Champaign-Urbana, IL

OK…there seems to be some folks here who are at least familiar with Champaign-Urbana, IL. So, I am asking for an earnest assessment of the cities, community & surrounding terrain. There is a facility there that has been “cultivating a relationship” with me - light recruiting since I still have my 1-year fellowship to go after my residency completes in July - and they are there in Champaign-Urbana. The pretty paperwork & web-based stuff looks awesome; however, I’ve seen many dog-turds dressed up in tuxs before by the way of pretty paper.

I am very much into hunting & fishing. Wendy & I both love to bicycle, hike & will most likely get back into camping. We love the idea of a small-/medium-sized city, esp a university/college town, and we want to return to the mid-west.

So, for those of you who know about Champaign-Urbana or, if you know anything about The Carle Clinic - please chime in & let your thoughts & feelings be known!


I’ll talk to Dr. Francis Monday and get his input. He moved here from Chicago and has been here for 8 or 10 years or so, so he should have a pretty good idea.

As for me, I guess it’s okay, but I still have the warm fuzzy feelings for Lancaster and can’t wait to get home!


I’m about an hour and a half north of Champaign. I will have to be honest with you, knowing that you grew up in Arkansas like I did: the thing that strikes me about ALL of Illinois outside of Chicago is the total FLATNESS. It is, of course, a farming state, and the terrain reflects it. I don’t know how that will jibe with your hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. I have driven it back and forth between Arkansas and Chicago and that is an a pretty unrelenting picture. There are areas referred to as “forest preserves” at least in my area, no hunting allowed, but tree filled with deers seen occasionally. If you’ve spent any time in Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois, the pervading “atmosphere” or “culture” is very similar. A much stronger connection to the “Old World” as many have parents or grandparents from Europe. A similarity (in my observation) to Europe in the tall, thin housing in the older parts of their cities and pubs in abundance. Most housing is siding rather than brick (even new homes) and you don’t have to drive far at all to run into a corn field. Of course, that is my only two months in the state. Illinois natives likely have more info.


I grew up around Lafayette, IN, and I used to do a lot of stagehand work at Assembly Hall on the U of I campus. Champaign-Urbana always reminds me of my alma mater, Purdue, in several ways. You have a college town that is really just a life-support system for the University next door to a city full of nice down-to-earth blue collar folks. Kahkeetsee is absolutely right about the topography. That portion of the midwest on up to the great lakes is just about the flatest in the country, and it can be a real issue when rivers & creeks flood. Just a little farther south, however, the terrain gets interesting quickly. I used to go rock climbing in a few really choice spots in southern Illinois. There are a lot of nice spots around there (some good ones over in Indiana, too) for outdoorsy activities of all sorts. The state parks in both states are very nice, and given the terrain, most places of interest are a pretty easy (if boring) drive from Chambana. If you ask me, the people in that area are some of the nicest you’ll meet. I suspect that you and your family could grow attached to it after you discover what a cool place it really is. Speaking of cool… Um, winters have been known to get a little harsh there in the past, but snow accumulations usually aren’t too bad. You’re just beyond the extreme limit for “lake effect.” I hope you brought along some warm clothes, though. :wink: Feel free to PM me if you’d like some hints about places to look for good hunting & fishing (even spelunking, if you’re into that). I hope you enjoy the area as much as I did when I lived around there!


I think Champaign is a great place to live, but i’ve never really lived outside of the midwest. It’s a college town, so you want to stay out of campus town on big game nights (lots of drunken college students wandering around). other than that, though, good quality of life. cost of living is very low, compared to a major city. there are a few nice restaurants and bars. it’s a bike friendly town. as far as nature-enjoying opportunities - there’s a lot of farmland around there, but nearby you have allerton park:

which is cool, and a lot of state parks within driving distance.

go for a visit sometime… i’ve thought about moving back every once in a while, because there are a lot of good things about it. but i like to live in a bigger city, so i probably won’t.

Hi Dave,

I spent a year living in Mattoon and worked as an SLP at some Champaign-Urbana nursing homes.

It’s probably got a total area population of around 75K people (minus the students). I never worked for Carle, but I worked with doctors affiliated with Carle and they were always very nice and professional. I understand they are a decent company to work for.

As far as the area goes - it is definitely flat farmland, since it’s in the middle of the state, but that also means less expensive real estate. C-U is about 2.5 hours south of Chicago, 2 hours west of Indy, and 2 hours east of STL, and 1-1.5 hours east of Springfield and Decatur, so you have lots of options on places to go for day trips.

As far as fishing and hunting - C-U is about 2 hours north of where Southern Illinois begins, and there’s LOTS of fishing down there. I grew up about 70 miles south of STL in Illinois, and I know one the best places to fish is Rend Lake (great for large-mouth bass, catfish, and bluegill) which is about 2 hours south of C-U. There’s also plenty of deer, wild turkey, dove, and sometimes quail hunting, might be pheasant (but I think the population has dwindled). Lake Shelbyville is about 1-1.5 hours west and has a good stock, too.

Academically, U-I is really well known for its engineering, and obviously they have great NCAA sports.

If you’re looking for a place to start a job and raise a family, C-U is a pretty decent area. They have all the typical shopping you find in large city suburbs but nightlife is geared more toward the college students.

You may have already made up your mind about this, but I saw your post and thought I would give you what I know.

Good luck!