Rockford, ILRockford, Illinois is something of a hidden gem in the upper northern area of the state. As the third-largest city in the state and the largest outside of the Chicago metro area, Rockford contains all the joys of big city living without having to deal with all the frustrations like slow traffic, massive crowds, and deafening noise. In recent years, the city has been an epicenter for aerospace, healthcare, and automotive industries as well as a budding tourist destination thanks to efforts to revitalize the downtown area. Nicknamed the Forest City because of the lush woods that surround the water, Rockford sits on the bank of the Rock River and is made up of a unique combination of specialty boutique shops, award-winning restaurants, and booming business opportunities.
While the city's population is down in recent years, moving to Rockford is something many individuals are leaping at the opportunity to do. Cost of living — from housing to transportation to groceries — is significantly lower than in Chicago and even lower when compared to the United States' averages on the whole. Median home costs and rental fees are both incredibly affordable, and unemployment in the city has recently seen a substantial drop. It's the perfect combination of opportunity and affordability if you're looking to enjoy city living without city stressors.
Like Chicago to the south of Rockford, the Forest City is known for its excellent public transportation. Well-maintained highways bring in visitors from all over — from Wisconsin to Iowa to a whole slew of different parts of Illinois, Rockford welcomes everyone they share the road with. On top of this, the city also contains a bus system with dozens upon dozens of stops. Unfortunately, passenger rail service in Rockford is notably lacking. Cut off in the early 1980s for budgetary reasons, the state has never been able to revisit Rockford as an Amtrak stop because of their ongoing statewide financial crisis.
All in all, Rockford is an ideal place to live for anyone looking to start a family without going bankrupt, start or pursue a new business opportunity without having to risk boatloads of money, or retreat to a quieter city without so much hustle and bustle. Their incredibly affordable cost of living makes the city perfect for families who are just starting out or individuals sick of the pricey lifestyle of places like Chicago or New York. The Midwest is an area that opens all visitors with open arms. If you're coming from outside the region, the friendly faces and pleasant people will feel like a breath of fresh air. For those who come from other parts of the Midwest, you'll be happy to know that Rockford upholds the region's values perfectly.