Renting an apartment in Alton, Illinois is delightfully free of the hurrying and scurrying that usually accompany house hunting anywhere else. For one, housing is plentiful, beautiful and affordable. Another plus is that a lot of buildings date back to the late 19th and early 20th century, so you are guaranteed a garnish of history on top of the main course of low prices and quality construction.
What’s It Going to Cost You?
Rental property prices in Alton won’t make your wallet cry; we promise! The cost of living in the city is approximately 11 percent lower than the national average. This is reflected in the home prices as well. Expect to pay no more than $1,000 for a 3 to 4 bedroom house, even less for one of the many new apartments that have come up in the city recently.
When to Rent?
You’ll find plenty of vacant rental homes all year, though it’s best to move during the summer when the weather is still pleasant and the mid-west’s famous bitter winds are far, far away. Fortunately, unlike New York or San Francisco, you’ll hardly be competing with thousands of other wide-eyed, bargain-hunting renters, so you can go about the renting process at your own pace. Properties tend to stay on the market for a decent bit of time, though be warned: You’ll still have to fight tooth, if not nail, for top homes in prime locations.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need the basics, such proof that you can pay for the home and some form of credit history. Clean attire and a professional demeanor is an added recommendation. They can even help shave a few bucks off your rent.
Alton can be broadly divided into around 10 neighborhoods with Fosterburg dominating the northern part, and City Center the southern part. For a relatively small town, there’s plenty of variety to go about.
Fosterburg: Friendly neighbors and affordable rental homes makes this a great place to hang up your boots.
State Street/West 9th Street: Colonial era Victorian homes abound in this neighborhood full of old-world charm.
Forest Homes: Look to Forest Homes if you’re on a budget and want something with plenty of character and easy access. You'll find dozens of studio apartments to go around this part of the city.
City Center: Once the industrial heart of Alton, City Center is where the city’s residents now get together for a cup of coffee or a bottle of brew. This part of the city is filled with historical and cultural landmarks.
Cardinal Street: Cardinal Street is the hip part of Alton.
Here are a few things to know about living in Alton:
You’ll Need a Car: Alton is a car-city. You have to have a car to get anything done here. This means that public transportation is non-existent, and places of interest are far away to keep you from walking.
Do Check out the History: Alton is the kind of city that keeps history nerds up at night. There are plenty of Civil War era landmarks, including a monument to 1354 Confederate soldiers who died in Alton prison; the Franklin House, where Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas before the 1858 senatorial elections; the Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument--a 110-foot-tall monument dedicated to Elijah Lovejoy, the abolitionist; and the Beall Mansion, a gorgeous early 20th century home designed by Lucas Pfeiffenberger.
Get Your Cameras Ready: The statue of Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in recorded history, is the kind of photo-opp Facebook was invented for.
Hear the Music: The influence of Miles Davis, who was born here, dominates the music scene. There are dozens of jazz clubs--amateur and professional--inspired by Davis’ signature sound. The Alton Symphony Orchestra also ranks among the best community orchestras in the Midwest.
Go Antique Shopping: Alton’s location--both on the map and in the history books--has made it one of the best places to go antique shopping. Need relics from the Civil War era? Coins from the Gilded Age?You’ll find plenty to go around the city’s many antique shops.
Hike Through the Limestone Bluffs: Alton is situated right next to towering limestone bluffs that dominate the city’s geography. Cycling buffs will be pleased to know that there is a bikeway that runs along the Mississippi river and goes straight through the bluffs.
Go Birdwatching: Winter sees several bald eagles migrate to the waters of the Mississippi around Alton, which has now become a major attraction for nature lovers and birdwatchers.
Alton is peaceful and beautiful. Houses are affordable and of a uniformly high quality, and there are plenty of things to do around town.