Some places keep your wallet thick, whereas others immediately deplete it. If you're looking for a place where your dollar will last, try Naperville, Illinois, the cheapest town in the state. Naperville ranks third among the top-ten cheapest places to live in America after Plymouth and Fort Collins. Here's how Naperville wins its third place.
Families in Naperville on average earn about $123,221 per year. This figure is higher than other cheapest towns, where annual combined family incomes average approximately $93,313. Naperville family purchasing power—related to cost of living—equals approximately $97,331, again higher than the average $84,802. Naperville also possesses a slightly higher job-growth rate, about 18.77 percent, compared to 18.60 percent, which means reasonably good job security. Auto insurance premiums, at $1,537, also tend to be lower than the Illinois city average of $1,854. These factors make Naperville an economically better place to live.
Graduates from Naperville consistently outscore state and national averages during college entrance exams. This should not be surprising because within 30 miles of the town, you can find 76 colleges, universities and professional schools, compared to the average of 40 for cheapest places. There are 32 junior colleges and technical institutes within the same distance. Reading test scores in Naperville come in at about 34.2 percent as compared to the national average of 17.3 percent—about a 50 percent difference. Even though test scores in mathematics appear lower ( by 2 percentage points), they are not too low.
Quality of life
Naperville has great air quality, with its air quality index (AQI) at 69.9 percent—much better than most major cities, where pollution abounds. Naperville also boasts a low crime rate: Only one person in 1,000 is likely to suffer from a personal crime. About 1.9 percent of Napervillians go to work on foot or by bike. Commuting time in Naperville averages out to about 27 minutes.
Leisure and entertainment
You'll find plenty to do and ways to spend your saved dollars in Naperville. About 36 movie theaters exist within 15 miles in and around the city. Within that same radius, you can find up to 4,338 restaurants and 334 bars; within 30 miles, 290 public golf courses and 15 AAM accredited museums. And if you ski, you can reach 13 different ski resorts within a 100 mile radius of the city.
Caveat: Naperville does have a downside—the cost of real estate. The average price of $369,000 on a home might make you wince, compared to $293,712 for a house in the top cheapest place to live. In 2006, the average property tax for Naperville reached $6,402, higher than the average of $4,072. Despite this, the cost of living in Naperville remains cheaper than any other town in Illinois.