Carbondale Illinois

14 Best Places to Live in Southern Illinois in 2023

Best Places to Live in Southern Illinois in 2023

Southern Illinois, a region celebrated for its picturesque landscapes and diverse communities, offers a range of attractive living options. It attracts families and retirees with its small-town charm and suburban convenience. 

Whether you’re drawn to outdoor adventures, seeking top-notch educational facilities, or looking for a tranquil place to settle down, this region has something special to offer.

From its bustling cities to its peaceful rural areas, Southern Illinois balances modern living. This article lists the 14 best places to live in Southern Illinois in 2023. Lifestyle, housing affordability, safety, and education are some of the factors that affect this ranking.

This list helps you understand each area’s unique qualities to find the perfect community to call home.

14. Pinckneyville

Starting at rank 14 is Pinckneyville, also known as “Friendly Little City,” which radiates a quaint small-town allure. This charming town has a much lower cost of living than Illinois, including housing, goods, and services. Its affordability and community spirit make it a top choice.

The town has low property and violent crime rates compared to other areas. This aspect of safety enhances the appeal of Pinckneyville as a secure and peaceful place to live, especially for families and individuals looking for a tranquil environment.

In terms of employment, despite the lower median household income, Pinckneyville boasts a very low unemployment rate, reflecting a stable job market. This stability is crucial for residents seeking job security and consistent employment opportunities.

Housing in Pinckneyville is another significant pro. The town has affordable housing with prices below the state average. Affordable home prices and a favorable home price-to-income ratio make home ownership more accessible and appealing to more people.

Pinckneyville presents itself as a town with a cost-effective lifestyle, reassuring safety standards, stable employment opportunities, and affordable housing. These characteristics make it an attractive option for those seeking a balanced and economical living experience.

13. Carterville

Carterville is a standout choice for those seeking a blend of suburban comfort and small-town charm. This town in the South of Illinois is characterized by its strong community feel, quality education, and overall balanced lifestyle.

Safety is another hallmark of Carterville. The town’s low crime rate gives residents peace of mind. This safe environment is especially appealing to families and individuals seeking a tranquil place to live without the concerns that often come with larger urban areas.

When it comes to housing and affordability, Carterville strikes a balance. The town has affordable homes for first-time buyers. A lower cost of living than in larger cities complements this affordability without sacrificing comfort.

The natural beauty of Carterville is another of its defining features. The city has many outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or relaxing in the town’s parks and green spaces. This connection to nature improves life and provides a peaceful escape from the daily grind.

Carterville stands out as a place that offers a safe, affordable, and community-focused living experience. For Southern Illinois residents seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle, its quality education, low crime, and strong community make it an appealing choice.

12. Du Quoin

As our 12th pick, Du Quoin exemplifies the American small-town lifestyle, with peaceful neighborhoods and vibrant local traditions. Famous for hosting the Du Quoin State Fair, this Southern Illinois town is known for its hospitality.

The residential areas in Du Quoin are characterized by their tranquility and homely atmosphere. Well-maintained homes line the streets, creating a peaceful living environment for families and individuals seeking a break from city life.

The Du Quoin State Fair is a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar. This annual event draws visitors from across the region with agricultural exhibits, live entertainment, and carnival rides. The fair brings communities together to celebrate local culture and heritage while providing fun.

In addition to the fair, Du Quoin offers various other amenities and activities that contribute to its appeal. From local dining establishments to public parks, there are plenty of options for leisure and relaxation, further enhancing the quality of life in this charming city.

Those looking for a traditional American small-town living experience in Southern Illinois will find Du Quoin to be an appealing destination due to its blend of quiet residential areas and rich local traditions.

11. Anna

Anna, in Union County, ranks 11th on our list of the best places to live in Southern Illinois due to its affordability and proximity to beautiful natural attractions. This charming town is a haven for those who adore the great outdoors, especially with the Shawnee National Forest just a stone’s throw away. 

The cost of living is one of Anna’s best features. Beautiful single-family homes and cozy apartments are available in the town. Anna is ideal for families and individuals looking to squeeze the most out of their budget while living well.

The town’s closeness to the Shawnee National Forest is a major draw for nature enthusiasts. This vast natural reserve offers hiking, camping, bird-watching, and horseback riding. The forest’s lush landscapes and diverse wildlife are ideal for adventurers and nature lovers.

Other than the forest, Anna has several parks, like Anna City Park, for picnics, sports, and walks. These green spaces make the town peaceful and offer plenty of outdoor activities.

Anna’s welcoming community adds to its charm. Communities form around local events, making newcomers feel at home. This friendly atmosphere is complemented by shops, restaurants, and essential services, giving residents easy access to everything they need.

Anna’s affordability, natural beauty, and community spirit make it a top Southern Illinois choice for nature lovers. It is a peaceful, affordable town that does not sacrifice the pleasures of living near some of the region’s most beautiful landscapes.

10. Mt. Vernon

Mt. Vernon, clinching the 10th spot on our list of the best places to live in the South of Illinois, stands out as a vibrant center for arts and community life. Families and creatives love this bustling town’s festivals and events, which enrich local culture and build community.

The city’s thriving arts scene is one of its most notable features. Mt. Vernon hosts many arts festivals throughout the year, such as the Mt. Vernon Fall Fest. These festivals showcase local artists’ music, dance, visual arts, and crafts and let art lovers experience culture.

In addition to cultural events, Mt. Vernon’s economy is vibrant. Small local shops and larger businesses boost the town’s job market. The town’s economic vitality supports residents’ livelihoods and boosts its appeal as a place to live and work.

Schools in Mt. Vernon emphasize holistic development and creativity for families with school-aged children. Like the city’s artistic vibe, these schools are known for their innovative teaching methods and arts support. If this is important to you, then consider Mt. Vernon as one of the best places to live in Southern Illinois.

Mt. Vernon attracts families and creatives with its vibrant arts scene, local economy, and strong community. It is a hub for cultural and economic activity in Southern Illinois, offering a lifestyle that is both enriching and fulfilling.

9. Alton

For those interested in history and appreciate old cities, this picturesque city is a treasure.

Alton is a living museum of architectural styles from different eras. While walking around, one can see well-preserved Victorian homes, historic buildings, and unique structures that tell the town’s history. These architectural marvels are beautiful and trace Alton’s rich history.

The town’s location along the Mississippi River adds another layer to its appeal. The riverfront provides stunning views and a backdrop for many events. Visitors and residents can take boat rides, stroll along the river, or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Alton’s history goes beyond architecture. Historical markers, museums, and sites in town reveal important events and figures. Historic sites enhance the town’s charm and intrigue those interested in American history.

This combination of heritage-rich architecture, picturesque riverside scenery, and a deeply ingrained historical essence renders Alton a truly captivating place to reside. It provides a distinctive lifestyle that merges the elegance and allure of historical charm with contemporary comforts and conveniences.

8. Harrisburg

Harrisburg, our 8th pick, is known for its natural beauty and community vitality. Near the Shawnee National Forest, it attracts nature lovers and families with its many outdoor activities.

This area’s Harrisburg High School has a stellar reputation for producing well-rounded individuals through its rigorous academic programs and wealth of extracurricular opportunities. Also, its neighborhoods are peaceful and connected, making them ideal for those seeking a community life.

Communities in Harrisburg host exciting events that showcase their culture. Residents and visitors eagerly await the Saline County BBQ Festival, which features delicious food, music, and camaraderie. 

This perfect mix of educational excellence, scenic beauty, and a vibrant social scene makes Harrisburg an ideal place to live for families and community members. 

7. Murphysboro

Murphysboro, holding the 7th spot on our list of the best places to live in Southern Illinois, is a city that truly captures the essence of Southern Illinois living. It is a great place to live because of its long history, strong community, modern conveniences, and cultural heritage.

The Murphysboro Apple Festival, a community favorite, celebrates the region’s apple harvesting heritage. This event celebrates the town’s hospitality with parades, contests, and apple-themed treats.

For those interested in outdoor activities, Riverside Park offers scenic views and ample space for picnics, sports, and leisurely walks. The General John A. Logan Museum, meanwhile, provides a deep dive into local history, attracting history buffs and casual visitors alike.

Murphysboro’s balance of historical charm and contemporary living ensures residents enjoy a high quality of life in a setting that’s both tranquil and engaging.

6. Herrin

Herrin, our 6th pick, embodies a close-knit community and is ideal for those seeking a strong sense of belonging. This city’s community spirit shines during cultural events like HerrinFesta Italiana.

HerrinFesta Italiana represents the city’s culture and community. This annual festival celebrates Italian culture with live music, authentic Italian cuisine, and a variety of entertainment. During this time, the community celebrates and unites, revealing Herrin’s social life.

Herrin High School and other city schools help build community spirit. These schools nurture young minds in a supportive environment and emphasize community and cultural appreciation.

Moreover, Herrin offers various local amenities that cater to the needs of its residents. From well-maintained parks and recreational facilities to a variety of local shops and restaurants, the city ensures a comfortable and convenient lifestyle.

Herrin’s cultural diversity, community-focused schools, and many amenities make it a desirable place to live. It is ideal for those who value a close-knit community where cultural events and daily life blend to create a unique and fulfilling lifestyle.

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5. Marion

Marion stands out as a bustling center of retail and healthcare in Southern Illinois. This city has a unique mix of job opportunities, urban amenities, and a welcoming atmosphere. 

Marion has a vibrant retail sector with stores for all tastes. Retail diversity simplifies daily shopping for residents and boosts the local economy by providing diverse jobs. Its vibrant retail scene includes the Illinois Star Center Mall and downtown’s unique shops and boutiques.

In addition to retail, it also has a substantial healthcare sector. The city has several medical facilities, including the Heartland Regional Medical Center, which provides high-quality healthcare and is a major employer. These healthcare facilities are vital to Marion’s health and reputation as a regional healthcare hub.

Marion has remained welcoming, despite its urban amenities. Parks, community events, and recreational facilities offer many opportunities to relax and meet new people. It has a small-town charm but with big-city amenities.

Marion’s urban amenities, friendly community, and thriving retail and healthcare sectors offer many job opportunities. It is ideal for those who want a vibrant urban lifestyle without sacrificing a cozier community.

4. Belleville

Belleville has affordable housing, modern conveniences, and a historic district that draws people of all ages. 

The city’s history is appealing. Belleville’s preserved architecture and landmarks reflect its rich history. The Belleville Historic District’s charming old homes and buildings give the city character. These historic sites enrich the city’s modern life.

In terms of modern amenities, Belleville doesn’t fall short. From shopping and restaurants to parks and recreation, Belleville blends history and modernity. A mix of old and new characterizes Belleville, including its public library and boutiques. 

Affordability is another key aspect of Belleville’s appeal. Belleville’s housing market is affordable and diverse. Families, young professionals, and retirees like Belleville’s affordability, history, and modernity. 

Belleville’s blend of history, modern amenities, and affordable housing makes it a welcoming and enriching place to live for all ages. It is a top choice for Southern Illinois residents because it values history, modern life, and community.

3. O’Fallon

Positioned at number 3 on the list, O’Fallon distinguishes itself as a preferred locale for both families and professionals, thanks to its exceptional safety standards and outstanding educational institutions.

O’Fallon’s low crime rate and well-kept public spaces give residents a sense of security. This peaceful environment and the local police’s proactive approach to community relations make O’Fallon a safe haven. O’Fallon is also one of the most conservative places to live in Illinois.

Education in O’Fallon is a major draw, with institutions like O’Fallon Township High School renowned for their academic rigor and passionate educators. These schools excel academically and offer many sports and arts opportunities to develop young minds.

Professionally, O’Fallon’s thriving economic landscape, coupled with its proximity to major urban areas, presents an array of career prospects. The local economy’s growth not only attracts professionals but also enhances the overall living experience with its community-centric vibe.

O’Fallon also hosts community events like the Fall Fest, which brings the community together and enhances the city’s charm. Parks like the O’Fallon Family Sports Park not only provide recreational spaces but also host sporting events and community gatherings.

O’Fallon’s safe living, excellent education, economic vitality, and community events and recreation make it an ideal place for families and working professionals. Its harmonious mix of features makes O’Fallon one of Southern Illinois’ best places to live.

2. Edwardsville

Securing the 2nd spot, Edwardsville is a standout for its blend of suburban ease and a strong community feel, highlighted by its exceptional educational offerings and a delightful downtown area.

Edwardsville’s center is its charming downtown, with historic architecture and modern amenities. Streets are lined with local shops, restaurants, and cafes, adding to the town’s character. Its Route 66 Festival and Art Fair bring the community together to celebrate local talent and history.

The Edwardsville school district is proud of Edwardsville High School’s academics and extracurriculars. These schools foster community learning by bringing students, teachers, and parents together.

Edwardsville has many recreational opportunities, including the Watershed Nature Center, which offers a peaceful retreat. The Madison County Transit (MCT) Trails network connects it to nearby communities and natural attractions with miles of scenic biking and hiking paths.

Edwardsville’s vibrant downtown, top-tier schools, and community-focused spaces attract residents. This harmonious blend of suburban comfort, educational excellence, and community engagement makes Edwardsville the second-best place to live. 

1. Carbondale – Best Place to Live in Southern Illinois

Carbondale earns its top rank as a thriving educational and cultural beacon in Southern Illinois, largely thanks to being the home of Southern Illinois University (SIU). This esteemed university fosters academic and leisure activities that enrich the city.

SIU gives Carbondale youthful, intellectual energy. The university hosts cultural, seminar, and sports events, fostering community engagement. Campus landmarks McLeod Theater and Shryock Auditorium host student productions and professional shows, drawing audiences from across the region.

Apart from its academic prowess, Carbondale is known for its vibrant downtown. Unique shops, diverse restaurants, and lively bars reflect the city’s eclectic spirit in this busy hub. Events like the Carbondale Farmers’ Market and the Lights Fantastic Parade create a close-knit community.

Its proximity to Giant City State Park also boosts its appeal. Hiking, camping, and exploring stunning landscapes are available in this natural reserve. Additionally, its community gardens and renewable energy projects set a progressive tone for city living.

Carbondale’s education, culture, community life, and natural beauty make it Southern Illinois’ best place to live. The city’s balance of university-town amenities and small-town charm makes it ideal for students, families, and professionals.


In conclusion, Southern Illinois has many diverse communities with their own strengths. From the vibrant educational environment of Carbondale to the historical allure of Alton and the strong community spirit of Herrin, the region caters to many preferences and lifestyles. 

These best places to live in Southern Illinois showcase the area’s versatility. This area is special for families seeking good schools and safe neighborhoods, professionals seeking thriving job markets, and nature lovers seeking scenic beauty and outdoor adventures.

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