By Bruce and Karen Carlson

Moving to a new place can be both exciting and challenging. It brings new opportunities, experiences, and challenges that can shape an individual’s lifestyle. Our move from North Aurora, IL, to New Athens, IL, has brought a number of lifestyle changes that we have experienced.

North Aurora is a suburb of Chicago with a population of approximately 18,000 people. It is located in Kane County, Illinois, and is known for its excellent schools, beautiful parks, and friendly neighborhoods. On the other hand, New Athens is a small town located in St. Clair County, Illinois, with a population of approximately 2,000 people. It is a rural area known for its peacefulness and natural beauty.

Moving from North Aurora to New Athens means a significant change in lifestyle. The move is bringing new experiences, challenges, and opportunities that have impacted our daily routine, social life, and overall well-being. From adjusting to a new home to adapting to a new environment, moving to a new place requires a willingness to embrace change and adapt to new circumstances.

Cost of Living Comparison

One of the most important considerations is the cost of living. In this section, we will compare the cost of living between the two cities.

Housing and Real Estate

The median home value in North Aurora, IL is $252,000, while in New Athens, IL, it is $121,500. This means that homes in New Athens are significantly less expensive than in North Aurora. In terms of renting, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in North Aurora is around $1,200, while in New Athens, it is around $550.

Transportation and Commute

Transportation costs in New Athens are lower than in North Aurora. Gas prices are lower, and the commute time is shorter. The average commute time in North Aurora is around 30 minutes, while in New Athens, it is around 20 minutes. We’re a little farther away from things so hopefully the savings in the price of gas won’t be lost in driving farther.


When it comes to taxes, there are some differences between North Aurora and New Athens. The property tax rate in North Aurora is around 2.6%, while in New Athens, it is around 1.8%. Additionally, the sales tax rate in North Aurora is around 7.5%, while in New Athens, it is around 6.5%.

Overall, it is clear that there are significant cost of living differences between North Aurora and New Athens. While housing and real estate costs are lower in New Athens, transportation costs and taxes are also lower. As we looked for a new house these were points we noticed and made it desirable to move from North Aurora to New Athens.

Community and Lifestyle

New Athens is a small town with a population of around 2,000 people, located in southwestern Illinois. On the other hand, North Aurora has a population of around 18,000 people and is located in the heart of Chicago’s western suburbs in southeast Kane County.

Education and Schools

New Athens has one elementary school, one high school, and no colleges or universities. North Aurora, on the other hand, has several public and private schools, including a community college. The quality of education in New Athens is good, but the lack of options may be a concern for some families.


New Athens has a few healthcare facilities, including a medical center and a pharmacy. However, for more serious medical issues, we will need to travel to nearby towns. North Aurora has several hospitals and medical centers, including a children’s hospital, providing residents with more healthcare options.

Recreation and Culture

New Athens offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking trails, parks, and beaches. The town is home to a few events, including an annual homecoming celebration. North Aurora also has several parks and recreational areas, including a golf course and a community center. The town is also located near several attractions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries.

Overall, the lifestyle changes are significant between North Aurora and New Athens. While New Athens offers a more relaxed and tight-knit community, North Aurora provides more options for education, healthcare, and cultural activities.

Job Market and Opportunities

Retirement brings the idea of not working. However, that does bring some challenges to us as we have always been people who have worked. A job with a more relaxed mindset may be a good thing. Here are some things we’ll have to consider about the job market and opportunities in New Athens.

Industry and Careers

As a small town, New Athens has a population of just over 2,000 people. The town’s primary industries include healthcare, social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing. While there may not be as many career opportunities in New Athens as there are in larger cities, there are still several job openings available in these industries.

The median income in New Athens is $56,250, and the average household income is $70,000. This means that there are opportunities to earn a decent living in the town. However, it is essential to note that the cost of living in New Athens is 21.5% lower than the national average, which means that you may be able to stretch your income further.


Since we moved to New Athens to retire, there are several retirement communities and assisted living facilities in the area. We are not looking at these services now. It may be something in the future. It’s something we can take comfort in knowing the services are nearby. Something we still have to explore is where doctors and other health facilities are. This is something we will be doing shortly.

Fortunately, our pension or retirement income will find our money goes further in New Athens. The town’s low cost of living means that we can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without having to worry about our retirement income running out too quickly.

Overall, while the job market in New Athens may not be as robust as it is in larger cities, there are still opportunities available in several industries. I’m thinking Menards or Lowes might be options, the town’s low cost of living made it an attractive option for us to move here with our retirement income.

Crime and Safety

Moving from North Aurora, IL to New Athens, IL crime was something we hadn’t really thought a lot about. Our expectation was there would be little if any crime in the area. According to NeighborhoodScout, the crime rate in North Aurora is lower than the national average, with a 1 in 612 chance of being a victim of violent crime and a 1 in 92 chance of being a victim of property crime. In contrast, the crime rate in New Athens is higher than the national average, with a 1 in 68 chance of being a victim of violent crime and a 1 in 22 chance of being a victim of property crime. This was something of a surprise. The comment below brings a new view on comments from one of our neighbors, “We watch out for each other.”

Residents of New Athens may experience a higher level of crime compared to their counterparts in North Aurora. It is important to take necessary precautions to protect oneself and their property. Residents can take steps such as installing security systems, locking doors and windows, and being aware of their surroundings to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Reviews of New Athens also indicate some concerns about safety. On Niche, the town received a C- rating for crime and safety. However, it is important to note that reviews and ratings do not necessarily reflect the reality of crime and safety in a town. It is always advisable to do independent research and take necessary precautions to ensure personal safety and security.

Moving Process

Making the Move

Moving from North Aurora, IL to New Athens, IL was an exciting but stressful experience. We had made the decision to move and the actual moving process was part of that. We did some research and preparation for the lifestyle change. One of our first steps was to hire a reputable moving company. We settled on Prager Moving service out of Naperville. Steve helped alleviate a lot of the stress associated with packing and transporting our belongings.

Another important step was updating our mailing address with the post office and any relevant organizations. It’s amazing how many places have your contact information. We were able to make many updates online and of course at the post office. Even though we have been here almost two months, we’re still finding updates that need to be changed.

Settling In

While we were looking at houses, we were making notes of where things were located. It is also very nice to have our son and his family nearby to help with finding things. Since we arrived in New Athens, we have taken little trips to other towns and locations. As we learn about new locations, we’ll write an article on what we find. This will include our exploring the local area, finding new places to shop and eat, and meeting our new neighbors.

We have updated our driver’s licenses. When we looked at what we needed to bring, it was surprising. The key was to have something with our name and address. Fortunately, the folks in the Belleville drivers license facility were easy to work with and made the process smooth and quick.

Overall, our moving process could have been overwhelming, but with proper planning and preparation, the transition went smoothly.

We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we move through the process of selling our house, buying a new house (to become our home), and the adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, Bruce & Karen.