Population and Social Characteristics

Illinois' Best Counties to Live In

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Every year in the United States, tens of millions of Americans move to a new home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the bulk of these moves are motivated by personal circumstances, often relating to housing, family, or employment. But when it comes to deciding on a place to live, it can also be helpful to weigh other, less subjective factors.

As a means of gauging and comparing degrees of development between countries — beyond standard measures like gross domestic product and economic growth — the United Nations created the Human Development Index. By accounting for factors related to health and well-being, educational attainment, and standards of living, the HDI offers an assessment of overall quality of life at the individual level within a given geography.

When applied to communities within the United States, the core principles of the HDI reveal that some parts of the country are far better places to live than others.

Using an index inspired by the HDI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the best counties in Illinois to live in. Counties are ranked on a combination of three measures – average life expectancy at birth, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the poverty rate. Of the 102 counties in Illinois, we ranked the 30 with the highest HDI score.

Across all of Illinois, average life expectancy at birth is 78.6 years. Additionally, 11.8% of the population live below the poverty line and 36.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of the 30 counties on this list, three compare favorably to the state as a whole in each of these metrics.

Among these 30 Illinois counties, average life expectancy at birth ranges from 76.3 years to 81.9 years. Meanwhile, poverty rates vary between 4.3% and 18.7%, and bachelor’s degree attainment rates range from about 20% to over 50%.

Data used to calculate rankings are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. All ACS data are five-year averages.

Why It Matters

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Many of the most commonly cited economic indicators — including unemployment, GDP, and industrial output — are useful gauges of prosperity and productive capacity in a given area. But when it comes to measuring overall quality of life, any single metric inevitably falls short. To address these shortcomings, the HDI combines three key social and economic measures into a single index score, allowing for objective comparisons between communities across the United States.

30. Adams County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 77.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 12.1%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.9%
  • Median household income: $63,767
  • Population: 65,583

29. Madison County

Source: By Nyttend - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33203519 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 76.3 years
  • Poverty rate: 12.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.4%
  • Median household income: $71,759
  • Population: 265,512

28. Peoria County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 76.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 15.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.7%
  • Median household income: $63,409
  • Population: 181,186

27. Effingham County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 77.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.9%
  • Median household income: $73,181
  • Population: 34,594

26. Calhoun County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 19.5%
  • Median household income: $88,059
  • Population: 4,472

25. Henry County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 9.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 24.7%
  • Median household income: $66,313
  • Population: 49,157

24. Boone County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years
  • Poverty rate: 9.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 24.0%
  • Median household income: $80,502
  • Population: 53,459

23. Ogle County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.5 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.4%
  • Median household income: $75,782
  • Population: 51,672

22. Jasper County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 9.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 21.4%
  • Median household income: $67,429
  • Population: 9,295

21. DeKalb County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 15.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.1%
  • Median household income: $68,617
  • Population: 100,686

20. Washington County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.1%
  • Median household income: $75,111
  • Population: 13,781

19. Putnam County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.5%
  • Median household income: $75,726
  • Population: 5,628

18. Tazewell County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.3 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.5%
  • Median household income: $74,606
  • Population: 131,276

17. Grundy County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 77.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.7%
  • Median household income: $89,993
  • Population: 52,624

16. Sangamon County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 77.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 12.9%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.6%
  • Median household income: $71,653
  • Population: 196,122

15. Clinton County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 7.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.6%
  • Median household income: $78,054
  • Population: 36,998

14. Menard County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.9 years
  • Poverty rate: 7.9%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.9%
  • Median household income: $84,846
  • Population: 12,284

13. Jo Daviess County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years
  • Poverty rate: 7.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.9%
  • Median household income: $67,729
  • Population: 21,942

12. Champaign County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 18.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 45.6%
  • Median household income: $61,090
  • Population: 206,525

11. Cook County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.6 years
  • Poverty rate: 13.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 41.3%
  • Median household income: $78,304
  • Population: 5,225,367

10. Piatt County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 7.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 30.8%
  • Median household income: $81,151
  • Population: 16,698

9. Woodford County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 7.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.4%
  • Median household income: $80,093
  • Population: 38,414

8. McLean County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 14.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 46.0%
  • Median household income: $75,356
  • Population: 171,284

7. Will County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.1%
  • Median household income: $103,678
  • Population: 696,774

6. Kane County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.3%
  • Median household income: $96,400
  • Population: 517,254

5. McHenry County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.3%
  • Median household income: $100,101
  • Population: 311,133

4. Kendall County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 4.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.8%
  • Median household income: $106,358
  • Population: 132,795

3. Monroe County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 4.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 37.9%
  • Median household income: $100,685
  • Population: 34,905

2. Lake County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 7.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 46.9%
  • Median household income: $104,553
  • Population: 713,159

1. DuPage County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.9 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 51.1%
  • Median household income: $107,035
  • Population: 930,559
Rank County Avg. life expectancy at birth (yrs.) Adults with a bachelor’s degree (%) Poverty rate (%) Population
1 DuPage, Illinois 81.9 51.1 6.3 930,559
2 Lake, Illinois 81.0 46.9 7.8 713,159
3 Monroe, Illinois 80.7 37.9 4.3 34,905
4 Kendall, Illinois 81.2 35.8 4.7 132,795
5 McHenry, Illinois 80.4 35.3 6.0 311,133
6 Kane, Illinois 81.0 36.3 8.3 517,254
7 Will, Illinois 79.2 36.1 6.7 696,774
8 McLean, Illinois 79.4 46.0 14.2 171,284
9 Woodford, Illinois 79.1 35.4 7.5 38,414
10 Piatt, Illinois 80.0 30.8 7.2 16,698
11 Cook, Illinois 78.6 41.3 13.4 5,225,367
12 Champaign, Illinois 80.1 45.6 18.7 206,525
13 Jo Daviess, Illinois 80.5 27.9 7.8 21,942
14 Menard, Illinois 79.9 25.9 7.9 12,284
15 Clinton, Illinois 80.2 23.6 7.2 36,998
16 Sangamon, Illinois 77.7 34.6 12.9 196,122
17 Grundy, Illinois 77.2 25.7 6.0 52,624
18 Tazewell, Illinois 78.3 27.5 8.7 131,276
19 Putnam, Illinois 80.8 23.5 8.8 5,628
20 Washington, Illinois 79.4 23.1 8.0 13,781
21 DeKalb, Illinois 78.7 34.1 15.4 100,686
22 Jasper, Illinois 81.2 21.4 9.2 9,295
23 Ogle, Illinois 78.5 23.4 8.3 51,672
24 Boone, Illinois 79.3 24.0 9.8 53,459
25 Henry, Illinois 78.1 24.7 9.2 49,157
26 Calhoun, Illinois 80.4 19.5 8.4 4,472
27 Effingham, Illinois 77.7 25.9 10.8 34,594
28 Peoria, Illinois 76.8 33.7 15.5 181,186
29 Madison, Illinois 76.3 29.4 12.0 265,512
30 Adams, Illinois 77.8 26.9 12.1 65,583

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