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Renter’s Guide to Elgin, IL
Located in Cook and Kane counties in northern Illinois, Elgin is a suburb of Chicago. Split by the Fox River, the ‘City in the Suburbs’ has managed to retain that small-town charm. Diverse and with a strong sense of community, the city has won the National Civic League’s All-America City award two times. It also places among the top 100 most diverse cities in America, and the top 100 best cities for outdoor activities. Quality colleges and universities, plus proximity to employment hubs make Elgin popular with families and young professionals.
With a population of over 112,000, Elgin is the 8th largest city in Illinois, and the third most populous city in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Despite its size, it’s still more than 20 times smaller in terms of population than Chicago proper, and with an area of 38 sq. miles, it enjoys a moderate population density.
Elgin is located about 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, which can be reached via IS 90 in around 40 minutes to an hour in clear traffic. With interstate 90 located close to the city, traveling in any direction is fairly straightforward, and going west will take you the 50 miles to Rockford in around an hour.
Elgin enjoys warm weather June through September, and July is typically the hottest month, with highs averaging out at around 86°F. Temperatures begin to plummet from December through March, and January is typically the coldest month, with average lows of 13.7°F. The city sees an average annual rainfall of around 37 inches, slightly over the national average, with the heaviest rain between May and August. Winters are cold, and the snow starts to fall in November and can last until April. With an annual average of 29.7 inches of snowfall, January generally sees the highest levels.
Elgin, IL Demographics
- Total Population112,628
Female 57,181Male 55,447
- Median Age34.1
Cost of Living in Elgin, IL
Elgin enjoys direct, daily rail services to downtown Chicago, and is home to 3 Metra stations, each situated on the Milwaukee District/West Line. One-way tickets cost $8.25, a 10-ride pass is $78.50, and a monthly pass costs $239.25. Around 12 local bus services run Monday through Saturday and are provided by PACE. Local fares typically cost $2 and may feature free transfers. If you own a private vehicle, expect to pay around $3 for a gallon of fuel.
You can find excellent meals in a variety of inexpensive restaurants for around $10-$15, while a 3-course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant will typically cost around $65. Your morning coffee will be around $3.90 for a regular cappuccino, while the evening beer should be around $5.
Basic monthly utilities for a 915 sq. ft apartment will cost around $130, which covers garbage disposal, electricity, heating, and water. In general, a monthly internet subscription will cost an additional $62.
Average Rent in Elgin, IL
- Elgin, IL Average Rental Price, January 2020 $1,102 /mo
Elgin, IL Apartment Rent Ranges
Elgin, IL Rent Trends
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Living in Elgin, IL
Despite recent growth, the city remains diverse and close-knit, with a small-town vibe and regular cultural events and initiatives designed to bring the locals together. While the downtown area may not be as buzzing as Chicago proper, it offers all the amenities of a major city, and there’s still plenty to see and do, with a variety of restaurants, bars, and historical sights to take in. Despite this, many neighborhoods are quiet.
Some areas have experienced low level gang activity in the past, and as a result have become quite unkempt, as properties have been abandoned. However, most residents have never had a problem with crime, and the overall rate for the city is well under national averages. Commute times can be long and arduous during rush hours, and it’s worth considering public transport if you’re planning to work in downtown Chicago. The city is not known for having great public schools, although there are a number of stellar higher education institutions.
Things to do in Elgin, IL
Situated on both sides of the Fox River, Elgin offers plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. The forest river bike trails are a great way to explore, with over 40 miles of trails that pass through historic neighborhoods and stunning nature preserves. You can also fish alongside the river at certain points, making for a fantastic Saturday in the sun.
The city also boasts several parks, where you can enjoy sports facilities, picnics, and events. Wing Park hosts weekly summer concerts, every Tuesday evening in June and July, while Festival Park plays hosts to summer Movies in the Park. Festival Park also offers a kids' playground, picnic areas, and a stunning fountain.
Elgin is home to 2 shopping malls, Elgin Mall and Spring Hill Mall. Both offer a variety of well-known stores, where you can find anything from groceries to the latest fashion trends. Each has a number of dining options within their respective food courts. But it’s in Elgin’s various boutique stores, scattered throughout the city, that you’ll find the most curious delights, from custom guitars, to handcrafted jewelry, antiques, and much more. Downtown Elgin also hosts a weekly farmers’ market throughout summer.
If you’re feeling lucky, why not try your hand at the Grand Victoria Riverboat Casino, the city’s most visited attraction. This iconic destination is the place for gourmet food, great drinks, and an array of casino games. The city is also home to theaters, museums, and art galleries, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
Employment & Economy in Elgin, IL
With a median household income of $63,655, Elgin’s residents earn just above the national average of $60,336. A high number of the city’s workforce (20.4%) is employed in the manufacturing sector. Other common industries include healthcare and social assistance, as well as retail trade, while the highest paying industry is public administration.
In terms of specific occupations, the most common jobs held by residents are in office and administrative support roles, production occupations, and sales. Residents working in legal occupations earn the most, on average.
Elgin, IL Households
- Total Number of Households35,919
Family 25,854Non-family 10,065
Children 14,926No Children 20,993
- Average People Per Household3.08
- Median Household Income$63,655
- Median Housing Costs Per Month$1,248
Education in Elgin, IL
Elgin is served by 4 public school districts; Elgin Area School District U46 (which serves most of the city), Community Unit School District 301, Community Unit School District 300, and Community Unit School District 303. In addition, there are 18 private schools within the city limits.
The top-performing high school is South Elgin High, which frequently scores above average on both test grades, quality, and college readiness. The top-performing public elementary school is the Prairie View Grade School, which also does well in test scores, as well as the overall quality of education. Clinton Elementary School is another top-performing elementary school, while the Prairie Knolls Middle School takes the top spot for middle schools in the city.
In terms of higher education, Elgin Community College is a fast-growing college, offering a wide range of degrees, career and technical programs and certificates, and transfer degrees. Judson University is also located in the city, and offers graduate programs in anything from business administration, to architecture. The National Louis University also has a campus in Elgin.
Elgin, IL Education Statistics
- No High School10%
- Some High School36%
- Some College25%
- Associate Degree7%
- Bachelor Degree15%
- Graduate Degree7%
Tips for Renting in Elgin, IL
Elgin is a historic town that has seen much development over the previous decades. This is reflected in the diversity of not just the population, but also the neighborhoods. Downtown and other more central neighborhoods are home to a mix of historic buildings, and the architecture is extremely varied. If you’re looking for something more modern however, neighborhoods west of the Fox River are your best bet, featuring more underground utilities, wider streets, and a mix of townhouses, apartments, and standalone homes.
Crime rates tend to be higher closer to downtown, though the city is widely considered safe by residents. Commute times from the newer, more western neighborhoods can be extremely long, with some residents traveling 2 hours each way by public transport to downtown Chicago. As such, a private vehicle may be a better option. Commuting by rail is quicker and easier from central/downtown Elgin, however.
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