Moving to Illinois

Everything you need to know, from why popcorn is the state snack to saving on your average electric bill in Illinois

You would think most people move to Illinois because it is home to both the first ice cream sundae and the world’s largest bakery. Turns out, however, the Land of Lincoln’s affordable cost of living, diverse population and a strong economic foundation are big draws, too.


Then there’s Chicago, of course. (More on the Windy City later.)


A new resident of Illinois enjoys an overall cost of living below the U.S. average, including healthcare and housing costs. And job growth in Illinois continues to rebound, with household incomes slightly higher than the U.S. average.


Those searching for a career in business and financial services will find opportunities in Illinois, headquarters of international exchanges CME Group and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Education is another big industry. Two of the Top 25 engineering schools – University of Illinois and Northwestern University – are in the state, and dozens of world-renowned schools, like Loyola and DePaul, are based in Illinois. Biotechnology, agriculture and sports also play a role in Illinois’s economy.

Choose your own Illinois electric company

Illinois is an energy innovator, as well. Fermi and Argonne, two federal laboratories, are making Illinois a hotbed in advanced battery technology, and the state is one of the largest producers of clean energy.


Illinois is an Energy Choice state and that’s a boon for both commercial and residential customers who have the freedom to compare electric and natural gas providers and choose the energy supplier and plan that best fits their individual situation. That could be a fixed-rate plan, making their monthly electric bill more predictable, or an energy supplier that offers environmentally friendly clean, green energy.


Nearly 1.6 million consumers have chosen their preferred energy supplier since Illinois paved the way for energy choice through deregulation in 1997. Today, dozens of electricity suppliers vie for consumers, offering competitive prices, renewable energy options and other services and incentives.


The average cost of electricity for Illinois residents is about 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), a little higher than the national average of 11 cents per kWh. For those who want to compare rates, switch electric suppliers and possibly save money on their electricity cost, the process is simple. And Illinois residents who make the switch still receive the same electric bill from their local utility company, making the transition even easier. After setting up an account with your public utility, shop plans from suppliers so you can be sure you have the plan that’s right for you.

How electricity and natural gas reach your home

Energy reaches Illinois homes through the interconnected work of three providers – production and generation companies, suppliers and utility companies.

Generation companies in Illinois include Vistra, Exelon, AmerGen, NRG Energy, and more. Electric utility companies in Illinois include Ameren Illinois, ComEd, and MidAmerican. Natural gas utilities in Illinois include Nicor, North Shore, and Peoples Gas.

Illinois cities

Energy reaches Illinois homes through the interconnected work of three providers – production and generation companies, suppliers and utility companies.


Generation companies in Illinois include Exelon, AmerGen, Vistra, NRG Energy, and more. Electric utility companies in Illinois include Ameren Illinois, ComEd, and MidAmerican. Natural gas utilities in Illinois include Nicor, North Shore, and Peoples Gas.

Chicago: The Second City

Who is living in Chicago? Nearly 3 million people, making it the third-most populous city in the United States and the fifth most populous in North America. It sprawls along the shores of Lake Michigan, where nearly a third of the city’s population lives, and its cultural and historical significance rivals that of New York and Los Angeles. Those rivalries are one reason many people know Chicago as the Second City, signifying its place behind New York. Today, Second City is known as Chicago's world-renowned improv theater and school, where greats like Bill Murray and Tina Fey got their start.


More than 58 million people visit Chicago and its suburbs every year, for both business and tourism, helping rank Chicago as the best large city in the U.S. by Conde Nast. Fortunes are made in the city’s financial district downtown, upscale shoppers stroll the Magnificent Mile, and revelers countdown the days until both the Grant Park Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Foodies can choose from hundreds of restaurants, and every improv comedy fan can't wait to visit the famous Second City.


For sports fans moving to Chicago, the city offers almost too many options. Baseball fans cheer on either the Cubs or White Sox. The Bears – or “Da Bears” – take on other NFL teams at Soldier Field. The Chicago Sky, the city’s WNBA team, tips off at the Wintrust Arena, and the Bulls, made famous around the world by Michael Jordan, hit the court at the United Center. The court turns into the home rink of Chicago’s NHL team, the Blackhawks. Soccer fans cheer on the Chicago Fire.

Uniquely Illinois

The Chicago River turns green on St. Patrick’s Day, the 108-floor Willis Tower is the tallest building in Illinois, and Abe Froman is the (fictional) Sausage King of Chicago. Everyone knows this. But did you know that the Chicago River is also the world’s only backward-flowing river? The river was engineered to flow backward so it would divert sewage away from Lake Michigan’s freshwater supply. Here are four more facts you didn’t know about Illinois:

Aurora: The City of Lights

Aurora is Illinois’ second-most populous city, and it technically sits on the outskirts of Chicago in what residents call Chicagoland. It also sits within the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, where healthcare teams at Rush Copley Medical Center and Amita Health Mercy chase medical innovation every day.


Known as the City of Lights, Aurora was one of the first U.S. cities to build and maintain an all-electric street lighting system. After signing a contract with the Aurora Electric Light and Power Co. in 1881, the city was lit with 16 electric arc lamps, each with 2,000 candle power. When the system debuted, the local paper applauded the innovation, writing "A person could stand midway between two lamp posts and tell by his watch what time it was."


Aurora is also the home – and shooting location – of Wayne’s World, the 1990s Mike Myers comedy based on a Saturday Night Live skit. Myers chose Aurora as Wayne's hometown because the city reminded him of his hometown, Scarborough, Ontario.

Naperville: The Award Winning City

The state’s third-largest city, Naperville, the Award Winning City, as we've dubbed it, was once voted the second-best place to live in the U.S. by Money magazine. Naperville’s public library was ranked No. 1 in the country for nearly a decade. Other accolades include being named the No.1 Best City for Early Retirement by Kiplinger and one of the country’s safest cities, according to USA Today.


The city is a haven for those who want to take it easy. Residents also enjoy the Naperville River Walk, nearly two miles of bricked pathways along the Dupage River.

World’s tallest building designed by a female architect:

While the Willis is the tallest building in Illinois, the 101- story St. Regis Chicago is the tallest building in the world designed by a woman. Jeanne Gang, the architect, designed the building to complement her nearby Aqua skyscraper – the second tallest building designed by a woman.

The first ice cream sundae:

In 1890, the leaders of Evanston, Ill., passed a law prohibiting the sale of ice cream sodas on Sunday. Confectioners from Garwood’s Drugstore, obeying the law by avoiding the use of carbonated water, sold ice cream with soda syrup on top, effectively inventing (though there are challengers) the first “sundae.”

Birthplace of the Magic Kingdom:

No, the Magic Kingdom isn’t one of Chicago’s many nicknames. The Magic Kingdom is the name of Florida’s Disney theme park, the creation of Walt Disney, born in Chicago on Dec. 5, 1901.

Having a ball with popcorn:

More than 330 farms produce popcorn on a combined 47,000 acres, making Illinois one of the largest popcorn producers in the world. Mason County, in fact, produces more popcorn than any other county in the U.S. It’s also the state’s official snack.