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Illinois is a unique state, combining beautiful rural farming areas with one of America’s largest cities. There are distinct benefits and drawbacks to retirement in Illinois—here are a few things to consider.

Taxes. Illinois has a flat income tax rate of 3% at the state level—one of the lowest in the US. Overall, Illinois ranks about 30th in the country for overall tax burden, and it doesn’t tax pensions or social security income—making the tax situation relatively retiree-friendly. Overall, housing prices are about at the national average—although housing in Chicago is more expensive.

Fiscal health

Illinois currently has one of the largest state budget deficits in the country, at $12 billion. This is bad news for retirees with state pensions, as the state pension system has an estimated 50% deficit. It’s worrying for transplants as well, because the state’s bad fiscal health may lead it to slash state services that retirees depend on in the future—as well as raising taxes.

Weather and the outdoors

While Illinois is known for its cold winters and hot summers, the southern part of the state is much warmer. In general, however, Illinois isn’t the ideal place to retire if you’re looking for mild weather. It’s a great place for those who live active lifestyles, however; bordering the Great Lakes, Illinois offers fishing, boating, beaches and water sports as well as camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities further in.

Cities and towns

If you’re looking for a small town lifestyle, Illinois is your place. Much of the state is still rural and agrarian, built around farming communities dedicated to more traditional ways of life.

But Illinois also has Chicago. One of the top metropolitan areas in the country, Chicago ranks with Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities for cultural and economic significance.  If you love city environments and thrive in an area with world-class shopping, culture, entertainment, sports, dining, and more, Chicago is probably the best place in the state for you to retire. Chicago senior living is varied and serves a diverse range of senior needs, from assisted living to full medical care.

If you’re looking for a smaller town to retire in, however, Illinois also has you covered. In Grayslake, for example, Illinois senior living communities have access to a comprehensive system of bike trails.

Senior living in Joliet, Illinois, is another option to consider. The fourth-largest city in the state, Joliet lies just 45 miles southwest of Chicago. It’s easy to get there by rail, bus, and car. Joliet’s downtown area has undergone a recent revitalization, with attractions including the Harrah’s Casino and Hotel, minor league baseball, and the Rialto Square Theatre. This theatre was ranked one of the world’s 10 most beautiful theaters, and it was the setting for key scenes in the 1999 film Stir of Echoes.

In Monmouth, Illinois, senior living communities have access to cultural events and entertainment associated with Monmouth College. There are also several beautiful parks in the area, as well as the Prime Beef festival every year. Other small town options include Hainesville, Illinois, which is one of the oldest incorporated towns in the Lake country.

Senior living in Illinois is not for the faint of heart. Between the cold winters and the fiscal troubles, there’s a lot to worry seniors. But there are also plenty of reasons why Illinois is a great place to retire—including proximity to one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas set in a setting of rolling farmlands and lakeside vistas. Check out our listings of Illinois senior housing options and assisted living in Illinois, and find the best place for your retirement.