All great places have one thing in common: great people.

“When I think of Greater Peoria,” Nick Knuffman-Brewer says, “I think of the word ‘variety’.”

As Associate Director of Human Resources at local marketing agency, Simantel – as well as “associate director” of his family of four – Nick is always trying to keep the seesaw of his personal and professional lives even. He finds the wealth of options in Peoria make his home of six years the perfect playground to strike that balance.

“I truly believe if you’re bored here, you’re not looking.”

With two little boys, he and his husband, Ben, do their best to do it all. From summer weekends at the Peoria Zoo to crisp fall days and crisp apples at Tanner’s Orchard, to the Peoria Playhouse to the municipal pool — the rich social, recreational and cultural options keep the growing family happy (and their three-year-old son Max loves the tractors at the Caterpillar Museum). On rare nights away from the kids, he and Ben have the chance to explore new restaurants in the city’s vibrant culinary scene and local festivals. So, while their schedules are demanding, there’s no shortage of choices. On top of that, Peoria’s central location make trips to see Nick’s family in Quincy, or to Chicago or St. Louis, all easily drivable.

"There are so many different things, people, populations and options. Sometimes I even still say, 'I didn't know that existed in Peoria.' "

“There are so many different things, people, populations and options,” Nick says, then laughs. “Sometimes I even still say, ‘I didn’t know that existed in Peoria’.”

Growing up, Nick saw firsthand the effects demanding work schedules had on his parents. So he always vowed that on his own career trajectory, he’d do everything he could to be home as much as possible. When Nick moved to the area so he and Ben could finally take the “long distance” out of their relationship, he knew exactly what he wanted. He just didn’t realize all of what Peoria would be able to give him. The couple officially adopted Max and his biological brother, Marshall, transitioning from fostering to an adoption; and Simantel proved to be a perfect fit — a flexible work schedule, plus a fifteen-minute commute to get him home in no time.

“There’s just so much more here than I thought there’d be,” he says. “There truly is more.”


Check out the stories of those who chose more in Greater Peoria.