Rockford, IL

Population: 149,597 livability score shield

Key findings

  • Rockford has a Livability Score of 52/100, which is considered poor
  • Rockford crime rates are 127% higher than the Illinois average
  • Cost of living in Rockford is 10% lower than the Illinois average
  • Rockford real estate prices are 48% lower than the Illinois average
  • Rental prices in Rockford are 22% lower than the Illinois average

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      Rockford, IL

      Rockford, 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.

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      Rockford Reviews

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      What a hellhole!
      Wow! This place is unreal. After living in 13 states and countless cities for my job, I've landed in Rockford for a one year assignment. The town is run down and filthy. Crime is out of control, everywhere. It doesn't matter where you go in Rockford, it's bad. A lot of losers here in a hurry to get to their next hit. Most residents seem very angry with a chip on their shoulder ....of course if I had to spend my whole life in this loser town I'd be angry and have a chip on my shoulder too. Very much a town of haves and have-nots; not much in the middle. Jobs are low-paying, rental properties are either very low quality or very over-priced. Anyone who makes decent money moves out to the more rural areas north and east of Rockford to escape the crime. Once my assignment is over I'll move on and erase this hellhole from my memory. For now I just chuckle at those who are stuck here and will spend their days wallowing in their anger and poverty.
      7 -2
      A city of losers
      Living in Rockford is like living in Nazi 1945. Enjoy the ruins. City run by corrupt, stupid and foolish people. If you are thinking of moving to Rockford.....pick any other community in the US......and do yourself a favor.....or buy a gun, ready to pay for private school, watch a lot of TV and brain wash yourself into acting and talking like everybody else for fear the wasps attack. A city being run into the ground by the evangelicals and other brain dead people.
      7 -4
      Been here my whole life
      I feel for this city and the people here. The nice parts are nice, but it seems to be quite a pessimistic place. WOULD NOT RAISE FAMILY HERE. There are a lot of weirdos here, but also a lot of really good people. If you do raise your kids here they will be a little more conscious of some of the harder realities of life than kids in other places. Many people who have decent jobs here move to the slightly more rural parts of Belvidere or even Roscoe and seem to have a good setup. If you have the heart to help others... thiis would be a good town to move to.
      9 0
      Get out of this town while you still can!
      This town is racists, homophobic, xenophobic and this town is dead there is creation no ideas I feel everybody here are robots and its constricting you can't breath. No freedom no nothing and there's nothing to do here anyways. My wife and I are in a interracial marriage and we been her for 4 months and nobody wants to talk to us or anything. I feel this town is all black white grey in the middle town. There's in no rainbow no colors no happiness no joy just nothing but doom and gloom depressing. I don't like it here whatsoever. I don't even take the cops seriously here its like they don't care. Also I never been in a town where people work together I feel they're out to get my wife and I because we're in a interracial marriage. We get the stares and the looks and that I'm getting sick and tired of and no thanks with Trump being in office everything went down hill from here. People are just so mean. LGBTQ and women and everybody else has rights. My wife is a transgender woman and we both deserve respect and I'm a proud democrat/liberal.
      4 -22
      Stay Away Racists town!
      This entire city is racists and the old people are the worst of the the bunch have you ever been threatened due to you being in an interracial marriage somebody makes a finger gun is a threat on your life yeah I suggest you stay out if you value your families life stay away to many butt muncher's.. They always like to think they got the upper hand on you but they don't my wife and I have been threatened the entire town works together to evict people the cops are the worst one hour for a domestic dispute the cops bully and harass you this Is a communist state stay away...
      2 -17
      Rockford, Illinois is corrupt to the core.
      I gave Rockford, Illinois a "1" because I was forced to assign a rating, but I actually think this town is worse than a "1". Rockford, Illinois is controlled by a coalition of Italians and Jews who enforce a kind of martial law upon the citizens. There is no justice in Rockford, Illinois, which is appalling because it has a crime rate, as high as the city of Chicago, which is the highest in the country. The Italians in Rockford, Illinois have a stranglehold on the entire city government, and, in conjunction with the Jews, impose a vicious and unfair illegal system on the citizens who are victimized on a daily basis. I would strongly advise against moving to Rockford, Illinois, and also advise against even traveling through Rockford, Illinois. The Jewish-Italian coalition advertises its power and is not shy about its total control of the city. Avoid this town at all costs.
      5 -9
      a great history but not the place for me
      I have lived in Rockford since I was born, so for over 20 years now. I have always been involved in sports including Hockey, cheer-leading, and rugby. My dad always took me to neighborhood things. Now that I am starting my own family, this is not the place I want my child to grow up. The crime is awful and to have fun there aren't many free activities to do. Kids are always dropping out of school and the public school system sucks here. The weather isn't all that great, very cold winters for me! Goodness, don't forget the potholes, don't go without a spare tire in your car! Overall, Rockford does have sports event like the Rockford Icehogs, and sports the park district has are becoming for all kids. Rockford, does have a great place for kids, but i bet there are more bars here than anything. Lots of churches, but our crime rate is high?
      4 0
      The Wonderful World of Rockford, Illinois
      I had the pleasure of staying in Rockford, Illinois for a few days on my way to visit family in Wisconsin last summer. The hotel we booked in Rockford was pretty average. Not really anything special. The thing that stuck with me most about Rockford was a beautiful Japanese garden. It was laid out well, had some nice little waterfalls, and smelled amazing.

      Carlyle Brewing Company is another little gem in the city of Rockford. A brewpub with a nice atmosphere, it's very friendly and has a lot of regulars. The beer ranges from watery and flavorless to amazing, asking one of the regulars can get you the best beer you've ever tasted. Every restaurant in Rockford that we tried had amazing food. Even the pizza joints had a lot of personality and offered some of the best pizza I've ever had.

      The only problem I really saw with this city was when the lights went down. There were a few areas throughout the city of Rockford that you may want to avoid. I didn't see anything dangerous, but did have that unsafe feeling that you always want to avoid.

      But, overall Rockford was a great place to visit and I plan on stopping by the next time I'm in the area.
      4 -3
      Source: The Rockford, IL data and statistics displayed above are derived from the 2016 United States Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS).