What's it like to live in Peoria, IL?
When people want to know whether something has wide appeal, they might ask “Will it play in Peoria?” But don’t let that old saying trick you. Peoria, Illinois, is not dull.
This brawling, bruising, sometimes bawdy and always big-hearted river town gave the world Caterpillar equipment, the comic Richard Pryor, the feminist Betty Friedan, the first televangelist Fulton Sheen, life-saving penicillin in abundance and pizza-sized pork tenderloin sandwiches. Its economy survived Prohibition and the Rust Belt, and it now turns its attention to health care, autonomous vehicles, ag-tech and ecotourism.
You can buy a lot of house for relatively little money in this metro area’s gentrified urban neighborhoods, along its river-view bluff and in its family-filled suburban subdivisions. Gritty old warehouses are becoming entertainment districts where foodies congregate, live music flourishes and loft apartments multiply. Stage theater is returning to architectural-jewel venues.
Summer and fall bring a festival most weekends. Bradley Braves basketball is beloved. An extensive trail network, park system and other outdoor offerings beckon bikers and boaters, hikers and hunters.
Does it play in Peoria? The meaning has evolved, but you bet.
U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.
Peoria, Illinois is ranked:
#103 in Best Places to Live
#128 in Best Places to Retire
#7 in Cheapest Places to Live
Best Places to Live
Quality of Life6.4
Peoria, IL Quick Stats
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What is there to do in Peoria, IL?
Hardly a weekend goes by in summer and fall when there isn’t a fair or festival somewhere in central Illinois.
In early summer, the Olde English Faire attracts jousters and jesters, lords and ladies to Wildlife Prairie Park, just west of Peoria. July draws a crowd to Peoria’s riverfront every Independence Day for a fireworks display, while August brings Taste of Peoria and Peoria Irish Fest.
September means Peoria Oktoberfest, the Morton Pumpkin Festival and the Pekin Marigold Festival. October attracts thousands to the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive. November and December bring the Santa Claus Parade in downtown Peoria – the longest continuously running holiday parade in America – and East Peoria’s Festival of Lights Parade and display.
There has been something of a live music comeback in Peoria. Summer Camp Music Festival at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe features more than 100 bands on seven outdoor stages, entertaining some 20,000 fans over three days each year. Every Saturday from May until October in Peoria Heights, the Courtyard Concert Series introduces up-and-coming musicians to the public.
“State & Water,” a live-audience performance series at public television station WTVP, showcases musicians from Peoria and the region, and music of every genre can be heard up and down Peoria’s riverfront on any given weekend evening. The Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts features local and regional comedy acts and intimate musical performances.
Peoria Players Theatre, Corn Stock Theatre and Eastlight Theatre offer opportunities for getting involved in community productions. The Peoria Civic Center hosts nationally touring music acts and a traveling Broadway theater series, as well as Bradley University men’s basketball and Peoria Rivermen hockey.
The major leaguers of tomorrow play at Dozer Park, home to the Peoria Chiefs, a Class A minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The summertime Steamboat Classic race attracts runners to the Peoria streets. Disc golf has taken off in the Peoria area, with the PDGA Disc Golf World Championships held here in 2019.
The Peoria Park District boasts over 60 square miles of parks and woodland preserves, including Forest Park Nature Center, along with 50 miles of biking and hiking trails. Glen Oak Park is home to the Peoria Zoo and The Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum. Golf courses in the area are plentiful.
Wildlife Prairie Park showcases animals, including herds of bison and elk, in a habitat close to their natural ones. People travel from all over to nearby Bath every summer to make the best of a bad situation – the Asian carp invasion of the Illinois River – by participating in the Original Redneck Fishin’ Tournament, fishing poles strictly prohibited.
Big Picture Peoria promotes and supports local artists and puts on an annual street and film festival. Sculpture Walk Peoria along Washington Street showcases work from throughout the Midwest and the country.
Peoria Riverfront Museum is a multidisciplinary educational facility showcasing art, science, history and achievement, complete with a dome planetarium and giant screen theater. Next door, take a virtual ride in a mining truck or design a piece of heavy machinery yourself at The Doug Oberhelman Caterpillar Visitors Center.
If you like higher stakes, visit the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria.
What's the cost of living in Peoria, IL?
Peoria is a relative bargain, owing mostly to manageable real estate prices. Complementing that situation are below-norm costs for utilities and transportation.
Offsetting central Illinois' advantages are high taxes relative to the rest of the nation, especially property and sales taxes. Peoria assesses additional taxes on stormwater runoff; on various utilities such as electricity, gas, telephone service and water; and on hotels, restaurants and amusement activities. The city also charges fees to fund residential garbage pickup and public safety employee pensions.
Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Peoria, Illinois.
Index Score: 8.3 /10
Peoria offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.
Housing Costs 2019
Housing Costs Over Time
Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Peoria, IL.
What's the weather like in Peoria, IL?
Peoria experiences all four seasons, with hot, sometimes humid summers and generally mild winters. Flooding has become more frequent, though not disruptive for the majority. Tornadoes have occasionally been severe, with one causing catastrophic damage in Tazewell County and specifically in the town of Washington, across the Illinois River from Peoria, in 2013.
What's the best way to get around Peoria, IL?
Most people get around central Illinois by car, with a small number carpooling. An even smaller number of people walk, bike or take public transit to work. CityLink provides bus service mostly in Peoria and to select destinations in the region.
For those who need to get away, General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport has four airlines serving multiple destinations, including Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Peoria Charter Coach runs shuttle buses daily to multiple sites in Illinois, including Bloomington-Normal, which is 40 minutes away and offers Amtrak passenger rail service.
Peoria is almost equidistant from Chicago’s Loop and St. Louis’ famed Gateway Arch, about 2 1/2 hours’ drive in either direction.
Commuting in Peoria, ILMeans of Transportation
Average Commute Time
20.4 minutes6.2 minutes less than national average
Average Commute Times by Zip Code
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
Who lives in Peoria, IL?
The population is aging, and new senior citizen complexes are rising around the region. That said, a new generation of leadership is emerging, with young professionals either coming back home to raise their families or to start new businesses.
Marital Status Breakdown
About the same number of single people in Peoria as national average
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.