Rockford is a tale of two cities when it comes to entertainment. During the summer months, you will find no shortage of outdoor activities in which to indulge. More than 20,000 acres of parks, including Rock Cut State Park, are spread throughout the area, and the city also boasts four major waterways and innumerable gardens, golf courses, bike trails, and arboretums.
But then the iceman cometh in the early winter months, turning the city’s fabulous park system into a frozen, abandoned tundra. The good news is there are a lot of indoor activities to keep you entertained year-round (including a massive indoor aquatic park).
The good news is that the night owl scene is actually decent, and bar hoppers will find a variety of hotspots, dance clubs, sports bars, corner dives, and a live music venue or two where they can sip away their winter blues.
Because Rockford is so sprawling, with most residential lodgings located much more than a stone’s throw from the city’s businesses, we don’t recommend residents rely solely on the Rockford Mass Transit District to get around. On the bright side, traffic rarely accumulates and free street/garage parking is the standard in the downtown area.
Rockford is one of those rare cities where it actually makes more monetary sense to rent than buy. Leasers enjoy some of the Land of Lincoln’s most reasonably priced pads. Tenants pay, on average, just $600 a month for rent, move-in specials are a given, and apartment hunters can find spacious units (900 square feet-plus) for less than $700, even in some of the most coveted neighborhoods.
Renters also have the luxury of being able to choose from a wide pool of rental properties, from basic, boxy 1 BR units without a lot of flash and dazzle to chic, nouveaux lofts and condos packed with panache. Future Rockford residents should also keep their eyes peeled for houses for rent that often pop up in neighborhoods like Edgewater and Rural Oaks.
If you’re new to the whole renting game, meanwhile, make sure you have a quality co-signer in tow (especially if you are trying to rent a house from a non-traditional landlord). And, as always, bring the proper documents along, including your I.D., two most recent paycheck stubs, and renter’s history.
Newcomers often find the northeastern and southeastern ‘hoods the most comfortable. Many apartments in this area are also more modern than others throughout town, and a mixture of apartments, lofts, and single-family detached homes are typically available. Rental prices vary, as boarders can find everything from 1 and 2 BR condos and lofts in the $600-$900 range to expansive townhouses, ranches, and duplexes for over a grand.
As for downtown, you might want to check out some of the amazing (like, less-than-$500-a-month-amazing) specials available for the lofts and sky rises on Main or Market streets. The downtown area also offers some of the city’s most affordable senior living options.
You’ll find some of the cheapest rentals on the far west side of town.
And now you’re all set to begin the hunt for the domicile of your dreams in Forest City. Best of luck, and welcome to Rockford!