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Old 01-28-2014, 11:29 PM
 
9 posts, read 12,266 times
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Hello all,

It looks like I will be accepting a job at Fermilab soon. I have been browsing around zillow, some apartment finders and the city data demographics maps, and browsing around this forum.

It looks like the consensus is that the burbs near the lab are nice... for the burbs. For instance, St Charles, Batavia, North Aurora and Geneva. Also Warrenville, Wheaton, etc.

The thing is, the burbs bore me to tears. All I see cruising around on google maps are the regular boring ass chain restaurants and stores. And the lab is so far out that if I live near the lab and want to go into Chicago, it's too freakin long of a drive!

Since I am single, no kids, I want this: Ethnic restaurants. Screw all those chain restaurants. Interesting places to go and shop, and not just freakin chain stores. Good microbrewery/bars. I am white, but I am not scared of other races, so I am open to other hoods, just as long as they are not low income. I am coming from Albuquerque, so I am used to some color and different cultures. My final very important qualification is that I hate commutes, so I would say anything longer than 30 minutes is just asking for some serious road rage.

So, is there an area or town more in the direction of Chicago that sounds like it fits my bill there? I was looking along north and south of I-88 all the way in towards I-355. I would be working during the day, so I would commute out west in the morning and east in the afternoon. I would think most traffic along I-88 is in the opposite direction, i.e. towards Chicago in the morning rush hour. Is that right? Or is I-88 equally busy in both directions in the morning and evening?

To start with, I will likely be in an apartment for the first year somewhere near the lab, just for simplicity. If someone recommends an area right away, I might look at a rental house or apartment towards Chicago. But I really don't want to settle and buy a house in the boring sticks. I mean, what's the point? I could be in any plain vanilla suburb in the entire country.

When I get a house, I am probably looking at foreclosures, since full price houses will be out of my price range, given the property tax asshattery going on in Illinois. And I would be looking for standalone houses, not duplexes. I don't need a heck of a lot of space, but if I get a place that is 1000 sq feet or less, I will need a basement for my all-important theater room.

Suggestions please, and advice!

Thanks!
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:18 AM
 
3,858 posts, read 5,895,419 times
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Maybe Glen Ellyn would fit the bill. Or Geneva. Both are charming towns and have some independent restaurants and shops. Make sure you live near I 88 and you will be able to get into the city fairly easily. Batavia and Wheaton also might be something to look into as well as Naperville. There will be main chains granted but you can find some bright spots and ethnic dining in the western suburbs if you do the research. There are a bunch of Asian places, NAF Naf grill which turned into a small chain, Indian, and a few others that come to mind you just have to know where they are. Traffic will be horrendous going in and out of Chicago. I don't think rush hour the opposite way will be all that much better. Best thing would be to rent for a year and get used to the area before making a long term commitment.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:35 AM
 
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Yeah man screw all those chain resturants! Move to Aurora's downtown! Nothing but mom & pop places with home cooking. The recipes will probably rival anything you can find in Albuquerque.

If you actually bother to not just use google you might also find that the core of the town directly east of Fermilab, West Chicago is also home to lots of mom & pop restaurants. Very large ethnic population. Of course most of the folks that move to Aurora or West Chicago from Mexico are low income.

Though more upscale than the other towns the core of Geneva, nearest the Fox River also has many locally owned restaurants and shops. The same is actually true for the heart of old downtown Batavia, which was long ago the Kane Co seat, as well as St. Charles. Batavia has a bit fewer ethnic spots than Aurora or West Chicago but you will not find any of them "plain vanilla" if you stay away from the tract homes of the mass builders... Those can be found in under a 30 minute drive.

Fermilab is a relatively easy drive up Farnsworth/Kirk Rd from I-88 and one could commute from places as far east as probably Oak Park with under an hour's drive in the AM (longer back home) but unless you venture into the less desirable areas you really will not save any money on rentals or purchase...
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Chicago
3,275 posts, read 4,746,377 times
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Personally, I would look for something in downtown St. Charles or Geneva. There are plenty of non-chain restaurants and bars in both. Downtown St. Charles has something like 16 bars now and none of them are chains as far as I am aware. I have a few friends who live in the downtown St. Charles area and we have a good time going out near their house.

I would look in the numbered Avenues and Streets in STC just south of North Avenue. Of course, that's my preference based on living in STC from high school through college and hanging out there post college with friends. Sure, STC is not Chicago, but it isn't the worst place in the world, either.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
31 posts, read 61,226 times
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I just bought a house in Warrenville and Fermi is basically my backyard. I moved here after previously living in Chicago so I understand what you mean.

There are nowhere near as many non-chain places as the city but you can definitely find some cool places.

Geneva, Saint Charles, Batavia, Naperville, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn all have good downtowns with local restaurants and bars (non-chains). Really anything along the UP-West Metra line. These areas should not be confused with the strip mall/chain areas which definitely exist.

Warrenville has Two Brothers Taphouse which is awesome and is right by Fermi. There is also a Two Brothers in Aurora.

A little further out you have Brauerhouse in Lombard and Lunar Brewing Co. in Villa Park.

During non-rush hour I can make it into the city in 35-50 minutes via I-88 depending on where I'm going. I would not want to live in the city and drive back and forth everyday.

I'm not sure how old you are, but Saint Charles or Naperville tend to have a younger nightlife crowd although it does vary depending on the place. Both should be within a 30 minute drive of Fermi if you avoid 59. At least northern Naperville. Saint Charles won't be as easy a drive to Chicago though. Maybe also look at Lombard. You have quick Metra access to the city and the drive isn't bad either. Plus you are a little more centrally located there.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:42 PM
 
11,972 posts, read 27,558,054 times
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I think living near downtown Geneva or downtown Naperville would be your best options, as long as you aren't constantly comparing them to the North Side of Chicago. Geneva is just a lovely little town, and there is nightlife. My wife and I will actually drive there from Glen Ellyn to go out, as there are a handful of really good restaurants there that rival anything around. The only thing stopping it from being one of the most popular suburbs in Chicagoland is its distance from the city.

Both of these two cities will be more boring and family-oriented than any place I lived in my single 20s, but they offer your best options for fun and commute, and both have trains that go in to the city. Though Naperville's rush hour train is only 36 minutes, while Geneva's is over an hour, I believe.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:44 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,357,104 times
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My friend's husband worked at Fermi for years, and they live in Oak Park.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:06 PM
 
28,430 posts, read 70,768,727 times
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Default Yes but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nightlysparrow View Post
My friend's husband worked at Fermi for years, and they live in Oak Park.
The shear distance would exceed the OP's desire to keep commute under 30 minutes... Then again if they can realign the tevatron and hook that baby into their Delorean ...
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,262,534 times
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FWIW, I see Fermilab employees who regularly take the Metra train out to Winfield in the morning and then commute back inbound in the afternoon. I don't know how they get from Winfield to Fermilab, but its the same group of people doing it for the past several years. I don't think there's an official shuttle bus, so maybe they share a taxi or have a coworker who picks them up. A 45 minute train ride from Chicago is a lot less stressful than a 45 minute drive during rush hour, just saying.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:11 PM
 
9 posts, read 12,266 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToriaT View Post
Maybe Glen Ellyn would fit the bill. Or Geneva. Both are charming towns and have some independent restaurants and shops. Make sure you live near I 88 and you will be able to get into the city fairly easily. Batavia and Wheaton also might be something to look into as well as Naperville. There will be main chains granted but you can find some bright spots and ethnic dining in the western suburbs if you do the research. There are a bunch of Asian places, NAF Naf grill which turned into a small chain, Indian, and a few others that come to mind you just have to know where they are. Traffic will be horrendous going in and out of Chicago. I don't think rush hour the opposite way will be all that much better. Best thing would be to rent for a year and get used to the area before making a long term commitment.
Thanks, I wasn't looking at Glen Ellyn. From there though, would you take 355 to 88 and go west, or stay off the interstate and take Roosevelt all the way west?

I do like my asian food though, I am into Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and good Chinese. Plus sushi.
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