The Best Counties to Buy Land in Illinois

Return to Blog

Get cash offer for your land today!

Ready for your next adventure? Fill in the contact form and get your cash offer.

Thank you! We got your info and will reach out with any questions ASAP.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
The Best Counties to Buy Land in Illinois

Bart Waldon

Beyond bustling Chicago, Illinois hosts a diverse landscape spanning lush farmland prairies, Shawnee National Forest wilderness, and historic river town charm, all divided across 102 counties. For land buyers seeking attractive investment acreage or future build sites, pinpointing the top counties first helps narrow overwhelming site options statewide into more manageable focus areas primed for growth. Factoring key site selection drivers proves essential before taking that initial journey assessing unknown rural properties in person ultimately.

Why Evaluate Land by Counties in Illinois?

Given its extensive latitude span nearly 400 miles tip-to-top, Illinois exhibits distinct geological and climate zone variances moving northward that shape agriculture potentials, infrastructure norms and development patterns differently across regions. This gets amplified further by rural population density shifts that concentrate around occasional small cities and industries unevenly. Therefore, comparing land values by homogenized statewide averages poorly informs buyers where near-term activity concentrations point increasingly. Instead, savvy investors hone in on emerging county hotspots.

Key Site Selection Factors Informing Where to Buy Illinois Land

Beyond scenic road trips, purchasing land constitutes long-horizon investing. Strategic buyers analyze key indicators forecasting which rural zones undergo potential new construction and infrastructure upgrades that lifts land valuations over multi-year ownership. Prime drivers influencing site attractiveness include:

Infrastructure Expansion - Planned highway widenings, utility service introductions, airport upgrades or rail transit extensions stimulate commercial and eventually residential interest as areas become better connected regionally. Lands along these public project footprints appreciate most.

Industry Relocations - Corporate site selection teams choose locations feeding workforces best. Emerging counties luring manufacturing plants, distribution warehouses or essentials like hospitals gain associated housing demand influx lifting values. Owners should monitor economic development signals.

Amenity Improvements - Selected depopulating rural counties now court tourists introducing new hospitality attractions, recreational sites and city aesthetic enhancements catalyzing curious visitations and some relocations ultimately. New amenities widen residential appeals.

Demographics Shifts - Many counties bleed populations declining economically. But tracking areas exhibiting influxes among key buyer demographics like millennials or retirees uncovers target zones supporting upcoming land development through these influential consumer bases.

The highest potential land buys balance multiple positive trajectory indicators subtly reversing historical rural stagnation or declines that went overlooked by most passive buyers previously.

Top Illinois Counties Exhibiting Growth Indicators

We spotlight prime counties where recent construction expansion and reviving metro influences deserve attention when evaluating prospective land buys able to exhibit sustained value increases over multi-year investment horizons benefiting ahead of broader market recoveries likely gradual elsewhere.

Kane County

With its eastern border flanking Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport collar suburbs, Kane emerged as Illinois’ fastest growing county at 17% population expansion since 2010. Robust Asian and Hispanic influx together with families seeking more affordable housing flock to Kane. This drives not only new residential construction, but commercial projects including a recent $100 million Amazon distribution center underscoring regional shipment access.

Why Kane County Land? - Adjacent Chicago job center access coupled with retention of quaint historic towns like Geneva and St. Charles amid the suburbanization makes Kane a balanced play joining metro influx near robust transportation assets connected inland.

Will County

Positioned evenly between Chicago and downstate straddling I-80 infrastructure, Will County hosts transportation advantages now attracting immense warehousing/logistics complexes. The recent billion dollar RidgePort Logistics port fuels growth together with surging Hispanic and senior populations in bedroom communities like Bolingbrook, Plainfield and Romeoville.

Why Will County Land? - Leveraging I-80 combined with cheap available surrounding acreage made Will ideal for national shippers’ supply chain expansion. New industrial campuses enable additional housing construction feeding the logistics industry engine.

McHenry County

Part of the wider Chicagoland orbit, McHenry County represents Illinois’ and the entire Midwest’s fastest growing county by percentage at +22% since 2010. Situated between O’Hare and Milwaukee, McHenry led all metro counties registering over 10,000 new residents in 2021 alone as families seek pastoral towns with reasonable commutes. Both commercial and housing construction flourished given natural amenities near employment.

Why McHenry County Land? Attractive smalltown vibes alongside reasonable Milwaukee and Chicago corporate job access position McHenry as an emerging outlier experiencing broad base growth rather than just industrial or residential spikes like other counties above. Diverse demand lowers risk.

Jersey County

Along the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Missouri, Jersey County exhibits steadfast growth as a recreational haven. Its 15% population bump since 2010 traces to outdoors lovers and weekend refuge seekers flocking to Jersey County’s nature trails, marinas and hunting grounds an hour removed from city centers. But new tourist attractions like the Audubon Center paddleboat museum alongside condo developments filling indicate nascent transformation.

Why Jersey County Land? Beautiful landscapes fronting the iconic Mississippi River present niche recreational land appeal that only portions of Illinois can offer those desirous of hotel/hospitality type projects or outfitter launches on the mainland side mirroring Missouri’s established driftless region draw opposite.

Peoria County

After Caterpillar Tractor’s HQ exodus stifled the region, Peoria wisely reinvested into healthcare excellence and riverfront enhancements restoring prominent regional employer status and civic pride. Noteworthy population spikes in younger demographics signal families finding Peoria newly attractive at Midwest scales. Though the entire region remains further behind Metro East and Chicagoland expansions, vital signs trace positively in targeted districts near revived socioeconomic centers.

Why Peoria County Land? With its central Illinois positioning accessed via intersecting Interstates, Peoria’s recent initiatives to resurrect both blue collar and waterfront community areas make selected lands flanking these zones promising again after decades of pessimism hollowing out its urban core and tax base continually. Comeback kids sometimes surprise with progress beyond expectations by merely halting declines.

The above highlighted counties constitute just a few handpicked examples where recent vitality earmarks potential continued near-term upside. However, many more untold opportunities exist searching deeper across Illinois’ vast rural landscape blanketed with farmland and forests. The key remains identifying similar early indicators - new commercial permits, strategic annexations or infrastructure appropriations - telegraphing positive momentum reversals ahead of the prevailing statewide trends stalled economically over the past decade still. Savvy investors spot underdogs rising subtly.

Assessing Land Site Potentials Across Illinois

Beyond the prior county profiles, when evaluating prospective land parcels more granularly, generalized county strength represents just initial guideposts alerting opportunity locations logically. Precise site attributes fully dictate ultimate purchase appeal once boots hit actual ground ultimately across targeted rural Midwest acreages.

Several key indicators beyond simply eyeballing pretty pastoral aesthetics truly validate viable lands investment grade worth:

Pinpoint Growth Activity - What commercial or residential development exists immediately surrounding sites? New builds signal area desirability if continuing incrementally.

Verify Access Potentials - Do public roads fully border parcels or might perpetual access rights restrictions encumber surrounding landlocked sites? Are highways conveniently accessible?

Determine Infrastructure Availability - Water, electric, gas and telecom utilities require immense trenching and permit costs if lacking presently nearby. Visual estimations poorly indicate true connection proximity realities. Surveys should collect precise tie-in points assessing infrastructure needs ahead of negotiations.

Calculate Clearing Needs - While mature mixed forests pose scenic backdrops, extensive expensive timber harvesting proves necessary converting woodlands into buildable pads. Evaluations should fate trees destined removal during site planning.

Account Topography Impacts - Beyond mere wetland acknowledgments, detailed contour lines surveying site elevations accurately model achievable build footprints containing home/access road conceptualizations against sloped or rugged sites adding extensive grading/fill execution costs deleteriously.

Appraise Mineral & Water Rights - While surface land conveys development airspace, underlying oil, gas or water rights may transfer separately or remain excluded from purchase agreements. Title contingencies often create delays if excluded unjustly.

In essence, surface beauty represents only superficial allure. Verifying favorable site attributes beyond visual curb appeal translates raw acreage into viable investment grade land holdings for buyers intent building future income streams ultimately. Precise validations convert speculative gambles into defensible performs avoiding unwanted surprises uncovered after purchase agreements finalize absent proper due diligence beforehand across sites probed virtually.

Key Takeaways for Prioritizing Illinois Land Investments

When targeting promising rural land investment opportunities across Illinois’ vast 102 county region, informed buyers lead more strategically with broad market perspectives before evaluating specific site criteria. Rather than just reacting visually to pleasant pastoral aesthetics common nearly statewide, devote initial efforts analyzing metro influence zones witnessing construction expansion, infrastructure upgrades and active demographics shifts indication areas of higher probability witnessing positive value appreciation near-term based on activity precursors already observable.

Then incorporating detailed site analytics around growth patterns immediately surrounding intended targets validates tangible viability beyond county aggregates alone. While ultimate land selections combine art and science balancing personal preferences against site realities & regulatory limitations undisclosed frequently, always collect records from officials directly, engineering teams or attorneys local to intended targets guiding assumptions rather than purely remote digital browse faith blind. After all land deals constitute decades-long commitments once conveyed. So, choose carefully along trajectories favorable over such long-term holds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which counties in Illinois are seeing the most land development currently?

Top Illinois counties with high volumes of new construction and land development include Kane County outside Chicago see substantial residential growth, Will County between Chicago and Joliet witnessing massive warehousing, McHenry County northwest of Chicago gaining families seeking affordability near jobs, Jersey County along the Mississippi River attracting recreational/lifestyle residents and Peoria County reinventing economically around healthcare and riverfront revitalization.

What types of land appreciate fastest in value in Illinois?

Land plots poised for fastest appreciation potential include parcels bordering new commercial/industrial builds in thriving zones that lift surrounding residential demand, sites fronting planned infrastructure improvements like highway interchanges set reducing local commute times, older town edge lands benefiting from annexation suddenly allowing denser housing constructions previously unpermitted, and subdivided housing lots with starter homes underway in the hottest school districts attracting families relocating most aggressively at present.

What is the average cost per acre currently for vacant land in Illinois?

Available tillable farmland across most Illinois rural counties averages $7,500-15,000 per acre depending on soil quality, irrigation accessibility, commodity crop types suitable and regional market factors. More remote woodlands and pasture lands typically range $2,500-$7,000 per acre on average based on surveys accessibility, timber value and hunting/recreational appeal in that county.

Should I use a broker when buying land in Illinois?

Yes, experienced local land brokers and attorneys specialized in rural real estate prove extremely valuable guides navigating hyper-local land codes, adjacent land usages, feasible property buildouts, obscured title contingencies, value comparables and networking purchase options otherwise undiscovered. Their expertise facilitates smarter prospecting and negotiations.

What resources help screen best land buys in Illinois?

Key resources aiding screening process beyond brokers include county GIS parcel data on ownership histories and infrastructure availability, environmental risk databases denoting flood zones or toxic liabilities nearby, USDA soil surveys detailing construction capacity for each property, and appraisal forestry consultants determining harvest-able timber values if relevant before judging overall site potentials fairly across both improvements foreseeable plus hidden constraints uncovered ahead of making offers.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


Related Posts.

All Posts