Best College Locations in Illinois

When it comes to college education, the U.S. has some of the best institutions in the entire world. This is not an opinion, it is a fact that is backed by numerous surveys and statistics. That being said, not all colleges are equal. If you are looking for some of the best college locations in Illinois, there are a few places that stand out. Therefore, before you consider hiring one of the best cross country movers in Illinois, you will do well to go through these places and decide on your ideal location. In this article, we will show you our top-10 college places and help you make that decision.

The best college locations in Illinois

When looking at the best college towns, it is important to take numerous statistics into account. Not only that, but you also need to consider the overall “vibe” of the place. You want your kids to grow up in a happy, “chill”, environment. And, of course, living in a college town needs to be affordable and safe. With all that in mind, here are the locations that fulfill all of the prerequisites:

  • Lisle
  • Normal
  • Champaign
  • Macomb
  • Charleston
  • Galesburg
  • Greenville
  • Wheaton
  • Evanston
  • River Forest

These locations were chosen due to a variety of factors. First and foremost, only locations that have a 4-year college were chosen. If a town does not have a college that grants a bachelor’s degree, it does not make it to the list, simple as that. After all, you don’t want to go through the trouble of selecting one of the top interstate moving companies in Chicago to help you relocate, only to figure out that the available colleges are not what you want for your kids. We also ensured that students make up a large percentage of the population in any of these locations, that the tuition cost is reasonable, and that the towns themselves are safe and affordable.

one of the best college locations in Illinois at night
Glamour will only get you so far.

Additionally, to be counted as one of the best college locations in Illinois, a town needs to have plenty of available locations and activities that are suited toward student life. This means that the population density needs to be rather high and that there need to be numerous bars, libraries, and museums.

With all of that in mind, let’s now take a deeper look at each individual location.


Another small town, with a population of around 23,500, Lisle is definitely one of the best college locations in Illinois due to its safety. This town is ranked 3rd overall on safety rankings, after all. While this safety does have a noticeable cost (the median rent is around $1,300), it is more than worth it to ensure a safe college experience. While there might not be as many students compared to the rest of the population (8.6% undergrad population), this city features several high-ranked colleges. You can enroll your kids into Benedictine University, Empire Beauty School-Lisle, as well as in Universal Technical Institute of Illinois Inc.

But words and statistics alone can’t fully explain the joy of living in Lisle. Most cross country movers Joliet has on offer, for example, report that their clients are much happier after moving to this town. It has a specific kind of energy, one that you simply have to experience to understand. 


But that is why Lisle is just one of the best college locations in Illinois. If a student needs to get a part-time job to help pay the tuition, Normal might be one of the best places for it. This town, almost double the size of Lisle, with around 55,000 residents, has an undergrad population percentage of almost 33%.

While students might account for a lower percentage, the unemployment rate in Normal is 2nd best overall. This means that finding a job is rather easy in the town, and there are numerous opportunities available. Therefore, if you are planning on working while you study, feel free to book one of the cross country moving companies Naperville has and schedule a relocation to Normal. This town also has a low-ish median rent of $850, which is why it was chosen for our list in the first place.

an amphitheatre lecture
Normal students have an easier time finding a job.

However, as with most other places, there is a drawback. The crime rank of Normal holds the 25th position, which is far from ideal. While this does not mean that the town is unsafe, by any stretch of the imagination, it is still a worrying statistic. The colleges found in this town are the Illinois State University, Paul Mitchell the School-Normal, and the Heartland Community College.


Moving into a more populated location, Champaign is an Illinois city that has a population of around 87,000 people, with a student undergrad population of almost 33%. Needless to say, studying in a larger city comes with a somewhat higher crime rate and a slightly higher median rent. Champaign is ranked 34th in the crime rate department and the median rent is around $920. However, there are numerous employment opportunities in the city, something that any student who has to work to support tuition will appreciate.

There are several colleges in the city, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Regency Beauty Institute-Champaign, and Parkland College. Some of the interstate moving companies Rockford has to offer feature great deals to moving to Champaign, and you might want to look into them. They can help you make the start of the school year much more enjoyable.


Another small town, Macomb features a rather high student undergrad population of almost 60%, offers a very affordable renting situation, and is quite a safe place to live and study. The median rent in Macomb is only around $660, making it one of the cheaper locations. Furthermore, the crime rank of the town is ranked 18th overall, making it a rather safe environment. However, being a small city also means that there are not that many employment opportunities available. Macomb ranks at the #33 spot when it comes to the unemployment rate, meaning that a student who wants to work part-time might have issues finding a job.

one of the best college locations in Illinois - Macomb
Macomb presents an affordable solution.

There is only one 4-year college in the town, too, which significantly limits the options. But Western Illinois University is a formidable institution so we do not consider this to be a flaw. You may also want to consider hiring one of the Springfield interstate movers for the occasion, as they have ample experience in the area. While it may not be one of the “flashiest” locations, Macomb is definitely worth your time checking out.

One of the best college locations in Illinois – Charleston

Next up is the town of Charleston. This quaint little Illinois town has a population of around 20,600 residents, making it ideal for those who do not want to contend with large crowds. What makes this place ideal for student life, you may ask?

Charleston has an undergrad population percentage of 45.3%, which means that students account for a sizeable population of the town. The median rent is around $700, making this place one of the cheaper ones to go to college. With the rent being this low, you will be able to hire more services from one of the best interstate movers in Aurora, for example, and make the start of the school year much more convenient. When it comes to the crime rate, Charleston ranks #4 on our list, making it one of the safest places for students.

And if a student needs to work while studying, the unemployment rate in Charleston is 23rd out of all places in Illinois. This is perhaps the greatest drawback to Charleston. Finding work is never going to be easy in such a small place, after all. Therefore, this town is best suited for students that do not need to work during their studies.


Another location that you might want to consider is Galesburg. While there aren’t that many students in Galesburg (3.9% undergrad population), the low median rent indicates a great opportunity. The median rent in Galesburg is around $640, one of the lowest on our list. However, the other factors are not entirely ideal.

The unemployment rate in the town is ranked 28th overall, and the crime rank holds the #23 position. However, when moving from Iowa to Illinois, you will find that Galesburg is a much safer city than you might have been used to. Illinois is, on average, a very safe state if we discount some of the cities with an extremely high crime rate.

Also, the low student population might be a benefit to some. If you are looking to fully commit to your studies, the fewer distractions you have the better. And that is why we consider Galesburg to be one of the best college locations in Illinois. There are two colleges in the town, Knox College and Carl Sandburg College.

students at a graduation ceremony
If you are looking to minimize the tuition costs, consider Galesburg.


By far the smallest place on our list, Greenville has a population of only 6,600 people. Needless to say, the median rent in such a small place is more than reasonable. Renting a place in Greenville will, on average, set you back around $595. You would also expect that there are not that many job opportunities in a place as small. But that is where Greenville truly shines. The unemployment rate in this town is 2nd best overall, meaning that it is easy to find a part-time job to help pay for the studies.

Additionally, the crime rank of Greenville is the 17th best, making this place a very safe environment. If you are looking for a laid-back location, where everyone seems to know everyone, you simply can’t do much better than Greenville.


If safety is your prime concern, you might want to look into Wheaton. This city has a population of around 53,500, as well as an undergrad population percentage of 4.5%. The median rent might be on the higher side, at around $1,350, but the safety the city offers is unquestionable. Wheaton’s crime rank is #7, meaning that it is one of the safest cities in the state.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate in Wheaton is quite low, taking the #10 position. It is rather easy to find part-time employment in the city. While there may be only one college, Wheaton College, it is highly ranked and provides an exceptional learning experience. Living in Wheaton is also a unique experience on its own. If you are looking to relocate your entire household, you may want to stop reading about moving to Chicago and start reading about moving to Wheaton. While it may not have all the amenities of much larger cities, Wheaton offers a very comfortable living environment.

graduates throwing their hats in the air
For an extremely safe environment, choose Wheaton.

Evanston is one of the best college locations in Illinois

The largest location on our list, Evanston has a population of around 75,000 people. Needless to say, this means that you will need to set aside a bit more money for rent. The median rent in Evanston is around $1360, making it the 35th best location where rent is concerned. But with the student undergrad population of 12%, and the 14th best unemployment rate, this is still one of the best college locations in the state. In fact, Best Cross Country Movers get queries about relocating to Evanston on a daily basis. The only concerning factor is the crime rate that holds the 28th position.

There are three colleges that offer 4-year studies in the city. You can enroll at the Northwestern University, Garret-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and at the Pivot Point Academy-Evanston. While these might not be common names, the education they offer is superb.

person reasearching the best college locations in Illinois
Evanston offers a stable learning environment.

River Forest

We’ve saved one of the best for last. River Forest might be a small community, with only around 11,000 people, but it more than makes up for it in other statistics. The median rent is rather high for a place of its size, being at around $1,180, but it is not as high as in some of the larger cities. This is evidenced by a large percentage of the student undergrad population (almost 22%). The town features the best unemployment rate in the state of Illinois, meaning that finding a job to supplement your income is going to be rather easy. The main colleges in the town are Concordia University-Chicago and Dominican University.

As far as the best college locations in Illinois go, we believe that choosing any of the above places is a good idea. All you need to do is figure out your priorities and select accordingly.

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