What are the best Illinois counties to live in?

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What makes a particular county the best? Oftentimes, it’s a good mix of opportunities for fun outdoor activities and cultural attractions. Throw in some historical sites, good schools, job opportunities, and affordable housing, and the county will most likely have happy residents.

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to live in Illinois using rankings from Niche. Niche ranks counties by a variety of factors including: public schools, educational attainment, cost of living, and housing.

Many counties on the list are experiencing growth due to their job opportunities, education, or home values. Others are adored for their historic or well-designed value, or devotion to cultural opportunities. Keep reading to see if your county made the list.

25. McDonough County

– Population: 30,479
– Median home value: $91,800 (66% own)
– Median rent: $662 (34% rent)
– Median household income: $44,471
– Top public schools: Macomb Senior High School (B+), West Prairie North Elementary School (B), Edison Elementary School (B)
– Top private schools: St. Paul Elementary School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Macomb (B+), Bushnell (C+), Emmet Township (A)

24. Tazewell County

– Population: 133,195
– Median home value: $142,000 (76% own)
– Median rent: $741 (24% rent)
– Median household income: $63,454
– Top public schools: Morton High School (A), Lettie Brown Elementary School (A), Jefferson Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Illinois Central Christian School (ICCS) (B), St. Patrick School (unavailable), Blessed Sacrament School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Morton (A), Washington (A), East Peoria (B)

23. Brown County

– Population: 6,628
– Median home value: $96,200 (75% own)
– Median rent: $615 (25% rent)
– Median household income: $61,655
– Top public schools: Brown County High School (B), Brown County Elementary School (B), Brown County Middle School (C)
– Top private schools: St. Mary Elementary School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Mount Sterling (B), Mount Sterling Township (B+), Cooperstown Township (B)

22. Effingham County

– Population: 34,137
– Median home value: $143,600 (75% own)
– Median rent: $650 (25% rent)
– Median household income: $56,685
– Top public schools: Beecher City Grade School (A), Teutopolis Grade School (A), Teutopolis High School (A)
– Top private schools: St. Anthony High School (A), St. Anthony Elementary School (unavailable), Sacred Heart Elementary School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Teutopolis (A), Effingham (B+), Teutopolis Township (A)

21. Winnebago County

– Population: 284,819
– Median home value: $120,400 (66% own)
– Median rent: $799 (34% rent)
– Median household income: $54,489
– Top public schools: Hononegah High School (A), Ledgewood Elementary School (A), Willowbrook Middle School (A)
– Top private schools: Keith Country Day School (A+), Boylan Catholic High School (A), Rockford Lutheran Junior/Senior High School (A)
– Top places to live: Rockton (A), Roscoe (A), Loves Park (B)

20. Macon County

– Population: 105,528
– Median home value: $98,400 (68% own)
– Median rent: $684 (32% rent)
– Median household income: $50,480
– Top public schools: Maroa-Forsyth Grade School (A), Maroa-Forsyth Senior High School (A), Maroa-Forsyth Middle School (A)
– Top private schools: St. Teresa High School (A), Lutheran School Association of Decatur (B), Holy Family Catholic School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Forsyth (A), Mount Zion (A), Long Creek (B+)

19. DeKalb County

– Population: 104,366
– Median home value: $173,100 (57% own)
– Median rent: $930 (43% rent)
– Median household income: $63,317
– Top public schools: Somonauk Middle School (A), Hinckley-Big Rock Middle School (A), James R. Wood Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Cornerstone Christian Academy (B), St. Mary’s Catholic School (unavailable), St. Mary School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Sycamore (A), Cortland (B+), DeKalb (B+)

18. Rock Island County

– Population: 143,873
– Median home value: $119,400 (68% own)
– Median rent: $748 (32% rent)
– Median household income: $54,858
– Top public schools: Hampton Elementary School (A), Illinois City Elementary School (A), Taylor Ridge Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Alleman High School (A), Quad Cities Christian Jr. and Sr. High School (B+), East Moline Christian School (A)
– Top places to live: Moline (B+), East Moline (B+), Hampton (B+)

17. Piatt County

– Population: 16,401
– Median home value: $138,600 (82% own)
– Median rent: $851 (18% rent)
– Median household income: $70,849
– Top public schools: Atwood-Hammond Elementary School (A), Monticello High School (A), Washington School (A)
– Top private schools: Monticello Christian Academy (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Monticello (A), Monticello Township (A), Willow Branch Township (A)

16. Woodford County

– Population: 38,700
– Median home value: $168,700 (82% own)
– Median rent: $758 (18% rent)
– Median household income: $72,808
– Top public schools: Metamora Grade School (A), Jefferson Park School (A), Eureka High School (A)
– Top private schools: St. Mary Elementary School (unavailable), Countryside Private School (unavailable), Linn Mennonite Christian School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Germantown Hills (A), Eureka (A), Metamora (A)

15. Madison County

– Population: 264,776
– Median home value: $135,600 (71% own)
– Median rent: $824 (29% rent)
– Median household income: $60,738
– Top public schools: Columbus Elementary School (A), Albert Cassens Elementary School (A), Edwardsville High School (A)
– Top private schools: Marquette Catholic High School (A), Father McGivney Catholic High School (A), Metro-East Lutheran High School (A)
– Top places to live: Glen Carbon (A+), Edwardsville (A+), Maryville (A)

14. McHenry County

– Population: 307,714
– Median home value: $224,500 (79% own)
– Median rent: $1,197 (21% rent)
– Median household income: $86,799
– Top public schools: Cary-Grove Community High School (A+), Prairie Ridge High School (A+), Huntley High School (A)
– Top private schools: Trinity Oaks Christian Academy (A), Marian Central Catholic High School (A), Faith Lutheran High School (B+)
– Top places to live: Fox River Grove (A+), Lakewood (A), Cary (A)

13. Jackson County

– Population: 57,977
– Median home value: $108,600 (51% own)
– Median rent: $691 (49% rent)
– Median household income: $37,241
– Top public schools: Carbondale Community High School (A), Giant City Elementary School (A), Unity Point Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Trinity Christian School of Carbondale (A), St. Andrew Catholic School (unavailable), Murphysboro Christian Academy (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Carbondale (B+), Murphysboro (B), Makanda Township (A)

12. Monroe County

– Population: 34,168
– Median home value: $211,300 (83% own)
– Median rent: $872 (17% rent)
– Median household income: $85,747
– Top public schools: Rogers Elementary School (A), Parkview Elementary School (A), Waterloo Junior High School (A)
– Top private schools: Gibault Catholic High School (A), SS. Peter & Paul Catholic School (unavailable), Immaculate Conception School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Columbia (A), Waterloo (A), Valmeyer (B)

11. Kendall County

– Population: 126,054
– Median home value: $235,600 (84% own)
– Median rent: $1,414 (16% rent)
– Median household income: $96,563
– Top public schools: Lisbon Grade School (A), Oswego East High School (A), Wolfs Crossing Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Parkview Christian Academy (B+), Cross Lutheran School (unavailable), St. Mary School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Oswego (A), Montgomery (A), Yorkville (B+)

10. St. Clair County

– Population: 262,338
– Median home value: $128,000 (65% own)
– Median rent: $861 (35% rent)
– Median household income: $55,179
– Top public schools: O’Fallon High School (A), Smithton Elementary School (A), Scott Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Governor French Academy (A), Althoff Catholic College Preparatory High School (A), First Baptist Academy (A)
– Top places to live: O’Fallon (A+), Shiloh (A), Fairview Heights (A)

9. Will County

– Population: 689,315
– Median home value: $232,000 (81% own)
– Median rent: $1,176 (19% rent)
– Median household income: $86,961
– Top public schools: Lincoln-Way East High School (A+), Lincoln-Way Central High School (A+), Hickory Creek Middle School (A)
– Top private schools: Joliet Catholic Academy (A), Providence Catholic High School (A), Illinois Lutheran High School (A)
– Top places to live: Frankfort (A), Bolingbrook (A), Mokena (A)

8. Peoria County

– Population: 182,770
– Median home value: $129,800 (65% own)
– Median rent: $798 (35% rent)
– Median household income: $55,842
– Top public schools: Dunlap High School (A+), Ridgeview Elementary School (A), Hickory Grove Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Daarul Uloom Islamic School (A), Peoria Christian School (A), Peoria Notre Dame High School (A)
– Top places to live: Dunlap (A), Peoria (A), Elmwood (B+)

7. Kane County

– Population: 531,376
– Median home value: $238,300 (74% own)
– Median rent: $1,148 (26% rent)
– Median household income: $79,394
– Top public schools: Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (A+), St. Charles East High School (A+), St. Charles North High School (A)
– Top private schools: Elgin Academy (A+), The Einstein Academy (A+), Marmion Academy (A+)
– Top places to live: Geneva (A+), Campton Hills (A), St. Charles (A)

6. Cook County

– Population: 5,198,275
– Median home value: $246,600 (57% own)
– Median rent: $1,123 (43% rent)
– Median household income: $64,660
– Top public schools: Walter Payton College Prep (A+), Northside College Preparatory High School (A+), Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (A+)
– Top private schools: University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (A+), North Shore Country Day (A+), Latin School of Chicago (A+)
– Top places to live: Evanston (A+), Western Springs (A+), Oak Park (A+)

5. Sangamon County

– Population: 196,861
– Median home value: $141,200 (69% own)
– Median rent: $820 (31% rent)
– Median household income: $61,912
– Top public schools: Glenwood High School (A), Springfield High School (A), Iles Elementary School (A)
– Top private schools: Sacred Heart Griffin High School (A), Lutheran High School (B), Calvary Academy (B)
– Top places to live: Leland Grove (A+), Sherman (A), Chatham (A)

4. Champaign County

– Population: 209,922
– Median home value: $162,100 (53% own)
– Median rent: $882 (47% rent)
– Median household income: $52,797
– Top public schools: University of Illinois High School (A+), Mahomet-Seymour High School (A+), Central High School (A)
– Top private schools: The High School of Saint Thomas More (A), Judah Christian School (A), St. Matthew School (unavailable)
– Top places to live: Savoy (A+), Urbana (A), Mahomet (A)

3. McLean County

– Population: 172,578
– Median home value: $167,000 (65% own)
– Median rent: $845 (35% rent)
– Median household income: $67,675
– Top public schools: University High School (A+), Thomas Metcalf School (A+), Normal Community High School (A)
– Top private schools: Central Catholic High School (A), Cornerstone Christian Academy of McLean County (A), Calvary Christian Academy (B)
– Top places to live: Bloomington (A), Normal (A), Downs (A)

2. Lake County

– Population: 701,473
– Median home value: $265,100 (73% own)
– Median rent: $1,197 (27% rent)
– Median household income: $89,427
– Top public schools: Adlai E. Stevenson High School (A+), Vernon Hills High School (A+), Libertyville High School (A+)
– Top private schools: Lake Forest Academy (A+), Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart (A+), Carmel Catholic High School (A+)
– Top places to live: Long Grove (A+), Buffalo Grove (A+), Bannockburn (A+)

1. DuPage County

– Population: 929,060
– Median home value: $308,500 (73% own)
– Median rent: $1,316 (27% rent)
– Median household income: $92,809
– Top public schools: Hinsdale Central High School (A+), Neuqua Valley High School (A+), Glenbard West High School (A+)
– Top private schools: Benet Academy (A+), St. Francis High School (A+), Wheaton Academy (A+)
– Top places to live: Clarendon Hills (A+), Naperville (A+), Hinsdale (A+)

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