Illinois’s Biggest Cities: A Homebuyer’s Guide for 2024

Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, is a state with a rich history and diverse culture. With bustling cities like Chicago and charming towns like Aurora, Illinois offers something for everyone. The state is known for its beautiful landscapes, friendly communities, and many housing options to suit any lifestyle. Illinois has it all, whether you’re looking for a bustling urban environment or a quiet suburban retreat. So, if you’re considering making Illinois your home, there’s no shortage of reasons to fall in love with the state. So, let this Redfin article guide you in exploring the biggest cities in Illinois.

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1. Chicago, Illinois

Population: 2,746,388
Median Sale Price: $322,000
Chicago, IL homes for sale
Chicago, IL houses for rent

Living in Chicago is a big city experience, with a rich cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, and a deep history. The city offers an array of world-class museums like the Field Museum, theaters, and restaurants, making it a hub for arts and entertainment. The iconic skyline and beautiful lakefront provide stunning views, and the city’s sports culture is unmatched, with passionate fans supporting their teams year-round.

2. Aurora, Illinois

Population: 180,542
Median Sale Price: $293,000
Aurora, IL homes for sale
Aurora, IL houses for rent

Aurora offers a perfect blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. The city’s historic downtown area is filled with charming shops and restaurants, and the Fox River provides a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities. Aurora’s diverse community celebrates its cultural heritage through various events and festivals, creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for residents.

3. Joliet, Illinois

Population: 150,362
Median Sale Price: $265,000
Joliet, IL homes for sale
Joliet, IL houses for rent

Moving to Joliet is a balance of small-town feel and modern conveniences. The city’s historic architecture and thriving arts scene provide a unique cultural experience, while its proximity to nature preserves and parks offer opportunities for outdoor adventures. For example, the annual Joliet Fine Arts Festival, held in the historic downtown area, showcases local artists and underscores the city’s commitment to fostering a vibrant cultural community.

4. Naperville, Illinois

Population: 149,540
Median Sale Price: $523,500
Naperville, IL homes for sale
Naperville, IL houses for rent

Living in Naperville offers a unique blend of suburban tranquility and urban sophistication, with its well-manicured neighborhoods, schools, and vibrant downtown featuring various dining and shopping options. The city’s high quality of life is further enhanced by annual events like the Naperville Riverwalk Fine Art Fair, which showcases local and national artists and emphasizes the community’s commitment to cultural enrichment. 

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5. Rockford, Illinois

Population: 148,655
Median Sale Price: $143,500
Rockford, IL homes for sale
Rockford, IL houses for rent

Nestled along the banks of the Rock River, Rockford offers a diverse and evolving urban experience. With a growing arts scene, annual events like the Rockford City Market, and a commitment to community development, Rockford provides residents with a dynamic and engaging environment that reflects the city’s resilience and evolving identity.

6. Elgin, Illinois

Population: 114,797
Median Sale Price: $285,250
Elgin, IL homes for sale
Elgin, IL houses for rent

Situated along the scenic Fox River, Elgin presents a distinctive blend of historic charm and contemporary vitality. Home to well-preserved Victorian-era architecture and a burgeoning arts community, the city offers a rich cultural experience. Elgin’s commitment to community engagement is evident through events like the Elgin Art Showcase and its downtown scene.  

7. Springfield, Illinois

Population: 114,394
Median Sale Price: $160,000
Springfield, IL homes for sale
Springfield, IL houses for rent

In central Illinois, Springfield exudes rich history and civic pride. As the state capital, the city showcases iconic landmarks such as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, offering residents a deep connection to the nation’s past. With its tree-lined streets, diverse cultural events, and welcoming community spirit, Springfield provides a blend of heritage and modern living.

8. Peoria, Illinois

Population: 113,150
Median Sale Price: $122,900
Peoria, IL homes for sale
Peoria, IL houses for rent

With a skyline defined by historic architecture and a revitalized downtown, Peoria offers residents a dynamic urban experience. The city’s commitment to cultural events, such as the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Annual Steamboat Days Festival, enhances its appeal, providing a well-rounded lifestyle with a mix of tradition and contemporary vibrancy.

9. Waukegan, Illinois

Population: 89,321
Median Sale Price: $225,000
Waukegan, IL homes for sale
Waukegan, IL houses for rent

Known for its historical significance and diverse cultural influences, the city has many experiences to discover. From the landmark Genesee Theatre to community events like the Waukegan ArtWauk, Waukegan provides a dynamic environment that celebrates its heritage while embracing the arts and fostering community engagement.

10. Champaign, Illinois

Population: 88,302
Median Sale Price: $200,000
Champaign, IL homes for sale
Champaign, IL houses for rent

Anchored by the University of Illinois, Champaign seamlessly integrates academia with cultural richness. With a lively arts scene and diverse dining options, Champaign offers residents a dynamic urban experience. From the renowned Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to eclectic events like the Pygmalion Festival, the city cultivates a stimulating atmosphere, creating an ideal setting for those seeking a blend of academic innovation and cultural diversity in their daily lives.


Methodology: The population data was retrieved from the United States Census Bureau for 2021, while the median sale price data was sourced from the Redfin Data Center in January 2024.

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