U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Illinois
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Old 03-08-2007, 10:11 AM
Location: Cleveland, GA
131 posts, read 641,850 times
Reputation: 49


The half hour drive between Monticello and Champaign might be a bit much. I do agree that Monticello is a very nice town.
Quick reply to this message

Old 03-14-2007, 07:51 PM
2 posts, read 21,881 times
Reputation: 18
Champaign and Urbana are, as a generalization, Republican and Democratic, respectively, and it used to be that most U. of I. professors lived on some lovely older tree-lined streets near campus in Urbana. (There are some gracious older homes there, and some in Champaign near the country club.) I wouldn't characterize the city as a "dump" and I'm speaking as a native Portland, Oregonian. It just isn't a showpiece. You'd never come here to see the city, per se, and neither Champaign nor Urbana has any historical center to speak of although there are lots of historical homes scattered around throughout sections of both towns.

Both towns are separated by only a single street (Wright) which also bissects the 35,000-student campus, and the U. of I. has outstanding cultural offerings, the same type (exactly) as are available in big cities for a fraction of the price. (Last year I attended the London Symphonic Orchestra in "the Great Hall" on campus for example, with Marvin Hamlisch conducting an all-Gershwin program. I think my ticket was $35 and the concert was fabulous.)

The biggest feature in terms of housing, aside from its incredible affordability, is that the cities (Champaign, pop. 60,000, Urbana, pop. 30,000) are comprised of subdivisions, as they refer to them here, that are not well-integrated with one another. So if you ask someone where he/she lives, you'll get an answer like, "Cherry Hills," or "Robeson Meadows," and you know immediately about how much their house is worth, and exactly which streets their neighborhood is bounded by. Virtually all new developments are built on small lakes. This is for drainage purposes, since the area is so flat, but they do look fairly nice, even though they're man-made. The advantage: Neighborly circumscribed areas. Disadvantage: The town is kind of like a fraternity system--fragmented in areas ranging from low cost to very expensive, if you want it. One of the subdivisions even has its own country club--unusual in a town this size.

Depending upon your income, you might also want to consider one of the fastest growing small areas in the state, which abuts Champaign--Savoy. Lots of brand-new services (including, of course, Wal-Mart), restaurants, a 16-screen theater, the best bookstore in town, two or three banks, and several nice subdivisions that have very reasonably priced homes. The newest is Prairie Fields and it's growing like crazy. The taxes in Savoy are substantially lower than in C-U, and yet it's a stone's throw from everything in C-U. Property values are better than in St. Joseph too, which has a bit of a "hick" feel to it. I used to live in a town like St. Joseph when I first moved here, and you can get into redneck territory pretty quickly when you get away from the town and campus area. The small towns generally made up of Ill. locals, many of whom commute to work on the U. of I. campus, which has a huge work force. These numerous small towns (with, yes, fantastically low property taxes and affordable houses) are not retreats for artsy types, as I had expected, coming from where I'd lived previously--in Rhode Island, Vermont, Mass. and Conn. (Got my doctorate from Brown, then worked a while in the East before taking a job here at the U. of I.) They are also almost entirely lacking in racial or ethnic diversity, which I found a real drawback.

There are two main hospitals--one that "owns" the town (Carle), and a smaller one with a more personal touch (Provena). If you plan on using an HMO, feel free to e-mail me about one versus the other. I've used both, and recently lost my dear dad to a medical error at Carle--but I'm also a cancer patient and Carle has an excellent cancer center. (My dad, a 6th generation Oregonian, moved out here to help me four years ago shortly after my mom died. That he was able to leave Portland to live here says something!) There are three main state parks within 20 minutes of C-U, and a heavily forested large park owned by the U. of I (Allerton) but available for hiking, etc. for everyone. All the state parks (Homer Lake is my favorite) have lakes with fishing, boating, and frequent deer sitings. Oh, on the outskirts of Urbana is a lovely public golf course just about ten years old. Urbana is, sadly, undergoing a real downhill slide in most areas, having proven unfriendly to economic development, although the golf course subdivision (Stone Creek) is still lovely in my opinion (and I'm not a "golf-club type"), and less expensive--house per house--than Champaign. Dad and I almost moved there, in fact, before settling on Champaign, since we found a street on a hill!

It took quite a while, but I've come to love the sunrises and sunsets on the prairie horizons and the beautiful "cloudscapes"--and that's coming from a person who grew up spending weekends at Cannon Beach and skiing at Timberline and Mount Hood Meadows!

Biggest advantages: Really friendly people, no lines, no traffic, great access to cultural attractions, good schools, Big 10 university, 3 hours from Chicago (two trains daily if you don't want to drive) and Indianapolis, and amazing affordability of houses. When my Dad moved out here, he sold his 51-year-old S.W. Portland home (in Burlingame area near Wilson HS) and what he got for it here would make your jaw drop. (My Portland cousins came out and visited, and said our home here would be three times cost three time more if it were in Portland, so I was finally able to get my "dream home"!!)

I would not recommend anything in the North Prospect area. Yes, it's growing fast, but is near all the big box stores and about a jillion chain restaurants, and is the only place in town with real traffic jams. The natives complain constantly about it North Prospect Ave. traffic.

Since moving here 21 years ago, I've lived in a small town of 900 (Sidney) where my husband and I bought our starter house (warning: We discovered after we moved there that, although the locals were very welcoming, there was not one single person of color in the entire town and a lot of people had gunracks in their pickup trucks, but that was 1985); a really nice large condo in Urbana; a smaller post-divorce condo in Savoy; and now my "dream home" in Southwest Champaign, amid lots of Republicans, but that's okay; they're friendly too . It's in Robeson Meadows west--a new area full of winding walking paths that meander among the homes and around about five man-made stocked large ponds. What do I miss here? A cosmopolitan feel, looking at mountains, and seeing (and hearing) the ocean. My mom was from Burlington, Iowa, however, and went to Northwestern up in Evanston. She met my dad while stationed as a United flight attendant in Portland. The first time he showed her the Pacific Ocean, she said, "It looks just like Lake Michigan." (Not quite, but the Great Lakes aren't that far away, and all are huge and beautiful.) P.S. If you're interested in books, the U. of I. library has the third largest academic library in the country, behind Harvard and Yale, and the Urbana Public library has been voted the best, or one of the best, small-town libraries in America. C-U is also one of the most wired cities in the country. Hope this helps! Good luck!
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-14-2007, 08:08 PM
2 posts, read 21,881 times
Reputation: 18
Smile Moving to Illinois P.S.

Originally Posted by Liliana35 View Post
Hi! I'm moving to Champaign Il and have Kids,
do you know about good schools and neighborhoods in Champaign
or do you have any suggestions?
Forgot to address your main question! The school system here is a system in which you can choose which school you want your children to attend. You make your first, second, and third pick, and if you're lucky you get your first choice. But not always. My next-door neighbor has one child in once school, and another in a different school. It has something to do with where you live, but the correlation isn't perfect. I'm not real clear about it. I do know that Barkstall, in Southwest Champaign and near Savoy, is highly sought after. It's relatively new, but has an excellent reputation. They also have a system in which kids go to school much of the year, with long intercessions. (For example, they are on a month-long spring break right now.)

Some parents love this, since the kids aren't home for three straight months in the summer, and it gives families more flexibility in vacation planning. I'm not sure how many schools do this. You might just google the schools, with "rank Champaign-Urbana schools." There are also several private schools, quite expensive, one Lutheran school, and two Catholic grade schools, also one Catholic HS. There is also a public HS affiliated with the University for which kids must take an entrance exam (University High) which has an outstanding reputation as a college prep school. (Miss America of a few years ago, Erika Harold, went there!) My understanding is that, overall, the schools here are very good because so many of the parents are professors at the U. of I. and are pretty demanding. (How's that for an over-generalization?) But it does have some truth to it.

My dentist was president of the Champaign school board for several years, and the meetings were broadcast on TV, and I was always quite impressed. So I don't think you'll need to worry about quality of education here.

Note: If you go to realtor.com, put in your price range, you'll see that the subdivision of the home is nearly always listed. If you do this, and find an area, I can give you some advice on quality of homes, what's nearby, etc. I'd avoid Parkland Ridge. Too near the interstate, so it's noisy, and the houses are a bit cookie-cutter. Also some older areas in Champaign are near the Kraft plant which gives off a bizarre odor some days/nights. I cannot understand how anyone can live near it. Molly (again)
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-14-2007, 09:41 PM
Location: Chicago
38,691 posts, read 77,641,678 times
Reputation: 28933
St. Joseph a hick town?? Wow, you must have a very low threshold...
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-15-2007, 01:00 AM
Location: Cleveland, GA
131 posts, read 641,850 times
Reputation: 49
I live in Saint Joseph, and there is nothing "hick" about it. There is one redneck in town that flies a Confederate flag, and he is the laughingstock of the community. Take a look at the Heather Hills or Crestwood subdivisions in Saint Joseph. I challenge you to call the town "hick" after that. Is it mostly white? Yes it is. That is changing, however. Commercial development is starting to get serious here, and this is drawing more people. The building boom continues, and more families are moving in. Saint Joseph isn't just for white people and hicks anymore.
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-15-2007, 11:24 AM
187 posts, read 718,294 times
Reputation: 95
Default Sundown Towns

I would like to express my gratitude for the posts following Molly's in which St. Joe residents owned up to the lack of diversity in the area. This, I think, is a real problem.

May I recommend to everyone the recent book by James Loewen called Sundown Towns, which is about towns that have managed to stay "all white" or were founded and maintained as "all white" quite intentionally. Whether or not you like the book...I think it's rather important, as it points out the redlining and real estate-selling practices which keep this system of segregation in place, along with other, more violent means.

Before anyone can bash Loewen for placing so much emphasis on Illinois towns in this book--which is national in scope--I should point out that Loewen is an Illinois "native." Many of the towns mentioned in his book are surrounding C-U, including Villa Grove, which still has its siren in place; the siren was installed to sound at 6pm, warning all African-Americans who might work there during the day to get the heck out of town. I don't know if they still sound the siren daily, but it's there.... I have family members who live in some of these towns, and my own hometown is included, too. I think the book is great.

And speaking of Illinois "natives".... I'd like to point out that, with the racist "Chief" mascot being abolished only just now, in 2007, C-U and its outlying towns are NOT the most diverse, as discussed in prior posts to this thread. And people getting upset about the Chief's retirement seems silly to me. I've heard folks say that the boys who play the Chief do a good thing, going into neighboring communities to teach people about Native American traditions. That's horribly, horribly insensitive; that would be like me dressing up as the Pope to teach people about Catholicism when I am not Catholic, or me putting on blackface to teach people about the African-American experience when I am, in fact, "white." (Or so I seem to be...) So even though the UIUC has many cultural offerings, and is seen as perhaps being full of "liberals"--clearly many students, alumni, and people in the outlying communities who follow the sports teams as "their" teams love them some Chief, and don't see any problem in loving a white boy in Native drag. Ouch.

Some posters here have mentioned avoiding the "ghetto" north of University Avenue, or Bradley Avenue, and advising "locking the doors" of the car when "driving through" these areas. Of course, these posters do not live in these areas, and so they do not know if they are unsafe or not. They don't even stop the car, I guess. As Molly suggested, these areas are "understood" around here as being largely low-income, largely African-American neighborhoods. It is ridiculous to assert that these areas are unsafe. They are not.

I have lived in Champaign for five years and in Urbana for five years, and soon I will be leaving town. For most of the reasons mentioned by Molly, I will miss being here--it's so easy to live here, no traffic at all, so affordable, and an excellent library. I will miss the UIUC library...and West Side Park in Champaign, and Carle Park in Urbana, and the public pool in Crystal Lake Park in the summertime....
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-15-2007, 04:05 PM
Location: Cleveland, GA
131 posts, read 641,850 times
Reputation: 49
Some of your post is spot on. Some of it is alarmism, and some of it is just plain wrong-headed.

Let me tell you a story. My step-daughter (more correctly my deceased wife's step-daughter from a previous marriage - long story) is African-American. She came to live with me for a time while she was down on her luck. I recall being with her in a grocery store in Champaign when she met one of her friends, who was also African-American. Her friend asked her where she was living, and she said "in St. Joe." Her friend looked surprised and said "only white people live there!"

What my step-daughter learned while living with me was that, in fact, there are minority families living in this town. She let her friend know that.

It would help ethnic diversity if there wasn't the perception that St. Joseph does not welcome non-white families. That's just not true. My best friends in the world are a mixed race (Hispanic/white) couple. Their child has no trouble in school here.

It becomes quite tiresome to hear the constant refrain about lack of diversity in Saint Joseph as if the town were to blame. The town isn't to blame. If you can afford the house, you're welcome to move here.
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2007, 05:44 PM
Status: "Happy New Year!" (set 3 days ago)
Location: Foot of the Rockies
77,913 posts, read 84,533,866 times
Reputation: 25580
Originally Posted by schoenfraun View Post
Villa Grove, which still has its siren in place; the siren was installed to sound at 6pm, warning all African-Americans who might work there during the day to get the heck out of town. I don't know if they still sound the siren daily, but it's there.... I

Some posters here have mentioned avoiding the "ghetto" north of University Avenue, or Bradley Avenue, and advising "locking the doors" of the car when "driving through" these areas. Of course, these posters do not live in these areas, and so they do not know if they are unsafe or not. They don't even stop the car, I guess. As Molly suggested, these areas are "understood" around here as being largely low-income, largely African-American neighborhoods. It is ridiculous to assert that these areas are unsafe. They are not.

Are you sure this story about Villa Grove is true? Or is it just an "urban legend"? When I was a kid, many communities in my home area near Pittsburgh sounded a siren at 6 PM to test the siren. Most kids knew it as the signal to get home for dinner.

Regarding the area north of University being whatever: I was a public health nurse in C-U for several years, and many of our clients lived in that part of town. Did I think it was dangerous? No, at least not in the daytime. Did I find it an attractive part of town (either town)? No. Many of the landlords of property in that area should be ashamed of themselves. Many properties were in terrible condition some 30 yrs ago. (Please note use of word many, not all)
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-17-2007, 01:54 AM
Location: Cleveland, GA
131 posts, read 641,850 times
Reputation: 49
It's an urban legend. Monticello sounds a siren at noon every day. That's a signal it's lunch time.
Quick reply to this message
Old 03-20-2007, 10:11 PM
1 posts, read 10,850 times
Reputation: 11
Default very sad

I wish that such ill-informed people would just not post.
The small towns around Champaign are not "hick". We are good natured people who choose to live below our means in a small town with low cost of living - pardon us for not having a mortgage that won't get paid off until retirement by purchasing a house in Cherry Hills!
I have been in Homer 26 years and have never heard any racism comments from any of my friends. Sure, you always have an old coot here and there (as you would have in ANY town) who has a mixed up view of people. But those opinions are dying out with that generation, and a new generation of people are taking up residence here.
Small town perks… Some of us like having the grocery store owner carry the groceries out to our car for us (especially when my hands are full with my small children). One time I forgot my check book and he told me to take my groceries home and come back with the money later – you won’t see that happen at Wal-mart. We enjoy the freedom to walk down the street at 3am (with no fear of harm) so that we can see a meteor shower, did you know that stars are perfectly clear out here?
When I want some culture, shopping, or activities - I will go to Champaign/Urbana. But I would never want to live there.
We may be small and not diverse, but we are open and friendly. We've got a lot more going on then most people realize.
But then again, maybe we should just keep it a well kept secret...We wouldn't want to get too big
Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Loading data...
Based on 2000-2013 data
Loading data...

Hide US histogram

Over $99,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Illinois

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2017, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 - Top