Illinois has many attractive qualities for active adults: national parks with hiking trails, dynamic entertainment options in the third most populous city in the U.S., and a topography ranging from beaches in the north to rolling hills in the south. Throughout its three distinct regions, Illinois is an affordable state that features warm summers and a variety of cultural and historical landmarks.
Climate & Geography
Illinois is generally divided into three geographic regions: Northern, Central, and Southern Illinois. The Northern and Central sections of Illinois have a humid continental climate featuring hot and humid summers and cold winters. The Southern section of the state has a humid subtropical climate with similar summers but more moderate winters. Snowfall is nearly double in the north than it is in Southern Illinois.
Similar to the climate, the geographic features of Illinois tend to differ throughout the state. Chicago and its suburbs make up a large portion of Northern Illinois, creating an urban and suburban area. The midsection is largely prairie, small towns, and medium-sized cities. It also heavily features corn and soybean fields. Southern Illinois has a more rugged terrain and different crops, including cotton.
Recreation, Culture, & Entertainment
A large state with varying terrain, Illinois heavily features outdoor recreation. Starved Rock State Park, one of the most popular hiking destinations in the state, features a waterfall, campgrounds, and scenic views just west of Chicago. Shawnee National Forest in the Ozarks of Southern Illinois is a federally managed land with sandstone that is 320 million years old. It is also the most popular rock climbing destination in the state. Kankakee State Park, south of Chicago, is a 4,000-acre open land along the Kankakee River with hiking, biking, ad snowmobiling trails.
Besides outdoor recreation, Illinois has multiple cultural landmarks. Springfield, the state capital, acts as a shrine to Abraham Lincoln with the Lincoln Tomb and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The city of Chicago is also filled with landmarks including Millennium Park and the Chicago Botanical Gardens, as well as the Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Field Museum.
Cost of Living & Taxes
Illinois’ cost of living is slightly above the national average, and this is mainly because of transportation. Between the heavy traffic in Chicago and its suburbs and the distances between cities in Central and Southern Illinois, travel and commute times are high. All other indexes, including housing, groceries, utilities, and health care are below average. The exemption to this is housing costs in the Chicago metro area, which are a little bit above average.
Illinois does not tax Social Security or withdrawals from retirement tax. However, property taxes are the second highest in the country at 2.32 percent. There are some exemptions aimed at retirees, including the senior citizen homestead exemption.
Sales taxes are also high, with an average rate of 8.64 percent throughout the state. Unlike many other states, Illinois does tax groceries and medicine, although at a reduced rate of up to 2.25 percent.
Illinois scores well in the physical ranking of Gallup’s Well-Being Index.
There are several U.S. News nationally ranked hospitals in the state, with most of them located in the Chicago metro area. Those include Northwestern Memorial Hospital (No. 10 in the U.S.), University of Chicago Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, NorthShore University HealthSystem-Metro Chicago, Loyola University Medical Center, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, and AMITA Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center. OSF Healthcare St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, in Central Illinois, is also nationally ranked.