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Retiring in Illinois: A Guide

Table of Contents
The Illinois Lifestyle       Cost of Living and Retirement Budgets in Illinois   Healthcare Facilities in Illinois     Recreational Opportunities in Illinois Is Illinois a Good Place to Retire? TLDR

Have you ever considered the Prairie State, the Land of Lincoln, as your potential retirement haven? If not, you might want to. Illinois is known for its rich mix of urban and rural influences. The diverse array of lifestyles available to Illinois residents makes it a compelling choice for retirees.

First, let’s talk about the weather. The state experiences all four seasons, from snow-laden winters to vibrant springs, warm summers, and colorful autumns. This diversity offers a changing scenic beauty and a wide range of recreational activities throughout the year.

As it turns out, the best place to live in Illinois for retirement depends on your personal preferences. Luckily, Illinois caters to a wide array of lifestyles. 

Would you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a larger city like Chicago? Or do you prefer the laid-back, charming towns like Evanston, Wheaton, or Galena? Either way, Illinois has it all. 

The state is also home to top-notch healthcare facilities, rich cultural institutions, sports teams, and bountiful nature spots. Whatever your recreational hobbies are, Illinois can provide a rewarding and multifaceted retirement.

The Illinois Lifestyle

retiring in illinois      

The urban sophistication of Chicago

Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S., serves as a hub for culture, gastronomy, and vibrant city life. It’s known for its impressive skyline, robust public transportation, and lively neighborhoods. 

Living in Chicago means having access to world-class museums. The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry are just a couple. Plus, the city’s musical heritage spans from blues to house and beyond. 

Also, let’s not forget the sports fanaticism. With iconic teams like the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, and the Bears, you’ll always have someone to root for. (Even if they don’t win…sorry.) 

Retirees seeking a dynamic urban experience would find Chicago to be a thrilling choice.

The small town charms of Evanston, Wheaton, and Galena

For those preferring a slower pace of life, Illinois has no shortage of small towns that radiate a serene charm. 

Evanston, for instance, offers a mix of a college-town vibe (it’s home to Northwestern University) and historic elegance. Its downtown area boasts a multitude of bookstores, boutiques, and eateries.

Wheaton, another gem, offers a peaceful suburban environment, with excellent schools, parks, and family-friendly events. It’s also known for the beautiful Wheaton College campus and the Morton Arboretum, an expansive garden and nature preserve.

Further out, Galena captivates with its historic 19th-century architecture and a charming downtown area. It’s filled with craft stores, art galleries, and wineries (oh my!). The rolling hills and river scenery add to its allure, making it an ideal place for nature-loving retirees.

Each of these towns offer a tight-knit community feel. This makes them some of the best places to live in Illinois for retirees seeking a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle.

Cost of Living and Retirement Budgets in Illinois


When planning your retirement, it’s crucial to understand the cost of living in your chosen destination. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) scored Illinois 10 points below the national average on its cost of living index. This means it’s a more affordable choice than many other states. 

Real estate prices

Housing costs are a significant factor in any retirement budget. In Illinois, these costs can vary substantially based on location. As of 2023, the median home value in the state is around $250,000. In hotspots like Chicago, however, prices are higher.  

Tax considerations for retirees

As for the tax structure, Illinois is rather retirement tax friendly. 

Qualified retirement income, including Social Security income, pension payments, and withdrawals from retirement savings accounts are all income tax exempt. 

However, it’s essential to consider other taxes, as well. Illinois’ sales tax is 6.25%, which is slightly below the national average. Its property tax, on the other hand, averages to over 2%, which is more than double the national average of 0.99%. 

As you plan how much to retire in Illinois, it’s important to consider all these factors. Planning for retirement can be a lot, but Planswell can help. In just 3 minutes we can build you a comprehensive plan to help you realize your retirement dreams. 

Healthcare Facilities in Illinois


When choosing a retirement destination, access to quality healthcare is a critical consideration. Fortunately, Illinois excels in this aspect, with top-notch medical facilities spread throughout the state.

Chicago, being a major city, is home to some of the nation’s best hospitals. Chicago’s medical institutions are known for their superior patient care and cutting-edge medical research.

Smaller towns in Illinois also boast excellent healthcare facilities. For instance, Evanston and Wheaton both have their own hospitals. Even in less populated areas like Galena, quality healthcare is accessible within a reasonable drive.

Recreational Opportunities in Illinois

recreational opportunities in illinois

Retirement is a time for relaxation and enjoyment. Illinois is filled with opportunities for fun and exploration, no matter what your interests are.

Outdoor activities

For the outdoor enthusiast, Illinois offers a variety of experiences. The state boasts over 300 parks, with a collective 475 miles of hiking and biking trails. 

Starved Rock State Park, for example, is famous for its waterfalls and canyons. Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois offers stunning forest landscapes and diverse wildlife.

Additionally, the state is dotted with golf courses for those who enjoy hitting the greens. Fishing opportunities are also abundant in the state’s many lakes and rivers.

Cultural and educational experiences

Culture buffs won’t be disappointed either. Illinois is rich in museums, art galleries, and historical sites. Chicago alone is home to over 74 museums and galleries

The state also has a vibrant music scene, especially Chicago with its legendary jazz and blues clubs, like the Jazz Showcase. The city’s theater scene is also renowned. Venues like the Chicago Theatre and Goodman Theatre stage high-quality productions year-round.

Is Illinois a Good Place to Retire? TLDR

Is illinois a good place to retire?

Retiring in Illinois offers a range of benefits for retirees. The state presents a balance of affordable living, excellent healthcare, and a plethora of recreational opportunities. 

Each city and town in Illinois has its unique charm and advantages. Overall, however, the friendly atmosphere, accessibility, and quality of life make the state stand out.

While Illinois may not be the first state that comes to mind when planning for retirement, it’s definitely worth considering. Whether you’re drawn to the bustling vibe of Chicago or the tranquility of smaller towns like Wheaton or Galena, Illinois has something to offer everyone.

Remember, it’s always recommended to visit and spend some time in a potential retirement location before making a decision. 

So why not plan a trip to the Land of Lincoln and see for yourself what it has to offer? You might just discover the best place to retire is Illinois. 

And remember, it’s never too late to start planning for retirement. If that seems daunting, Planswell makes securing comfortable retirement simple. 



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