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Old 09-27-2011, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Sunny Arizona
4 posts, read 6,914 times
Reputation: 15

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Hello everyone.

I have been reading the many posts on this forum about moving from Phoenix to Chicago and Chicago to Phoenix. A lot of info is for single people and focuses on the night-life, sports venues and clubs. I'd really like more info regarding family life.

My husband is a Chicago native that comes from a large family and has lived in the east valley area of Phoenix for the last 15 years. I am an Arizona native. We met here, married here, have two young children now, and live in Gilbert, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix.) We are a middle-income family (by Arizona standards) earning $80k per year. Gilbert is a very conservative, nice, safe, town with lots of families, parks, and libraries nearby. Gilbert is also a mish-mosh of mostly upper-middle-class families that have moved to Arizona from all over the country, and mostly from the west coast.
Both of my parents died of cancer in the last 18 months and that was a crushing blow for me. We find ourselves in Arizona with no family and only a handful of friends. My 7 year old son has had difficulty in school with bullies and I have been homeschooling him for the past year. He has just been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder which requires occupational therapy.

My husband really wants to return to Chicago. We would be close to his family, and he says the quality of people and relationships are so much better in Chicago. Hubby works in the IT field and says he can find work in Chicago fairly easily. I am open to the idea of Chicago as I feel I need a change in my life and want the best for our children. I am also scared of how I might adjust to a new city, completely different weather, humidity, flat-land and reduced number of sunny days. We would most likely live in a suburb of Chicago. Hubby has mentioned Arlington Heights, Vernon Hills and Crystal Lake (these are all names to me, as I haven't visited any of these areas.)

I'd like input from those that have families, and would really like to hear from actual Arizonans that have moved to the suburbs of Chicago -- questions for you:
  • How do friendships and relationships differ between the two cities. Did you find it easier to meet people that actually want to form a genuine long-lasting friendship?
  • Do you feel people from Chicago are accepting and friendly toward you even though you are an Arizona transplant?
    Yes, I will be one of those people wearing a coat when it's 65 degrees outside, so I'll probably stick-out like a sore thumb!
  • Details regarding how elementary schools compare -- student to teacher ratio, number of hours that children are in school, services for special needs children, quality of schools in the suburbs? I mentioned suburbs we might consider above.
  • Quality of occupational therapy and other services for special needs children
  • For those AZ mountain lovers, did you make the shift to a different hobby? Water sports, perhaps?
  • Are there any places nearby to hike or camp?
I have pretty much been an Arizona native all my life -- grew up in Tucson; lived all over the Phoenix area; travelled, hiked and camped all over northern Arizona. I love the variety of this state, the weather up north is beautiful (I am tired of the heat) and I think people in the smaller towns are friendly and welcoming. Phoenix has become such a transient city.

The following is not my quote, however, I found much truth to this description of Phoenix's growth in the past few years:
"Yes, when people lose their jobs or get divorced, they pick Phx - why not pick a spot that's sunny all the time? That philosophy has led to quite a transient population; they get here and find out that they aren't any happier or more employable than where they came from. And yes, it's hot. Often they come with no job and no savings, so they can only afford to live in crummy, unsafe neighborhoods. They gripe about what a hell-hole it is here (Phx), but they often can't afford to leave, hence unhappy people with a bad attitude
OR.....
the Californians decide they're tired of the congestion, traffic and earthquake-risk and sell their home for a pretty penny hoping for wide-open space, shorter commutes, lower cost of living and a better life. They bring with them their 'keeping up with the Jones'" mentality, shallow attitude toward people (I'm only interested in friendships that will escalate my social status or 'gain me' free use of a houseboat, vacation cabin, etc) and a chip on their shoulder about how they're better and richer than those redneck Arizonans. They soon find they're miserable in the heat, still face congestion and long commutes, and miss the California lifestyle they left behind. They take-on the transient role of hoping their 'sentence' here (Phx) is only temporary and long for the day they can return to California and all they left behind."
This comment might be a little brazen, but there is much truth to it. Most people that move to Phoenix don't seem interested in putting-down roots for long bc they're just passing through for a few years. It is a sad reality for those that have lived here for awhile and want to establish strong friendships with genuine people.

What do you think? Is it time to take hubby's advice and return to Chicago?
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Old 09-27-2011, 04:16 PM
 
208 posts, read 546,762 times
Reputation: 257
I grew up in Tucson and have lived in Chicago for more than 25 years. I can't answer any of your questions about family and school issues in the suburbs because I don't have kids and have lived in the city limits the entire time I've been here. But I can say that you should have no concerns about the friendliness of people in the Chicago area or their reaction to newcomers. Other than a little ribbing about your reaction to the cold and probably a few joking "are you crazy moving here from Arizona?" reactions, no one will care where you're from. This is an area of 10 million people and plenty of them are from somewhere else. People move to the Chicago area from all over the country to take jobs with big employers here like Allstate, Discover, Motorola, Kraft, and the like. There are certainly far more Chicago area natives here than there are Arizona natives in Arizona, but it's not like this is a place that only exports people, not the other way around.

Hiking and outdoor activities are very different here than what you're used to. There are state parks downstate in Illinois as well as in Wisconsin that offer foresty terrain for hiking and camping, but it's still the midwest so that means there's not going to be much in the way of elevation, if that's what you like. Certainly, boating activities are something that would be more available to you here than in Arizona. You wouldn't be living close to Lake Michigan anyway, but beyond that, there's a big lake area not far from the northwestern suburbs you mentioned called the Chain o' Lakes. There are other lake resort areas within a few hours drive in Wisconsin and Michigan. A lot of people get into winter outdoor activities like snowmobiling too.

I can't tell you how you'll react to the climate change, but I know many plenty of people who have made the adjustment just fine as I did. For one thing, we deal with winter much the way you deal with summer in Arizona: you spend as little time outside as possible. And the tradeoff for the winters are some nice things that are completely alien to Arizona: 4 real seasons, with spring flowers and autumn leaves; amazing summer produce grown locally (including as locally as your backyard); giant trees and real grass that you'd actually want to sit on, not that scratchy Bermuda stuff that's grown in Arizona; water, water, everywhere, in rivers, creeks, and lakes.

Hopefully, someone can weigh in with input on your questions about the burbs.
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Old 09-28-2011, 09:05 AM
 
5,913 posts, read 12,011,037 times
Reputation: 4662
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin J View Post
I grew up in Tucson and have lived in Chicago for more than 25 years. I can't answer any of your questions about family and school issues in the suburbs because I don't have kids and have lived in the city limits the entire time I've been here. But I can say that you should have no concerns about the friendliness of people in the Chicago area or their reaction to newcomers. Other than a little ribbing about your reaction to the cold and probably a few joking "are you crazy moving here from Arizona?" reactions, no one will care where you're from. This is an area of 10 million people and plenty of them are from somewhere else. People move to the Chicago area from all over the country to take jobs with big employers here like Allstate, Discover, Motorola, Kraft, and the like. There are certainly far more Chicago area natives here than there are Arizona natives in Arizona, but it's not like this is a place that only exports people, not the other way around.

Hiking and outdoor activities are very different here than what you're used to. There are state parks downstate in Illinois as well as in Wisconsin that offer foresty terrain for hiking and camping, but it's still the midwest so that means there's not going to be much in the way of elevation, if that's what you like. Certainly, boating activities are something that would be more available to you here than in Arizona. You wouldn't be living close to Lake Michigan anyway, but beyond that, there's a big lake area not far from the northwestern suburbs you mentioned called the Chain o' Lakes. There are other lake resort areas within a few hours drive in Wisconsin and Michigan. A lot of people get into winter outdoor activities like snowmobiling too.

I can't tell you how you'll react to the climate change, but I know many plenty of people who have made the adjustment just fine as I did. For one thing, we deal with winter much the way you deal with summer in Arizona: you spend as little time outside as possible. And the tradeoff for the winters are some nice things that are completely alien to Arizona: 4 real seasons, with spring flowers and autumn leaves; amazing summer produce grown locally (including as locally as your backyard); giant trees and real grass that you'd actually want to sit on, not that scratchy Bermuda stuff that's grown in Arizona; water, water, everywhere, in rivers, creeks, and lakes.

Hopefully, someone can weigh in with input on your questions about the burbs.
Great post. We need more well balanced posts like this on the Chicago/Chicago suburbs forum.

BTW: Arlington Heights, Vernon Hills, and Crsytal Lake are all great places to live and raise a family.
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Sunny Arizona
4 posts, read 6,914 times
Reputation: 15
Default Thanks for awesome advice

Thank you, Kevin:

That is a very encouraging post and quells some of my fears.

Hubby is so super excited that I have said, "Yes." He's already put-in for a transfer. Wow!

By the way, I've been looking up homes in the Chicago area -- what amazing architecture! No wonder people laugh at our silly track homes in Arizona.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:08 AM
 
Location: The Valley of the Sun
97 posts, read 210,257 times
Reputation: 135
Good luck. And condolences. I am one who was born there (Berwyn) and lived in Cicero.. went to school there. Trudged through the icy dark mornings to Drexel Elementary. That was an eternity ago. But the weather is the same old.. Ah so, well, my father got it in his head to move across the lake (Michigan) for a job in Lansing, MI. I survived. And I also left all that slush & darkness.. way back in 1971. And the Valley is home.. Big Sun and all. I never ever wanted to go back there.

Really, good luck..!


PS - When you are scraping the windshield or shoveling the pretty 'white rain' (it's supposed to be good for your hair ) - when you are doing those fun tasks.. close your eyes.. think of the sunlight & blue.. blue skies & palm trees with flowers growing underneath.. in January.. or, the brilliant desert moonlight, filtered through the fronds of all the palms...

Enjoy..!!
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
5,479 posts, read 11,346,896 times
Reputation: 2819
Quote:
Originally Posted by Century25 View Post
Good luck. And condolences. I am one who was born there (Berwyn) and lived in Cicero.. went to school there. Trudged through the icy dark mornings to Drexel Elementary. That was an eternity ago. But the weather is the same old.. Ah so, well, my father got it in his head to move across the lake (Michigan) for a job in Lansing, MI. I survived. And I also left all that slush & darkness.. way back in 1971. And the Valley is home.. Big Sun and all. I never ever wanted to go back there.

Really, good luck..!


PS - When you are scraping the windshield or shoveling the pretty 'white rain' (it's supposed to be good for your hair ) - when you are doing those fun tasks.. close your eyes.. think of the sunlight & blue.. blue skies & palm trees with flowers growing underneath.. in January.. or, the brilliant desert moonlight, filtered through the fronds of all the palms...

Enjoy..!!
And when enjoying the "oven baked goodness" of a Southern Arizona summer, we will be outdoors almost every day at all times of the day without the heat (with the exception of a handful of days) affecting what we do or relegating us to an A/C cocoon.
Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:55 AM
 
7 posts, read 10,915 times
Reputation: 17
I grew up here until I was 10. Then we moved to Phoenix and I never liked it. I lived in the suburbs of Phoenix for over 20 years, we just moved back to the Chicago suburbs in the beginning of May. I have 2 kids in elementary school and I have not regretted the move for one second. Like you, we were a solidly middle class family. The cost of living in the North shore suburbs where we moved is higher but I feel quality of life is so much better. For one, the air quality is better. We're not under a haze of pollution hanging in the valley. For another, neighbors talk to each other and are there for each other. There is so much here to do with kids, it's staggering. Local farms, TONS of parks, playgrounds, museums. The schools are excellent. I know the Winter is coming and I know it will be freezing and an inconvenience and slushy and gross and we'll be digging ourselves out of the driveway for months. I don't care. I love it here. I have no desire to go back to 8 months a year of being housebound due to the heat.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:51 AM
 
13,746 posts, read 15,579,446 times
Reputation: 8344
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProMa View Post
I grew up here until I was 10. Then we moved to Phoenix and I never liked it. I lived in the suburbs of Phoenix for over 20 years, we just moved back to the Chicago suburbs in the beginning of May. I have 2 kids in elementary school and I have not regretted the move for one second. Like you, we were a solidly middle class family. The cost of living in the North shore suburbs where we moved is higher but I feel quality of life is so much better. For one, the air quality is better. We're not under a haze of pollution hanging in the valley. For another, neighbors talk to each other and are there for each other. There is so much here to do with kids, it's staggering. Local farms, TONS of parks, playgrounds, museums. The schools are excellent. I know the Winter is coming and I know it will be freezing and an inconvenience and slushy and gross and we'll be digging ourselves out of the driveway for months. I don't care. I love it here. I have no desire to go back to 8 months a year of being housebound due to the heat.
This
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,543 posts, read 28,361,405 times
Reputation: 6381
There is no A Mountain in Illinois but there are some dangerous cliffs, high rolling hills, ginormous parks, an award winning zoological park in the city with a seasonal exhibit called Africa! (closed in winter), a 2000-acre zoological park in the county, referred to as the "jewel of the Midwest", that feature trolly tours andevents just for children and cabins. You can also find the oldest Santa Parade in the nation, one of the largest night time Christmas parades in the nation with many larger than life displays.

I am familiar with home schooling but not your son's disorder. One of the more interesting or unusual educational experiences is the largest Inland Wetlands Refuge in America. There is a nearby fish hatchery, and a state museum of Native American artifacts and interactive learning, a gift shop with an excellent collecion of books for all ages, and Native American music. I sent a friend a book that identifies leaves found in the Midwest. (He uses it as a teaching guide to introduce young children to the wonders of nature.) Sand Ridge State Forest is nearby, too. So is an area of primitive and RV camping and opportunity for your son to learn about the largest river in the state. It literally divides the state in half between Chicago and St. Louis. In the summer you will have opportunity to learn about grapes and wineries, tulip fields, Amish life, the IL Ozark Mountain Range, U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan plus the only Reagan museum with unique artifacts not found by other museums. You can follow the Reagan Trail or that of the young Circuit Rider Abe Lincoln.

This is about 150-200 southwest of Chicago in central Illinois (Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and Mason Counties.) If you wanted to carry the learning experience a little farther you would be less than a 100-miles from Mark Twain's Huck Finn and Hannibal Missouri. The Mark Twain National Forest is nearby. Grant's Farm and the Budweiser horses is not terribly far from St. Louis.

There are many learning opportunities between the Wisconsin border and the Illinois Ozark Mountain Range in southern Illinois. One of them is hiking at Starved Rock State Park just south of I-80. Grizzly Jack's Resort with the indoor waterpark is just outside the entrance to the state park. It is free for overnight guests plus it is has great ammenities and it is a great winter break as it is open all year.

Welcome to Illinois where you find world-class: cuisine, accomodations, and entertainment, as well as first-class medical care and living history. IL is an AG state where each region is quite different from the other from tip to tale. A short day trip might be down I_55 to Funks' Grove. Watch trees being tapped for frest maple syrup. Illinois is nearly a peninsula with four large bodies of water, lakes and streams and thousands of acres of corn. it is a humid state. They say if you live in the right area of Chicago you can experience the natural cooling breeze off Lake Michigan. I heard it's called 'Canadian air conditioning.'

Last edited by linicx; 10-06-2011 at 09:14 PM..
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:07 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,089 times
Reputation: 12
We are doing the exact opposite. We are moving to the Phoenix area (either Queen Creek or Maricopa) because we have had it with the Chicago area weather. Fifty years of this crap is more than anyone should have to deal with and bring on the heat. At least with the heat comes sunshine and I don't have to put on three or more layers of xlothing to step our my door. There is always the possibility of a 60 degree day in July to ruin your plans or a week of rainstorms to depress you. When it does get hot the humidity makes it unbearable. Stay in the suburbs if you want to be safe. One neighborhood in Chicago had over sixty shootings by itself last year. Yes, in the fall the scenery is beautiful...for 3 weeks! In Phoenix, if you want a change of seasons just drive two hours north. Yep, these old bones are looking for some nicer days where 90 doesn't feel like you're walking in a swimming pool and 110 means you need to get on the course earlier.
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