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Old 06-15-2010, 06:58 PM
 
1 posts, read 7,965 times
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My husband and I are starting the process of looking into buying in Chicago (Lincoln Park/Lakeview) or the North Shore with a budget of $750k. I like the look of many of the homes in Evanston (vintage/Victorian architecture), the idea of a shorter commute (we both work in the Loop), and a more walkable city. But Evanston seems to higher property taxes and the schools aren't nearly as good as Wilmette/Winnetka/etc.

I'm curious what motivates families with children with our budget to live in Evanston rather than further up the North Shore in the New Trier School District. It doesn't seem like the homes in Evanston are actually cheaper. It looks like we could afford at least a modest house near the train in Winnetka within our budget.

Is comparable housing in Evanston really substantially less expensive? Is $750k not a reasonable budget other areas in the North Shore? Why do families who could afford Wilmette/Winnekta buy in Evanston instead? Just the shorter commute? Working in Evanston proper? The urban feel? Other cultural intangibles?
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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I think you move to Evanston for the vibe/urban feel. Unbelievable full service downtown, with all the restaurants you want and more, great local shopping, and of course, the lakefront, the commute (el train and metra). Being close to a major first class university is also a plus, as Northwestern provides a ton of opportunities, cultural and otherwise.

The people that I know who moved to Evanston are all pleased with the local schools. I don't know anyone with children at the high school, but they are all pleased with their local elementary schools (my friends have kids that are pretty young, but I have heard great things about k-1 grades at two different elems thus far).

Okay, so here goes the part that makes posters on this board absolutely, positively insane. Some people could afford any and all North Shore communities, but choose to live in a diverse, urban environment. Some people specifically eschew New Trier, notwithstanding the test scores, because it has the reputation of being a pressure cooker (you have to be pretty, athletic and smart to be successful there, and if you are not at least any of those things, your life will be difficult). Some people want their kids to go to school with other kids who have less money and come from different backgrounds. These parents are confident their children will get a great education notwithstanding imperfect test scores.
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:13 PM
 
1,989 posts, read 4,076,559 times
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You might want to check into what goes on around the high school, since your kids will be attending it. Previous posts have identified it as having a "gang problem" and occasionally I read something in the news that would make me leery, as a parent, of having my not-very-street-smart kid attend school there.

Then again, the local authorities may be working on it or it may have been overstated.

Due diligence.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:31 AM
 
28,461 posts, read 75,155,751 times
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At CERTAIN price points there is less available in Evanston than other NortShore towns and I do believe that is indicative of the qualities that kindra mentioned AS WELL AS the characteristics of income that go along with those price points.

Folks that work in a field where they have an especially sharp focus on real estate and other financial valuations do the research and drive up the prices for the "entry level" homes in Winnetka &Wilmette much more so than the folks in Evanston. At a slighty higher price point you have a broader mix of folks, some of whom choose solely on the basis of nearness to work, and with the hospital and Northwestern, Evanston has a HUGE workforce compared to any other nearby town.

Going further up the income scale things get odd again as the trade-offs that go along with MOST "upper brackets" properties in Evanston as much more obvious than in other towns. In addition to the sky high taxes the schools have a wide range of performance, traffic issues are much more a acute than in other North Shore towns, crime stats that drive insurance can be an issue, etc...

Personally there is a fine line between justifying one's decisions about a place and "sour grapes" and I have seen MANY folks that find out after fact "wow I could've saved money AND had a nicer home" who get VERY adamant about their commitment to diversity / urbanism AFTER they foolishly fall in love with a house / get worn out shopping / follow friends friend or co-workers like lemmings ...
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:27 AM
 
11,973 posts, read 28,681,931 times
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If I, a father of two, were personally shopping in the $750,000 price range, I would choose a house in southeastern Wilmette. I would still have access to all of the goodies in Evanston--including the purple line and Metra--but also have access to slightly better schools and lower taxes. But when you look into the $600Ks and $500Ks, the choices in Wilmette dwindle quickly, unless you go west. And Evanston has a certain number of "urban pioneers" who are betting on gentrification of the rougher areas in western Evanston.

I think people above covered the reasons that Evanston is still a choice at your price range. It's really the most "complete" city in the North Shore in terms of shopping, entertainment, culture, etc.

Schools are a tricky subject. There are a few elementary schools in northern Evanston that are really quite good (like Willard and Orrington). There are other elementary schools in Evanston that have less-than-wondeful average test scores.

But here's the dirty little secret about Evanston schools: There is a HUGE achievement gap between the peformance of black and white students in this system. Evanston's schools are really doing a great job of educating white children, but a somewhat poor job of educating black children. For example, the test scores for white children at Evanston Township High School are the second best in the entire Chicago area, with 92.6% meeting or exceeding state standards. The only Chicagoland non-selective enrollment high school with higher test scores for white children is, of course, New Trier, with 92.8% meeting or exceeding standards. That 0.2% difference is not even statistically significant. Black children at ETHS have embarassingly low test scores (on average), with a dismal 37.7% meeting or exceeding standards. How can a school be so great for white students and so bad for black students? The problem is a controversial one, and the adminstration is being forced to confront it because of "No Child Left Behind". They are throwing a bunch of money at the problem, and this is a major reason for the extraordinarily high average expenditure per child at ETHS.

The area immediately northeast of ETHS is a bit rough, but it's not like you're sending kids through Englewood. I'm not sure I would be too worried about it. I had gangs in my high school in the early 90's, and they did not affect my life. More than 3,000 kids go to ETHS every day, and incidents are rare.

Last edited by Lookout Kid; 06-16-2010 at 08:40 AM..
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:39 AM
 
Location: South Chicagoland
4,111 posts, read 8,003,874 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reppin_the_847 View Post
This is a sweeping generalization isn't it?
No, it's a fair generalization... about a large swath of the 847. (But not Evanston obviously)

What really irks me most about 847 kids is they think the life they've known is what all of Chicago's "suburbia" is like.. My suburban white ass graduated from an 80% black high school, lived two blocks away from a Food and Liquor store that sold illegal drugs behind the counter and have known a lot of struggling working families. You laugh and drink wine in your pretty little world up north and worst of all, think that's what ALL of Chicago's suburbia is like. You people are oblivious and that is what irks me the most.

Last edited by urza216; 06-16-2010 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Winnetka
114 posts, read 341,030 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kindrakindra View Post
I think you move to Evanston for the vibe/urban feel. Unbelievable full service downtown, with all the restaurants you want and more, great local shopping, and of course, the lakefront, the commute (el train and metra). Being close to a major first class university is also a plus, as Northwestern provides a ton of opportunities, cultural and otherwise.

The people that I know who moved to Evanston are all pleased with the local schools. I don't know anyone with children at the high school, but they are all pleased with their local elementary schools (my friends have kids that are pretty young, but I have heard great things about k-1 grades at two different elems thus far).

Okay, so here goes the part that makes posters on this board absolutely, positively insane. Some people could afford any and all North Shore communities, but choose to live in a diverse, urban environment. Some people specifically eschew New Trier, notwithstanding the test scores, because it has the reputation of being a pressure cooker (you have to be pretty, athletic and smart to be successful there, and if you are not at least any of those things, your life will be difficult). Some people want their kids to go to school with other kids who have less money and come from different backgrounds. These parents are confident their children will get a great education notwithstanding imperfect test scores.
Some people also choose great education and safety, but also embrace diversity and acceptance. Some, like me did and do. If folks who live in Evanston are there for the diversity and urban environment then why not just live in the city? My 4 kids are very different academically, socially and athletically and artistically. All of them have found a niche at NT and never felt the intense pressure you and others speak of (personally I think that whole mantra of too much pressure at NT is about people trying to find something wrong with the school-or sour grapes)

When I moved from Evanston to Winnetka 17 years ago one of my greatest fears was the lack of diversity. My husband grew up in Evanston and still has an office there. I love Evanston. However, with the high taxes, hit or miss schools and some high crime areas. We felt, for the sake of our kids, that a move was in order. I have never for a second regretted living here. As a parent, my kid’s safety and education was and is paramount. Yes, we miss the diversity but have always instilled in our kids that the world is not all the same and we have gone overboard to expose them to diverse situations and people.

It is personnel choice, but one that should be based on fact, not hearsay. Evanston has a fabulous downtown, culture, etc. We spend a ton of time there but there are drawbacks there or anywhere.
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:03 PM
 
2,097 posts, read 4,680,462 times
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WOW. Ever heard of Highwood? Even pockets of Highland Park? How about North Chicago, Waukegan & Zion? How about the western edge of Evanston near Dodge Street, or the southern edge near Howard? Hmm, how about pockets of Mundelein? North Chicago is just a couple miles north of Lake Bluff and it is clearly a majority black suburb. Just take a quick drive down MLK Drive there and you'd know what I'm talking about. You're clearly generalizing the region, although there is SOME truth in it when it comes to certain pockets of the region. But the truth is much more complicated than that. There are PLENTY of middle-class & just slightly upper-middle class folk getting by with modest homes in these areas. It's not all mansions & extreme wealth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by urza216 View Post
No, it's a fair generalization... about a large swath of the 847. (But not Evanston obviously)

What really irks me most about 847 kids is they think the life they've known is what all of Chicago's "suburbia" is like.. My suburban white ass graduated from an 80% black high school, lived two blocks away from a Food and Liquor store that sold illegal drugs behind the counter and have known a lot of struggling working families. You laugh and drink wine in your pretty little world up north and worst of all, think that's what ALL of Chicago's suburbia is like. You people are oblivious and that is what irks me the most.
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:26 AM
 
342 posts, read 1,129,818 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reppin_the_847 View Post
WOW. Ever heard of Highwood? Even pockets of Highland Park? How about North Chicago, Waukegan & Zion? How about the western edge of Evanston near Dodge Street, or the southern edge near Howard? Hmm, how about pockets of Mundelein? North Chicago is just a couple miles north of Lake Bluff and it is clearly a majority black suburb. Just take a quick drive down MLK Drive there and you'd know what I'm talking about. You're clearly generalizing the region, although there is SOME truth in it when it comes to certain pockets of the region. But the truth is much more complicated than that. There are PLENTY of middle-class & just slightly upper-middle class folk getting by with modest homes in these areas. It's not all mansions & extreme wealth.
north chicago is only 36% black. and we're (or at least i am) talking about wilmette and winnetka.
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:18 AM
 
Location: South Chicagoland
4,111 posts, read 8,003,874 times
Reputation: 2044
Quote:
Originally Posted by reppin_the_847 View Post
WOW. Ever heard of Highwood? Even pockets of Highland Park? How about North Chicago, Waukegan & Zion? How about the western edge of Evanston near Dodge Street, or the southern edge near Howard? Hmm, how about pockets of Mundelein? North Chicago is just a couple miles north of Lake Bluff and it is clearly a majority black suburb. Just take a quick drive down MLK Drive there and you'd know what I'm talking about. You're clearly generalizing the region, although there is SOME truth in it when it comes to certain pockets of the region. But the truth is much more complicated than that. There are PLENTY of middle-class & just slightly upper-middle class folk getting by with modest homes in these areas. It's not all mansions & extreme wealth.
I know there are rougher pockets of the 847 that aren't really that rough. I said a "large swath of the 847" and that it was a "fair generalization" - not that it was set in stone and every neighborhood in every town in the region was just a bunch of rich kids. Maybe there's people with modest middle-class incomes but little to no working class incomes.

Oh, and down here, most suburbs are majority black these days. (Olympia Fields is majority black and a very nice town). A lot has changed to since the 2000 Census but nonetheless, the numbers do read that North Chicago isn't majority black. You might just think it is because you're not used to seeing very many black people at all. Although it is possible that a lot of the white people in town are scared so they don't walk around the neighborhood and show their face as much as the black people do (hence why SEEMS like blacks are the majority when in reality, they aren't).

Evanston is a cool town with its fair share of problems and I specifically excluded them from my commentary. I would never accuse a wealthier Evanstonite of being oblivious. Folks in Evanston know what's up. If it wasn't so far away from everything I'm accustomed to, I would love to live there and would gladly live in one of the rougher neighborhoods if it was all I could afford.

Last edited by urza216; 06-17-2010 at 05:46 AM..
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