Upcoming retirees frequently overlook Illinois for a place to retire. However, retiring to Illinois has many benefits, one of the top being its tax-friendliness towards retirees. Additionally, with a major metro area like Chicago, residents in Illinois will never have a shortage of entertainment venues, fine dining, and art and culture opportunities. There are also plenty of places to retire in Illinois and you can decide based on what you’re looking for.
Illinois has several transportation options, including rail systems connecting the suburbs near Chicago to each other and the city itself. Plus, Amtrak offers three primary lines from north to south, allowing residents easy access to the whole state. When you are ready to take to the air, the O’Hare International Airport will get you to where you want to go.
Also, since Illinois is centrally located in the midwest and at the core of the interstate highway system, road trips are a convenient way to vacation. It is easy to get in and out of Illinois regardless of the direction you’re heading.
And the urban conveniences are not the only benefit of living in Illinois. The Lincoln state also has its share of warm and friendly suburbs like Alton and small-towns historically preserved towns like Galena.
Outdoor enthusiasts will also find plenty of areas to explore too. Illinois is home to 309 state parks. Many of these state parks provide the perfect opportunity for hiking, camping, fishing, wildlife watching, kayaking, and more. Some are just a short hour’s drive from Chicago, making it easy for urbanites to getaway.
Unfortunately, when it comes to property taxes and sales tax, Illinois is far from favorable. However, for those 65+, there is a homestead tax exemption for qualifying seniors. Food and medicine are taxed about 6.5% lower than general merchandise, so though sales tax is higher here, the taxes on necessities are bearable.
The great news is retirement income is not taxed. Social security, private and public pensions, and retirement savings accounts are all tax-exempt. If you want a location that is even more tax-friendly than this, you might consider Louisiana as an alternative.
If those advantages are not enough, Illisnois is home to several top-notch hospitals.
Where to Retire in Illinois
- Percent of Senior Population: 12%
- Overall Population: 2,693,976
Chicago is one of the most populated cities in the nation, and it is home to more than two million people. Chicago is not only a large city, but since it sits along the shore of Lake Michigan, it is also uniquely pretty.
Some of Chicago’s greatest attractions can be found at Navy Pier. The Navy Pier is the perfect place to take a boat tour to see the sites or enjoy a romantic dinner on the water. It is also ideal for taking in a show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater or a movie at the IMAX.
Plus, the Navy Pier is full of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. And when the grandkids are visiting, they will love exploring the Children’s museum after taking a ride on the Ferris wheel.
However, two million people don’t just reside in Chicago because of Navy Pier. Chicago is also full of amazing and world-renowned entertainment venues such as:
- Lincoln Hall
- Thalia Hall
- The Vic Theater
- Chicago Theater
- Cadillac Palace Theatre
- Civic Opera House
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Plus, Chicago is home to numerous museums adding to the city’s art and culture scene. Some of the best museums to visit here include The Art Institute of Chicago, DuSable Museum of African American History, National Museum of Mexican Art, and the Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago.
And when you are ready to get outdoors and enjoy nature, there are several local city parks residents enjoy as well as several nearby state parks just a short drive away. The various state parks are perfect for hiking, camping, fishing, and boating.
Best of all, Chicago has an abundance of medical clinics and world-class hospitals such as Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial, and the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Unfortunately, the one drawback is that Chicago has a high crime rate common to major metropolitan areas. However, crime varies based on the area of the city.
- Percent of Senior Population: 9.7%
- Overall Population: 88,909
Champagne has a nice cozy quiet small-town feel, yet has all the conveniences of a larger city. Most of this is thanks to being a college town. Champagne is home to The University of Illinois as well as Parkland college, both of which bring a lot to the city’s art and culture scene.
For example, residents have the opportunity to take in independent and foreign films at the Art Theater Co-op or attend Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre.
Plus, the fine arts museum, Krannert Art, is found on the University of Illinois campus. The museum is 48,000 square feet and displays various art pieces from ancient Egypt to 20th Century art. The museum features more than 10,000 unique pieces.
Champaign has multiple senior programs such as RSVP, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. RSVP is perfect for residents new to the area and those looking to stay active in their community, helping others. RSVP works with local schools, hospitals, libraries, and food pantries. They do their best to match seniors to volunteer opportunities that best match their skills and experiences.
And when you want to head outdoors, there are several parks to choose from:
- Crystal Lake Park
- Busey Woods
- University of Illinois Arboretum
Champaign is also home to two hospitals Carle Foundation Hospital and Presence Covenant Medical Center.
- Percent of Senior Population: 16.1%
- Overall Population: 26,208
Alton, Illinois, located near St Louis, Missouri, is often referred to as a charming town. It has been voted several times by Forbes Magazine as one of the best places to retire. The AARP recognizes Alton as an age-friendly community.
Alton is a beautiful Riverside town with a lot to offer retirees. Active seniors will enjoy the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail, which extends from Alton to Pere Marquette State Park, along the national scenic byway. But you don’t need to be a cyclist to enjoy Alton. For those looking for a wonderful place to take a walk, there are several parks in the area, including Fort Belle Fontaine, Columbia bottom conservation area, Ellis Island, and the Nature Institute.
History enthusiasts will also enjoy Alton. This town was part of the Underground Railroad and now features a free audio tour of various historic sites, including the life of Abraham Lincoln. Additionally, there is the Lincoln Douglas square, Lyman Trumbull House, Lewis, and Clark State Historic Site, and the Eli Lovejoy monument, all wonderful attractions for those who love history.
And when you’re feeling lucky, you can always head over to Argosy Casino Elton for riverboat gambling, shows, and great dining. Or for when you need some quiet time relaxing at their spa.
Alton’s Main Street area is the perfect place for an afternoon of shopping with its wonderful boutiques and galleries. And if you’re looking for a bite to eat, there are several wonderful dining opportunities here too.
Another reason why retirees are attracted to Alton is the lower cost of living here, which comes in about 22% lower than the national average. Plus, housing is approximately 25% lower than the national average, making Alton all the more appealing.
Alton is also home to the Senior Services Plus Center, a nonprofit organization that helps seniors in various ways. Some of the Senior Services Plus Center programs include a fitness center, Meals on Wheels, volunteer opportunities through foster grandparents, travel assistance, and in-home non-medical care services.
And though this town is not the largest, it does have several medical facilities, plus two hospitals.
- Percent of Senior Population: 19.7%
- Overall Population: 10,217
Barrington, Illinois is conveniently located 35 miles northwest of Chicago. This quiet town is the ideal place for active retirees who love the outdoors. The area in and around Barrington is full of creeks, woodlands, rolling hills, and lakes. Best of all, the residents of Barrington all strive to preserve and protect the area’s natural beauty and resources.
Some of the local preserves in the area include Deer Grove Forest, Cuba March Forest, and Bakers Lake. Not only is Barrington a beautiful place to enjoy nature and birdwatching, but it’s also ideal for those who enjoy camping, hiking, and fishing.
Though Barrington is best known for its beauty, this wealthy suburb is also full of beautiful Victorian gothic and Queen Anne style homes. The town features late 19th-century architecture and is best seen in the Catlow Theater and the Octagon House.
Since Barrington is a small community, it easy to walk wherever you go. Active retirees will like seeing the area on foot during the warmer months.
Additionally, Barrington hosts many festivals, including Barrington’s Great Taste Fest, which features food from the local eateries. The other popular festival in Barrington is the annual car show in July that exhibits some of the most rare classic vehicles found in the world.
And for those who enjoy shopping, the Arboretum of South Barrington is full of boutiques, specialty stores, and upscale shops and restaurants. What makes the Arboretum unique is that it is an open-air center that features beautiful landscaping with gardens and mature trees that have been on this site long before the shops. And the Arboretum offers more than just shopping; it also features various entertainment venues such as the IPIC Theater, Pinstripes, and Pinot’s Palette.
One of the best things about Barrington is that the crime rate is only about 1/3 of the national average.
- Percent of Senior Population: 31.3%
- Overall Population: 3,103
In the far northwest corner along the Wisconsin and Iowa borders sits the small quaint town of Galena. The Galena River runs through the middle of town, adding to the natural beauty of this place.
This town has a population of just over 3,000 but tends to attract visitors interested in seeing the many historical sites. The architecture reflects French colonial and Victorian styles. Approximately 85% of the buildings in Galena are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The downtown district of Galena features galleries, specialty stores, and restaurants. In addition to the downtown area and historical sites, Galena also has amazing golfing in the summer and skiing in the winter.
And when you want to take in a show in the city or visit Navy Pier, Chicago is only a three-hour drive away, making it a convenient weekend travel spot.
Galena is a walkable city, but when you are ready to get out of town and do some traveling, there are two local airports.
Additionally, though it is a small town, there are several medical facilities, including a full-service hospital, Galena Strauss Hospital, and Health Care Center. Best of all, Galena’s crime rate is lower than the national average.