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Old 04-11-2015, 05:27 PM
 
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Hi all,

My husband and I are first time homebuyers, in our twenties, looking for homes in the Chicago suburbs (Downers Grove, Lombard, Westmont, Elmhurst, Lagrange, etc.) Our son will be entering kindergarten and school districts are are main concern with the move. We are looking for advice on the top school districts as well as specific schools in the suburbs listed or surrounding suburbs. Also best options for suburbs based on our requirements too!

Budget: Preferably under 300k
3 bedroom
1300-1400 sq. ft. Minimum
Okay with a bit of a fixer upper but not a total reno

We understand it will take some searching for the ideal home in a few of these towns based on budget but are just looking for advice. Thanks!!

Last edited by Nat2626; 04-11-2015 at 05:32 PM.. Reason: Forgot a word
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Old 04-12-2015, 08:38 AM
 
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Westmont had another referendum defeated soundly. That is not encouraging. The physical differences in their school facilities does cause more than a few families to choose private schools / adjoining towns with more desirable schools.

Lombard is not as desirable as Downers Grove, Elmhurst or LaGrange.

Depending on your tolerance for being further away from the train / core of town and style of housing / development you can probably find the best selection in your price range in DG, but inventory in the nicest parts of all those towns is rather tight -- builders are again actively buying up homes in desirable locations at that price point and tearing em' down for homes that will cost 3x++...
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Old 04-12-2015, 09:35 AM
 
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Westmont, Lombard < Downers Grove, Elmhurst, La Grange

You may want to check out Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and Naperville. All three compare favorably with Downers, Elmhurst and La Grange, and will probably yield a few more results in your price range.

Brookfield and La Grange Park fall somewhere between and might also be worth a look.
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Old 04-12-2015, 09:54 AM
 
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thank you for your replies so far. Naperville and Wheaton are a bit too far west for us as my husband works in the Loop. We'd prefer to stay east of I-355 and north of I-55. As we have a lot of family in western springs and Addison and would like to be in somewhere close or in etween the two.

How are la grange park school districts vs. downers grove vs elmhurst vs. Lombard ?

Thanks!!
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Old 04-12-2015, 10:11 AM
 
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Default Good advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by holl1ngsworth View Post
Westmont, Lombard < Downers Grove, Elmhurst, La Grange

You may want to check out Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and Naperville. All three compare favorably with Downers, Elmhurst and La Grange, and will probably yield a few more results in your price range.

Brookfield and La Grange Park fall somewhere between and might also be worth a look.
Lots of little tricks to explore too -- homes on lots that are just a little too small for redevelopment can sometimes be SIGNIFICANTLY more affordable in otherwise VERY pricey neighborhoods. I personally owned a few rental houses like that, the zoning changed and it was impossible to really put up a new home but the existing home could be updated with a nice kitchen and modern bath(s). I sold them to "starter home" buyers and they've subsequently sold them for a modest profit to others like that as their own family grows...
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Old 04-12-2015, 03:56 PM
 
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Yes, la grange park / brookfield could be a good option for you with a 300k budget, which tends to be on the low side for downers grove and won't get you much for your money in La Grange at that price
Point. The south side of downers grove could offer you some good options. It isn't quite as desirable as the north side but it is still a really nice upper middle class community where the average home value will still be above your budget. Schools are still very good there.

The north side of Brookfield shares an elementary school with la grange park (Brook Park), which is an excellent school. This feeds into riverside brookfield HS which is an excellent school and is particularly known for preparing students well for college. Other parts of la grange park and Brookfield feed into LT which is at least as good of a school.

You can get a great house for 300k or less in Brookfield, and perhaps be walkable to the metra (downtown in 25 minutes). People are great, there is a small but cute downtown with restaurants, bars, etc, and the town is very family oriented. La grange park varies in price depending on location but you can probably find something you'd like around 300. No metra in town (la grange park just north of downtown la grange is walkable but those houses will be above your budget). Both towns have tradeoffs vs la grange, but are MUCH less expensive while still having great schools and all the amenities of downtown la grange just a few minutes away. I have written extensively about brookfield on this forum so feel free to use the search tool and check it out.

Please excuse typos/bad capitalization I'm on my iPhone.
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nat2626 View Post
thank you for your replies so far. Naperville and Wheaton are a bit too far west for us as my husband works in the Loop. We'd prefer to stay east of I-355 and north of I-55. As we have a lot of family in western springs and Addison and would like to be in somewhere close or in etween the two.

How are la grange park school districts vs. downers grove vs elmhurst vs. Lombard ?

Thanks!!
A large percentage of the folks that live in Naperville, Wheaton and Glen Ellyn commute to the Loop for work, myself included. The trip is incredibly easy via Metra: Metra Home. My total one-way commute from Wheaton to my office in the Loop is less than an hour and mostly on the train -- where I can catch up on news, write emails or just relax. From Wheaton I can also be in either Western Springs or Addison in about 20-25 minutes.

There was a recent comprehensive survey done on the best suburbs for Loop transit commutes, and all three of the towns I recommended placed favorably. I recommend at least glancing it over: Top Transit Suburbs of Metropolitan Chicago

A commute from central Wheaton, Glen Ellyn or Nape to the Loop will likely be shorter than one from the more removed sections of the other towns in question. IMHO, I wouldn't live in Lombard or Westmont to save 7-9 mins on a train.

Last edited by holl1ngsworth; 04-13-2015 at 09:20 AM..
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Old 04-13-2015, 10:15 AM
 
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Physical distance of suburbs from the Loop is a tricky thing. I think it's best to think in terms of total travel times, which includes your walk or drive to the train and the availability of express trains.

Living far from the train in an inner ring suburb can often amount to a longer commute than living close to the train in a further suburb. For instance, the more affordable parts of La Grange and La Grange Park are often more than a mile from the train. Some suburbs have areas that are several miles from the train. Depending on when you leave for work, parking can be difficult at certain stations.

Also, express trains differ in availability from suburb to suburb. For instance, a suburb like Naperville has a faster train commute than many suburbs to the east due to the availability of 36 minute express trains from the downtown station. The downside is that parking by that station is notoriously competitive. But it's important to evaluate train schedules to see if express trains align with your commute times.
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Old 04-14-2015, 07:58 AM
 
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Thanks again for all of your great input thus far. I think we will narrow our search down to Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Lagrange, Glen Ellyn, and Wheaton. Does anyone know how school rankings compare within these towns? (elementary, middle, as we know about the high schools). We have not completely narrowed out Lagrange Park, Lombard, and Westmont but based on school systems it looks like we should eliminate them from our list.

Access to the Metra is really key for us so it looks like these may be our best option (BNSF would be our ideal). Naperville is just too far of a drive to all of our friends without kids in the city and Glen ellyn and Wheaton are our absolute limit in distance (driving) from the city.

Any additional input on school systems/ other comparatives between our options?

THANKS!!
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Old 04-14-2015, 06:14 PM
 
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It would be very difficult to find something in your price range in La Grange Park and Elmhurst, but you will be able to find something in the other towns mentioned. Lombard and Westmont are more bang for your buck and even though the schools aren't ranked as high, they are still good school districts. Look at Illinois report card and look at the schools' website to see what they offer. Other areas to consider looking are Lisle and the rest of Brookfield that feeds into Riverside Brookfield HS.
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