Until lately, Illinois seemed to be a "best kept secret"! Many are now finding however, that there are compelling advantages to living in Southwest Illinois, to almost any St. Louis based transferee.
We call it the "Illinois Alternative" ... an alternative offering distinct benefits in many ways, but especially in communting conditions ... and offering an ingredient hard to find on the west side ... that of "small town livability"! And much more, as we hope to explain here.
So we're suggesting that transferees at least to view it as a viable option ... and suggesting they take a hard look at "East County". Our promise to relocating families and their sponsors, (and even to the realty community on the west side) ... we'll simply put our best foot forward in offering Illinois as an option ... letting the relocating family decide what's best for them from selections of communities and homes on both sides of the river! Thatway, relocating families are ultimately served best! But they deserve to look at both! They owe it to their families to look at both!
Welcome to The Illinois Alternative...
... and a highlight new chapter in your lives. We hope you're looking forward to living in the St. Louis area. You should! It's a great place to live...the quality of life can't be beat.
While part of the attraction comes from the character of the St. Louis area as a whole, to which southwestern Illinois contributes greatly, other features are totally unique to Southwestern Illinois. We think it's the best part as we'll hope to show.
It's small town Americana at its best, with good schools, a friendly midwestern way of life, strong civic pride and opportunity for involvement and identity in a broad range of activities. A short drive down the road can take you to any job in the metro area, or to professional sporting events, world-recognized cultural entertainment, or miles of relaxing country roads. Major shopping centers and malls, antique shops, auctions and craft fairs meet any shopper's expectations. World-class medical facilities are easily accessible. Hundreds of restaurants offering a wide variety of ethnic to country style cooking are easily found. It's the very best of the good life.
With this presentation, we hope to acquaint you with the general features and alternatives of living here, but it will be necessarily only an overview. Please know that we have much more information on many subjects ready for your use. We at Home Buyers Relocation Services are totally dedicated to making the transition to your new home as pleasant and comfortable as possible, addressing any concern and every necessity. We have a reference library second to none, and many community contacts that are ready to help
Metro East is called home by more than 30% of the total St. Louis are population, including thousands employed in Missouri...about 1 in 3 of our working residents in fact, work across the river...a percentage steadily growing.
Madison and St. Clair counties have more than 700,000 residents scattered over a lot of beautiful geography with gobs of open space. The cities along the arc of the bluffs are especially attractive as we'll describe under "Geography 101" below.
Several communities...Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, O'Fallon, Troy and Columbia are experiencing incredible growth...others aren't far behind. But small town livability and lots of open space are still the unique hallmarks of life in SW Illinois.
1. St. Louis is an easy drive from most cities in Metro-East. 20-30 minutes or less, even during rush hours, will get you to downtown St. Louis. North and south counties are close, too, with the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the North, on interstate 270, and Jefferson Barracks Bridge on the South, on interstate 255.
Some exit distances....(from the Poplar Street Bridge..downtown...the exit numbers mean "Miles from Downtown".)
2. Illinois is on the "sunrise-side" of the city...the sun is always at your back while commuting...going and coming....a significant daily amenity sometimes completely overlooked..sort of the "don't know what you're missing" quality.
3. The interstates are far less congested.....call it more "civilized"! Only the Poplar Street Bridges is a problem, and that can be circumvented with good timing. Sometimes, the Martin Luther King Bridge can be used as a reliever, and it's preferred if your work location is on the north side of downtown. Of course, the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the north (IS 270) and the Jefferson Barracks Bridge on the south, (IS 255) are hardly ever congested. Metro-Link, public light rail public transport is already extended from downtown into E. St. Louis, and under construction through Fairview Heights to Belleville. It's already a great alternative to downtown parking.
4. Residents of Illinois have access to all of St. Louis' cultural and recreational features, just as any other "St. Louisan"....on any given day or evening.
5. Even the most popular cities, along the crest of the bluffs, still have small town livability...a highly prized quality of life factor for most families...a quality simply unavailable on the other side within the same easy commuting distances.
6. Schools are highly rated in scholastics, arts and sports. Faculty, students and parents have pride and involvement, another example of high levels of plain old citizenship.
7. Illinois' own institutions add immensely to the quality of life: Southern Illinois University, McKendree College, fine hospitals, YMCA's, parks, Illinois State Parks....and on and on.
8. There's great shopping available at major malls, and local support services everywhere...and of course, the whole St. Louis marketplace is close.
9. Home inventories are rich and varied, and come in a broad range of styles, historic to new, small to large, in broad price ranges.
10. The quality of construction is generally better in Illinois, and prices are generally a bit lower, a function primarily of lower land costs.
11. So there's generally a little more land with homes in Illinois, even newer ones, and there's lots more open space generally.
12. Illinois and Missouri are nearly on a par when overall taxes are considered, although at first blush, real estate taxes appear slightly higher in Illinois. (We have detailed comparison sheets, and examples...please ask for them.)
13. Illinois is certainly not in second place when it comes to beauty....the beautiful rolling topography along the bluffs is stunning, with some of the finest home settings anywhere....(said admitting Missouri is beautiful, too.)
14. Because of all of the above features and benefits, and expected future growth, resale should be excellent.
Understanding and enjoying SW Illinois is enhanced with just a little geography: The whole St. Louis area is built on a strata of bedrock that generally slopes to the east. This means that Missouri has a lot more outcroppings than Illinois, but there are gorgeous limestone cliffs (outcroppings) above Alton on the north, and in below Columbia on the south. (These should be on your "things to do" list as they make great day-tours. The "Great River Road", from Alton North, is on the American Heritage list.)
But opposite the major part St. Louis city is a large old flood plain of the Mississippi called "The Great American Bottoms". Now don't panic yet....because the last time it was flooded was in the Great Flood of 1903, long before levees protected it. It wasn't anything but damp during the great flood of 1993, although flood plains along the mississippi near Alton and near Columbia were flooded in 1993. (But we won't take you anywhere there's the chance of flooding, and the Corps of Engineers probably won't let you anyway because of new regulations.)
That old, flat flood plain, The American Bottoms, is not a hospitable residential venue. Although there are some towns and cities located on it, near the river, they're not considered top relocation sites, are generally shrinking in population, and we don't work there.
However, the the American Bottoms are bordered on the east with "bluffs" ... abruptly rising 400-500 feet above the old flood plain, and this is the great topography! The bluffs were formed at the end of the Wisconsin Glacial period by prevailing westerly winds blowing clay parties from the barren flood plain below the terminus of the glacier....which came about this far south. So the bluffs are entirely composed of wind-blown clay particles that geologists call "loess.
But in the 10,000 years since the glacier retreated, erosion and vegetation have shaped the tops of these "bluffs" into a beautiful rolling topography fringed with woods. It was a great haven for all kinds of Indians as they found wood, water, and opportunity for some open fields for early agriculture. (It was also near the confluence of the Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi rivers....the canoe superhighways of their era.) Artifacts are still in abundance. Farmers, coming with the immigration of the early 1800's, farmed the open, more level areas, but left the ditches and their abundance of trees for us. Wise developers use the topography well....confining roads to the crests, with opportunity for many walkout basements into the woods behind.
They are cities, starting on the north....Godfrey, parts of Alton, Bethalto, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Collinsville, Troy, St. Jacob, Highland, Fairview Heights, O'Fallon, Shiloh, Swansea, parts of Belleville, Freeburg, Millstadt, Columbia and Waterloo. They occupy a band about ten miles wide, a big arc from north to south, bulging in the middle, 7 to 8 miles from the river. (On maps, the edge is pretty will defined by Illinois 157, with Interstate 255 a mile or two farther into the old flood plain...both north south roads, paralleling the bluffs.)
And this final word about the American Bottoms...for it's important to also note that they form a rather natural green belt separator from the inner cities. So we go across it....and it's a pleasant drive.
Go for the bluffs...they're prettier, their drainage is near-perfect, they're breezier...and they have some of the nicest communities of people and homes you'll find anywhere!
This is a dangerous exercise...for we're offering some conclusions here that you should make yourself....so let's say we would like to direct your attention to three special areas...
They are school districts actually, because they all qualify with top schools (although somewhat different), and then have slightly different flavors to life. All three include considerable peripheral geography therefore, as the school districts include quite a bit of rural area, in every case.
They are, in our minds: Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, ("Edwardsville District 7"), Troy ("Triad District 2"), and O'Fallon/Shiloh ("O'Fallon District 90") (Collinsville, Columbia, some smaller towns are close, too.)
These are the places most promising for those relocating to the St. Louis area, living in Illinois, and working either in Illinois industry or in Missouri:
1. They have great schools
2. They are especially close to downtown St. Louis, with Edwardsville/Glen Carbon and Troy also having great north county access via IS 270.
3. They are "dynamic"...have plain vitality and good citizenship.
4. They have great housing options available, extremely active new home builders.
5. They have top resaleability.
6. They have shopping and service support in abundance
7. They are safe and secure.
8. They offer incredible citizenry participation, all kinds of activities.
9. They're pretty...they have interesting histories...and just great livability
10. Chances are, you'll find friends there, perhaps from the same company you're going to work with. We consider these the "bullseye" in targeting...they must be looked at first because of the compelling characteristics.
There are many other good towns....more "country" than not. And there are larger and even closer cities that are more than OK....we're just talking creme de la creme.
Of course, there will be a lot of counseling with clients on this issue.
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