Consider staying in C-U after graduation


The Daily Illini File Photo

A crowd gathers to enjoy a concert at Outside at Research Park. This festival is one of many that contributes to Champaign-Urbana’s vibrant culture.

Before jolting back to the suburbs or out to Silicon Valley after graduation, consider Champaign-Urbana as a possibility. Seriously. Champaign-Urbana is a micro-urban community offering the vibrant, exciting city life with the care-free affordability of the country. Here are some reasons why we think you should consider staying in Champaign-Urbana for the summer, or even for the long term.


From the first web browser to residential air conditioning to whipped cream in a can, Champaign-Urbana has had a long history of innovation. Some of the biggest names in tech today got their start in C-U, including Wolfram, YouTube, PayPal and Yelp.

When seeking a full-time job, take a look at some startups in Research Park. Or consider launching your own startup — Champaign-Urbana has the ninth highest amount of venture capital per person in the country. Popular Mechanics named C-U one of the best startup cities in the U.S. In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Research Park Director Laura Frerichs said, “Anyone can request a free consultation with our entrepreneurs-in-residence or get help with writing grants for funding.”

Affordable lifestyle

We all want to enjoy the amenities of city life, but the cost of living in big cities can leave much to be desired. Prices here are lower for everything from food to housing — in fact, the cost of living in Champaign County is 10 percent below the national average.

Instead of living in a shoebox in the city for $1,500 per month, why not rent an apartment or house in one of the greenest cities in the country? The median home price here is $142,800 compared to over $1 million in Silicon Valley.

The average commute time for C-U residents is 18 minutes each way, which is lower than the national average of 26 minutes. It’s much lower than Silicon Valley’s average of 90 minutes. In one day’s commute, living in Champaign-Urbana would save you enough time to watch an extra 2.5 episodes of (insert popular Netflix show here).

Arts and culture

Whether you’re in Champaign or Urbana, you can easily find tasty, farm-fresh food all summer long. Both cities have weekly farmers markets located in their downtown. Not only will the produce taste better than anything you can find at County Market, but you’ll also be supporting local farmers instead of large corporations.

And as crazy as it may sound, there are, in fact, food and music festivals that exist other than Lollapalooza. Champaign-Urbana offers a variety of festivals to those who stick around for the summer. There’s StreetFest and Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival in downtown Champaign, Strawberry Jam at Meadowbrook Park, Audiofeed at the Champaign County Fairgrounds and Taste of Champaign-Urbana in West Side Park, just to name a few.

So before you drop a couple hundred dollars to fight a crowd of 400,000 suburban high schoolers at Lollapalooza, consider sticking around Champaign-Urbana and attending a few festivals you can actually enjoy.