Champaign IL college campus

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 55
Demographics 50
Economy 58
Education 60
Health 43
Housing 57
Infrastructure 54

#91. Champaign, IL

Champaign, IL is a friendly, innovative Midwestern city with a strong economy and lots of vibrant energy from students and faculty at the University of Illinois, the state’s flagship institution. Nearly 88,000 people call Champaign home, thanks to its continued affordability (median home values here are just $168,000!), its plentiful jobs, its many arts and cultural offerings (like the historic Virginia Theatre and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts) and its overall great quality of life.  

Top Colleges/Universities: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign & Parkland College

Top Industries & Employers: Higher education and manufacturing

Weekend Plans: Cheer on the Fighting Illini or peruse the antique stores, consignment shops and boutiques in historic downtown buildings.

Favorite Place to Feast: Merry Ann’s Diner, a classic 24-hour American diner serving breakfast all day and night.

Beloved Beverage: The Lunch Box at Joe’s Brewery, a shareable pitcher for the whole table made with beer, orange juice and amaretto.

Outdoorsy Activity: Stargazing at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, the state’s first International Dark Sky Park. 

Rooftop Bar: Choose from dozens of brews at Barrelhouse 34 while enjoying an evening with friends.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: Champaign has its very own “bark district,” a 6.9-acre off-leash dog park with a punny name!

Remote Work Perk: The Champaign Public Library is an awesome resource for remote workers and burgeoning entrepreneurs. In addition to a walk-in coworking space, there’s also a Launch at the Library program to help startups get off the ground. As a remote worker, you can take advantage of the various webinars and workshops to help boost your resume, too.

One More Thing … Every April, Champaign hosts Roger Ebert’s Film Festival – aka Ebertfest. Ebert, the late Chicago Sun-Times TV and film critic, grew up in Urbana and attended the University of Illinois; he founded the festival in 1999 and the university’s College of Media has carried on his festival legacy ever since.

– Sarah Kuta

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