Moving to Springfield

Springfield, the capital of Illinois, is home to about 116,000 residents. If you love US history, this is the city for you. Most famous for being the home of Abraham Lincoln, Springfield is a treasure trove of Lincoln-related history. If you’re relocating to Springfield, the 6th largest city in Illinois, you’ll find it’s a friendly and welcoming midwestern town.

About 200 miles southwest of Chicago, Springfield is a manageable-sized city; there’s plenty to do without being overwhelmed by huge crowds or difficult commutes. Considered a great place to raise a family, the city also has activities that appeal to all ages. Residents appreciate the low cost of living and a healthy job market.

Great Guys Long Distance Movers has created this guide to help you find out everything you need to know when moving to Springfield, Illinois. We specialize in finding Springfield moving companies that will make your move as stress-free as possible.

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Living in Springfield, IL: What to Know Before Moving to Springfield

Springfield is in central Illinois at the crossroads of Interstates 55 and 97. This city of 116,000 is best known as the home of Abraham Lincoln. History comes alive with many Lincoln-related venues and activities. It’s also the proud Illinois capital and offers much to learn about state government. Outside of the city, much of the area is farmland which makes Springfield seem like an oasis set in the middle of waving fields of grain and corn.

You’ll find many reasons to love living in Springfield. Residents exude a down-to-earth friendliness that will make you feel at home right away. With its warm and welcoming people, its excellent businesses, high-quality health care, and its abundant opportunities for things to do; this town will become your beloved home in no time at all.

Pros and Cons of Living in Springfield, Illinois

Pros

  • Low cost of living
  • Historical presence
  • Access to quality health care
  • Minimal commute time

Cons

  • High state taxes
  • High crime rate
  • Limited public transportation

Economy and the Job Market

The economy in Springfield is driven by health care, educational institutions, and the Illinois State Government. The city’s unemployment rate is just above 4%, and its economy is quite healthy with a cost of living lower than many larger Illinois cities. Forbes ranks Springfield #4 in ‘Cost of Doing Business,’ #60 for ‘Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers, and #151 for ‘Job Growth.’ The median household income is $51,789, compared to $68,403 in the Chicago/Naperville region. Data USA provides a breakdown of some of the most common Springfield jobs.

  • Health Services and Social Assistance: With about 19% of the workforce, this is the biggest sector for jobs in the area. Some of the main employers are the Hospital Sisters Health System, Springfield Clinic, Memorial Medical Center, and SIU medicine.
  • Government/Public Administration: Since Springfield is the state capital, you’ll find about 14% of the entire workforce employed by state and local government organizations.
  • Retail Trade: Retail trade employs about 11% of Springfield’s working population. There are many companies to work for, including American Furniture Group, Ross Stores, and PetSmart.
  • Education Services: The education sector employs 10% of Springfield’s workers. Most employees in this sector work in the local public elementary and secondary schools, Lincoln Land College, University of Illinois Springfield, Benedictine University, and The Midwest Technical Institute, among other educational institutions.
  • Food Services and Hospitality: You’ll find a significant number of jobs in this industry because many people travel here for tourist or government reasons. Around 8% of workers work in restaurants, hotels, or tourist-related businesses.
  • Finance and Insurance: This sector employs around 6% of the workforce. Some of the major employers are Horace Mann, H. D. Smith, and Standard Mutual Insurance.
  • Manufacturing: 5% of workers have jobs in the manufacturing industry. Some of the major companies providing manufacturing jobs to the area are Richardson Manufacturing Company, RMC Springfield, Aerotek, Agridyne LLC, and Bunn-O-Matic.
  • Transportation and Warehousing: Only about 3% of workers make their living in transportation and warehousing. You’ll find the Illinois Trucking Association, Buchheit Logistics, and Coca Cola are top employers in this sector.

Tax Rates

  • Income tax: Illinois residents pay state income tax at a rate of 4.95%. The state legislature has proposed and passed a new graduated income tax which could become effective in 2020 with voter approval. The higher than average income tax rate is a significant concern for Illinois residents and is possibly a factor in the lack of population growth.
  • Sales tax: The Springfield sales tax rate is 8.75%, a combination of Illinois 6.25% state sales tax rate and the 2.5% Springfield tax rate.
  • Property tax: The property tax rates are based on 2.3% of the assessed home value, which is quite high in comparison to other states’ property taxes.

Taxes are a huge problem in the entire state of Illinois, not just Springfield. Click here to read an excellent article from IllinoisPolicy.org about how property tax rates are affecting Illinois residents.

Housing Market

Bestplaces.net states that home appreciation is up 0.6% and it’s a good time to buy. The median home value is $125,600, and just over 62% of Springfield residents own their own homes, slightly below the national homeownership average. Your average rental for a two bedroom apartment is around $866, which is low in comparison to other well-populated areas of Illinois.

Certain areas of the city have a high crime rate, so be careful when choosing your neighborhood. You’ll find the homes in these areas very inexpensive, but the costs of living there can be high indeed. Most neighborhoods are very safe, and while there are some high priced areas, most are relatively affordable.

Cost of Living

In comparison to the rest of the state, Springfield has a relatively low cost of living. With 100 being the US average score, Best Places assigns Springfield a cost of living index of 81.1, 15% lower than the national average. Even with Illinois’ high taxes, you’ll find that Springfield is inexpensive, especially when it comes to housing.

Real estate prices in Springfield are much lower than in other well-populated areas of the state such as Chicago, Naperville, or Aurora. While utility, health, transportation, and grocery costs are close to the nation’s average, housing costs are significantly lower. Springfield’s housing is rated 57.2 compared to the nation’s average of 100 and compared to Illinois’ average of 92.4. While you might not earn as much working in Springfield, there are still many well-paying employment opportunities. Your paycheck will go a lot further when you don’t have to spend a large amount of it on housing costs.

Weather and Natural Disasters

Weather in central Illinois is like most of the Midwest. It can be super cold in the winter, especially with the wind whipping across the prairie. The coldest months are from the end of November to the end of February, where you’ll have average winter highs of 46° F and average lows of about 21° F. Spring will be rainy with both cool and warm days.

Summers are hot and sunny with occasional summer storms, especially during the late afternoons. The hottest months are from late May to late September with July being the hottest month. Average July highs can hover around 85° F, and lows go down to about 66° F. Humidity can be high during this time of year and quite uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. Autumn is usually mild and boasts beautiful fall colors as the trees change from green to gold. You’ll smell crisp, clean air that hints of the cold to come, but you can usually plan on some very nice fall days.

Rainfall is about 38″ per year, equivalent to the nation’s average. The wettest months are from May to September. Snowfall is 18″ compared to the nation’s average of 28″.

Tornadoes are the biggest natural disaster threat. Tornado season runs from mid-March through May, although twisters can occur at any time of year. Illinois averages about 64 tornadoes a year and most often, they occur between the hours of 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. If you’re moving to Springfield from an area that doesn’t experience tornadoes, make sure you educate yourself on how to stay safe during these threatening storms.

With global warming, droughts or flooding have increased and can be devastating for an area surrounded by farmland. Throughout the years, Illinois farmers have dealt with these challenging weather issues. Just remember, farmers say that the corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July.”

Traffic and Transportation

You’ll find Interstates 55 and 97 traversing the city, making Springfield an easy town to access by vehicle. Hop on I 55 and go 200 miles north to Chicago, or 100 miles south to St. Louis. The average commute time in Springfield is just over 16 minutes, well below the national average for cities its size. This city has little traffic congestion, if any, so you’ll find it very easy to drive throughout Springfield any time of day or night.

Public transportation is available through the Sangamon Mass Transit District. Buses operate throughout the city and connect to many of the Lincoln attractions. You can access their trip planner on their website. The average family has two cars, and for the most part, they use them daily. With a low walkscore.com score of 34 and a bike score of 44, it’s not easy to reach many areas without a vehicle.

While Springfield has an airport, you’ll most likely need to transfer planes at a larger airport in Chicago or St. Louis. Some residents opt to begin and end their flights in St. Louis because it’s usually more cost-effective to drive to and fly out of a larger airport. Click here to view the airlines that serve the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. You can hop on Amtrak at the Springfield station, and once you’re in Chicago, you can make rail connections between eastern and western cross country trains.

Things to Do

Springfield is the place to be for all things Lincoln-related. Or, you can head to the Old State Capitol to watch the government in action. You’ll find walking and hiking trails in some of the parks, and nearby lakes provide fishing and watersports. There are excellent restaurants and some exciting nightlife. Springfield is a family-orientated city with lots of activities for every family member. Here’s a list of just a few of the many attractions you can find in and around the Illinois State Capitol.

  • The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: Click here to learn more about the nation’s most visited presidential museum. This attraction documents the life of Lincoln and the Civil War. It combines historical scholarship with 21st-century high tech to create an awesome experience for today’s visitors. Don’t miss this attraction — it’s truly phenomenal.
  • The Lincoln Home National Historic Site: You’ll find this attraction fascinating. Lincoln’s Greek revival home is furnished with period pieces. Be sure to take the guided tour.
  • Lincoln Monument Association: Many people like to pay their respects at the tomb of this beloved president, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of their four sons.
  • Dana Thomas House: This home dates from 1902 and is a work by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright. You will find many original furnishings here as well.
  • The Old State Capitol: Visit this Greek revival building to see its interesting architecture and observe the government in action.
  • The Illinois State Museum: This educational venue explores the life, land, people, art, and culture of the state.
  • Knight’s Action Park and Splash Kingdom: Head here for some water park family fun and stick around when the sun sets for movies on two drive-in movie screens.
  • Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center: Explore the 100-acre woodland that will help satisfy your need for nature.
  • Hoogland Center for the Arts: This venue hosts concerts, recitals, plays, musicals, gallery showings, poetry readings, and more.
  • Illinois Symphony Orchestra: Over 35,000 patrons support central Illinois’ largest professional orchestra.

Schools and Universities

The Springfield Public School District 186, a large district with 23 elementary schools, seven middle schools, and three high schools serves the city. You’ll also find a good selection of private schools. Some of the public schools have very low ratings. You can check out their ratings at greatschools.org as you decide where to live in Springfield.

Lincoln Land Community College is the local junior college with many well-rated programs. You’ll also find the highly rated University of Illinois Springfield, a branch of the University of Illinois system. Additionally, the city is home to the Midwest Technical Institute. With a large hospital system, there are a few excellent nursing schools in Capitol Area School of Practical Nursing and St. John’s College Department of Nursing.

Crime

Neighborhoodscout.com rates Springfield as one of the ‘Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in Which to Live’. With a score of 100 being the safest, Springfield only rates a three. The violent crime rate per 1000 residents is 10.82 and 48.43 for property crimes. Your chances of being a victim of a crime here are one in 17. This city is more dangerous than 99% of other communities in Illinois. Springfield averages about ten homicides per year.

Most of the city’s violent crime is due to gang activity, with a small proportion of domestic disturbances. Most of the violent crime stems from a large public housing population and the troubles that come with poverty. You’ll find the safest areas on the outskirts of the city and the most dangerous areas are near the city center.

Utility Providers

  • Electricity and Water: City Water, Light, and Power, a Department of the City of Springfield, provides electricity and water for the area. Click here for their website and to find information on how to register for these utilities.
  • Natural Gas: Ameren Cilco – Gas provides natural gas service to Springfield. You can reach their website by clicking here.
  • Waste management: Allied/Republic manages waste services.
  • Phone and internet: Many choices are available. Check this list for details on high-speed internet and phone providers.

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Best Neighborhoods in Springfield, Illinois

Springfield has some lovely, safe neighborhoods. However, with the city’s high crime rate, you’ll want to be careful when deciding where to live.

Downtown

If you want to live close to restaurants and other fun activities, you may want to consider downtown. With a walk score of 77, it’s the most walkable neighborhood in the city. While it does have a high walk score and a bike score of 44, most downtown residents claim it’s still necessary to have a car. Interstate 55 runs north-south intersecting east-west highway 97 right in the middle of downtown.

You’ll want to watch out for crime in downtown, but about 78% of locals say the streets are well lit, and 42% say they’d walk alone at night. This statistic means that over half of its residents wouldn’t walk alone at night, which is something to consider.

The Old State Capitol building, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and HSHS St. John’s Hospital are downtown. There isn’t a lot of housing available downtown, and except for Springfield High School’s good rating, schools rate below average.

Downtown facts and figures:

  • Population: 1485
  • Median home price: $250,000
  • Median rental price: $2,200
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: McClernand Elementary (Great Schools rating 3/10), Elizabeth Graham Elementary (4/10), DuBois Elementary (3/10) and K-12 International Academy (private, no rating available)
    • Middle: Benjamin Franklin Middle School (5/10), Washington Middle School (2/10), U. S. Grant Middle School (2/10) and The Keystone School (private, no rating available)
    • High School: Springfield High School (7/10) and Lanphier High School (1/10)

Enos Park

While this neighborhood has had its problems, the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association (EPNIA) is doing notable work. Enos Park is directly north of downtown and encompasses 36 square blocks of homes and businesses. In its heyday, it was known as the “Jewel of Springfield,” and was home to both wealthy and working-class alike. Even today it’s the most socio-economically and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Springfield. You’ll find many styles of early 19th century homes, some of which owners have beautifully restored. If you prefer to purchase a fixer-upper, some are still waiting for some TLC.

With a walk score of 73 and a bike score of 56, Enos Park is walkable, but we still recommend having a car. Speaking of walking, these tree-lined streets are perfect for a stroll that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. A wide range of housing prices are available in this neighborhood that was once a jewel, fell into disrepair, and is now undergoing revitalization. Enos Park is a neighborhood worth keeping your eye on, and we’re interested in seeing its future success.

Enos Park facts and figures:

  • Population: 1553
  • Median home price: $69,000
  • Median rental price: $1,100
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: McClernand Elementary (Great Schools rating 3/10)
    • Middle: Benjamin Franklin Middle School (5/10)
    • Lanphier High School (1/10)

Devereux Heights

Devereux Heights is a lower to middle-income neighborhood with some very affordable homes. Since Neighborhood Scout gives this area a low crime rate score, home prices tend to be lower than other neighborhoods, making Devereux Heights a good area for those looking to enter the market with a starter home. Most of the residential real estate is owner occupied and is made up of small to medium-sized homes. While you can find homes dating from between 1940 and 1969, most of the homes were built between 1970 and 1999. You’ll also find a good number of mobile homes which help to make this area more affordable for lower or middle-income residents.

Devereux Heights lies on the western edge of the city and is intersected by state route 29. It’s also the location of Springfield’s national airport, the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. You can easily walk or bike in this area, but for most errands, you’ll need a car.

Devereux Heights facts and figures:

  • Population: 891
  • Median home price: $70,389
  • Median rental price: $921
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: Owen Marsh Elementary (Great Schools rating 6/10), Lindsay Elementary (6/10), DuBois Elementary (3/10), McClernand Elementary (great schools rating 3/10), Feitshans Elementary (2/10), Iles Elementary (10/10), Springfield Ball Charter School (5/10), Harvard Park Elementary(2/10), Laketown Elementary (8/10)
    • Middle: Washington Middle School (2/10) and US Grant Middle School (2/10)
    • High School: Springfield High School (7/10) and Lanphier High School (1/10)
    • Private: Lutheran High School, Sacred Heart Griffin High School, Blessed Sacrament Catholic, St. Agnes Catholic, St. Patrick’s Catholic

Old Aristocracy Hill

This historic Springfield neighborhood has an active neighborhood association dedicated to maintaining a safe, beautiful, and friendly place to live and work. They also strive to preserve the historic nature of the area where you’ll find a mix of owner-occupied homes and multi-family dwellings. Old Aristocracy Hill lies just south of downtown, between Capitol Ave to South Grand and S Second to S Ninth. It has a healthy walk score of 62 and a bike score of 60. The neighborhood is especially convenient if you work in downtown government administration or one of the large hospitals.

Old Aristocracy Hill facts and figures:

  • Population: 1087
  • Median home price: $95,900
  • Median rental price: $727
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: Elizabeth Graham Elementary (Great Schools rating 4/10)
    • Middle: Benjamin Franklin Middle School (5/10)
    • High School: Springfield High School (7/10)
    • Private: Cathedral

Koke Mill Subdivision

This neighborhood is a large subdivision intersected by the north/south running Koke Mill Road. You’ll find a very nice array of homes here in an affordable price range. The northern edge of this neighborhood is very safe, but there are crime problems on the south end. Since this is such a large area, you shouldn’t have a crime problem if you live in the upper half of the subdivision.

Most homes are owner-occupied, but there’s also a good supply of rental properties. An active homeowners association meets monthly and works to keep the area safe for residents.

Koke Mill facts and figures:

  • Population: 883
  • Median home price: $125,750
  • Median rental price: $825
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: Owen Marsh Elementary (Great Schools rating 6/10) and DuBois Elementary (3/10)
    • Middle: U. S. Grant Middle School (2/10)
    • High School: Springfield High School (7/10)
    • Private: Lutheran Private, Springfield Christian, and Douglas School

Leland Grove

Leland Grove is an incorporated town surrounded by the city of Springfield. This community is a great family area, and Niche.com gives it an A+ grade for ‘Best Places to Live in the State of Illinois.’ With a very low crime rate, an abundance of single family homes, and above average schools, this area is wonderful for families. It has a suburban feel with plenty of parks, bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. Homes are 94% owner-occupied, but you can find occasional rentals.

South MacArthur Boulevard and Chatham Road border Leland Grove on the east and west, respectively. The northern border is South Grand Avenue and the southern is West Iles Avenue. You’ll need a car as the walk score is only 32. The bike score is much higher at 61, but you will still want a car for most errands.

Leland Grove facts and figures:

  • Population: 1592
  • Median home price: $216,300
  • Median rental price: $1,083
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: Sandburg Elementary (Great Schools rating 7/10), Glenwood Elementary (7/10), and Lindsay School (6/10)
    • Middle: Glenwood Middle School (6/10), Benjamin Franklin Middle School (5/10), and Jefferson Middle School (2/10)
    • High School: Springfield High School (7/10), Glenwood High School (8/10), Springfield Southeast High School (1/10)

Vinegar Hill

This neighborhood is tucked between Old Aristocracy Hill and the historic west side. Rt. 97 is its northern border, and South Grand Avenue is to the south. South Walnut lies on its western edge, and you have 2nd Street on the east. Vinegar Hill is very bikeable, with a bike score of 70. Its walk score is a less favorable 49, which means you still need your own transportation for the most part. The active neighborhood association takes pride in the renovated vintage homes and the overall look of the streets and neighborhood.

Vinegar Hill facts and figures:

  • Population: 4,402
  • Median home price: $65,000
  • Median rental price: $875
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: Elizabeth Graham Elementary (Great Schools rating 4/10)
    • Middle: Benjamin Franklin Middle School (5/10) and U. S. Grant Middle School (2/10)
    • High School: Springfield High School (7/10)

Lake Springfield Area

Lake Springfield, located in the southeast corner of Springfield, is a 4,260-acre reservoir developed during the first half of the 1930s. This community provides ample opportunities for lake recreation. Homes here will be much pricier than other parts of Springfield, particularly those right on the water. When driving through the city on I 55, you’ll notice this beautiful lake and the 735 homes that surround it. With eight public parks and 57 miles of shoreline, the lake attracts over 600,000 visitors a year. Some properties are used periodically by the owners and let out as short-term vacation rentals.

Lake Springfield area facts and figures:

  • Median home price: $497,450
  • Median rental price: This area has mostly short-term vacation rentals.
  • Schools:
    • Elementary: Glenwood Elementary (Great Schools rating 7/10), Glenwood Intermediate (6/10), and Ball Elementary (5/10)
    • Middle: Glenwood Middle School (6/10) and Jefferson Middle School (2/10)
    • High School:  Glenwood High School (8/10) and Springfield Southeast High School (1/10)

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