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Old 02-02-2015, 05:14 PM
61 posts, read 62,416 times
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Family with young children considering a move to Chicago. This would be a new job, new to Illinois (from Mi), huge downsizing of our home...all around new stuff. We are considering areas like la grange, Winfield, warren vile, st Charles, libertyville, but really havnt narrowed it down.

Would you rent for a year or two to see if you liked the area and job enough to stay? Assume there is at least some chance, but no guarantee, of a transfer to an area you *might* like better...but then again we might end up loving chicago! We want a house with a nice yard...if we bought right away would we be able to break even in a couple years if we wanted to move on? Or is it worth it to pay such high rent until we find the perfect place because of the market?

basically we are unsure of how we will like the area and if the high cost of living will be worth it. Do you love it? Convince me please I hear a lot of complaining about chicago-money, traffic, taxes. I'd like to invest in a fixer-upper and enjoy it for a few years of we have a chance at a decent return rather than throwing the same amount of money into rent each month. And if we do fall in love, we can stay and be glad we bought when interest rates were low. I'd love to hear some insight from locals!
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Old 02-02-2015, 05:24 PM
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where from in MI? we (young family) relocated from Northville just a little over a year ago...

I am gonna prepare a detailed response but want to wrap it around what you are used to...
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:07 PM
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Financially if this is not likely to be a home for at least 5-7 years it very likely does make sense to attempt to rent.

That said the fact is that over the past decade or more the quality of available rental homes has really declined -- anything worth selling or tearing down very likely hurt the availability of rentals.

Further the value of even rentals in poor condition in nice desirable school districts is poor -- to make a profit and cover high property taxes it very well might take a base rent that is more than double what it cost to purchase a similarly priced home at current record setting low interest rates...

So, you have some hard choices: risk seeing crummy over priced rentals in nice towns that you may end up kicking yourself for not taking advantage of low rates on the chance you get transfered yet again?

The theory of finding a "fixer upper" and trying to not go so overboard that you will never be able to recoup your costs is probably a better plan BUT that assumes that you can tolerate living in a "work zone" and that you can find a place that the "fix up costs" truly are within your budget...
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:29 PM
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Thanks everyone! We are currently in Grand Rapids, I went to high school in Plymouth Also lived in Indiana a few years ago.
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:52 PM
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Grand Rapids… there will be nothing like that to compare to in chicagoland… but at least we can use Plymouth…

OK so you know how Plymouth/Northville is super vibrant yet family friendly… There are tons of options like that here (much more expensive and way higher taxes) but what makes everything even better here is the big city access. Traffic is a nightmare, it is absolutely horrific but with all the people comes all the action and life…

So what we found is we can really get both big city + small vibrant town at same time. You will want to base where you live on where is best job commute (minimize travel or if you can eliminate all together with Metra)

PS I work in Auburn IN, so travel to IN maybe 1x month. IN is totally different from MI and both are totally different from IL.

Will you be North or West? (this is the first part we need to know) its kinda like the East side versus West side MI thing…
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Old 02-02-2015, 07:02 PM
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Thanks! We really don't know, it's a bug territory and he'd be traveling all over chicago, differebt areas each day so it's really up to us. We will know more details soon and it may end up that being either north or west will be better but we don't know yet, and even if one ends up being better it's still really up to us. So, knowing what our options are would be fantastic. I love downtown Plymouth...hubby would prefer Howell/Brighton for the space and rural feel. We do love west Michigan, there's a good crunchy vibe over here but it's also church and family focused with beautiful nature and lake access. But, the job is killing us. This job would be a huge improvement for our family so we are nervous about leaving somewhere we love but family time is always more important.
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Old 02-02-2015, 07:14 PM
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Brighton has a pretty kool downtown but is further west… a good comparable for that would be Wheaton here. But you would get 3X the downtown of Brighton + a train/metra…

Based on location West might be best its most central and provides easiest access to everything including airports. Start checking out Elmhurst, La Grange, Western Springs, Downers Grove, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn…Hinsdale also awesome but is the big money if you have the 900k+ to spend (Birmingham of IL)

You should also check out Oak Park/River Forest, really unlike anything in MI. You either luv it or hate it... based on GR and Plymouth it maybe too urban gritty for you like it was for us...

When we first moved here (la grange) it took a bit of adjustment for us. 2 of us +16month old, We luv it now... For our relocation renting would mean sacrificing a COL adjustment so had to buy... I advise renting first as area has just so much more to explore, its a much bigger decision here...

Last edited by JJski; 02-02-2015 at 07:31 PM..
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Old 02-02-2015, 07:47 PM
61 posts, read 62,416 times
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Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it can i ask, what were your adjustments from northville? What do you love, what was hardest to get used to or what other big changes were there?

Renting first would be ideal to get to know the area, but I'm worried about interest rates rising and throwing money into a place we don't like for a year or more. Such a hard choice! We may possibly be able to make a slower transition in order to get to know more about the area...not sure yet.
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:04 PM
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Here's a rent vs. own calculator that I found very helpful when I was torn between renting and buying. If you choose Libertyville, there's only 5 rentals on the market, so buying would probably be a better idea there.

Rent Vs. Buy Calculator
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:47 PM
397 posts, read 435,641 times
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People always tell you to rent when you are relocating but that's not always practical advice. We've just relocated from Chicago to the Phoenix area and wanted to rent for a year and then buy. However, we discovered that good rentals were hard to find. We decided to buy because we wanted to be in a particular school district and within the zone for several particular elementary schools. We had more choices in this area to buy than rent.

Prices and interest rates are going up so now is a good time to buy. But on the other hand, buying usually doesn't make financial sense if you're not in the house for about 5 years. Relocating without knowing the area could lead to a bad choice and that's a very expensive mistake to make.

I believe you can learn a lot about a area without living there. But I think you've got to narrow down what you're looking for so you begin serious research about a particular area. What we did was to first limit ourselves to one part of the Phoenix metro. It was an easy choice because we based it on my commute to work. Then we researched school districts and found several that we liked. We looked for a district with a good GreatSchools rating that was well supported by the local population as demonstrated through support for bond issues, etc.

If I were you (coming in blind without any geographic limitations), I'd start by figuring out what is the most affluent towns you can afford. Affluent areas generally have better schools. Then think about what your family's interests are. Do you want to be by the lake? Are you liberal or conservative? Religious? Into sports? Do you like older homes or modern tract houses? Do you want to be in an urban area or a more rural area? Or somewhere in between? Will you or your DH need to rely on the Metra to get to and from work?
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