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Old 02-05-2014, 01:12 PM
 
6 posts, read 29,147 times
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Okay so my wife, my five-year-old, my one year-old and I are moving to Chicago this spring. Where to live?
So I'm familiar with Chicago having lived there right after college. Probably not looking to live in the same neighborhood though.

Here's what we want/know, please comment on any or all of the items below...or add anything that seasoned Chicago suburban dwellers have to offer.

1)The daily commute will be to Chicago Avenue at Michigan Ave. and will generally be 6am and 6pm. We are both fond of mass transit but MUST have an alternative (read - drive some days)

2) We love old houses, tree lined streets and kids playing in the yards (yes I know it's -10 this time of year) during the summer. We are looking for a community to settle in permanently. I know many of the suburbs are pricey, but will entertain them all for arguments sake for now.

3) Prefer high achieving Catholic schools, but believe a top rated public alternative is important.

4) please comment on the following suburbs
Wilmette
Glennview
Hinsdale

5) other suburb recommendations.

Thanks
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:34 PM
 
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Certainly makes sense to include town like Clarendon Hills to your list -- shares top rated schools with Hinsdale and has a nice mix of attractive older homes on charming streets along with teardowns that often are less "mansion-y" than in pricier areas. Similarly the core of nearly every town along the BNSF has some lovely older homes , often with well regarded parochial schools in addition to desirable public schools. Riverside, Brookfield, Lagrange, Western Springs, Downers Grove, Naperville all worth looking at...

Same is true for many towns along UP-W line like Oak Park, River Forest, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton and Geneva.

Budget is big factor but if you shop wisely you might be pleasantly surprises at what you can afford.
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:40 PM
 
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Don't forget La Grange - next door to Hinsdale. Awesome historic district, great schools and vibrant downtown...
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotinKSanymore View Post

4) please comment on the following suburbs
Wilmette
Glennview
Hinsdale

Thanks
Catholic schools are a more prevalent form of education in the western burbs than the northern ones. Fenwick and Benet are both great high schools.

Chet hit most of the towns out west that meet your criteria. In terms of that old neighborhood charm you are describing, I think La Grange, Hinsdale, Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, and Glen Ellyn have the most of it out west...

Michigan and Chicago is a bit tricky with the Metra trains, as it is a HIKE from either of the two major commuting stations that serve the north and west. You'd have to take a shuttle or public transit to avoid a long walk each day. Wilmette does offer the Purple Line express, which can transfer to the Red Line, which has a station right at Michigan and Chicago... But the "L" is slower and quite a bit more annoying than Metra

Driving is tough no matter what. Wilmette may seem like it's a good option because it's one town away from the northern border of Chicago, but the drive from the North Shore doesn't have great routes. And Wilmette is actually further from the Loop than La Grange if, if you draw a compass circle from the north to the west.

I'm not crazy about Glenview. It's a nice town and the schools are great, but I think it is overpriced for what it is and lacking in charm. I think there are better options for the money.
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
Catholic schools are a more prevalent form of education in the western burbs than the northern ones. Fenwick and Benet are both great high schools.

Chet hit most of the towns out west that meet your criteria. In terms of that old neighborhood charm you are describing, I think La Grange, Hinsdale, Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, and Glen Ellyn have the most of it out west...

Michigan and Chicago is a bit tricky with the Metra trains, as it is a HIKE from either of the two major commuting stations that serve the north and west. You'd have to take a shuttle or public transit to avoid a long walk each day. Wilmette does offer the Purple Line express, which can transfer to the Red Line, which has a station right at Michigan and Chicago... But the "L" is slower and quite a bit more annoying than Metra

Driving is tough no matter what. Wilmette may seem like it's a good option because it's one town away from the northern border of Chicago, but the drive from the North Shore doesn't have great routes. And Wilmette is actually further from the Loop than La Grange if, if you draw a compass circle from the north to the west.

I'm not crazy about Glenview. It's a nice town and the schools are great, but I think it is overpriced for what it is and lacking in charm. I think there are better options for the money.

While yes the L is not as comfortable as the Metra, anywhere on the BNSF does not seem at all feasible because of where the Metra Stations are, while the ride may be more comfortable and faste (vs the L from Linden or Howard) the distance to Chicago Ave and Michigan Ave (1 mile plus) would require a transfer in inclement weather...probably pretty slow.

Honestly that is the reason I am leaning North Shore...Wilmette.

Someone tell me the best 3 and worst 3 things about Wilmette (north shore) and Hinsdale (western).

My outside, never lived there, learned from what over read online and from friends who live in both places, OPINION,
Both places have great school choices, high real estate prices and taxes.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:00 AM
 
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Originally Posted by NotinKSanymore View Post
Someone tell me the best 3 and worst 3 things about Wilmette (north shore) and Hinsdale (western).
Both are great, and the biggest issue is affordability--which may or may not be a problem for you. Hinsdale has a bit more to do within the downtown core, but Wilmette is close to Evanston--which has a lot to offer in terms of restaurants, shopping, and night life. Hinsdale also has quite a bit to do within a short drive. For shopping, Hinsdale has Oak Brook Center while Wilmette is close to Old Orchard. Wilmette has the lake. That's a big deal for many. Eastern Wilmette is gorgeous, while the western side of town... Not so much. Hinsdale is more uniformly charming, but both towns have some examples of gross "teardown" showiness. New Trier High School and Hinsdale Central High School are both top notch, and Hinsdale may even have the slight edge there in recent years... But really, it's a wash.

Both towns are very much bubbles of affluence, which some may view as a negative or positive depending on your world view. Neither is particularly diverse--economically or racially. One incident that sticks with me was riding the purple line in Wilmette and overhearing high school girls talk about the $10,000 hair extensions that their parents bought for them. They just seemed so "entitled" and out of touch with any normal sense of material value. But that's anecdotal, and not necessarily representative of the whole populace. I know people who have grown up in both towns, and frankly I don't like most of them! It could just be bad luck.

For you, I'd say go with Wilmette if you can afford a house that will work for you there. It just seems to be more convenient to your workplace.

Last edited by Lookout Kid; 02-06-2014 at 08:08 AM.. Reason: Just thought of some people from Hinsdale that I do like. ;)
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lookout kid View Post
i know people who have grown up in both towns, and frankly i don't like most of them! It could just be bad luck.

For you, i'd say go with wilmette if you can afford a house that will work for you there. It just seems to be more convenient to your workplace.
yikes!
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Old 02-06-2014, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Wilmette, IL
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Smile Why our family chooose Wilmette

NotinKSanymore‚ÄĒ

First, welcome (almost) to Chicago! I currently live in East Wilmette, and logged 12 years in towns in the NYC & Boston area before coming back "home". I've certainly logged my time my time in relocating and know what a challenge it can be to find a new community from afar. I ended up here following a camp thread and stumbled on to your post and felt compelled to respond.

I will tell you why my family choose to live in Wilmette vs other communities. First the New Trier School district was a powerful draw for us and we wanted our children to attend public school. We are also a block away from St. Francis Catholic School, which like the public schools was given a Blue Ribbon School recognition last year. Several of my neighbors children attend there and they love the community, quality of learning, and all 3 Wilmette Catholic Schools are highly regarded. All in all - private or public - all the schools are fantastic options and in the end it will come down to what will be the best atmosphere for your child to thrive in. And the beauty is you have many great options.

Of the final towns we were looking at, Wilmette's taxes were the lowest and we felt that we got more services for our tax dollar. Wilmette's park district is incredible - there is a book just for camps and the yearly recreation they offer is wonderful. Other towns can use the park district, but residents get first dibs and popular classes & camps sell out first. Their other services such as pre-school, after kindergarten enrichment, extenders on day camps and after school care are also helpful for working parents with small children. I used them for my own children. We also love the library and the programming it offers. Since you have small children, having a variety of activities to meet your children's interests as well as other families is key, and I felt that for our family the range was wide, diverse and affordable.

Accessiblity was also another factor. We wanted to be close to downtown, as well as have easy access to the expressway-I-94 is a straight shot up Lake street. Wilmette is the last town on the EL and gives the flexibilty of both train lines. From our house, we are a 10 min walk to the Wilmette & Evanston Metra (UP-North) stops and the EL - Red/Purple Lines. We liked the optionality of both train lines because we were going to two different areas in the city. It would take me 45 min to commute to Merchandise Mart via EL. For you the easiest is probably going to be to drive. I estimate about 25 min in rush hour to Michigan Ave exit. The EL will not be bad either maybe 30-35, the red line stop is a couple blocks away from Chicago/Michigan. I don't have good estimate on time, but at rush hour there are express trains and minimal wait time between Red & Purple, and a visit to the CTA website probably can calculate it. O'Hare is not a straight shot, so that can be an issue if you fly a lot, but there are shortcuts to be learned. We like having convenient access to Ravinia, which our westerly friends in Elmhurst never went to because they hated the drive. Access to the lakefront was important to us because it was on the east coast and we did not want to remove that from our life. The kids love swimming and take sailing lessons, and like the New England town we lived in, we will meet families down at the beach for Friday night pizza in the summer.

We also wanted to be able to walk to downtown (and a cute one), as well as have the shops that we used frequently fairly close by. We thought Wilmette charming and it has a good restaurant base. Old orchard is 10 min away, as well a solid utilitarian shops and healthcare. Evanston has tons of activities, restaurants, etc and is very close. Glenview/Northbrook have a lot of big box...Costco, REI, Marshalls, etc.

We are old house people and have restored a NJ 1968 Brownstone, and lived in a new England Town with 7 Historic districts, although we did have a brief affair with new construction. We choose a 1910 home in Wilmette which we renovated. We love the charm of the cobblestone streets and the diversity in architecture of our neighborhood. It is more urban feeling that the other towns mentioned. Yes, yards will be larger the further west you go, and housing dollars will go further as well. For you it will all be balance of where your trade offs will be. Wilmette is the priciest of the three. Glenview has many old homes in the old section of town and Hinsdale has many old homes as well. Both of those towns offer more affordable new/newer construction.

As for meeting people and making friends, we thought the Midwest easier than the east coast. Block parties are popular on the north shore in the summer. It was a shocking thing for us having been on the east coast. We had been in our home a week when our neighborhood hosted one on our street and we were invited to 2 others just a couple of streets away that summer as well. Potluck, a keg of beer, the firetruck stopping by, a band, crafts, etc. Everyone was so nice. And don't get me started on Halloween which is a social event in itself. We've been fortunate to have great neighbors whom we socialize with and our children play. We refer to our neighborhood as the Village...if someone need size 4 soccer cleats, or dress shoes, a quick email to the "village" usually yields results. Some of it's luck, the rest I attribute to closer homes and Midwest friendliness.

While this may not work for everyone, every time we relocated we prioritized what we wanted our of our town/home/community...from the critical (awesome schools) to the the vain (charming downtown - hey, why not shoot for the moon!) and once I had narrowed down my towns, I did 'dry runs' of a typical day. How was the commute? How long did it take? How easy to get the kids to school, day care or nanny access. I'd go to the library and places that would have been typical of my daily routine. I arranged a tour of the schools my children would go to and tried to put myself in situations where I would meet people to see how easy it was to meet people I had stuff in common with. I would even stop in to the police dept. A couple of times we totally scrapped recommended towns and went back to the drawing board. It can be a little time consuming if you are flying in for the weekend, but worth a long day's efforts.

Hope this helps. Feel free to PM if you have specific questions or want to talk more about Wilmette!
Christine
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:47 AM
 
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Thanks so much. I appreciate the details, especially re the community and commute.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:17 PM
 
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We are looking into wilmette, too. Can you tell me about school services for special needs kids? My kid is nine and needs speech therapy, social skill therapy and academic support.
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