Where We Live (link to each section of the document and also have a picture or slide show block next to each major category)
The Urbana and Champaign Communities
Urbana and Champaign together form a community of just over 125,000 people. The Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau site is one of the best sources of information about Champaign and our nearby communities which creates the larger Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan area which accounts for nearly 232,000. We are richly diverse in culture and ethnicity, and both Urbana and Champaign tend to be liberal and lively. In short, this gem of a community has all the advantages of a larger city at a much lower cost of living, and without the traffic and waiting lines! Check out the links to direct websites for each city: Urbana; Champaign and Savoy. So is it Champaign-Urbana, or Urbana-Champaign?
The official name of our congregation is the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, whereas most people refer to the two cities collectively as Champaign-Urbana. This dates back to the University being founded in Urbana and the post office residing in Urbana. Champaign was later added to the official name of the university to account for the geographic location of it essentially in the middle of the two. Other less formal names are ‘Chambana’ or Shampoo-Banana.
Depending on your preference for quaint, older neighborhoods, or for shiny new subdivisions- the local communities have housing of all types and for all price ranges. Our members also live in a variety of neighborhoods- many members like the state street neighborhoods of Urbana which is within easy walking distance of the church, the Historic Urbana neighborhood. Champaign County Realtors is a good starting point, and some of our church members will be able to help guide you in your decision making process- being in the apartment and/or real estate business themselves. This MLS Listing link will take you directly to properties for sale.
Cost of Living
This cost of living calculator will help determine the salary you would need in Champaign-Urbana to have a comparable standard of living with your current situation. The price difference section helps compare costs, for housing, groceries, utilities and other expenditures. Select the state and city where you now live, under “I live in”; Select IL and Champaign-Urbana under “I want to live in” and move the dot on the bar to rest on your current salary. An economic overview of CU can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics site. Additional information can be found at the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.
Education, Libraries, Museums, Culture and the Arts
Because we are home to the University of Illinois, with an enrollment of 44,085 in 2015. More in-depth information can be found at this Wikipedia site: University of Illinois. The two cities have several interesting museums, some of which are on campus suck as the Spurlock Museum and the Illinois Natural History Museum, Museum of the Grand Prairie in nearby Mahomet, and the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is a great hit with kids. Explore the 10 best museums in the area according to TripAdvisor.
Parkland College is located in northwest Champaign and has an enrollment of around 10,000. It is a thriving community college known for excellent teaching. It is also the home of the unique Staerkel Planetarium.
Champaign-Urbana is served by two school Districts—Unit 4 in Champaign and Unit 116 in Urbana. The UUCUC congregation currently includes individuals who serve on Unit 4 and Unit 116 Boards of Education. They would both be willing to talk with you about either district.
Urbana School District Unit 116 has 4,449 students attending one of its 9 schools (1 early childhood school, 6 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school). USD has received awards for its Bilingual and Multicultural Programs which includes a Two-Way Immersion Program. Urbana High School was one of only 20 schools from across the country to receive recognition in 2016 as a “School of Opportunity,” a coveted national designation honoring excellent public high schools by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC). Additional information about USD, its teachers, students, administrators and academic progress, can be found at the Illinois Report Card, the state’s official source for information about public schools across Illinois.
Champaign Community Unit School District #4 is a large unit school district serving more than 10,000 students in grades pre-K through 12 in Champaign, Savoy, and Bondville, Illlinois. Our 19 campuses employ more than 2,000 teachers, administrators, and support personnel, including some of the brightest educators in the region. With proximity to the University of Illinois and Parkland College, Unit 4 schools are able to build strong community partnerships that provide unique, world-class educational opportunities to our students. Our focus is to foster positive learning environments and prepare all students for college and career readiness after graduation.
Champaign Unit 4 offers numerous special programs, including gifted education in grades 2-5, dual-language elementary classrooms in English/Spanish and English/French, and a high school Bridges program for non-English speakers who have received little formal education in their native language. The District spends considerable resources on implementing programs, policies and practices that ensure high expectations and equitable access to opportunity for all students, with an emphasis on improvements for African-American students. Recently Unit 4 was recognized by the College Board for increasing access to AP coursework for minority and low-income students while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. The District is committed to regular news release communications to keep the community up-to-date on what is happening in our schools. Unit 4 has a presence on social media and regularly posts updates and answers questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as on the Board Corner blog.
For more information about Unit 4's Schools of Choice -- a system of assigning students in grades K-8 that takes into account the available programs, your preferences, and schools in proximity to your home -- please see our Welcome to Champaign Schools book (online at http://choice.champaignschools.org/files/ChoiceBook2016.pdf).
Locally Grown Fresh Tasty and Fragrant
A long standing Farmer’s Market at the Square in Urbana is a favorite Saturday activity for many and a Tuesday Farmer’s Market in Champaign is more recent but a good option for local produce during the week. Many options exist for locally grown and organic. The best known is Common Ground Food Coop, an owner’s cooperative and grocery store but anyone can shop there. Another long standing food source is Strawberry Fields, also in Urbana. A number of local farm cooperatives include Sola Gratia Farm, Blue Moon Farm, and Moore Family Farm. If you are an aficionado of local wines, Alto Vineyards of Champaign is just one of several Central Illinois vineyards. You’ll find a number of UUs take advantage of these venues and many more that you can explore.
Dining and Night Life
Many different styles of food can be found within CU and our environs. Check out the Food and Drink page of the local visitor’s bureau. The 10 Best CU restaurants as rated by TripAdvisor will also help guide your palate. Being a university town you will find that nightlife venues are also plentiful- and not just on campus.
The climate is quite comfortable, with all four seasons, and not many extremes. Urbana, which was originally called “Big Grove” lies on the prairie, near the confluence of five rivers. Part of the original big grove has been preserved in Busey Woods, at Crystal Lake Park. Speaking of parks, both cities have award winning park districts: Champaign Park District and Urbana Park District which includes local favorite Meadowbrook Park, a popular hiking/biking trail in the middle of a tall grass prairie. Looking for a longer hike? The trails at nearby Allerton Park and Conference Center are dotted with sculptures collected from around the world where you can also see original tall grass prairie. Check out the Department of Natural Resources. Even though east central Illinois itself is flat prairie, within two to three hours away you can find wonderful hiking, canoeing and kayaking opportunities with hills, cliffs and rock formations galore, such as those at Moraine View, Kickapoo, and Starved Rock State Parks, and Turkey Run State Park in Indiana.
Music, Entertainment, Sporting Events and Festivals
The university attracts world-class music, dance and theater performances to the four theaters at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. The fantastic acoustics of the Great Hall at Krannert has been chosen for recordings by major symphonies. You will find a large number of UU’s at the various performances there. The Champaign-Urbana Symphony and Sinfonia Da Camera offer frequent concerts as well. Many additional opportunities for a continuous flow of fascinating lectures and cultural offerings abound. Athletic events of all types can be found at the university as well as local schools and other groups. The State Farm Center, resembling a space ship emerging from the prairie, and originally built as The Assembly Hall, hosts numerous sporting events, concerts and other touring shows, circuses and community fairs. Champaign is home to the Ebertfest, well-known by film buffs everywhere. Urbana has the Station Theater, showing plays featuring highly talented local actors. There is a very active live music scene, as you might expect in a university town with many local and traveling bands performing in nightclubs and other venues. Dance is a popular activity- whether as active participant, such as at the Regent Ballroom, the Tango Society, Salsa or as an observer with the world renowned Dance Illinois department at the U of I. Movie theaters are in plentiful supply with the Savoy 16 IMAX, Carmike Cinemas, and for the eclectic movie goer The Art Theater Coop finds many UU’s being part owners as well as attendees.
Getaways from Champaign-Urbana
Getaways to Major Cities
Getaways to three major cities are another reason people love living here. We are a short trip to Chicago and Indianapolis at two hours each, and St. Louis at three hours. Amtrak runs regular trains to Chicago, and many people enjoy driving north to one of the Metra train stops to avoid driving and parking in the city. The plethora of students from the Chicago area assures many bus and shuttle options heading north. The University of Illinois Willard Airport provides air access immediately. The Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington and the Indianapolis Airport are also popular with people looking for cheaper fares.