Elgin, Illinois

10 Reasons to Call Elgin Home in 2019

Discover what makes Elgin, Illinois, a great place to live

So, you’re in the market for a home. Maybe you got a new job, or you live in the big city and want to start a family. Or, maybe you want to move to the suburbs, but aren’t they basically all the same?

Before your Zillow app inundates you with hundreds of listings, make a list of what you really want—not just in a house but in a community. What’s important to you? Quality schools? Diverse neighborhoods? Easy commute? Low crime? These are all things an informed home buyer should consider.

And, while you’re at it, why not consider Elgin, Illinois? Explore Elgin Area has compiled a list of the top 10 reasons to choose Elgin for your new home in 2019.

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Special events

The City of Elgin’s commitment to quality of life for its residents is supported by a comprehensive yearly calendar of special events for residents and visitors. In addition to programs available through the Edward Schock Centre of Elgin, annual city-sponsored events include Elgin International Festival, Elgin Valley Fox Trot, Elgin Civil War Experience, July Fourth Parade, Free Concerts in Wing Park, Free Movies in Festival Park, National Night Out, Art and Soul on the Fox, Elgin Hay Day, Elgin Short Film Festival, Art Harvest, Tree Lighting and Elgin’s signature event, Nightmare on Chicago Street among others. If it’s a special event, it’s happening here in Elgin! Check out a full list of Elgin events.

Elgin has a weekly outdoor farmers market as well as a craft beer festival and a food truck festival in downtown Elgin.
The Gail Borden Public Library District is one of the largest library districts in Illinois.

Attractions

There’s no shortage of things to do or see in Elgin. History buff? Explore the Elgin Area History Museum and Elgin Public Museum to learn all about the history, the people and the places who made Elgin, Elgin!

Nature lover? Hawthorne Hills Nature Center offers a picturesque 67-acre natural area.

Love to read? One of Elgin’s most popular attractions is the award-winning Gail Borden Public Library. The main branch consists of more than 150,000 square feet of space, offering more than 530,000 books and digital assets as well as meeting and community rooms, a teen center and hundreds of engaging educational programs per year.

Want a place to host your next party or celebration? Historic Lords Park Pavilion is a two-story pavilion situated on 108 lush acres in Lords Park that can accommodate up to 300 people. Would you rather host your event outdoors? Walton Island is a site to behold with a gazebo that is perfect for small gatherings, weddings or parties.

Elgin has a zoo! Lords Park Zoo features a bison enclosure along with pigs, cows, goats, sheep, llamas and a miniature donkey.

Fox River Bike Trail

The Fox River Bike Trail offers bikers more than 40 miles of scenic adventures. The trail runs alongside the Fox River in Northern Illinois, crossing six bridges and passing through nature preserves and charming locales. The trail is the perfect outing for spirited cyclists, hikers, families and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, boating and kayaking at sites along the trail.

The Fox River Bike Trail connects Elgin biking aficionados with cities like Dundee, South Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and Aurora.
Take in the views of the Fox River during your exploration of the Fox River Bike Trail.
Book a tee time at The Highlands of Elgin golf course.

Parks and recreation

Making your fitness to-do list? Whether its playing 18 holes at Bowes Creek Country Club or The Highlands of Elgin, working up a sweat at the Eastside Rec Center, shooting hoops in the fieldhouse, swimming laps in the natatorium, ascending the 32-foot climbing wall at the Edward Schock Centre of Elgin or enjoying family time in one of 90 city-owned parks, whatever your game, Elgin’s got game.

Bowes Creek Country Club and The Highlands, two Elgin golf courses, were both recently ranked in the top 10 of Illinois’ top golf courses by Golf Advisor.

By the numbers

Elgin is Illinois’ seventh-largest city, with a population (as of July 1, 2018) of 115,602
There are more than 40,000 total housing units in the city’s boundaries, with an average home value of $246,437
The median household income in Elgin is $65,248
Elgin was ranked the 27th Most Diverse City and 31st Safest City in the nation.
There are more than 80 churches, temples and other places of worship in Elgin covering several denominations and sects, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Baha’i.

Sources: City of Elgin, U-46 School District, Elgin Community College, Judson University, US Data, IL Home Relocator, IL Home Town Locator

Arts, entertainment and dining

Arts and culture truly help define Elgin as a city, as evidenced by multiple performing arts venues such as the Elgin Art Showcase, Side Street Studio Arts, Elgin Community College’s Spartan Auditorium and the 1,200-seat Hemmens Cultural Centre, which celebrates 50 years in 2019 and continues to host the nationally renowned Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Art events such as Elgin’s Art and Soul on the Fox, Elgin Fringe Fest and Art Harvest help engage the public in the arts in Elgin.

For local entertainment, look no further than the Grand Victoria Casino, which offers Las Vegas-quality gaming, dining and nightlife. If gaming isn’t your thing, the smart play would be to double down on the cuisine from one of the four on-site restaurants: Prime BurgerHouse, Indulge Buffet, Buckingham’s Steakhouse and Lounge or Crave Deli.

Is it time to eat yet? Elgin’s diverse menu has something for palates of all shapes, sizes and styles. There’s tasty malts at Al’s Café, delicious pasta and stone-oven pizzas at Café Roma, sushi and sake at Kubo and cocktails at Martini Room. From Arabica Café to ZZA Factory, we’ve got so many great tastes in Elgin. Explore Elgin’s website and visitors guide feature a comprehensive list of all dining options in Elgin and the surrounding communities.

Elgin’s Cultural Arts Commission offers cultural arts grants, allowing the city to commission public art pieces throughout town and support local artists.
Savor the stuffed pork chops served with mashed potatoes and mango-chipotle chutney at Elgin Public House.
The historic Elgin Tower Building has been a fixture in the city since it was built in 1929.

Downtown

Elgin’s Central Business District is the place to be for arts, culture, events, niche shopping and a wide array of eateries and drinking establishments. Architecture junkies, take note: downtown Elgin is replete with Art Deco, Romanesque Revival, Chicago School and mid-century-modern buildings to quench your architectural cravings. Quality of life amenities such as Festival Park, the splash pad, Riverside Drive Promenade and the cobblestone courtyard of DuPage Court are all home to concerts and popular events.

Nightmare on Chicago Street draws more than 18,000 adults annually to the streets of downtown Elgin for a six-block, post-apocalyptic party.

Transportation

Commuting to Chicago is made easier with Elgin’s proximity to Interstate 90 and easy access to public transportation, including three Metra stations and a new Pace Bus Park and Ride facility in Elgin. Elgin is also bicycle-friendly with miles of bikeable thoroughfares both in town and along the Fox River Bike Trail.

Parking in downtown Elgin is always free, with three large parking decks that can accommodate more than 1,000 vehicles daily.

What people are saying

Don’t just take our word for it. Here are some quotes from residents who love Elgin as much as we do:

 “We moved to Elgin because we wanted to raise our young family in a community that is vibrant and full of life. We wanted to be somewhere where you know your neighbors and people genuinely care about one another. You can walk five blocks one way and be in nature, and then walk five blocks in the opposite direction and be downtown among great restaurants and shops.” —Peggy Bernar
“The investment in rebuilding Elgin has been very attractive to us. As young professionals and small-business owners, having a lively, invested group of people at the core of Elgin has been great. New restaurants and bars coming into the downtown area has been very exciting for us.” —Jessica Lamb
“The famous Fox River divides the town east and west, and what was once a means to bring and ship goods is now a picturesque landscape enhanced with a promenade and a riverboat casino. If you haven't visited this gem dubbed The City in the Suburbs, you are missing out.” —Steve Thoren
“The people are nice, and there is a lot of diversity. We have two train stations and we are close to the highway, so it is really easy to get to the city.” —Dre Boz

Public safety, health and community services

Elgin’s responsive, award-winning Public Safety department includes the Elgin Fire Department, with more than 130 sworn firefighters operating out of seven stations, and the Elgin Police Department, employing more than 180 sworn officers.

For more than 100 years, two local hospitals have served the healthcare needs of Elgin residents. Sherman Hospital is now part of Advocate Health Care, the largest health care delivery system in the state of Illinois. U.S. News & World Report named Sherman Hospital a 2018–2019 Best Regional Hospital. St. Joseph Hospital was named one of Illinois’ top hospitals in 2015 and is now part of Amita Health.

The city’s Elgin 311 call center is a tremendous resource to help connect residents to Elgin’s local government. During normal business hours, Elgin 311 citizen advocates answer general questions and process non-emergency service requests, including reporting potholes, a missed garbage collection or processing water bill payments.

Elgin’s crime rate is at a 40-year low thanks to the Elgin Police Department’s community policing philosophy and collaboration with residents, businesses and organizations.
Judson University boasts a 9:1 student-to-teacher ratio to allow for more engagement in the classroom.

Education

Elgin is primarily served by School District U-46, the state’s second-largest school district with an enrollment of nearly 39,000 pre-K through 12th-grade students. U-46’s award-winning dual-language program enables more than 10,000 students to develop bilingualism and biliteracy skills in U-46 classrooms. Students can enroll in specialized learning programs at the district’s public high schools—Elgin High School offers the Gifted and Talented Academy, and Larkin High School is home to the Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The Elgin Math & Science Academy, a U-46 charter school, opened in 2018 for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Other Elgin school districts include Community Unit School District 300, a Carpentersville-based district that serves northwest Elgin; Community Unit School District 301, a Burlington-based district that serves west Elgin; and Community Unit School District 303, a St. Charles-based district that serves southwest Elgin. Elgin is also home to more than a dozen private schools.

Elgin Community College offers 138 associate degree and certificate programs. Judson University is a four-year Christian college with more than 50 undergraduate majors, minors, pre-professional programs and adult undergraduate programs.

An Elgin student could conceivably attend school locally from pre-K all the way through a doctoral program without leaving the city.

Businesses and employment

In 2016, Elgin employed nearly 55,000 people, primarily in manufacturing, healthcare, social assistance and retail service fields. Some of the area’s largest employers include School District U-46, Chase Card Services, Advocate Sherman Hospital, Grand Victoria Casino, NTN, Elgin Sweeper, Motorola and Fisher Nuts. Small businesses account for more than half of the people employed in Elgin.

The unemployment rate in Elgin is at an all-time low of 4%.

Explore Job Opportunities in Elgin
Need more reasons to call Elgin home? Contact the Explore Elgin Area team at (847) 695-7540.