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Old 08-13-2019, 09:55 AM
125 posts, read 126,716 times
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I have a brother who will be moving to area. He has three young kids and will have an income of about 125k. He's looked at Champaign, Mattoon, Decatur and Effington and is leaning heavily toward Champaign.

My question is what area or suburb is family first with typical shopping options around. What area is nice? Is it safe to assume Savoy and Mahomet are nice towns? He also liked Effington but he's worried it's just too small and would be hard to make friends. Is this a fair assumption? Any perspective would be very beneficial.

He travels for his job and his new district is around there.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:54 PM
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Savoy has pretty low crime, with lots of new middle-class residential developments, but it might as well be "extreme south Champaign." It's pretty hard to tell where Champaign stops and Savoy starts. There's some retail in Savoy; primarily a WalMart, a couple grocery stores, and a strip mall. There's no real city center, though, and very little unique character. Furthermore, there's no independent school system; Savoy kids are in the Champaign school system. There is no junior high or high school in Savoy; your brother's kids would go school in Champaign were they that age. And it's not even guaranteed that they'd get to go to the elementary school in Savoy, although it's probable.

Mahomet, while relatively close to Champaign, is geographically separated. It has much more of a "small town" feel, with low crime and its own, pretty well regarded, school system. While once a solidly middle class community, there's been just a bit of affluence creep with many of the newer developments. As a result, the median household income is probably the highest of any community in the East Central IL area. There's still plenty of reasonably affordable housing stock, though, so it's not an expensive place to live if you don't want it to be. And the influx of more expensive housing developments keeps the municipality and school system well funded. (FWIW, Illinois public schools get most of their funding through local property taxes). There's an excellent forest preserve just north of town with a public golf course, a small lake for fishing/kayaking/pedal-boating, hiking & biking trails, pavilions, gardens, and a natural history museum. Retail is fairly minimal in town, but you're only ~12 minutes away from the North-Prospect/Market-Place-Mall regional shopping hub in north Champaign.

Monticello is another nearby alternative. It's about half the size of Mahomet, and a bit farther from the shopping and attractions in Champaign, but it definitely has a great small town vibe, with the classic downtown "Court House Square" anchoring a small retail district. Median household income is a bit less than Mahomet, but still well above the area average. Schools are nearly as well regarded as Mahomet's, and crime is next to non-existent. It's about equidistant from Champaign and Decatur.

Haven't spent enough time in Effingham to comment. I think dropping Mattoon and Decatur from consideration are wise decisions. Not that I couldn't happily live in either community, but I wouldn't prefer to, especially with school-aged children.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:01 PM
Location: C-U metro
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I would also agree on dropping Decatur and Mattoon/Charleston off the list. I would recommend against Urbana as well.

Decatur has lost 30,000 people in the past 40 years and the population is still falling. Decatur schools are on the level of Chicago Public, which is pretty terrible by anyone's standards. The schools have gotten slightly safer in the past few years but the teachers are still terrible. The housing is cheap because of the school district and the smells from ADM and Tate & Lyle corn processing plants. The microburbs of Forsyth and Mt. Zion aren't any better as they depend on jobs in Decatur to stay afloat. When ADM left, it saddled the city with a ton of debt that it can't afford to pay and without its highest paid citizens to pay it excluding the one that has the last name of Buffet.

Mattoon/Charleston have fallen on hard times due to falling enrollments at Eastern Illinois University and some recent manufacturer closings. They also have some food processing plants there so you'd have to avoid the smells from those. The cities haven't lost nearly the population that Decatur has and if the state got it's act together, the place could bounce back unlike Decatur. The schools aren't bad but the crime rate has increased due to drug abuse. I've known a few single people who work at Mars to come up to Champaign on a regular basis because they are bored with it.

Urbana is a freak'n mess. The high school board recently fired the superintendent and his assistants for firing the deans and implementing a very lax social justice policy. One of the assistants is facing felony charges for an illegal wire tap (attempted to record a school board executive session he wasn't in). The city has done everything it can to chase business away and was ruled with an iron fist by two consecutive mayors. The new mayor is doing what she can but the city staff is all still loyal to the former mayor who is now county treasurer. Most people I talk to who moved to Urbana regretted it.

@madpaddy is right on Savoy but a little off on schools with Mahomet and Monticello. The past few years have been good to Monticello in academic rankings and I've seen more bankers and wealthy people moving there rather than Mahomet. Mahomet SD is also very concerned with image (ie. overbuilt) and now has a debt overhang that it is trying to work off. Monticello attempted to build a new high school for several years and couldn't get the voters to agree. They are adding on to the current school at a lower cost. Monticello's property tax rate is about 1/3rd of Champaign's.

For Champaign, the district is undertaking a massive project to renovate both high schools, rebuild an entire elementary from scratch, make major renovations to a middle school and make renovations at other schools. Believe it or not, most of these projects make sense. Champaign is limited to two high schools for the foreseeable future by court order. The high school renovations are necessary as both are over capacity now. The middle schools haven't been touched in years and the elementaries were hit and miss. That's one reason why the property taxes are higher, another is administration. There are a significant number of administrators in Champaign but even more in Urbana. Monticello doesn't have a ton of overhead. In a few years, Champaign will have some really nice school buildings with appropriate HVAC systems and room to accommodate growth. Champaign is facing issues to as the current superintendent was buying lunches with district funds. That is still to be resolved.
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Old 08-16-2019, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by flyingcat2k View Post
Monticello attempted to build a new high school for several years and couldn't get the voters to agree. They are adding on to the current school at a lower cost. Monticello's property tax rate is about 1/3rd of Champaign's.

I live in Monticello. Lower property taxes were what brought us here 17 years ago. But they were never 1/3 of Champaign, and have crept up relative to Champaign. Once the bonds for the latest school renovations go into repayment, they'll be pretty close for a similar quality home. Given the better schools and QOL, though, it's still a better value IMHO.

As for the school renovation vs new construction, I personally think it was a short-sighted decision. Because the issue was kicked around for years, the cost of the recently started partial-renovation is nearly as much as the original plan for new construction. But the voters spoke and got what they wanted so se-la-vie.

Anecdotally, you may know more folks moving to Monticello, but, empirically, Mahomet is growing much faster. From 2008-2017, there were 110 single family home construction permits issued in Monticello, with an average cost of about $239k. During the same period, 609 such permits were issued for Mahomet, with an average cost of ~267k. Mahomet's taxable base is growing at ~6x the rate of Monticello's.
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:42 AM
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Is Shelbyville large enough? You've got Lake Shelbyville and State Conservation Lands for those with outdoor interests, and I believe you're close enough to Effingham (or even Springfield) for medical care. Personally, I'd be looking at Bloomington (good recent growth), but that's probably too far north for your brother.
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Old 08-18-2019, 01:47 PM
125 posts, read 126,716 times
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Thank you for all of your suggestions. I don't think he is even considering Monticello but will let him know that town is decent and recommended.

I had to look up Shelbyville because I was not familiar with it. It seems pretty small. Are shopping options good there? I know he initially looked at Bloomington but felt it was a little run down and maybe just too far from his district for work. What suburbs are by Bloomington/Normal? He couldn't find any.

I'm pretty sure he's looking at Mahomet, Tollono, St.Joseph or Savoy at this point. The University of Illinois really sold him on the location and the opportunities related to that campus. Thank you for all your suggestions.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:47 PM
Location: Hendersonville Tennessee
42 posts, read 77,164 times
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Default Effingham

Effingham is very conservative!Churchy so to speak. Closed minded
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:26 AM
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Bloomington-Normal can be a very good choice if it fits the geographic area for him. I suppose any town can look "run down" if you drive to the right places. Bloomington is the more conservative of the "twin cities" where Normal is more liberal. This refers mostly to the politics of the elected officials. Having Illinois State University here is a great asset. It's one of the few state universities that is growing and they don't have money problems. Illinois Wesleyan University, while much smaller also helps bring in quite a bit of revenue to the area.

Schools in both Bloomington and Normal (known as Unit 5) are very good. Some residents argue that Unit 5 is better, but all of my neighbors in Bloomington with kids like the Bloomington schools. There is also a very good Catholic high school here.

This area is a little different in that there are no close in "suburbs" like Champaign-Urbana has. If people that work here want to live in a smaller town nearby, they usually live in Heyworth, Downs (well regarded Tri-Valley schools), or one of the very small towns 10 to 15 miles out. While some of these areas are nice, you have to travel to shop, go out to eat, go to the movies, live concerts etc.

We moved from another city in the east central Illinois area and love it. We rarely need to travel out of town to shop or eat unless we just want to do a road trip. As with most cities, many residents will complain about the real estate taxes and fees, but what we pay here is very reasonable compared to where we moved from. We get more services and feel like our money is not wasted (for the most part). The residents of B-N are very friendly and easy to get to know. It's a nice small town feeling.

Last edited by cameradude; 09-12-2019 at 09:31 AM.. Reason: Add content
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