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Old 04-12-2013, 11:58 PM
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I am about to start working in Darien, IL, and am looking for good areas to live in. My husband and I, mid-30s, like high density, diverse and walkable old neighborhoods, with public transportation, but all these seem hard to find around Darien. We considered La Grange area, but rentals seem few and without much character there. We are looking for 1 or 2 bd rentals for under $1200/month. We liked Forest Park much better, for its density and accessibility to Chicago, but is a commute from there to Darien realistic? Naperville might be an option, but we don’t like the idea of getting even further away from the city. Any advice is greatly appreciated, we have not lived in Chicago area before and we don’t know what to expect.
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Old 04-13-2013, 07:38 AM
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Forest Park is not a terrible commute to Darien via an easy combination of surface roads like Harlem Ave and I-55 though Forest Park is also not as desirable an area as Lagrange -- school quality is no comparison and frankly even the quality / age of the housing does not compare favorably. Forest Park has many more drinking establishments, mostly centered around Madison Ave which also has a number of eating establishments and shops. The quality / variety of businesses is better in Lagrange. The price range seems about right, I suspect that the difficulty in finding an apartment is mostly a function of solid demand precluding the need of most landlords to do other than minimal advertising -- often a drive past a hand written sign on a Saturday will be gone by Monday...

There are other options too. Brookfield is due east of Lagrange and tends to be a little more affordable / little lower demand due to slightly less desirable schools and a less bustling downtown core (though its collection of watering holes is probably only second to a Forest Park...). East of Brookfield the town of Riverside positively oozes charm as it's street layout was done by Olmsted and many buildings have an artsy look to them. Some luxury condos and rentals as well as older buildings are all options...

There are some other towns to consider -- frankly every town along the BNSF has, to one degree or another, a traditional downtown core. Due north of Darien the town of Westmont has many bars / resturants that are pleasant enough. While most of the towns rentals are clustered in complexes well south of the core there are a handful that would be walkable to core. East of Westmont the small more affluent town of Clarendon Hills has a very well liked but small number of local businesses and a mix of rentals that are very walkable to the compact core that includes a local coffee shop, half a dozen local eating / drinking places as well as a Starbucks and other shops. West of Westmont the towns of Downers Grove has one the larger downtown cores in DuPage Co. There are a wide range of shops and several eating / drinking places, some of which offer live music. Additionally DG does have secondary business districts and more apartments to choose from...

If you are a die hard fan of cutting edge music, wall-to-wall meat-market bars and drink-till-we-puke binge drinkers no suburb can hold a candle to Chicago but in my mind most mid-30 couples prefer something quieter. The majority of folks that live in DuPage Co choose suburbs that satisfy their desire for excellent schools and other family oriented features though even if those are not part of your future there is no shortage of charming , walkable towns with many locally owned businesses to explore.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:01 PM
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Thank you very much for your advice! I did start to look more into Downer Grove and Brookfield areas, there appear to be more rental options indeed when compared to LaGrange. We do want to stay within walking distance from the train and from a nice walkable downtown, but schools are not a concern for us at this time. Thank you again, any info about what life in these neighborhoods would be like is greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-21-2013, 01:28 AM
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To the east, Oak Park fills all your requests, and just 10 miles from downtown Chicago. Easy access on the "El" to Chicago.
To the west, consider Downer's Grove. Its further from Chicago, but closer to Darien, easy access to downtown on the Metra train. Oak Park would probably be less expensive, Downers Grove less crime.
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