Southwestern Illinois is part of the Greater St. Louis region, which enjoys a low cost of living compared to other metropolitan areas. The region has a lower cost of living than other regions among metropolitan areas throughout the United States.
The region is rich in arts and culture. Families have easy access to a wide range of cultural experiences from the impressive art collection at local universities, to the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and related Lewis & Clark Confluence Memorial marks the point of departure for their famous American expedition into the West. Southwestern Illinois' location, just minutes from downtown St. Louis, gives area residents the
opportunity to explore the city’s many art and culture centers including the sights and sounds of the Fox Theater, as well as endless creativity from The Muny, St. Louis Art Museum, Grand Center, St. Louis History Museum, and University Loop.
With the majestic landscape provided by the river and various state parks, there are countless recreational and sports opportunities. Cyclists and walkers are able to take advantage of well over 100 miles of user-friendly trails in Madison and St. Clair Counties. Both sides of the Mississippi River are devoted to allowing its residents to live an active and healthy lifestyle, which is why Great Rivers Greenway is constantly working on new projects including building out the River Ring on the Missouri side of the River connecting over 600 miles of trails and greenways. The region is also home to Forest Park, one of the largest and most scenic urban parks in the United States. Located in Forest Park, beautiful trails, an outdoor ice rink, and many other recreation activities making it easy to spend an entire day inside the park. Other popular attractions are Pere Marquette State Park, National Shrine of our Lady of the Snows, Raging Rivers Water Park, fantastic golf courses, a World Shooting and Recreational Complex and much more.
The St. Louis region's lower cost of living is even more pronounced in Southwestern Illinois, where homebuyers find they can get a lot of house for their money. Options for those looking to call Southwestern Illinois home range from starter homes in mature neighborhoods to new homes in a variety of price ranges. In addition, those looking to build their dream homes can take advantage of the affordable acreage that can be found in various communities in the region. For more information regarding housing please visit the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois or Greater Gateway Association of Realtors .
Access to healthcare is important for many families and the Southwestern Illinois region, and is home to some of the finest healthcare institutions in the nation ensuring residents can obtain the proper care they need. More than half a dozen hospitals provide care in Madison and St. Clair Counties alone, including:
- Alton Memorial Hospital
- Anderson Hospital
- BJC Memorial Hospital
- BJC Memorial Hospital East
- Gateway Regional Medical Center
- HSHS St. Anthony's
- HSHS St. Elizabeth's
- Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation
- Touchette Regional Hospital
There are more than 50 hospitals total in the Greater St. Louis area. Among these are Barnes Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital, which are both consistently ranked among the best hospitals in the nation by respective publications such as U.S. News and World Report. Washington University and St. Louis University both have excellent medical schools, giving St. Louis the added distinction of being one of just a handful of cities nationwide with two major medical schools. These world-renowned institutions draw students from around the globe.
Excellent school districts are abundant in Southwestern Illinois providing a high-quality education that is helping prepare the workforce of tomorrow. Throughout the area, you will also find a variety of distinctive education institutions. The region is home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, McKendree University, Lewis and Clark Community College, Southwestern Illinois College, Kaskaskia College, Webster University Scott AFB, and Washington University, St. Louis University, Lindenwood University, University of Missouri-St. Louis and Webster University are among the several additional institutions of higher learning that can be found just across the river. All institutions have academic advisors available on base, to help students navigate available programs. Excellent training opportunities are also available for those seeking to enter the trades.
Education is one of the five essential pillars of the Leadership Council and one of the initial foundation committees of the organization in 1983. Founding members of the Leadership Council recognized this field as a key component of development in Southwestern Illinois. The Education Committee has established several key initiatives to create a strong voice for educational institutions and business connected efforts:
- Serving as an education advocate for regional issues and school construction funding
- Developing a regional communications network between education and business to address specific job needs and career tech programs
- Identifying new opportunities between business and education to meet job skill shortages
- Developing an education directory on Leadership Council website for industry specific resources and training