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Old 12-20-2011, 08:11 AM
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,520 posts, read 11,969,207 times
Reputation: 3820


First off, I'll preface this by saying agreeing that 200k for detached family housing is very low for the Chicago area. I'll also restate what I said before that Oak Park may not be the best value from a strictly financial point of view. I also continue to question the wisdom of making a long-term financial commitment to one particular suburb before spending a lot of time scouting out different suburbs in person (city-data research isn't going to cut it.)

That being said, IF the OPs decide to settle in Oak Park, there are (limited) options in their price range. There are many 2 bedrooms and a few 3 bedrooms condos available, even in the "most desirable" parts of Oak Park. In this price range they will tend to be old, as in 50-80 years old, not have the latest kitchens and bathrooms, no elevator, no laundry in unit, etc. Taxes will run about 2-4% of purchase price (I'd avoid the places where taxes are 4+%). Coming from Phoenix, everything will appear remarkably expensive.

Although real estate in Oak Park is relatively pricey, you can economize by getting rid of one of your cars. Depending on your current driving habits/expenses, you'll save several thousand dollars per year (which may equal your property tax bill!) You can walk/bike to schools, shopping, and friends' homes. There's easy public transit access into Chicago for big city excursions. Its a completely different way of living compared to the typical Phoenix lifestyle where a car is required for even minor errands, but its better for the budget, better for your health, and better for the environment.

Last edited by oakparkdude; 12-20-2011 at 08:21 AM..

Old 12-20-2011, 08:21 AM
28,383 posts, read 67,903,744 times
Reputation: 18188
I mostly agree with OPDude -- lots of compromises to get even an old condo in Oak Park in the $200k price range.

Since the pilot will very likely not want to take the Blue Line all the way from downtown after taking Green Line nor is it time efficient / practical to take a bus up Harlem on a pilot's schedule I think they need at least one car and the hassle factor of being in a new town with your partner having the car parked at work might be a little much, but I agree it is theoretically possible to get by with one car.

Might make more sense to rent...
Old 12-20-2011, 09:07 AM
Location: Chicago, Little Village
3,666 posts, read 6,829,771 times
Reputation: 2473
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
For the truly adventuresome I suppose it does not have the urban pioneer quality of a Berwyn, but it ought to much more gay-friendly than the hardened Morton schools... (and I won't even venture a guess as to how hostile things might be in Forest Park with the Proviso schools -- there is still a very bad correlation between low income / macho displays among minorities and hostility toward alternative lifestyles...)
I'm going to take issue with this. I'm not saying Morton West doesn't have its share of problems but there's no basis for you to conclude that the students there would be necessarily be hostile towards those of alternative lifestyles, nor have I ever heard anything of the sort. It's actually a very diverse school, and students can get a good education there and go to college. Many have.

Berwyn has a very large LGBT population per the 2010 Census, and some of those parents send their kids to Berwyn public schools. Before drawing sweeping assumptions, maybe the OP could contact these folks and ask to be put in contact with some gay and lesbian parents with kids in the school system...

Welcome to BUNGALO - Berwyn United Gay and Lesbian Organization

Given this OP's desire to own a home and limited budget, Berwyn, right next to Oak Park to the south, could be worth looking into, IMHO. There are plenty of homes in that price range now, and taxes are typically about half that of Oak Park, which would cover a good chunk of private school tuition standing alone.
Old 12-20-2011, 09:38 AM
28,383 posts, read 67,903,744 times
Reputation: 18188
I was thinking more of the kinds of machismo I have heard of from my friend who is a special ed teacher at Morton East in Cicero than Morton West in Berwyn, sorry that the posting did not distinguish this.
I still think $200k won't go very far in even Berwyn though I think the link to the organization is probably a good source of inquiry for the OP...
Old 12-20-2011, 11:04 AM
375 posts, read 847,134 times
Reputation: 131
How about renting in one of the good/great school districts of Chicago, like Bell, Blaine, Lincoln, Burley? There are many more up and comers, but the ones I listed are excellent. I don't think you need to limit your search to Andersonville or Boystown (which is really a small section of Lakeview in a good school school district called Nettlehorst) to find open minded families in these areas. IF you are looking in Andersonville, Pierce is up and coming too.

In general, the city kids and parents have a more liberal/open minded bent. You are not going to find a significant percentage of Republicans or Tea Party types either in Chicago. As beaten to death above, Oak Park and Evanston residents have a similar liberal/open minded bent. It is because people stay in Chicago or move to OP/Evanston because they want their kids to see/interact/attend school with people from all walks of life.

The only problem with Chicago is high school. Currently, there are not enough strong high schools to support the current population of families who intend to stay in city. My friends who have toddlers are not that concerned because they have a ton of years before high school and things can and will change. Parents are devoted to this issue as well. Because you have a 12 year old, high school looms close, so Chicago may not be a good option for you.
Old 12-20-2011, 11:15 AM
1,015 posts, read 1,286,601 times
Reputation: 978
I think Oak Park is clearly the way to go.
Old 12-20-2011, 03:27 PM
Location: Chicago
5,049 posts, read 5,978,831 times
Reputation: 4608
i'll be the first to admit that Evanston and Oak Park are literally kissing cousins, one due north and the other due west of Chicago.

That said, I guess I'm in disagreement with most of the forumers here.

With its lakefront, its unbelievably great downtown (best suburban one in Chicagoland, IMHO...and the IMHO of many others), college town status with such a major university as NU, less congested setting (you won't find a Harlem Avenue in Evanston), North Shore location (as opposed to Near West) with a well earned reputation of the restaurant center for the North Shore (indeed Evanston is the center for the whole North Shore; Oak Park is the center for Oak Park and River Forest), adjacent to a far better part of Chicago, I'd far more recommend it to someone considering the two than I would Oak Park.

Oak Park is a great place; however, I find Evanston to be much better.
Old 12-20-2011, 03:31 PM
10,287 posts, read 12,397,783 times
Reputation: 5967
How about Plainfield?
Old 12-20-2011, 03:59 PM
28,383 posts, read 67,903,744 times
Reputation: 18188
The only thing that Plainfield would have going for it would a cheap price of entry...

As I posted in the thread asking about Schaumburg, I would worry that with its larger tracts still under-developed there might be a proclivity toward the "mega churchs" that tend to have a evangelic / biblical literalist bent and that sounds an awful lot like what the OP wants to leave in Phoenix...

I don't thinkk buying with a ceiling of $200k makes much sense in either Oak Park or Evanston as the finer points of lakefront access / academic hub vs historic Wright district are going to be pretty far away with a limmited budget...
Old 12-20-2011, 04:27 PM
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,520 posts, read 11,969,207 times
Reputation: 3820
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
I don't thinkk buying with a ceiling of $200k makes much sense in either Oak Park or Evanston as the finer points of lakefront access / academic hub vs historic Wright district are going to be pretty far away with a limmited budget...
I sorta agree with Chet, but just to be devil's advocate here's 4 three bedroom condos currently on the market in Oak Park that are within a quarter mile of the intersection of Lake and Forest, kinda the heart of downtown Oak Park. Close to Metra and el stations. Close to grocery stores, library, parks, movie theater, restaurants, etc. Easy to live with 1 car only.

201 S Maple Ave #309, OAK PARK, IL 60302 | MLS# 07927205
201 S MAPLE Ave #404, OAK PARK, IL 60302 | MLS# 07548438
1040 Erie St #201, OAK PARK, IL 60302 | MLS# 07881181 (Taxes are high!)
151 N KENILWORTH Ave Unit 1H, OAK PARK, IL 60302 | MLS# 07430493

They're all a bit dated, but definitely liveable. I've actually been in all three buildings, but not these units, and I can at least say they're not falling apart.
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