Chicago Suburbs Cost of Living Vs. Median Income: Where Do Residents Get the Most for Their Money?

When planning where to live, one must consider the cost of living in Chicago suburbs versus the median income. In this article, we explore how residents in the West Loop, Northbrook, Long Grove, Naperville, and Winnetka, plus several other suburbs, balance their income with the cost of living in their area.

Balancing Act in West Loop, Chicago

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Kicking off in the vibrant West Loop, a jewel of Chicago, residents here experience a stark contrast between income and expenses. With a median income of about $107,0611, and a cost of living index considerably higher than the national average2, residents may dedicate a significant portion of their income to housing, food, and transportation.

U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Numbeo – Cost of Living in Chicago

Northbrook: The Middle Ground

Shifting to the suburbs, Northbrook showcases a healthier balance. The median household income here stands at $125,4323. While the cost of living in Chicago suburbs like Northbrook is higher than in some areas, it remains more manageable due to the relatively lower housing costs[^4^] and good access to amenities.


Data USA – Northbrook, IL

Long Grove: High Income, High Living

In Long Grove, residents enjoy a higher median income of around $208,250[^5^]. However, this suburb, known for its picturesque landscape and high-end homes, also commands a high cost of living[^6^]. Consequently, despite their higher income, residents may find a significant portion consumed by the cost of living in Chicago suburbs like Long Grove.

Naperville: The Family-Friendly Suburb

Naperville is a family-oriented suburb with excellent schools. The median income here is $125,926[^7^], with a slightly lower cost of living compared to other suburbs[^8^]. This balance allows more income to potentially be saved or spent on other lifestyle needs.

Data USA – Naperville, IL

Winnetka: The Affluent Suburb

Winnetka, one of the wealthiest suburbs in the nation, has a median income of $250,0009. However, with high-end homes and an overall higher cost of living10, residents may find themselves allocating a larger portion of their income to expenses, compared to other suburbs.

A Broader Look at Chicago Suburbs

Beyond these five areas, the cost of living in Chicago suburbs varies widely. Suburbs like Orland Park and Oak Park offer lower cost of living with respectable median incomes11, enabling residents to potentially save more. In contrast, residents in affluent suburbs like Lake Forest may find a larger portion of their income going towards cost of living12.

Striking the Right Balance

Understanding the balance between income and cost of living is paramount in making a wise decision about where to reside. This balance does not only apply to housing but includes other significant expenses. The key lies in understanding your income’s purchasing power and aligning it with a suburb that fits your lifestyle and financial comfort zone.


Adam Faust, Founder & Chief Investment Officer

Deep Blue Financial, Northbrook IL


  1. U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

  2. Numbeo – Cost of Living in Chicago

  3. Data USA – Northbrook, IL

  4. Zillow – Northbrook Home Prices & Values

  5. Data USA – Long Grove, IL

  6. Zillow – Long Grove Home Prices & Values

  7. Data USA – Naperville, IL

  8. Zillow – Naperville Home Prices & Values

  9. Data USA – Winnetka, IL

  10. Zillow – Winnetka Home Prices & Values

  11. U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey, Orland Park and Oak Park

  12. Zillow – Lake Forest Home Prices & Values

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