Southern CA Female Moving to Chicago Area - Need Help/Advice on Apt. Hunting and Adapting! (Waukegan: apartments, rentals)
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Southern CA Female Moving to Chicago Area - Need Help/Advice on Apt. Hunting and Adapting!
Hi all - This is my first post but I've been reading the forums trying to brush up on my Chicago knowledge and I have to say, I think it's great how helpful everyone has been to all newcomers.
I'm a female, mid-20s moving to the Chicago area in Feb. 09 along with my boyfriend who will be stationed at Great Lakes near Waukegan. I'm still sorting out a job as we speak but for now, I'm tentatively anticipating working in the city.
A good location that is safe and is a fairly decent commute for both of us is my priority (30k commute or less for both of us would be ideal). Since we have a puppy, I also need to make sure we find a pet-friend apt/townhome/condo.
I really need help/advice with the following questions about how best to go about finding an apartment.
1) What are the safest suburbs to live in that are a good in-between for Waukegan and downtown Chicago?
- Budget is about $1500/month - preferably two bedroom but one bedroom with a den or some extra storage area would be perfect as well.
- We also have a puppy and will need a dog friendly living complex.
- My co-worker who used to live in Chicago said staying by the brown line might be a good idea in terms of commuting for us???
2) I've been thinking of maybe Evanston, Winnetka, Northbrook and that general area. Would you consider those good suburbs? I also know those are pretty pricey areas and wanted to see if there are safe suburbs in that general vicinity but a bit cheaper.
- Should we consider going more inland such as Des Plaines or Mount Prospect?
3) Should we look for apartments/townhouses to rent on our own or go through an agency?
- We'll be in town in Jan. for about half a week to a week looking for housing. Since we are on a short time line, I am wondering if we would get more traction going through a property management agency to look for rentals? If so, which agencies do you think would be the best? I'm a little weary of getting "ripped off" by some agents who will try to pitch me more run down apartments or bad apples since I'm coming from CA and not as familiar with the area....
Any help or advice you all can provide is greatly appreciated!!! I figured it best to ask the locals right?
Bottom line: Great Lakes Naval Training Station is FAR from Chicago. It might come up as 37 miles, but I know that that the routes to/from that area are often congested. Driving to the base from Evanston would be no fun, and if you are used to SoCal you are going to have no fun commuting into Chicago. Northbrook is pricey and really has no advantage to someone in your situation. Winnetka is even more expensive, and though it is further east I don't think it is going to save you any time. You would kill yourselft trying to commute from someplace further out.
What sort of job will you be looking for? I would think that might factor into your search.
There are more affordable option for Naval personal and civilian employees closer to the Base. I am sure that you don't want to miss out on the fantastic social scene of the hipsters in Chicago, but dealing with new jobs, new climate, crummy economy, a puppy to take care maybe you need to get some priorities...
Hi Chet - thanks for the reply. I'm not sure what you meant by stating that I need to get new priorities but I'll assume that it was not meant to be offensive.
The reason I had selected those cities is NOT due to the fantastic social scenes you had stated. I'm sure the social scenes are great, but as you've stated, I have a lot on my plate so social scenes are a Tier B or even C priority at the moment.
I'm also aware that the base is far but the situation is what it is, so I need to make due and find the best compromise given the situation.
I'm really looking for 2 things: 1: a safe area and I've been told those are all great areas to live in. 2: I need an area in between the base and downtown Chicago which is again why those areas were selected.
To answer your question about my career - I've been at Sony for the past 4 years and am looking at continuing to do marketing (most likely consumer goods company or advertising agency, hence the assumption that I will be working downtown).
If you do have suggestions on where best to live, I'd love to hear it but I also appreciate not being judged or told to have new priorities. My priority is to find housing for the cross country move and the reason I came here is to hopefully get some insight.
Sorry, no intent to offend. Just pointing out that you are NOT going to have a commute of under 30 minutes to both the base and to downtown. One of you is going to have closer and one is going to be further. Which commute is going to take prioroty? Even if you were to rely on Metra, which is pretty much THE fastest path that links those points you would be hard pressed to get that sort of commute time for the towns listed: Metra / Union Pacific North Monday - Friday Inbound Driving would be MUCH longer...
North end of Evanston is pretty much the safest, though also the most expensive. Without kids I don't see much reason NOT to live close to the base -- that is probably best value, but you might need two vehicles unless living so close that bf did not need car...
I have to tell you that advertising in Chicago is not in good shape. Basically a two decade long decline. There are other good employers in the region, but with the hurting economy nothing is immune. I know that even places like Kraft (with office in Glenview and other towns), which has a big marketing staff, are seeing HUGE influxes of new applications from people with MBAs and such as the financial sector is doing so poorly. Avon HQ is close too -- big marketing company. Lot of drug companies due west of Great Lakes, Abbot, Baxter, Takeda...
Four years of experience is a good thing, but there are just not too many consumer electronics companies around Chicago anymore; this used to be THE place for TV's and radios with Zenith, Motorola, DuMont and others were HUGE in their day...
Not judging, just trying to help you figure out what is going to work out.
Des Plaines and Mt. Prospect are excellent safe areas and not as pricey as North Shore (Northbrook, Winnetka). Check out Libertyville : Libertyville, IL - Official Site a very nice community you might find more reasonable. Good luck to you and welcome to Illinois.
Chet - sorry for jumping the gun and taking offense. I do appreciate your input. For the commute, I was actually hoping for a 30 mile (not minute commute). When I lived in Los Angeles, it was a 20 mile commute from where I lived to the city - easily an hour commute each day. It was a huge pain and inconvenience, but doable if that's what's necessary. I'm thinking the Chicago traffic will probably be similar. A 30 minute commute would be great but I'm sure it's not realistic. 30 miles I'm thinking will probably put me at an hour commute again each day. Once I'm actually there I'll definitely look into what I can do for public transporation as well. I've been told both the Metro and El are pretty good.
The economy is tough and getting a new job in Chicago is definitely one of my two biggest concerns (the other being finding housing obviously). I may be consulting for a bit and I have a few leads but I'm not anticipating anything concrete until I'm physically there so we'll see....
Prairie - Thanks for the welcome! I've heard of Libertyville but I haven't done too much research on it yet. I'll definitely look into it.
As another current Californian also moving (back) to Chicago in February, you really do want to stick as close to the north subarbs and take the "L" for any trips downtown. The Metra Train is also a quick option for you. By quick, I mean that the rush hour traffic getting a normal 30 minutes away can take up to 2 hours if your driving....and that was in the 1980's. Traffic's only gotten so much worse since then.
Chicago itself is a great city. There's always something to do and a way to get there. Given the economy these days, in spite of having a degree, your going to have to search long and hard for the employment. You'll find it easier to find an apartment/condo/house that takes pets.
Start looking around Craigslist, Walk Score, Apartments.com, and any other sites you can find to help you with your price range. There are many locator services available also.
Best of luck. Outside of the nasty winters, you're really gonna like it here.
Thanks Kimm. What other suburbs are considered north of the suburbs? I've been looking at areas like Schaumburg, Palatine, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights in addition to the pricey areas in North Shore.
Do you guys think those areas are a good in between? Please let me know if you can think of any other suburbs that I should be looking at or might have missed! Thanks in advance.
Hi Aerii. I'm actually a Navy civilian employee at Great Lakes, and I just recently moved to Wheeling. My commute is 30 min, and I really like where I live. Depending on the day and time, my commute into the city can take anywhere from 30-60 min. I live right on the border of Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, both really nice areas to live and excellent locations (I think anyway). I live right next to Northbrook too.
I would recommend going through a property management agency, although I unfortunately do not have any in mind. Please feel free to DM or contact me and I'll do what I can to help you out. Is your boyfriend in the Navy?
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