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Old 01-23-2013, 11:54 AM
 
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Hi All,

My husband and I are relocating to Oak Park from NYC. We know that crime is a big issue in Chicagoland, and with Oak Park's proximity to Austin, we are wondering about crime issues. I have been following some crime stats online, and Oak Park's Police post monthly and daily crime statistics.

We don't have a huge budget to spend on a house, and plan to start a family soon. We have found af ew cute places in Oak Park east of Ridgeland in the north end of the neighborhood. I know that previously this was thought to be a more dangerous part of the village, but from what I can tell it doesn't seem to have maintained that reputation.

What do you think? Would you consider buying a home on Humphrey and Berkshire? We certainly would be "city smart" and know to keep bikes locked up, vehicles locked in garage, and motion lights. As well as a security system which I understand is a must-have for anyone in Oak Park.

Thoughts?

Thank you in advance!
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:46 PM
 
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Honestly the section of Oak Park that is east of Ridgeland and north of Division is not my favorite. Odds are high that any place that is fixed up was done by a "flipper" more intent on hiding flaws than truly restoring homes / getting to the roots of problems that occur in older homes. You will be paying SKY HIGH Oak Park taxes for a home thatt is not convenient to any of the pleasant amenities of the town. The distance from even tranist option means you are spending about 3x longer than you would to get to the Loop vs living someplace like the core of Berwyn...

I think few people would argues that safety in the core of Berwyn is better too...

If you simply must have an Oak Park address and you budget won't allow you to look in other parts of town I suppose a "perimeter defense system" of alarms, locks, sensors and lights is not the worst thing in world but really I would explore a wider range of options INCLUDING living inside parts of Chicago that almost certainlyy have greater upside potential...
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:31 PM
 
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I would certainly buy a house there. You would be a quick bike ride to Dole Library (one of the satellite libraries) as well as Ridgeland Commons (pool, ice rink), numerous parks (Anderson, Whittier and Hatch school with new playgrounds), Taylor Park (fantastic all around) and the well regarded farmers' market. Hatch School is excellent. It is really small (kindergarten classes have 16 kids or less). The neighbors all know each other and look out for each other. Tons of small children in that area.

Feel free to ask questions.

ETA:

RE: alarms, I know more people in Oak Park without alarms than with alarms. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get one, but I certainly don't think you need security measures beyond the normal (alarms, locks). The vast majority of crime here is because people don't lock their garage service doors so bikes, lawn mowers and snow blowers are easy targets.
?

I don't really want to respond to Chet's advice above, but just to give some perspective, Oak Park is three miles N/S and 1.5 miles E/W. Really no matter where you live, you are not that far from anything. Indeed, you would only be about 1.8 miles from The Avenue area, which includes the main library, tons of restaurants, coffee, clothes shopping and 2 miles from Downtown Oak Park ("DTOP") which includes more shopping, restaurants, Trader Joe's and the movie theater. In the worse traffic of the day, that commute to the so called pleasant areas would be 11 minutes, in a snowstorm.

May I suggest you ring some neighbors' doors and ask if they like the neighborhood?

Last edited by kindrakindra; 01-23-2013 at 08:48 PM..
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:33 PM
 
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I assume the commute estimate above is via a personal vehicle. Generally the appeal of places like Oak Park is for the walkable parts and the east edge is not walkable to places like Ridgeland Commons or The Avenue area which lies another 6/10ths of mile further east -- should you choose to rely on transit that would take 35 minutes: Berkshire St & N Humphrey Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302 to 834 Lake St, Oak Park, IL 60301 - Google Maps even thought it is not immense distance it would be hard to classify this as convenient.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:48 AM
 
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cmg524,

I live in NE Oak Park, so here's my perspective from living here, knowing lots of people who live here and my research before moving into the area. I've always been concerned about crime in general where ever I've lived, so I did as much research, talked to as many people and visited different parts of Oak Park at different times of day a lot of times before I made my decision. I was also moving with kids, so safety, schools and the community were top of my list.

I'll begin by saying my budget allowed me a choice of houses that were available in pretty much any section of Oak Park, so I chose the NE section based on my wants, as oppose to it being the only part I could afford. I say this because I personally found the area to be more what I was looking for and my family.

I live just east of ridgeland on the north side, but I have plenty of friends that live on Humphrey, Taylor and Hayes, and they've all been very happy living there. Most of the crime in Oak Park is property crime, garage burglaries etc... crime of opportunity, when someone leaves their car door unlocked... The NE part is certainly not the "more dangerous" part of Oak Park. Actually, you get slightly more crime in places with a higher concentration of apartment buildings (like Washington on the south side), for the fact that those areas are a lot more populated.

I would not consider Taylor or Humphrey dangerous at all, and I think you should pay attention to locking your garage doors and using common sense regardless of which section you're in. A lot comes down to one's own comfort level as some people just don't feel comfortable being closer to Austin, while there are plenty that are just fine with it (some like living on Austin Blvd. opposite Columbus Park), but most of that is just personal perception as I have friends that have lived in the area for over 30 years, let their kids play outside, and have lived eventless lives as far as crime is concerned. As I've experienced it, there is a strong sense of community here, and people watch out for each other.

I like the NE section as it's mostly populated with families with kids due to all the single family homes. I'm a short walk from Taylor park, there are a couple of schools with play grounds, and stores on Chicago ave, the Oak Park Art League, Dole Library and all it's activities, and things on North Ave. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to walk to Lake and ridgeland, and about 20 to Lake and Oak park, or a 5 minute drive. I find it quite walkable and I don't find anything in Oak Park inconvenient to get to. I think the thing is, people move to Lake and Oak Park vs NE side for different reasons and there are different appeals to each section... People live directly in center so they can step out their door and directly into the eateries, cinema... and a lot of singles live there for that, but on the NE side I get to have quieter and pleasant surroundings with a beautiful park... and I'm still only minutes away from things on Chicago, North and Lake. There is more than one type of appeal to Oak Park, and I've grown fonder of the NE side and the quality of life the longer I've lived here.

I have a shorter commute to work now than I did when I was living in Chicago. I walk about 10 - 15 minutes to the ridgeland green line, and then a quick ride down town. An even shorter commute if I ride my bike to the train. DEpending on where you work, from NE Oak Park you have the cta green line, the Oak Park metra and the Galewood Metra.

Anyway, I find NE Oak Park to be plenty safe. Get an alarm if you feel more comfortable doing so, lock your car and garage, don't take mid night strolls down Austin Blvd. and use common sense. I know people that have alarms and people that don't. Some people hype the proximity to Austin thing more than it deserves, and to be honest with you, most burglars visit areas by car, so you would not exactly be singled out just cause you are closer to the border. I've grown up in very safe areas, and if I felt any sense of danger in NE or any part of Oak Park I would not have moved here with my family.

Last edited by chitownperson; 01-24-2013 at 02:05 AM..
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:20 AM
 
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I appreciate chitownperson's comments about Oak Park; they have a uniquely positive view of their town that seems a bit different than what I have experienced. It is my experience that in a town the size of Oak Park the vast majority of people one gets to know come from two categories -- those that live so close to you that you cannot help but bump into them and those that have children that are classmates of your children. There tends to be some overlap but even if there are people a few blocks away with kids that may be a year or two ahead / behind of your kids it is rather uncommon to know many. If folks live in a whole other attendance area it is extremely unlikely to really get to know 'em...

Perhaps chitownperson (or their spouse) found a house that they simply had to have and that motivated their decision but in my experience location is a huge factor in every real estate decision -- the more desirable parts of any town have housing stock that is superior, better access to the amenities of the town, a longer record of price stability / appreciation , and more appealing schools. I find it extremely hard to believe that some who could afford any part of town would choose an area that is less desirable unless it was because of the specifics of an individual house -- this is not uncommon in Oak Park because of the range of housing styles that can be found however it is my experience that this is far less likely on the extreme eastern edge of town. Regardless of how far north / south one goes in Oak Park you will not find many folks recommending the blocks closest to Austin...

I do agree that sections of town closer to the core (and comparing Ridgeland which in terms of access is far better than the blocks adjacent to Austin...) one could make a much stronger argument. I also have to say that I have a great deal of respect for the police in Oak Park -- they are do a good job in working to minimize the sorts of activities that are associated with the job of crime that plaques Chicago.There are those that find the police actions like enforcing anti- loitering borderline harassment but the experience of how quickly such behaviors can devolve into gang related actions suggest the risk / reward ratio to be positive.

I would continue to stress that the OP would do well to consider all the available options within their budget.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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I had another thought on this when leaving my own home. I pass by a rather busy stretch of Ogden Ave every morning. There is a vacant plot of land for sale that is the same town I live in. It is currently zoned for a single family home and would have single families homes on either side. That said it would make a HORRIBLE place to build a home. There is gas station directly across the street. There is no ability to walk from the home without going along the VERY heavily traveled Ogden Ave or trespassing on neighbor's land. It will always be worth far less than other homes, will never be as safe or quiet as other homes.

It is never a great plan to buy a home in a location that has too many negatives.

I canot urge the OP strongly enough to simply pick up a phone and call any one associated with assisting in relocations at any real estate office in or around Oak Park. Ask them to pull up the listing. Tell them you are from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, whatever. Ask them if they would recommend this location. I really don't think that any one would do other than suggest they would have some reservations. I suspect that any responsible person who answered honestly would say this might be a better opportunity for an investor, or at least a family with roots in the area, where if they can leverage their connections and encourage others to stick with this for the long haul or give more space to a growing family that is already fully tuned into the dynamics of the extreme eastern edge of Oak Park they would have less to loose. Someone from outside the area really would not be a plus. As others have suggested, folks who've known one another for a long time do watch out for each other. It may be much more of a challenge for folks new to the area.

Last edited by chet everett; 01-24-2013 at 08:54 AM..
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
and more appealing schools.
I know the OP does not have kids yet, but I will allow the Hatch test scores from the Illinois School Report card to speak for themselves. OP, I would not spend a minute worrying about Hatch School.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,283,883 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
I had another thought on this when leaving my own home. I pass by a rather busy stretch of Ogden Ave every morning. There is a vacant plot of land for sale that is the same town I live in. It is currently zoned for a single family home and would have single families homes on either side. That said it would make a HORRIBLE place to build a home. There is gas station directly across the street. There is no ability to walk from the home without going along the VERY heavily traveled Ogden Ave or trespassing on neighbor's land. It will always be worth far less than other homes, will never be as safe or quiet as other homes.

It is never a great plan to buy a home in a location that has too many negatives.
I'm not sure I see the relevance of this to the OP situation. No vacant lots nearby Division and Humphrey (not even on the Chicago side), and there are no gas stations nearby.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,283,883 times
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FWIW, I've had to call the police a few times (always minor things or false alarms) and they're response time has been 20 seconds or less. I live in central Oak Park, so I don't have much personal experience with the far east side, but from talking to my friends who live there, the only thing that really sticks out as a consistent negative is the Halloween experience.
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