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Old 05-30-2012, 03:40 PM
 
31 posts, read 34,867 times
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Default Best way to find Chicago apartments?...and neighborhood advice

This is a two-part question

1) What are the best websites to use for Chicago apartments? Craigslist for Chicago is just okay, but it's very spammed up by real estate agents who tag images but don't post pics and large complexes marketing all of their units. I also know about Padmapper, anything else? Is Chicago a broker market like NYC or Philly - i.e. is the best way to find an apartment through a broker/agent? Will they look at all openings or just the one's they have listed?

Lastly, I was looking at Dwell Chicago and they seem to show a broad inventory, does anyone have experiences with them?


2) My commute is out to Hoffman Estates (for at least the next 6 months, maybe closer thereafter) so it seems as though the best way to find a balance between my commute and wanting to live in a lively neighborhood limits me to places like like Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Roscoe Village, North Center, Avondale, Irving Park, Humbolt Park, West Town, Ukranian Village. Can people provide me with short descriptions of these areas? What I value in a neighborhood:

- I'm not looking to live in a high rise, I'm more of a brownstone, garden apartment, mid-rise (12 floors or less) person.
- I don't need to live in the middle of the action, but I'd like to be a 5-15 minute walk from it (i.e. a residential area is fine as long as shops, restaurants, local eateries, and public trans are within reasonable walking distance)
- I'm a 27 y/o highly educated African American female - so looking for young EDUCATED people (young professionals) and as much diversity as possible for these areas (from what I hear, Chicago seems very residentially segregated with the areas I named being more white while places like Hyde Park and South Loop are where more young black professionals live - is this true?)
- Keeping it real, I'm from Oakland, CA and no stranger to urban environments, so my threshold for "sketchy" areas seems to be a bit higher than what I see proliferating these boards, BUT being that I live alone and come home late at night alone, the neighborhood needs to be safe enough for me to walk home without the high probability of being harassed, I don't want to worry about break-ins when traveling for work or car theft/vandalism at night.
- Availability of street parking is highly desired
- Bonus: Being close to a park/trail where I can walk/jog, encounter music/events/farmer's markets, or just take a moment away from everything is a BIG plus


Thanks in advance for your help and sorry if this post turned into a "too long, didn't read" behemoth.

Last edited by CA-DC-CHI; 05-30-2012 at 04:36 PM..
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:45 PM
 
Location: Elgin, IL
1,711 posts, read 1,716,517 times
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COmmuting to Hoffman Estates, I would recommend Lincoln Square or Ravenswood. You're close to 90. (I used to commute to Palatine from Argyle and Damen which isn't really either, sort of both, maybe) and the drive was 30 -45 outbound, 45 to an hour inbound. I wouldn't live further south or east, personally. If you live close to the brown line, it's also very easy to get to the Loop, western Lakeview and Lincoln Park. There's also a Metra station in Ravenswood that some people use for commuting to the Loop.

Most neighborhoods away from the lakefront will have primarily 3-story walk-up buildings. What we call a "garden" apartment is a basement - not sure if that's what you meant by that term. Wouldn't recommend that - privacy/safety/bugs/flooding.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:52 PM
 
Location: Elgin, IL
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oh and forgot to mention the Chicago Reader. I know that was a great source in the past, last I heard it still was. Some people do use agents for their search, especially if they're new in town and don't know their way around. Apartment People is one.

I think as an educated African American woman, you'd do fine in northside neighborhoods. I think most of the racism is more class-based than strictly race-based.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:56 PM
 
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Thanks...are there things to do in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood? Like on a lazy weekend are there coffee shops, small restaurants, boutiques, events, etc in the area that I can walk to versus trekking to other neighborhoods for entertainment? Are these relatively young areas or more family oriented?

edit: and garden apartments for me is a building or a collection of buildings that are part of the same complex no more than 4 stories high, many times with courtyards in between

Last edited by CA-DC-CHI; 05-30-2012 at 05:05 PM..
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:02 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
10,503 posts, read 5,945,543 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA-DC-CHI View Post
Thanks...are there things to do in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood? Like on a lazy weekend are there coffee shops, small restaurants, boutiques, events, etc in the area that I can walk to versus trekking to other neighborhoods for entertainment? Are these relatively young areas or more family oriented?
Both areas have things to do, although Lincoln Square definitely has more, but Ravenswood still has places. My girlfriend lives in Ravenswood so I'm up there a decent amount. It's a good place and right on the Brown line as well (so is Lincoln Square).

There's a good number of bars, restaurants, shops. There's a movie theatre in Lincoln Square (Davis Theater). It's not a new theatre, but it's still decent and way cheaper than the big theatres downtown. There's a good record store up there, and other stuff. There's also the Old Town School of Folk which does have smaller concerts.

There's thing to do and places to go and eat. It's not as MUCH as Lakeview or Lincoln Park, but those places have a ton of things, and Lincoln Square still has a lot.

I would say Ravenswood is quieter, even though it has restaurants and stuff. The Mayor actually lives in Ravenswood. I wouldn't say both areas are old, but both areas have both younger and older people living in them (older as in 40s). I would say though Lincoln Square is definitely the younger of the two just in overall feel.


Have you seen the videos from Chicago Apartment Finders on each neighborhood? It might be what you are asking for on the side, about info on those neighborhoods. They do a pretty good job of showing the neighborhoods.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:09 PM
 
31 posts, read 34,867 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marothisu View Post


Have you seen the videos from Chicago Apartment Finders on each neighborhood? It might be what you are asking for on the side, about info on those neighborhoods. They do a pretty good job of showing the neighborhoods.
No I haven't, are these videos on their website or hosted on YouTube? Thanks for detailed description of Ravenswood
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA-DC-CHI View Post
No I haven't, are these videos on their website or hosted on YouTube? Thanks for detailed description of Ravenswood
Here's one for Lincoln Square: Lincoln Square in Chicago - Apartments in Lincoln Square

if you go here, you can find the other neighborhoods. Most have videos:
Chicago Neighborhoods - Chicago Apartment Finders
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:37 PM
 
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I used Chicago Apartment Finders (Lakeview Location) Link above ^^ and the agents name was Ewen. He was very dedicated and spent a few days driving me all around the city checking out places. It was unfortunate that the place we chose ended up being through craigslist and without a broker so he got nothing for all that work but he was very understanding. I highly recommend doing it that way as you will save a lot of headache. As you have probably seen on craigslist most of the rental market is going through brokers like you said.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:49 PM
 
Location: Elgin, IL
1,711 posts, read 1,716,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA-DC-CHI View Post

edit: and garden apartments for me is a building or a collection of buildings that are part of the same complex no more than 4 stories high, many times with courtyards in between
Most apartment buildings in those neighborhoods are what you would call garden apartments.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:59 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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OP, what type of commute driving wise were you thinking of maximum?
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