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Old 01-07-2018, 09:13 AM
 
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Evanston is very nice and unique; I would liken it to places similar in feeling of where the OP is coming from, Ann Arbor, or Cambridge or Palo Alto. I used to live in Evanston and liked it. My only complaints are ones that have come up which are if commuting by car, expressways aren't close and can take a good 15-20 mins just to get to a clogged expressway. When I lived there, I used my car as little as possible; I walked/biked/public transited places since driving was a pain for me. Everyone's tolerance levels are different I do realize. Good luck in the move and decision making process.
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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Originally Posted by dfriedz View Post
Evanston is very nice and unique; I would liken it to places similar in feeling of where the OP is coming from, Ann Arbor, or Cambridge or Palo Alto. I used to live in Evanston and liked it. My only complaints are ones that have come up which are if commuting by car, expressways aren't close and can take a good 15-20 mins just to get to a clogged expressway. When I lived there, I used my car as little as possible; I walked/biked/public transited places since driving was a pain for me. Everyone's tolerance levels are different I do realize. Good luck in the move and decision making process.
I have to say that I find very little collegiate about Palo Alto. Stanford lives in its own world, its own municipality which it created and the land behind El Camino Real and the Cal Train tracks is more typically suburban, high end suburbia. Cal is in a college town; Stanford is not.
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by edsg25 View Post
I have to say that I find very little collegiate about Palo Alto. Stanford lives in its own world, its own municipality which it created and the land behind El Camino Real and the Cal Train tracks is more typically suburban, high end suburbia. Cal is in a college town; Stanford is not.
Agreed. And Cambridge is more like a neighborhood of Boston than a separate town for all practical purposes. Evanston is an inner suburb-- definitely not part of the city of Chicago, but not really a separate college town, either. Really only Ann Arbor, among the places listed by that poster, fits what I think of as a "college town."
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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Originally Posted by SkylarkPhotoBooth View Post
Agreed. And Cambridge is more like a neighborhood of Boston than a separate town for all practical purposes. Evanston is an inner suburb-- definitely not part of the city of Chicago, but not really a separate college town, either. Really only Ann Arbor, among the places listed by that poster, fits what I think of as a "college town."
Good points all. But here is what I would say about Evanston: it ma be the best or at least one of the best college towns in a large metro area....so I'm comparing it to places like Berkeley, Palo Alto, Tempe, Norman, College Park MD, Coral Gables, etc.
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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The comparison to Cambridge is very helpful to me, because I had kind of assumed that Evanston would be similar and more of a continuation of Rogers Park than a hard brake suburb.
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:03 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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Originally Posted by brodie734 View Post
The comparison to Cambridge is very helpful to me, because I had kind of assumed that Evanston would be similar and more of a continuation of Rogers Park than a hard brake suburb.
the far southern end of Evanston shares a lot in common with Rogers Park, including the three flats that are ubiquitous. Then again, north/northwest Evanston is a heck of lot like Wilmette. I'd go as far as saying there is no place more like Wilmette than North-northwest Evanston. And west Evanston shares a lot with Skokie in that much of the area was, like Skokie, developed after WWII.

So, I guess, if you lop off those three areas, you're left with Evanston's core which, of course, is quintessentially Evanston: college town with the Northwestern campus and DT Evanston at the south end of the former and the north end of the latter.
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by brodie734 View Post
The comparison to Cambridge is very helpful to me, because I had kind of assumed that Evanston would be similar and more of a continuation of Rogers Park than a hard brake suburb.
Unfortunately, I don't think that's an accurate comparison at all. Cambridge is roughly 3 miles from central Boston, while Evanston is roughly 13 miles from central Chicago, and the way the places feel fits that reality, IMO. Cambridge feels more like a neighborhood of the city, while Evanston feels more like a suburb-- an inner surburb, yes, but still a suburb.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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Originally Posted by SkylarkPhotoBooth View Post
Unfortunately, I don't think that's an accurate comparison at all. Cambridge is roughly 3 miles from central Boston, while Evanston is roughly 13 miles from central Chicago, and the way the places feel fits that reality, IMO. Cambridge feels more like a neighborhood of the city, while Evanston feels more like a suburb-- an inner surburb, yes, but still a suburb.
agreed. And for the record, from what I can remember about Cambridge, nothing felt very collegiate about it until you reached Harvard Square. I really do stick with what I said earlier: I don't think any college town in a major metropolitan area feels as collegiate as Evanston does.
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:40 PM
 
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I bought a house about half a mile from downtown Evanston over two years ago and love it. Works great for a family that is looking for a walkable/urban environment with easy access to downtown.

I also considered places in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square/Andersonville and the Metra commute downtown is actually SHORTER than many commuters taking the L from thsoe areas of the city. Train ride is about 30 minutes, so if your house/office is walking distance to the stations themselves, it's a pretty efficient commute and faster than many places within the city limits. I know somebody who walks 15 minutes to L in Lincoln Square, has a 40 min brown line train, and then 10 min walk to office = 55 min commute. From downtown Evanston for me, it's 40-45 min door-to-door to my office downtown. And having lived in Lakeview for 7+ years, I can say that the Metra is MUCH nicer to take on a daily basis than the L. Of course, you can also take the L from Evanston if you don't want to go downtown (can take it downtown too, just takes longer). Also nice that you basically always get a seat on the train while those getting on at Ravenswood during rush hour have to stand.

As far as the commute to O'Hare, it's really not bad...Yeah, access to the expressway from downtown Evanston/lakefront isn't the most convenient, but I wouldn't consider a 35 minute drive (and yes, I did it this morning and it took 30 minutes) that painful, particularly considering the perks of living by a lake and good access to the Loop. I take 40+ flights a year and it's not that bad. In fact, during rush hour I am glad I am in Evanston vs. Lakeview coming from O'hare because you avoid 90 which is terrible going into the city and the drive to Evanston is actually faster. But getting to/from the Edens during rush hour can take longer than you'd expect (15+ min at its worst to downtown Evanston), so, yeah, if commute to other suburbs, it's not quite as convenient, but such is life.

Certainly, Evanston isn't perfect for everybody, but I think is a great place for young families looking for more walkable/urban communities that work in the city and like older homes with charm. A lot of early 20th century architecture -- heck, my block has some homes built in the late 1800s. Of course, there's also much more diversity in Evanston than other North Shore communities (racial and socioeconomic), which I view as a positive, but others do not. There is currently a big push to build more "affordable housing" units and politics leans VERY left (not that it's unwelcoming to Republicans, just that the policies enacted by the city wouldn't align). I think a place like Evanston is well-positioned to continue its appeal to the millennial generation that is looking for the sorts of items that Evanston offers (similar to other within Chicago neighborhoods), but want a house and not have to play the CPS lottery. It's certainly not cheap in the desirable areas of Evanston (close to public transit, lake) and property taxes are very high and have increased recently even more (after voters overwhelmingly passed a school referendum and assess values increased substantially). So, the management of Evanston's finances could be improved, but Evanston has to make up for some revenue shortfalls caused by areas of cheap housing stock with high revenues from areas where house prices are higher. It's not like Winnetka where everybody lives in a $800k+ home.

I'd also agree that the different areas of Evanston have different feels (NW being more suburban and like Wilmette, area by Northwestern for the collegiate feel, downtown from a more urban walkable area, lakefront for plush mansions and a beautiful beach) and that there are tons of great restaurants and shops. I also do venture into the northside neighborhoods of the city quite frequently -- it's an easy drive to Andersonville, Lincoln Square, Roger's Park, Edgewater etc. which gives even more options from a dining perspective.

Overall, for those looking for a "small city" environment that is much more dense and walkable than most other Chicago suburbs, particularly those that work in the Loop and want an easy commute, Evanston has a lot to offer, including beautiful vintage housing stock, the lake, and other amenities. It's a reasonable alternative to other north-side neighborhoods like Ravenswood/Lincoln Square with more parks and better schools (in my opinion). (It was funny visiting a park in Lincoln Park on a nice day over the summer in that it was so crowded you had to wait in a line for the swings, whereas parks in Evanston were only half full on the same day.)
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Old 01-09-2018, 03:44 AM
 
1,083 posts, read 574,940 times
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Originally Posted by edsg25 View Post
I really do stick with what I said earlier: I don't think any college town in a major metropolitan area feels as collegiate as Evanston does.
I've been thinking about this ever since you said it, and I guess you're mostly right, technically speaking. Ann Arbor isn't quite part of the Detroit metro, even though it's almost as close to the Detroit airport as downtown Detroit is. Boulder isn't technically part of the Denver metro area, though it feels like it to me. (It's closer to central Denver than Naperville is to central Chicago.) The eastern edge of Lawrence, KS is literally 6 miles from the western edge of metro KC (Johnson County, KS)-- close but no cigar. These places all feel way more like college towns to me than Evanston does, but they don't quite officially qualify as being part of a major metro area.

I'd say Norman, OK (part of the OKC metro) used to feel more like a college town than Evanston, and arguably still does at times, but it has pretty much been overtaken by suburban sprawl-type housing developments lately, so I'll give you that one.

The big one to me, though, is Berkeley. That's part of the SF metro, right? To me it has always been one of the quintessential college towns, but I admit I haven't been there in a decade or two. Has it become so overtaken by Silicon Valley that it doesn't feel like a college town anymore? Or is it officially outside of the metro?

It seems like there have to be others I'm missing, but perhaps not.

Last edited by SkylarkPhotoBooth; 01-09-2018 at 04:04 AM..
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