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Living a Biking Lifestyle in Elgin, Illinois

Elgin is a fast-growing small city of just over 100,000 people that is just west of Chicago in northern Illinois. The city,home to the National Watch Company (Elgin watches) until the 20th century,  is located on the Fox River. The Elgin Street Sweepers were another old Elgin company.There are some great rail to bicycle and hiking trails in the area, some of which go along the Fox River. Bluff Spring Fen is pictured above. Elgin Community College and Judson University, a small private Baptist college, make Elgin a college town. In the 1990s, Elgin became one of the few cities in northern Illinois to host a riverboat casino when the Grand Victoria Casino came to town. There are a number of homes in the Victorian and Queen Anne style. The downtown has had a renaissance since the arrival of the casino, which attracts nearly 4 million visitors a year. The city has a number of parks and important cultural institutions.

Where to Retire in Elgin and Home Prices

There are a lot of interesting neighborhoods to choose from, plus developments. Some of the latter are active adult and 55+ communities (see link at left).
According to Zillow, the median home value in Elgin was $260,997 in early 2022.

What Is Special about Elgin

Elgin is a fast growing town with all of the right things in place. A casino, a revived downtown, many new housing developments plus viable older neighborhoods, an interesting history, great recreation, and a strong cultural base. The Centre of  Elgin recreational facility is a $41 million resource. The Poplar Creek Preserve has bike, nature, and equestrian trails.

What Is Not Special about Elgin

Cold winters are one aspect of Elgin that might not appeal to everyone. The city is growing so fast that planning and traffic have become issues that need to be addressed. Some people are worried about crime and gangs in Elgin, although others say those concerns are overblown.

Climate and Physical Environment

Elgin in in northern Iliinois on the Fox River, west of Chicago. The average July high temperature is 83 and the average January low is 11.  The wettest month is August (4.4").

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Elgin is home to the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, one of the largest orchestras in Illinois. Together, the Hemmens Auditorium and Elgin Community College's Visual & Performing Arts Center host dozens of performances a year. There is also the Elgin Public Museum and the entertainment at the Grand Victoria Casino. The Gail Borden Public Library moved into a new $30 million 460,000 volume-capacity building in October 2003


The crime index in Elgin at 253 is well below the national index of 321.

Medical Facilities

There are 2 hospitals, St. Joseph and Sherman,  as well as the Elgin Mental Health facility in Elgin.


Elgin has three stations on Metra's Milwaukee District/West Line, which provides daily rail service between Elgin and Chicago. Chicago has the nearest big airports. Elgin is below average in walkability when compared to other communities.

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