There’s more to Illinois than just Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and Route 66.
When you think of Illinois, you probably think of Chicago. After all, it is the densest city in the state and the Midwest. But Illinois is home to 102 counties and almost 1,300 incorporated municipalities which include cities, towns and villages. So you definitely have options when searching for the cheapest places to live in Illinois.
Illinois state average rent prices
Although people are attracted to the hustle and bustle of Chicago, the rent prices for such a sought-after location come at a high cost. While the average rent is $1,712 for a one-bedroom in Illinois, which is down 4.39 percent compared to last year, it’s possible to find places for less than $1,000 a month throughout the state.
The cheapest cities in Illinois by average rent prices
While you can find a one-bedroom in Chicago for less than $1,000 a month, it’s easier to find such abodes in other parts of the state. In fact, depending on your budget and living interests, Illinois has a number of affordable cities where you can live comfortably, enjoy the amenities of bigger cities without the big city price tags.
Here are the 10 cheapest places to live in Illinois.
Source: Rent.com / Praire Lakes Apartments
- One-bedroom average rent price: $770
- Average rent change in the past year: -8.05%
The Village of Dunlap is 16 blocks in length, home to 22 businesses, and almost 1,500 residents. Locals trek to nearby Peoria for provisions. The Wheels O’ Time Museum features permanent and rotating exhibits for car, toys, clock and train enthusiasts.
9. East Moline
Source: Rent.com / Fox Pointe Apartments
- One-bedroom average rent price: $743
- Average rent change in the past year: 14.33%
East Moline is part of the Quad Cities, like its neighboring city Moline. Residents love easy access to shops, quality health care systems, coffee shops like East Moline Coffee Company or craft breweries like Midwest Ale Works.
For those who love to bike or hike the trails, Beacon Harbor is part of the Great River Trail which extends 60 miles along the river all the way to Savannah, Illinois. East Moline has less than half the residents of Moline with just under 21,000 residents.
- One-bedroom average rent price: $724
- Average rent change in the past year: 25.93%
Rockford is the state’s third-largest city, located in the northern part of Illinois, and approximately 90 miles from Chicago. Housing includes single-family homes, condos and apartments. The architecture varies in this diverse city and includes Italianate, Greek Revival and Spanish Renaissance. Several buildings and homes are registered as historic landmarks.
Locals have access to great shopping as well as museums like the Burpee Museum of Natural History and the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. The Anderson Japanese Gardens is a 12-acre Japanese garden across the Rock River.
- One-bedroom average rent price: $684
- Average rent change in the past year: -1.93%
Moline butts up against Iowa, 165 miles west of Chicago and 164 miles northwest of Springfield. Like its neighbor East Moline, it’s one of the Quad Cities with almost 44,000 calling Moline home. Thanks to its proximity and focus on business development, you’ll find a lot of big-box shopping malls in this area.
Several single-family homes are available throughout Moline as well as apartment complexes large and small, some of which offer amenities such as outdoor pools.
- One-bedroom average rent price: $656
- Average rent change in the past year: -0.02%
Like its neighbor Champaign, many of the locals who live in Urbana benefit from the amenities afforded to students and faculty attending the classes and events at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus. There is no shortage of great places to eat, coffee shops, breweries and shopping for the more than 42,000 residents who call this central Illinois city home.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $649
- Average rent change in the past year: +3.88 percent
Neighboring cities Champaign and Urbana are known as college towns since many of its residents are students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus.
Champaign, located in the center of the state, includes single-family homes and large apartment complexes. Thanks to the college campus, its residents enjoy many cultural amenities including the Krannert Art Museum, which houses ancient and modern works. The City Building, featuring Art Deco architecture, was designated a landmark in 2005 and its likeness is part of the city’s logo.
- One-bedroom average rent price: $610
- Average rent change in the past year: 5.3%
Belleville is 15 minutes from St. Louis, and it is where the first brewery in the state of Illinois was established. It’s also where Gustav Goelitz founded his confectionary company that produced Jelly Belly candies.
While it’s a larger city in southwest Illinois, located along the Mississippi River at the Missouri-Illinois with approximately 40,000 residents, it has a small-town feel.
Source: Rent.com / Brainard Landing
- One-bedroom average rent price: $575
- Average rent change in the past year: 0%
Lincoln is the only town in the U.S. named for Abraham Lincoln before he became president. Now that number is up to 35 cities. This town along Route 66 celebrates Lincoln seriously. As a result, you’ll find lots of shops and attractions devoted to both Lincoln and Route 66.
- One-bedroom average rent price: $488
- Average rent change in the past year: 3.65%
Located in downstate Illinois, Charleston is known for a vibrant downtown with shops and galleries, world-class performing arts venues, a university and Lake Charleston surrounded by a 3.5-mile loop trail.
As a result, Charleston is a great option for those who want that small-town, tight-knit community feel with access to cultural amenities often found in bigger cities.
- One-bedroom average rent price: $453
- Average rent change in the past year: 1.73%
Located just 14 miles north of Champaign, Rantoul makes for a convenient city to live and work near the college town without the higher expenses. Rantoul is a smaller community of almost 13,000 residents. It’s also the cheapest city in Illinois to live in a one-bedroom apartment.
Rantoul’s downtown area has several independent businesses, from a travel agency and barbershop to restaurants and coffee shops.
The 25 cheapest places to live in Illinois
Even if the community of your dreams isn’t on the top 10 list, there are still plenty of other cheap places to live in Illinois that are below the state average.
Here are the top 25.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in December 2020, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.