The Midwest’s Best Kept Secret: Illinois


The Windy City of Chicago, and metropolitan capitol of Springfield, is just a glimpse into what the Midwest destination of Illinois offers 55+ retirees.  The Land of Lincoln is rich in farmland, historic attractions, and Americana. While Illinois may not be the first state that springs to mind when deciding on where to retire, low cost of living, and tax friendliness makes it an attractive option especially for those on a fixed income.  It may not be sunny California, but if you’re looking for four seasons, and cultural heritage, you’ve come to the right place.


Once the home of Abraham Lincoln, hence the state’s infamous nickname, Illinois is an agricultural hub who’s fertile soil produces some of the country’s finest fruit and vegetable crops, and is a leader in soybean production. Lincoln wasn’t the only president said to have resided here.  Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, and Barak Obama have all made Illinois quite the presidential landmark. Surrounded by Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi River, Illinois boasts waterfront living, rolling prairies, and vibrant cities. Whatever your flavor, Illinois has it all from discovering it’s wild side at Wildlife Prairie State Park, to the glitz, and excitement of Chicago.  


Climate- Illinois is notorious for cold, snowy winters and may not be a snowbird’s ideal destination, but for the 55+ outdoor enthusiast, there is endless recreation to be had, from skiing, and hiking, to water sports, and exploring nature. With about 25 inches of snowfall per year, parkas, studded tires, and an efficient home heating system is non negotiable! January lows dip to about 17 degrees, and highs average 87 degrees according to Sperling’s Best Places.  Experience spring, and summer savoring lush gardens, and forests, and waterfront living along the Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, and urban Chicago River. 


Cost of Living- Illinois is tax friendly, and about 4.4 percent below the national average for cost of living. Social security, pension, and retirement income is tax exempt according to smartasset.com.  108 active adult communities across the state are located in some of the hottest areas whether you’re into metropolitan city life, or prefer to be tucked away in the suburbs. Average home prices are currently around $201,000 according to Zillow, and many 55+ communities such as Del Webb’s Sun City Huntley offer homes in the $150’s with all the bells and whistles one would expect from this premier builder. 


When it comes to choosing your Illinois adventure, you’re only limited by your imagination. Find your favorite watering hole on Route 66, delve into history at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and Museum in Springfield, and discover a simpler way of life in Illinois Country in Arthur. Chicago needs no introduction with endless sights, and sounds from catching a Broadway show, kayaking the Chicago River, and taking a dinner cruise at the lakefront Navy Pier.  55 and better boomers, and retirees with a passion for fitness can lace up their hiking shoes, and enjoy over 700 miles of scenic hiking trails.  Charming towns, and a vibrant cultural landscape make Illinois a true Midwest gem.