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Old 03-22-2012, 08:53 AM
 
1 posts, read 2,088 times
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We've lived in the city with our three small kids for 2.5 years, and we're now heading north in search of good public schools, a big back yard and a walkable spot not too far from the lake and pub transport. Wilmette seems to be our favorite, and I'm wondering if any 'natives' can help me with determining the 'kid-friendly' areas (we have a 6 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old).

We've seen houses we really love on Lake St. and Wilmette Ave... are these considered unfavorable spots b/c they're busy streets? Since I've never really been up there prior to the commencement of our house search, I'm all ears for tips and advice... that goes for Evanston and Winnetka, since they're on our search, too!
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:20 AM
 
Location: Avondale (Chicago, IL)
83 posts, read 389,677 times
Reputation: 57
Hi there,

Seeing as you haven't gotten much response, I'll throw in my two cents while waiting for a more informed response. We're in the same boat as you. Moving from the city and looking at Wilmette and Evanston. We've been hanging out in the parks and doing some open houses. As far as Wilmette goes, pretty much the entire town seems very kid friendly. All the schools are well rated and there seems to be very little crime. The areas on Lake and Wilmette ave are busy, but while in the parks we met some parents who live on the main streets who assured us its really not that bad. They have parties and socialize in the alleys, which sounded like fun. If you're looking at North Evanston, its very similar, both east and somewhat west, with Orrington school and Willard standing out from a scoring perspective. As you get further south in Evanston there seem to be some pockets that people recommend to avoid, and there are plenty of threads alluding to that on this forum. The schools also score lower from a scoring perspective, but once you slice and dice demographics it doesn't seem so bad. For us, ultimately it will come down to how much we value the diversity Evanston offers over the tranquility of Wilmette. Some parts of Evanston seem too dicey, but some parts of Wilmette seem like a snoozefest. I can't speak to Winnetka, but looking at housing prices, it seems there's more deals there than Wilmette. North Evanston and South Wilmette don't seem to far off in pricing. As you get further south or west in Evanston, that's where the deals come in. Hope my opinion helped and good luck on your search.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:16 AM
 
16,013 posts, read 17,799,724 times
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While I like Winnetka, I know that when my kids were growing up in Evanston, many of the kids they hung out with from Winnetka hated living there. They found they needed to go to Evanston or Wilmette for a taste of the *real world* and even Wilmette was pretty snobby in certain areas. Just sayin'
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 3,929,921 times
Reputation: 588
Default Wilmette and Evanston

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magpie388 View Post
We've lived in the city with our three small kids for 2.5 years, and we're now heading north in search of good public schools, a big back yard and a walkable spot not too far from the lake and pub transport. Wilmette seems to be our favorite, and I'm wondering if any 'natives' can help me with determining the 'kid-friendly' areas (we have a 6 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old).

We've seen houses we really love on Lake St. and Wilmette Ave... are these considered unfavorable spots b/c they're busy streets? Since I've never really been up there prior to the commencement of our house search, I'm all ears for tips and advice... that goes for Evanston and Winnetka, since they're on our search, too!
Lake Avenue and Wilmette Avenue are generally busier streets and that does deter some families from purchasing those homes.

Wilmette is very kid-friendly. Wilmette has an excellent park district with great family programs, and Gillson Park is a prized gem of the North Shore.

The Wilmette neighborhoods that most meet your criteria for walkability and access to public transit would be:

1. McKenzie, a neighborhood bounded by Green Bay Road on the east, Evanston on the south, Kenilworth on the north, and Ridge Road on the west. McKenzie is walkable to Wilmette and Kenilworth Metra, Downtown Wilmette, Ridge Road, and Evanston's Central Street shopping. McKenzie Elementary School is considered to be one of the best in the area.

2. East Wilmette is everything east of Green Bay Road. This neighborhood offers homes walking distance to Gillson Park/Beach and Lake Michigan. East Wilmette also has Downtown Wilmette, Plaza del Lago, and Linden Street shopping. East Wilmette offers great transit options with the choice of both CTA and Metra. You can walk to Wilmette, Evanston-Central St, or Kenilworth Metra, as well as Linden Street CTA (Purple Line).

3. Kenilworth Gardens, is a neighborhood of mostly modest family homes. This neighborhood is walking distance to Kenilworth Metra.

Evanston is a great option. If you like what you are finding in Wilmette than you will also appreciate Northern Evanston, which is almost indistinguishable aesthetically and home price wise. Northern Evanston also has many of the cities top performing elementary schools (I wrote a post about this in "Good Evanston Schools")

If you really value proximity to Lake Michigan parks and beaches I would also consider Southeast Evanston. Michigan Avenue, Forest Avenue, Judson Avenue, and Hinman Avenue tend to have a lot of families.

Winnetka is a great community, my family has enjoyed it, but it has a different feel than Wilmette and Evanston.
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:15 PM
 
112 posts, read 227,894 times
Reputation: 55
Living on a busy street like Lake or Wilmette avenues (Depending on which part- west Wilmette avenue isn't busy at all and east Lake as well.) with 3 small children would bother me but since you're coming from the city it may not feel too loud or busy. When we first moved to Wilmette my husband couldn't sleep in because it was so quiet he could hear insects and birds chirping. The honking horns and shrieks of laughter of Lincoln Park were what he was used to.

The advantage of living on Lake, if it's between Ridge and Park, is that you'll have a great seat to watch the Memorial Day parade. It's very profitable in terms of lemonade stands too!

Anywhere in Wilmette is pretty good. But every neighborhood has it's own feel. Some friendly streets with their summer cocktail parties, block parties, kids playing all over, and neighbors dropping by are too much for some families and the perfect fit for others. It's just a matter of what feels right for you. The schools also all have their own flavor. And it depends on the make up of kids and parents in your child's class. For one child we had fantastic parents, for the other... not so much.

I don't know if this is even helpful but I hope so. Look at as many homes as you can and spend time walking around on a warm spring day. Go to the library on a cold or rainy day. There are tons of families there on the weekends. Talk to anyone who is willing to answer questions.

If you're really not sure if a community is for you try renting for a year. You risk having to change your oldest child's school if you move but if your family isn't happy there he/she will adjust.

Good luck!
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