Living the Good Life

Centrally located in the heart of the Midwest, Greater Peoria is a great place to put down roots, build your career and raise a family.

Spirit of Peoria
The iconic Spirit of Peoria paddleboat

Whether you prefer the buzz of the city, the quiet domesticity of rural life, or something in between, Greater Peoria is full of options to suit your lifestyle. Our cost of living is low, neighborhoods are safe and diverse, and there are many unique opportunities for all ages to work, learn, play and make a difference. With world-class healthcare and education facilities and easy access to a range of cultural and recreational amenities, you can live the good life right here in central Illinois.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A four-time All-America City, Peoria and its surrounding metro area are among the top regions in the country for cost of living—well below the national average. In fact, Peoria was recently ranked among the nation’s “10 Best Cities for High Salaries and Low Costs of Living,” according to The Ascent, an online financial hub. While many cities offer a low cost of living, most also have lower-than-average salaries. Peoria, however, seems to have the best of both worlds.

Situated midway between Chicago and St. Louis, the region strikes the perfect balance of big-city life and small-town atmosphere—an attractive combination for all ages and demographics. Not only is Greater Peoria an excellent place for millennials and Gen Z to get their careers off the ground, it is among the top retirement locations in the United States, according to a recent Kiplinger report.

The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum
The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum provides children with the tools and inspiration they need to be explorers and creators of the world. Photo by Beth's Party Pics

With a median home value hovering around $125,000, the Peoria area is consistently ranked among the country’s most affordable housing markets. In 2018, the Village of Dunlap was named the third best place in the country to buy a home by Niche, a national real estate survey website. And if you’re not ready to buy just yet, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit is around $800, according to
BestPlaces.net—far less than the national average.

Peoria’s neighborhoods span a range of architectural styles, options and amenities, from urban lofts offering “industrial chic,” to charming mid-century homes, to modern subdivisions. Its historic districts are lined with ornately detailed, turn-of-the-century dwellings—the former residences of Peoria’s “whiskey barons”—while eclectic homes at affordable prices can be found all over the region.

In Tazewell County, the City of Washington and Village of Morton finished fourth and 16th respectively in WalletHub’s 2018 “Best Places to Raise a Family in Illinois” list—cited for family life and fun; education, health and safety; affordability; and socioeconomic environment. Woodford County ranks among the healthiest counties in the state—spotlighting the idyllic charms of communities like Eureka, Metamora and Germantown Hills—while the rest of the region is dotted with distinctive towns with unique appeal, from Pekin to Havana to Lincoln. 

FAMILY FUN & LEARNING
A wide range of preschool programs and childcare centers across Greater Peoria ensure plenty of options for families with small children. Many of the region’s elementary and high schools have been recognized for academic excellence, while opportunities for higher education are abundant—see page 22 for more information.

Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of ways for the whole family to have fun together. With outstanding recreation options and unique arts and cultural activities, you’ll find something to engage every age and interest. Inspire your little ones at the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, or sign them up for Youth Music Illinois’ brand-new Suzuki School of Music! Looking for more ideas? From learning to sail at the IVY Club to exploring the solar system in the Peoria Riverfront Museum planetarium, you’ll never run out of things to do. Try one of these:

  • Strap on your skates at the Peoria Palace Skating Rink, or jump around on Family Night at Elevate Trampoline Park.
  • Hike or bike one of our park districts’ many trails, or enjoy competitive video gaming at LANmark eSports and Video Game Center.
  • Solve a series of puzzles at one of three escape-room ventures—each with multiple rooms and different themes.
  • Visit Tanners Orchard for an amazing country farm experience, complete with wagon rides, a petting zoo and more.
  • Take a day cruise on the Spirit of Peoria paddlewheeler or an art class at the Peoria Art Guild. 

Central Illinois is full of amazing museums and historic sites for all ages, while opportunities for lifelong education make it an attractive home for retirees. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University offers educational travel, classes, lectures and other activities for ages 50 and up—allowing residents to stay vital and active as they enjoy their retirement years.

St. Mary’s Cathedral
Just north of downtown, the beautiful and historic St. Mary’s Cathedral serves Peoria’s Catholic community.

CULTURE, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP
Greater Peoria is proud to be a melting pot in the heart of the Midwest, with a diverse range of organizations showcasing our rich blend of cultures. The Peoria Chinese Association and Indo-American Society of Peoria promote our Chinese and Indian heritage; the Peoria Hispanics group provides resources to the growing Hispanic community; and the Tri-County Urban League, Peoria NAACP and African American Hall of Fame celebrate Peoria’s strong African American roots.

The Itoo Society has provided a cultural home for the region’s vast Lebanese community since 1914, while the German-American Central Society, St. Patrick Society of Peoria, Italian-American Society, Jewish Federation of Peoria, Filipino-American Society of Central Illinois and Seven Circles Heritage Center honor the heritage of our immigrant ancestors. From India Fest to Oktoberfest, an array of cultural festivals brings their unique traditions to all area residents.

Peoria is also proud of its four sister cities: Aitou, Lebanon; Benxi, China; Clonmel, Ireland; and Friedrichshafen, Germany—which boasts the longest-running youth exchange among sister cities anywhere in the country.

A rich faith-based tradition is a vital element of life in central Illinois. From Christian and non-denominational churches and cathedrals to Islamic mosques and Hindu and Jewish temples, the religious communities of Greater Peoria are as diverse as its people. No matter what your faith or conviction, you’ll find fellowship close to home. 

THE COMMON GOOD
With a wide-ranging network of nonprofit groups and civic organizations, Greater Peoria rests on a solid foundation of community service and philanthropy. Nearly 32 percent of area residents volunteer for charitable causes, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service—well above the national average—while a diverse range of neighborhood associations bring residents together for the common good.

As the region’s largest non-governmental funder of health and human care services, the Heart of Illinois United Way ensures everyone has access to the education, financial stability and health programs they need to thrive. The organization collaborates with 45 partner agencies throughout central Illinois, working hand in hand to create a strong, safe and healthy community. The Community Foundation of Central Illinois and Greater Peoria LISC are other major partners in efforts to address
community needs.

From health and human services to the arts, environment and education, a diverse range of organizations are doing remarkable things in the community. PP

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