Better State Illinois or Florida?

Florida Vs Illinois, Which State is a Better Place to Live or Retire in?

This comparison of 10 quality of life factors in Florida and Illinois, can help you decide which may be a better state for you…

Well compare Illinois to Florida on:

  1. Cost of living
  2. Crime and safety
  3. Economy Strength
  4. Employment and jobs
  5. Health care quality
  6. School ratings
  7. Tax burden
  8. Things to do
  9. Weather
  10. Resident satisfaction

1) Which state has a lower overall cost of living, Illinois or Florida?

Illinois is one of the 10 most expensive states to live in according to information derived from the Cost of Living Index produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Florida is ranked right in the middle that divides the most expensive states from the more affordable.

Lower Cost of living Winner? While the cost of living in Florida is far from lowest, it’s considerably cheaper overall than Illinois.


2) Which state is a safer place to live overall, Illinois or Florida?

Illinois’s overall crime rate (property and violent crime combined) places the state just inside the bottom 25 states with the highest rates, according to FBI reporting.

Florida’s overall crime rate is not that different than Illinois, but it is slightly higher.

Crime and safety Winner? Both states are in the bottom 25 of states with higher rates, but Illinois’s overall crime rate is lower than Florida.


3) Which state has a better economy Illinois or Florida?

Illinois ranks as having the 41rst strongest economy based on better business environment, lower

unemployment and better growth, according to US News annual report.

Florida has the 9th best economy in the same report.

Economy Strength Winner: Unlike the close ratings on cost of living and crime, Florida wins this comparison by a wide margin.


4) Which state has more jobs or lower unemployment Illinois or Florida

Illinois has an unemployment rate of just 4.2%, which would normally be a very respectable rate. However, as of this writing, we are enjoying the longest period of time ever without a recession in the history of the US, so that rate only get Illinois rated as the 40th lowest rate. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (July 2019)

Florida come in at 16th among all US states with a rate of just 3.3%.

Lower Employment Winner? Florida by a wide margin.


5) Which state has better health care quality Illinois or Florida

Illinois fell just inside the bottom 25 states in the overall quality of health care provided, according to the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Florida came in a few notches lower.

Health Care Quality Winner? Neither state’s rating is in the top 25 states but Illinois is ranked slightly higher.


6) Which state has better overall school ratings Illinois or Florida

Illinois ranked a respectable 15th* of the 50 states on K-12 overall, according to a report by the education research center Education Week. This put education in the state above the national average.

Florida was rated below the national average in the 29th* spot.

Better School ratings Winner? Illinois

* School ratings vary widely, depending upon the criteria the particular organization uses. I found places that rated Florida #3 which I found surprising. If moving to Florida with school age children, thorough research on education is strongly recommended.

I would start by read this shocking article from US News before doing any school rating research.


7) Which state has a lower overall tax burden Illinois Versus Florida

Illinois is deep into the list of the states with the highest overall tax burden according to the Tax Foundation and every other source I’ve checked with that puts out tax related data.

Florida’s tax burden is higher overall than what you may think, but it does not have a personal income tax. Florida ranks in the top half of states with a lower tax bite, and the higher your income is, the greater this advantage over Illinois becomes.

Lower Overall Tax Burden Winner? Florida by a large gap.

8) Things has more things to do Illinois Versus Florida

Which state has more recreational opportunities, places to dine, shop, be entertained, per capita?

According to my analysis of various publicly available sources, it would be harder to bored in Illinois than in most other states, because the state simply has more things to do and see

Florida also has more stuff to do and see than most states, it’s why over 110,000,000 tourist a year now visit the state.

More stuff to do winner? Both states have more than most, but Florida wins this match-up.

florida move guide book cover and discription

9) Which state has better Weather?

A few notes here…

  • I’ve seen too many people move to Florida for the warm weather, only to move out because they learned they couldn’t handle up to 9 months of a hotter more humid summer.
  • If you buy into “the hotter the better”, move to a desert where daytime temps are from 120-140 degrees daily and enjoy yourself.
  • If you’re “just going to go from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car” then save yourself the expense of moving 1000 miles and stay where you are with “your heated house and car”. If you’re going to spend all your time indoors, does it matter where you live?
  • I’m tired of shoveling snow. Congratulations, you moved to Florida so now you don’t have to shovel snow, but now you have to cut grass twice a week all year long. You learn stuff you didn’t count on, after you move.
  • 95% of people who never lived in Florida full time will disagree with these notes, but 95% of people who have lived in Florida full time will understand.

Illinois ranks in the bottom half of states that have fewer sunny days and or higher humidity according to data derived from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Florida also ranks in the bottom half, but not as far deep into the pack as Illinois.

Better Weather winner? Many states enjoy better weather than these two, but if you’ve limited yourself to just Illinois or Florida, Florida wins this.

10) Resident satisfaction

Okay, at this point Florida has won 6 of the 9 states versus state quality of life comparisons.

But does better quality of life ratings = higher resident happiness?

Illinois: According to the Latest Gallup Sharecare well-being Index, residents answered more negatively in Illinois about their community and life, than all others states but one and it wasn’t Florida.

Resident happiness winner? Florida

So is it Better to Live or Retire in Illinois or Florida?

Financially: Florida has a lower cost of living, lower taxes, better economy and lower unemployment than Illinois.

If everything were equal, such as you would earn the same income in Florida as Illinois, it would be hard to argue against moving to Florida from Illinois. Unless…

  1. You rely on employment income and you would earn far less in Florida than Illinois doing the same job, or you can’t find that type of work in Florida and have to settle for something that pays far less.
  2. Your income and spending is very low. If what you’ll save on taxes and the cost of living in Florida will be so minimal that it would take you 20 years to break even on what it cost you to move from Illinois, you may want to do so figuring first. If it’ll cost you $50,000 to move to Florida (selling a home + long distance move + buying another home) and you only save $2500 a year, it would take you 20 years to break even. A lot can change in 20 years. 20 years ago was just registered and no one used it, and no one ever heard the term “global warming” yet.

Schools: For families with school-age children, most organizations who rate education say Illinois schools are considerably better than Florida.

  • Unlike most quality of life ratings, school ratings are all over the place and often contradict each other.
  • The quality of education can vary from school to school even within the same district in the same state.
  • The effect of moving kids from their friends, relatives and environment to somewhere completely different can have consequences. If the move doesn’t work out, which happens more than what most people realize, you may need/want to move again.

You may disagree, but the weather in Illinois and Florida is a wash!

The only difference is rather than complaining about the cold and snow in Illinois, you’ll complain about the heat and humidity in Florida.

Moving to Florida may be a better move for retiring Illinoisans, than their senior counterparts from many other states.

  • Most retirees live on a fixed income and the data shows that money will currently go farther in Florida than Illinois.
  • At 70 years of age, you’re more likely to walk or bike for exercise, than ski or mountain climb (there are no mountains in FL).

This is the Biggy! Polls and surveys show you’ll likely be happier living anywhere other than Illinois. Even if it’s Florida.

  • Illinoisans “wellbeing” based on the latest surveys came in at 49th.
  • In a Gallup poll way back in 2013 on how residents liked their state, Illinois again took the 49th spot. Hey, at least they weren’t dead last.
  • Apparently, a whole lot of Illinois residents have been unhappy with their state for many years. Florida also did poorly in both polls, but it will almost certainly be an improvement for many over the Prairie State.

Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.


4 thoughts on “Better State Illinois or Florida?”

  1. Hello, We are thinking of moving from Illinois to Hummock Bay in Freeport, Florida. I read comments you made several years ago. But I’m wondering what your views are today? thank you

    • Hello Deborah,
      If you are referring to what I wrote in the above article comparing Illinois to Florida, it was published in 2019 and it’s now just Feb 2020. For my articles, I use actual data from from trusted sources such as the US government and highly respected well known non-profits. From my decades of researching “best Places”, I can tell you that rankings rarely change very much, very quickly, especially when it comes to improvement. However, I have noticed in just the last couple of years, certain policies of some states and cities have caused quality of life factors to move faster into negative territory when compared to other places, than what was “normal” previously. Just one example would be crime rates…
      Good luck Deborah.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
  2. I moved to Pembroke Pines from Bradley Illinois 22 yrs ago. Yes, it’s hot here but anything is better than snow and cold weather. The schools are good and the area is very familiar oriented. Wages are low and the cost of living is high. Overall I would rather live in Florida than Illinois. If only for the weather.

  3. Renters in Florida face annual Rent increases! Bring on fixed incomes creates financial hazards!
    Traffic is horrendous
    Education below our standards
    Lots of recreational places to go however driving to and from is stressful

    Home owners : Housing costs are ridiculous-rich people, foreigners are buying Florida properties and renting out!
    I lived in Florida for a long time : I like the weather except Hurricane season that I learned is 6 months duration!
    I’m returned to illinois : cost of housing is cheaper, slower pace living, insurances are higher here, DMV is over the top expensive yet people are polite whereas Florida has a population of so many ethnic groups who isolate from others/miscommunications are high so that breeds trouble!

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