Best Places to Live

Champaign, IL

Population: 84,008
LIV
SCORE
615
iStock Photo/gnagel

Champaign is, ahem, bubbling with opportunity!

Home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this city consistently ranks highly on our list of best college towns and is full of opportunities for recent graduates and anyone looking for a great place to build their career. The University’s nearly 700-acre campus attracts talent and businesses from all over the country, and the city of Champaign has an exceptionally high employment rate (92%!) for those with bachelor’s degrees.

Champaign scored high in the infrastructure category, due in large part to its ease of access and close proximity to three major cities — St. Louis, Chicago and Indianapolis. Additionally, the city offers countless amenities for residents, including the Virginia Theater, which hosts the annual Roger Ebert Film Festival, and a downtown area that’s packed with cute local shops, bars and fantastic restaurants.

Local Obsession: The Fighting Illini! Whether it’s basketball, football or tennis, people are passionate about the Illini and for good reason — the university holds more than 25 National Championships in a variety of sports.

Climate Described in 6 Words or Less: Long fall and spring: two best seasons.

Top Industries: Seven Fortune 500 Companies are based out of Champaign, meaning job opportunities are plentiful. Manufacturing and education are the top industries here.

Local Dream Job: Farmer at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, where a herd of Nubian and LaMancha goats are living their best life by roaming free before their milk is turned into delicious cheese and gelato.

Quintessential Meal: A burger from Murphy’s Pub

Favorite Weekend Activity: Shopping on North Neil Street is a must.

After-Work Meetup Spot: Farren’s Pub & Eatery — a burger and beer (or a few beers, let’s be real) here is guaranteed to make you forget any workday drama.

Best Local Beer: The Scary Cherry Milk Stout from Blind Pig Brewery

Beloved Bookstore: Jane Addams Book Shop's catchphrase is ‘Three floors, booked solid’ — ‘nuf said.

Free Way to Have Fun: Champaign’s park system has more than 30 gorgeous parks and greenspaces throughout the city just waiting to be explored.

- Cara Sanders & Winona Dimeo-Ediger

Read More:

Why Champaign is a Great Place to Live

Champaign is One of the Best Places to Live for Recent College Grads

Why I Stayed: 10 College Grads on Why They Made Their College Town Their Home

"Thousands of students come to town every year for the world-class educational opportunities offered by the University of Illinois and Parkland College. But once they experience Champaign's vibrant, micro-urban community and discover everything else our city has to offer, many choose to stay and launch their careers or start a family. The enthusiasm and new ideas these bright young minds contribute to our community helps to make Champaign the wonderful place that it is."

Deborah Frank Feinen
Mayor of Champaign

Champaign, IL Ranking Data

Civic
54
Demographics
60
Economy
62
Education
65
Health
50
Housing
63
Infrastructure
77