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Old 11-24-2007, 07:24 PM
Location: the Great Lakes states
796 posts, read 2,078,073 times
Reputation: 529


I'm in my mid 20's... graduated college in 2005... been living with my parents for a little over a year while figuring out the next step. My degree was in the tourism industry.

I've decided to work a corporate job for a few years while saving up for my own dream business, which is to run leadership programs for groups - perhaps with its own facility or lodging center.

The company I'm applying to has multiple positions open... and the two that caught my eye are ones in Naperville, IL and Madison, WI... two very different cities. It seems though they are offering similar salaries for both positions.

What appeals to me about Naperville is:
  • Newness.
  • Beautiful apartments - $1K rent gets you an outdoor pool, a fireplace and granite countertops.
  • High income area, with little crime or poverty.
  • Ability to network with more potential corporate clients.
  • Thriving schools and recreation programs - although I don't have kids, I like living in communities that take care of their kids well.
  • Centennial Beach - I love summer and the beach
  • A lot of nightlife options.
  • Less than one hour to Evanston, Chicago, and Orland Park, where I have college friends. Less than 90 minutes to parents' in Indiana.
  • Chicago quality food chains like Jewel and Whole Foods.
  • Voted #1 place to live in the Midwest recently.
  • Strong tourism industry in Chicago and the whole region.
  • Quality local government and a desire to get involved in local associations or boards.
Cons about Naperville:
  • That one hour drive for friends, dating, and real nightlife might be a little bit too long.
  • Not many nice apartments under $850/mo. Even the $1k is not likely to get more than a 1br apartment. I would like more space.
  • Less outdoorsy than I might like.
  • Lack of a gay community... and dating may mean up to an hour's drive.
Pros about Madison:
  • Greater housing options starting at $475 for a college area 1 bedroom up to $1000 for a brand new 2 bedroom loft. 3BR homes possibly available for the same price.
  • College scene, which I like. Also means inexpensive entertainment such as university athletics and theater productions.
  • The openness and friendliness of a college town with new people arriving every year - easier to strike up conversations in bars, coffee shops, and just a cozier climate.
  • Lots of outdoor opportunities/ voted healthiest city in America.
  • The gay community strikes me as fairly vibrant.
  • Corporate position may be less stressful because I can retreat into a friendly college community at the end of the day.
  • More eclectic and accepting.
  • Near Wisconsin Dells.
Cons about Madison:
  • Longer drive to see parents - but Chicago is halfway and might be a good place to meet.
  • Less luxury and "status" than living in a Chicago suburb. Older housing and parks.
  • More poverty and more deteriorating neighborhoods.
  • A recreational tourism industry, but not much of a corporate tourism industry.
  • Less stable friendships, because college towns change over so quickly. (People graduate, professors move to new positions, etc.)
  • I'm originally from Illinois, so I have less familiarity with the region.
  • I'm middle-ground in my politics - and unsure if living in a completely liberal town would be comfortable. (I have some very liberal viewpoints, but I'm not a fan of radicalism or social welfare.)
  • Perhaps less opportunity to get involved with town or school boards, because in college towns, professors and university administrators tend to be dominant in the political scene.
Like to hear your thoughts - please let me know if my perceptions are on-target or if I'm wrong on any of these... and thanks!
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Old 11-24-2007, 10:05 PM
5,683 posts, read 8,890,045 times
Reputation: 43694
Both of your options look like good ones, and you've clearly done your homework already in assessing the pros and cons. I have no experience with Naperville, but have lived in Madison about 8 years, so can make a comment or two about that community.

Madison's rental scene is pretty good just now, though as the housing boom deflates, that may change (a lot of former renters tested the waters as homeowners, and may soon be back to renting). You can certainly find a fair bit of bang for your buck, and the fact that a lot of developers are building only increases your options. It is also true that Madison is an extremely tenant-friendly city, and renters here have a lot of ordinances on the books that look out for their interests. Check out the Tenant Resource Center for help.

Madison has a very vibrant LGBT community, with lots of activities and organizations devoted to that demographic. In general, most of the locals are accepting of alternative lifestyles, and usually those that are intolerant keep their mouths shut.

Politics... yeah, well, you know that old saying about "74 square miles surrounded by reality". Calling Madison "a little liberal" is like saying that the ocean is "a little wet." At the same time, however, there is no litmus test for moving here, and you can and will find locals at the other end of the political spectrum. They just usually don't make as much noise. My spouse and I were pretty radical in our younger days, have moved more to the middle of the road as we've aged, but we still feel at home here.

I do not think that you would have any less opportunity to get involved in local politics (Common Council, School Board, etc) because this is a college town. The majority of local political positions are held by "townies" as opposed to those from the academic community, although of course there are exceptions. In some precincts that are largely comprised of students, you'd be likelier to get a university-affiliated candidate at least running, but they don't necessarily win.

Poverty, deteriorating neighborhoods, older housing and parks, status... well, all those are a matter of perspective. Yes, unquestionably there are neighborhoods that I'd sooner not visit late at night, but the city isn't turning into a slum by any means. And speaking for myself, I would rather live in a community that has a little more economic diversity, but that's strictly a personal preference and would not be shared by all.

I think probably the biggest and most important difference between your two possible candidates is the fact that a Chicago suburb is inevitably going to have a much, much more cosmopolitan feel than Madison ever will. There are posters on this forum who look down their noses at Madison, sniffing dismissively at its "pretensions to grandeur", but it is certainly true that Madison is not and never will be a Chicago, or even a Milwaukee. It's a SMALL city, and it feels like a small city, and if you thrive on the bustle and the hurly-burly of a big-city atmosphere, you are likely to feel stifled and oppressed by what you may consider the humdrum nature of this community.

If your job opportunities will allow you to do a bit of scouting, I'd suggest a visit up here for a few days. Replies through this forum can give you some really good feedback from people who know a region, but only you can tell how it really fits for your needs and lifestyle. Check out both newspapers (the Wisconsin State Journal is the larger morning paper with a more conservative view, the Capital Times is the smaller afternoon liberal paper) at madison.com, and read the articles to get a sense of the local hot-button issues and topics. If you are a church-goer, visit one or two of your preferred denomination while you're here to get a feel for the fit there. And talk to people, locals, students and visitors, to get their perspectives as well as the posters on this forum.

Good luck to you! I hope you find a place where the fit is right, and that your dream business comes to fruition!
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Old 11-25-2007, 04:50 AM
474 posts, read 2,300,084 times
Reputation: 113
Default A Judgement Call On Your Part

Dear Friend:

I believe you are looking at identical twins although Naperville, IL is smaller than Madison, Wisconsin.

Since you plan business in a tourism industry, Madison would be a better choice. That's due to the state of Wisconsin vs. the state of Illinois. Much more tourism in Wisconsin.

As my personal opinion, choose something much better than Jewel Food Stores and the other one you mentioned.

On a world - wide basis that also includes the entire Chicago area - - do your grocery shopping at "Aldi's". It is a warehouse food store and will save yourself a bunch of money in the long run. Do a Google search on "Aldi's" but I believe it is Aldi.com or something similar.

Carter Glass,
Wheaton, IL &
Cortland, IL
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Old 11-26-2007, 09:40 AM
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 68,021,502 times
Reputation: 10063
To be honest, both are great cities. I would have a hard time choosing between the two.
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Old 11-26-2007, 10:38 AM
4,721 posts, read 13,627,244 times
Reputation: 4685
Mid 20's ? Madison. The plus of Naperville is you can get to Chicago.
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Old 11-26-2007, 12:16 PM
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 68,021,502 times
Reputation: 10063
Originally Posted by nanannie View Post
Mid 20's ? Madison. The plus of Naperville is you can get to Chicago.
Naperville has a wonderful 20-something scene too. With the college right next to downtown, its chock full of 20 year olds cramming up the downtown and surrounding areas, its quite the party.
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Old 11-26-2007, 01:14 PM
Location: earth
463 posts, read 478,340 times
Reputation: 62
It seems to me that the Naperville scene (I am a 20 something) was more "local". Not that there is anything wrong with that. Suburbs should aspire to provide entertainment for their young adults, rather than loose them to the city; only to have them return when it is time to raise their devil children.
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Old 11-26-2007, 02:05 PM
Location: Franklin, TN
615 posts, read 1,568,524 times
Reputation: 459
Nobody has mentioned this, but you do not have to live in Naperville just because your office is there. Depending on your work hours, you could live downtown Chicago and commute out to Naperville. It would be a reverse commute making it somewhat manageable.

You can have the downtown life, with access to boystown, making dating a snap.

LOL at Aldi's.
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Old 11-27-2007, 07:50 AM
356 posts, read 378,571 times
Reputation: 27
college town or urban kiddy sprawl? You decide-- it's cold either place
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:56 AM
228 posts, read 578,343 times
Reputation: 157
I just left a Chicago suburb (Arlington Heights) for Madison to take a corporate job with a company in the leisure industry. At first I was apprehensive about moving from the Chicago area because I had gotten used to the traffic and crazy and liked being near the city- but then it occurred to me that I never really used the city- I wouldnt drive in and the Metra, though fantastic, still took 45 minutes each way. So there I was, stuck in the suburbs and feeling isolated because the sports activities I liked to do had groups that required I drive a half hour to go do them. I dont have kids but while I have a partner its hard to feel comfortable when everyone around you is setting up home and has small kids. You can say you will go into the city to play, but after a while it gets to be a hassle because you always have to be the one to drive or leave early to catch the last train home.

I figure I can always move back to the city at the end of this stint!

Note: You may be able to save more money for your business living in Madison, though Madison is not a cheap city by any means. That being said, I have a two bedroom flat that is twice the size of my old apartment in AH for the same price.
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