The aptly named Riverwoods is an idyllic forested area along the banks of the Des Plaines River, just one hour from Chicago, Illinois. 

Situated in a nature preserve, Riverwoods offers an escape from the suburbs without sacrificing easy access to amenities. The small town of Deerfield is just a few minutes’ drive away and offers schools, shops and other conveniences.

Riverwoods is popular among families and retirees, and its tranquil feel is equally suited to raising a family or whiling away the golden years. Homes here tend to be spacious, with plots commonly being one or two acres. The population of just 4,000 creates a cosy small-town atmosphere.

Cost of living in Riverwoods

Living in Riverwoods is fairly pricey – significantly higher than both the national and state averages. Luckily, salaries tend to be high, too, making it possible for those living in the area to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

Sales, property, and income taxes drive up the cost of living in Riverwoods. Housing in the area is particularly expensive, as it tends to be situated on large properties with spacious builds. High property taxes add to the burden. On the upside, these taxes are put to good use, funding the highly rated local schools, which families in the area benefit from greatly.

Getting around in Riverwoods

As a semi-rural area, Riverwoods has few sidewalks and no public transport. A car is necessary to get around in Riverwoods itself, though you won’t need to go far to switch to public transport. A few minutes in the car will get you to the Deerfield Metra station, which has regular trains to Chicago. The trip typically takes about an hour, though there are also express trains that reduce travel time to 35 minutes.

If you intend to drive to work, be aware that the commute can be gruelling. The average commute time in Riverwoods is 37 minutes, significantly higher than the US average of 27 minutes. Nevertheless, over half of workers living in Riverwoods endure the drive, opting to drive to work alone. About 11 percent of Riverwoods workers use public transport, while a third work remotely from home. 

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Working in Riverwoods

Riverwoods is largely a residential area, so there aren’t many businesses based within the village itself. It’s common to live in Riverwoods while working in nearby Deerfield or, a bit further away, in Chicago. Others opt to work from home, avoiding the commute altogether. Thanks to its peaceful surrounds and fast internet, Riverwoods is ideal as a work-from-home spot. 

Many Riverwoods residents work in management or executive positions. The most common industries include technology, finance, and manufacturing.

For more on the local economy, finding employment and understanding work culture in the area, see Working in Chicago.

Healthcare in Riverwoods

Healthcare options in Riverwoods are limited due to its small size. For anything beyond a simple GP visit, residents will likely need to head to Chicago. Deerfield and Bannockburn, both less than two miles away, are also good options for routine care.

Comprehensive health insurance is important for ensuring access to healthcare services when needed. Over 95 percent of the population in Riverwoods has some form of health coverage, with 65 percent on plans provided by their employer. Others rely on Medicare, Medicaid or non-group plans.

If you’re new to the US, the health system can take some getting used to. To learn more, see our article on Understanding Health Insurance in the USA.

For recommendations of hospitals in the region, see Healthcare in Chicago.

Schools in Riverwoods

There are some excellent schools just a few minutes from Riverwoods, and families who live here will be zoned for attendance at these schools. Most of the elementary and middle schools in Riverwoods are part of the Deerfield School District 109, while high schools are managed by the Township High School District 113. 

Wilmot Elementary School and Caruso Middle School both have low student-teacher ratios, ensuring that children receive individualised attention. Deerfield High School offers Advanced Placement courses, preparing students for a smooth transition to college. The school places great emphasis on developing well-rounded students, and offers more than 60 extracurriculars.

There are few private schools in the area, but Riverwood Montessori School is a good option for an alternative take on education. The school takes students from ages 4 to 14.

Parents looking for international curricula or a wider range of private school options may wish to consider schools further afield, such as in Chicago. For more info, have a look at International Schools in Chicago.

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Weather in Riverwoods

Summers in Riverwoods are warm and wet, while winters are cold, snowy, and windy. The warmest time of year is June to September. July is the hottest month, with an average high of 82°F (28°C). Conversely, the coldest month is January, with an average high of just 32°F (0°C).

There is some risk of flooding in Riverwoods, though most of the housing infrastructure has been built using technologies that mitigate possible flooding damage. 

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Accommodation in Riverwoods

Most people buy rather than rent in Riverwoods, with more than 95 percent of the area's population owning their home. Rentals can also be found here but are a rare find.

When buying a home in Riverwoods, the cost can vary greatly depending on the acreage of the land and the era the house was built. New or renovated builds on large plots will be pricier than older, unrefurbished homes built in the 1950s or 1960s. 

Styles vary widely, with sprawling six-bedroom mansions alongside more modest two- or three-bedroom houses. Ranch-style houses, Foursquares and colonial revivals can also be found in Riverwoods.

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Lifestyle in Riverwoods

While Riverwoods doesn't have much to offer in terms of nightlife and entertainment, it more than makes up for this in its natural beauty and outdoor activities. 

The abundance of snow during the festive season turns Riverwoods into a winter wonderland, with numerous trails in the forest ideal for skiing. In the summer, these same trails are used for walks in the woods. Since Riverwoods is set in a nature preserve, animals (such as deer) can be observed in their natural habitat.

For day-to-day shopping and dining needs, Deerfield is just a few minutes' drive from Riverwoods and has an array of options, including big-box stores and mouth-watering restaurants. But if you're looking to go all out, Chicago is the way to go. As the region's entertainment hub, it offers plenty, from vibrant nightlife and dazzling theatre shows to fine-dining restaurants and artsy museums.

Read more about the Lifestyle in Chicago.

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