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Old 03-14-2015, 09:30 PM
 
397 posts, read 435,849 times
Reputation: 393

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Quote:
Originally Posted by My Kind Of Town View Post
That's where I disagree. I believe middle class families CAN afford a home in a neighborhood with a good school system. Suburbs like Downers Grove, Darien, Palos, LaGrange Highlands, parts of Naperville, and Lemont are all places that quickly come to mind that are generally affordable to middle class families within good school districts. Middle class families can also afford a home within great school districts if they are willing to make sacrifices on the home itself (size, updates, etc).

When we bought our home in Hinsdale we did so by primarily sacrificing living space and the age of the home itself including features that required updating after purchase. I would have considered ourselves upper middle class at the time we bought as we had a household income of ~$120k. I know that families can afford a decent home in the before mentioned areas with a household income in closer to the $100k range (with a reasonable down payment and no significant prior debt accumulation - i.e. $1k/month in car payments, $50k in credit card debt, etc).
What is middle class? Isn't the middle in the Chicago area between $50K and about $70K? $100K a year is technically upper middle class. And then there's issue of childcare. Most middle class families in the Chicago area have two working spouses so most will need paid childcare. Given childcare costs, I would guess that even towns like DG are a big stretch for a real middle income family.

Anecdotally - the middle income young families of our acquaintance are buying townhouses or SFH homes in lesser school districts like Lombard.
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Old 03-14-2015, 11:52 PM
 
162 posts, read 213,854 times
Reputation: 178
Yes, there are diminishing options for middle class families, but that is also two-way street. Driven in part by our HGTV-influenced perception of what constitutes an acceptably nice house, and in part to the cultural/social changes of the younger generation that are now out buying their first houses (The "I want it all, and I want it now" generation, of which I am part of), of course there aren't a lot of options at that price point.

Even middle class buyers are demanding updated kitchens and bathroom...which couldn't POSSIBLY have laminate countertops because that is just DISGUSTING. The floor plan has to be open or its not a consideration, because, who would actually poke their head into the other room to check on their kids? It would be impossible to have a 2BR house with 1 kid, or 3BRs with 2 kids, because once every 2 years great Aunt Helen comes into town for a long weekend and where the heck is she going to sleep?

Of course these are desirable things to have, some aesthetic and some providing non-necessary but helpful functions. But when you're talking about priorities I think my generation needs to do a better job of de-emphisizing these things. My parents generation lived just fine without all the bells and whistles, you can live a happy comfortable life without them too and get yourself in a solid town with good schools.

I live in Brookfield and it is almost the definition of a majority middle-class town with very good schools (there are areas of upper middle class). Lombard, south DG, and Darien also have options with good school. Brookfield upper price range inventory is low right now bc a bunch just sold, but there are many solid options under 300k (and even lower if you're willing to make some of the sacrifices listed above:

https://www.redfin.com/IL/BROOKFIELD.../home/13294741
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292892
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13293320
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13294410
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292837
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292972
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292285
Or you can buy this house super cheap, fix it up nice, and live down the block from me!: https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/12715990

In the next few months my parents will be listing a house in Downers Grove that is small but beautifully updated, in a great school district and a neighborhood with dozens of teardowns, and on nearly an acre lot. I doubt they will list it much above $300k. So there are options out there!
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Old 03-15-2015, 12:04 AM
 
162 posts, read 213,854 times
Reputation: 178
And the real problem with Roger's argument is that he attributes a devious intent to the "rich people" building new homes on the lots in wealthy towns. He basically implies if not outright says that rich people are doing this for the purpose of keeping not-rich people out and away from them, so they "don't have to look at them" (and of course not for the other perks...more space, excellent schools, etc). Well, this is a completely illogical belief for two reasons. First of all, many of the towns mentioned including La Grange have a school system made up of kids from not only the wealthy La Grange but also less wealthy towns including Hodgkins (yes, LT has minorities!), Countryside (some of which has lots of apartments and cheap homes), the working class part of Brookfield with a significant Hispanic population, etc. So if those parents were really worried about "not seeing" the less wealthy people they would not move to La Grange with school aged kids. Even the Sedgewick area of LaGrange is not particularly nice (though this is changing).

Second of all, unless you are one of the last people in a neighborhood to buy a teardown and build a "McMansion", you are almost by definition moving into an area with less wealthy people! Hello! You're buying a run down small home which likely has other small homes around it, and building a big home there. A neighborhood doesn't turn over in a month or even a few years. It requires living there while the other less desirable houses wait to get torn down, and that means living next to the people living in those houses, who are probably considerably less wealthy than the people building the new houses.

Roger, if you have a social problem with the divide between rich and poor that is fine, and if you don't like big houses on small lots that is fine too, but to attribute some premeditated malicious intent to those who are building new houses...that just makes you sound like a clown.
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Old 03-15-2015, 05:10 AM
 
173 posts, read 182,437 times
Reputation: 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTW2013 View Post
What is middle class? Isn't the middle in the Chicago area between $50K and about $70K? $100K a year is technically upper middle class. And then there's issue of childcare. Most middle class families in the Chicago area have two working spouses so most will need paid childcare. Given childcare costs, I would guess that even towns like DG are a big stretch for a real middle income family.

Anecdotally - the middle income young families of our acquaintance are buying townhouses or SFH homes in lesser school districts like Lombard.
Here's a question. Shouldn't middle class income generally expect middle class (ie average) schools? Why is it that everyone expects to be able to afford to buy a home within a great school district even with a modest income? If everyone could afford the great school districts who would attend the average to below average districts?
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Old 03-15-2015, 05:15 AM
 
173 posts, read 182,437 times
Reputation: 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by agallan View Post
Yes, there are diminishing options for middle class families, but that is also two-way street. Driven in part by our HGTV-influenced perception of what constitutes an acceptably nice house, and in part to the cultural/social changes of the younger generation that are now out buying their first houses (The "I want it all, and I want it now" generation, of which I am part of), of course there aren't a lot of options at that price point.

Even middle class buyers are demanding updated kitchens and bathroom...which couldn't POSSIBLY have laminate countertops because that is just DISGUSTING. The floor plan has to be open or its not a consideration, because, who would actually poke their head into the other room to check on their kids? It would be impossible to have a 2BR house with 1 kid, or 3BRs with 2 kids, because once every 2 years great Aunt Helen comes into town for a long weekend and where the heck is she going to sleep?

Of course these are desirable things to have, some aesthetic and some providing non-necessary but helpful functions. But when you're talking about priorities I think my generation needs to do a better job of de-emphisizing these things. My parents generation lived just fine without all the bells and whistles, you can live a happy comfortable life without them too and get yourself in a solid town with good schools.

I live in Brookfield and it is almost the definition of a majority middle-class town with very good schools (there are areas of upper middle class). Lombard, south DG, and Darien also have options with good school. Brookfield upper price range inventory is low right now bc a bunch just sold, but there are many solid options under 300k (and even lower if you're willing to make some of the sacrifices listed above:

https://www.redfin.com/IL/BROOKFIELD.../home/13294741
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292892
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13293320
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13294410
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292837
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292972
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292285
Or you can buy this house super cheap, fix it up nice, and live down the block from me!: https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/12715990

In the next few months my parents will be listing a house in Downers Grove that is small but beautifully updated, in a great school district and a neighborhood with dozens of teardowns, and on nearly an acre lot. I doubt they will list it much above $300k. So there are options out there!
This is a fantastic post. Bottom line, expectations need to be in line with reality (income). Anyone expecting to buy an updated home with 2000sf + in a great school district with a household income of sub $100k needs a reality check. I know that sounds harsh but it's the truth. You are absolutely right about the HGTV phenomenon as well as how previous generations lived. I will go a step further. This has an effect not just on home expectations but all consumer goods. Every child has an iPad, iPhone, latest/greatest video game console, etc.
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Old 03-15-2015, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Chicagoland
111 posts, read 163,924 times
Reputation: 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by destination-unknown View Post
Here's a question. Shouldn't middle class income generally expect middle class (ie average) schools? Why is it that everyone expects to be able to afford to buy a home within a great school district even with a modest income? If everyone could afford the great school districts who would attend the average to below average districts?
No one in the middle class ever hopes their kids can be more successful by sending them to excellent schools!
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Old 03-15-2015, 07:13 AM
 
Location: Chicagoland
111 posts, read 163,924 times
Reputation: 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by agallan View Post
Yes, there are diminishing options for middle class families, but that is also two-way street. Driven in part by our HGTV-influenced perception of what constitutes an acceptably nice house, and in part to the cultural/social changes of the younger generation that are now out buying their first houses (The "I want it all, and I want it now" generation, of which I am part of), of course there aren't a lot of options at that price point.

Even middle class buyers are demanding updated kitchens and bathroom...which couldn't POSSIBLY have laminate countertops because that is just DISGUSTING. The floor plan has to be open or its not a consideration, because, who would actually poke their head into the other room to check on their kids? It would be impossible to have a 2BR house with 1 kid, or 3BRs with 2 kids, because once every 2 years great Aunt Helen comes into town for a long weekend and where the heck is she going to sleep?

Of course these are desirable things to have, some aesthetic and some providing non-necessary but helpful functions. But when you're talking about priorities I think my generation needs to do a better job of de-emphisizing these things. My parents generation lived just fine without all the bells and whistles, you can live a happy comfortable life without them too and get yourself in a solid town with good schools.

I live in Brookfield and it is almost the definition of a majority middle-class town with very good schools (there are areas of upper middle class). Lombard, south DG, and Darien also have options with good school. Brookfield upper price range inventory is low right now bc a bunch just sold, but there are many solid options under 300k (and even lower if you're willing to make some of the sacrifices listed above:

https://www.redfin.com/IL/BROOKFIELD.../home/13294741
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292892
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13293320
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13294410
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292837
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292972
https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/13292285
Or you can buy this house super cheap, fix it up nice, and live down the block from me!: https://www.redfin.com/IL/Brookfield.../home/12715990

In the next few months my parents will be listing a house in Downers Grove that is small but beautifully updated, in a great school district and a neighborhood with dozens of teardowns, and on nearly an acre lot. I doubt they will list it much above $300k. So there are options out there!
Some really great homes here! Great post!
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Old 03-15-2015, 07:28 AM
 
173 posts, read 182,437 times
Reputation: 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by moderngnome View Post
No one in the middle class ever hopes their kids can be more successful by sending them to excellent schools!
You missed the point. Hope and expect are two different things. I get the impression that many in the middle class expect to be able to afford a nice, good sized home in an excellent district. There are ways for middle class folks to afford excellent school districts but it will take some type of sacrifice. Be it renting vs buying or buying a smaller, dated home. You can't expect to afford an updated 2000 SF home in an excellent district with a minimal down payment and modest income. That just doesn't align with the reality of the situation. Something's gotta give.
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Chicago
90 posts, read 202,965 times
Reputation: 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by destination-unknown View Post
You missed the point. Hope and expect are two different things. I get the impression that many in the middle class expect to be able to afford a nice, good sized home in an excellent district. There are ways for middle class folks to afford excellent school districts but it will take some type of sacrifice. Be it renting vs buying or buying a smaller, dated home. You can't expect to afford an updated 2000 SF home in an excellent district with a minimal down payment and modest income. That just doesn't align with the reality of the situation. Something's gotta give.
This is a problem across the board, not just with respect to school districts. As agallan pointed out, people want it all and seem to be convinced they can have it.

I see countless questions in the city forum requesting close proximity to public transit, a 10 minute commute to downtown, a nice view, walkable to everything, with parking, bla bla bla for $700/mo. People convince themselves that they should be able to afford everything with the slightest sacrifice- appliances can be white not stainless, or the a/c can be a wall unit not central. It is absolutely ridiculous. The suburb forum isn't any better, it's just a different set of criteria.

I'm a real estate broker and it is incredibly difficult for some people to accept reality. I show them what is available in their price range and it's always missing something- slightly too small, too far from transport, doesn't have the right amenities, doesn't have the view they want, the hardwood floors aren't stained the perfect shade, etc. People are always pointing out some shortcoming or flaw- I like it except for X. Well, genius, if it wasn't for X the property would be $50,000 more. X isn't free.

I show them the places that have everything on their list but are way out of the budget. They find some (absurd) justification for why it's more expensive and that it's beyond their criteria- they need a nice kitchen, but not that nice, their place doesn't have to be this large or have this nice of a view.

A large lot is desirable. Great school districts are desirable. Close proximity to a charming downtown and metra are desirable. People pay more for desirable things. The best homes are expensive. People come up with a $1mil wish list and a $400,000 budget.
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Old 03-15-2015, 11:51 AM
 
848 posts, read 641,718 times
Reputation: 542
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTW2013 View Post
What is middle class? Isn't the middle in the Chicago area between $50K and about $70K? $100K a year is technically upper middle class. And then there's issue of childcare. Most middle class families in the Chicago area have two working spouses so most will need paid childcare. Given childcare costs, I would guess that even towns like DG are a big stretch for a real middle income family.

Anecdotally - the middle income young families of our acquaintance are buying townhouses or SFH homes in lesser school districts like Lombard.
The median household income for Elmhurst in 2012 was $91.5k. Adjusting for a 3% annual increase, it is safe to say the current median income is approx. $100k. This also includes the lesser neighborhoods within Elmhurst. I would guess that the nicer neighborhoods with great grade schools the median income is closer to $125k. If you are making the median income within this area (the "middle" relative to this suburb) and have enough saved for a 20% down payment you should be able to afford a home in the $450k - $500k range. OP said that their kids are approaching their teenage years so childcare costs shouldn't be a factor.
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