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Trading a Downtown Lifestyle for the Best of Both Worlds in Westhaven

A couple of weeks ago the Chicago Tribune issued an apology (well, kind of…) for the effects of the great “Illinois Exodus,” as it spills Down South into Tennessee. 

Illinois Exodus?! Never heard of it?

It’s a term that’s risen in popularity in recent months as Illinois lawmakers and political contenders quibble over new tax laws, arguing over the finer points of legislation that’s ultimately pushing many of the state’s residents in search of greener pastures.That’s where Tennessee enters the picture. 

You see, with lower property taxes and no state income tax (and let’s not even mention hot chicken, live music, and Southern hospitality), the Volunteer State is looking better every day to thousands of fed-up Illinoisans. Take Andrea James, for example, who left Chicago in September 2017, moving to Westhaven with her then-eighth-grade daughter and 97-year-old mother.

Fueled by a desire to live on “Mayberry Street” after a lifetime spent in Chicago, James and her family purchased a home in Westhaven based on architect renderings and a Facebook video. “It was the first time in my life I made such a quick decision with absolute certainty,” she says, “And I have never looked back.”

Now a Westhaven resident through and through, James feels a connection to the community, where she involves herself in various projects, walks the dogs in the neighborhood, and enjoys the small town feel of a community-centric neighborhood. She’s even seen the dosage of her mother’s blood pressure medication drop significantly!

While making the move to Westhaven has meant giving up on the big city life, James doesn’t see many drawbacks. Chicago’s large downtown fireworks show, for example, had become so congested it was no longer convenient or safe for her to take her mother to the show. Living in Westhaven has offered a far better option. “For Fourth of July this year, we were able to simply ride a golf cart down the road and enjoy spectacular fireworks right in our own backyard,” she says.

With retail, dining, and essential services like a grocery store all within walking distance, Westhaven combines the positive aspects of walkable city life with small town charm and a community-oriented suburban neighborhood. “I feel completely safe and relaxed,” says James. “Today I am a much happier person.”

Illinois Exodus? Hmmm… it’s all starting to make a little more sense with Westhaven at the end of the line!  Watch Andrea’s video or visit

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