinois, and is rated high performing by U.S. News. Another high performing hospital is located in nearby Barrington, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital; it is ranked No. 15 in Chicago and No. 18 in Illinois.