Home to the city of Chicago and its famous basketball team, the Bulls, Illinois is a land of dichotomy like many of the states in the area. While it has a number of major cities the state also has a major farming community as well. The state has the reputation as being a smaller version of the United States of America, and cultural / social trends in IL often predict trends in the country at large.
Some of the best ways to see the state, ironically, can be through antique-hunter TV shows based in the area. The traveling shows how different Illinois can be from one end of the state to the other. Illinois has a major population center in the northeastern corner of the Chicago area and tends to be very rural in the rest of the state. So there's something for everyone in the region, which continues to attract people decade after decade.
IL has a total population of nearly 13 million, making it the fifth most populous state in America. With a gross domestic product of around $650 billion, Illinois has the fifth largest economy as well, and per capita GDP is around $45,000, a little above the national average. The IL economy is based around manufacturing, agriculture, and services, with many of the latter jobs located in Chicago.
As of 2013, the average home value in Illinois was around $150,000, which puts it right in line with other midwest states such as Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Missouri. Of course, there are many different types of homes in the state, from apartments in Chicago to big homes in the suburbs to farms located in rural IL. The most expensive homes in the state are found in the suburbs, places like Hinsdale, Barrington Hills, and Highland Park, where the average sale price of a home is over $1 million. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can find houses for $30,000-60,000 in places like Harvey, Park Forest, and Dolton, IL.
Along with New York and Los Angeles, Chicago is one of the "big three" American cities that's made its way into the world's consciousness. The city is already quite large with a population of nearly three million, and this number swells to nearly 10 million when one considers metro area, often referred to as Chicagoland. Chicago has a few popular nicknames, including the Windy City and Second City (after New York City). The city economy is very diverse, with major contributions from finance, manufacturing, food processing, and more. Even if you're only interested in working in Chicago, the commute from nearby suburbs is fast and efficient, as Chicago is served by Metra, a train that offers eleven lines connecting the city to the suburbs.
Aurora is a popular city named across the United States, so even if you've heard of the name before, you may not be thinking of this IL city. However, the City of Lights is the second largest city in Illinois, and it is a long time manufacturing hub. The largest employer in Aurora is Caterpiller, the heavy machinery manufacturer headquartered in nearby Peoria, IL. The movie Wayne's World was also set in Aurora, giving this city an extra bit of cultural cache.
Naperville, the fifth largest city in Illinois, is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. In fact, it ranks 11th for American cities with a population over 75,000 people. The city has appeared on numerous "best places to live" lists, including one compiled by CNN Money. Naperville's boom over the past few decades was largely driven by technology companies. Today, the top employers are Nicor, Alcatel-Lucent, BP America, and Tellabs.
There are many banking options in IL and the Chicagoland area, ranging from small local banks to credit unions to large national banks. After all, Chicago is one of America's financial hubs. Below, we've broken down a few of your options and provided links to our reviews where applicable.
Banks with headquarters in IL:
Local Credit Unions:
National banks with branches in Illinois:
Additionally, IL is also home to a few large mortgage lenders. Guaranteed Rate calls Chicago home,
If considering a move to this famous Midwest state, RateZip.com can help. The website provides easy online access to lending rates offered by regional banks and home loan providers, giving a buyer a competitive edge with detailed market information. Here are a few options for you to consider:
There are a variety of options to consider if you're looking to buy a home. For first time home buyers, an FHA mortgage is often the best option. These loans require a smaller down payment - as low as 2.5% - and require less than perfect credit. Of course, you will need to pay for private mortgage insurance along the way, making FHA loans more expensive than other options.
Want to refinance in IL? If you're underwater on your mortgage - you owe more than the home is worth now - you'll want to consider the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. HARP was designed to help responsible homeowners refinance at today's record low rates. If you have an FHA or VA loan, you may be eligible for a streamline refinance. Get a free quote on RateZip for more details.
If you have substantial home equity and need some extra cash, a home equity loan may be the right option for you. Though many lenders stopped offering this product immediately following the financial crisis, home equity lending has picked up once again.