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Why SI - Ross and Sarah Gray

December 1, 2021

As part of our WhySI campaign showcasing why Southern Illinois is a great place to live and work, we spoke with husband and wife, Ross and Sarah Gray about their decision to relocate to Carbondale from St. Louis. Ross and Sarah both work for Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH), Ross as a hospitalist for SIH Herrin Hospital and Sarah as System Director of Business and Economic Development.

What brought you to Southern Illinois?

We are both originally from Southern Illinois but moved away for college when we graduated from high school. We subsequently both lived in several different metropolitan areas for school and jobs over the next dozen or so years including Memphis, Kansas City, St. Louis, and the Sarasota, FL area. No matter how far we went or how long we were away, Southern Illinois always felt like home. The more places we lived, the more we realized how special Southern Illinois is. 

When we became parents we decided to move back to Southern Illinois to give our children the same opportunities we had growing up, as well as for career opportunities at Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH).  

Ultimately, we chose Southern Illinois for the high quality of life, low cost of living, and opportunity to raise our children in a place with great schools, outdoor recreation, and a strong sense of community.

Why is Southern Illinois a great place to raise a family?

As working parents, time on weekday mornings and evenings with your kids is precious. Here in Carbondale, you will never waste that time by commuting and sitting in traffic.

In St. Louis, I (Sarah) spent over 1.5 hours a day commuting. Now my commute is 12 minutes to work and our kids' daycare just 3 minutes from my office. I now have that extra time to devote to our kids that would otherwise be spent driving in the city. Of course, this time will add up significantly over the weeks, months, and years of our kids growing up.

Another important consideration was that we wanted our kids to learn in a place with excellent public schools and a diverse population. We wanted them to have the opportunity to be a part of a community that always supports neighbors and lends a helping hand. Carbondale offers all of this and more.

Finally, we wanted to give them the ultimate backyard with the Shawnee National Forest. When we first moved back to Southern Illinois, my then 2-year-old looked up in our new yard and exclaimed, “Mommy – stars!” He’d never experienced starry skies under the city lights of St. Louis. 

In what ways does Southern Illinois offer a high quality of life?

On the weekends we enjoy hiking, going to the lake, eating at farm-to-table restaurants, and enjoying Division 1 basketball and football games at Southern Illinois University.

Southern Illinois is a place you can land a rewarding job, achieve a manageable work-life balance, and raise your children to love nature – all while having access to high quality education, healthcare, restaurants, arts, and entertainment. 

Photos by: Savanna Kathleen Photography

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