Best Places to Live

Champaign, IL

Population: 84,008
iStock Photo/gnagel

The central Illinois city of Champaign consistently ranks highly on lists like this one, and for good reason. The city has a booming economy as well as an unusually high employment rate for those with bachelor’s degrees – 99.2 percent(!) – making it a prime spot for those looking to launch their careers.

Champaign is also home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Parkland College, which have landed the city on another of our lists: The 10 Best College Towns. The university is the community’s top employer, but it also offers ample opportunities for entertainment with on-campus attractions like the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Krannert Art Museum, the state’s second-largest general fine arts museum.

Like most college towns, Champaign has a cool downtown packed with must-visit destinations. For example, there’s the historic Virginia Theatre that hosts Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, along with shops and places to grab a drink and a bite like Big Grove Tavern and Esquire Lounge that’s known for its impressive beer selection and homemade pineapple tequila.

"The City of Champaign is honored to be recognized as the best city in the country for recent college graduates," says Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen. "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."

Find out more about why Champaign is an amazing place to live right here.

Check out what other cities made the Top 10!