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Old 04-17-2008, 06:00 AM
3 posts, read 6,029 times
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I'm an Englishman looking to bring my family (wife and 3 children 12, 9 and 5) out to Chicago. I'll be working in Lincoln Park but know very little about the better and safer areas to look to live. We'd want good schools and a 3/4 bed house to rent with garden. I hear the northern suburbs are better, but need more precise info.

I'd really appreciate some suggestions as to where to look...

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Old 04-17-2008, 08:35 AM
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 31,652,770 times
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It's all going to depend on how much you can afford- it varies greatly in Chicago. If you share a bit more about your needs and budget we should be able to help you out with some good options.
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Old 04-17-2008, 09:23 AM
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Right -- North Chicago is a suburb some 30 long miles north of Chciago's Lincoln Park in Lake Co...

If you intention is to live within Chicago itself you should probably be aware that there are single family homes with moderate yards/garden patch in the City. Something in Lincoln Park with 4 bedrooms could rent for a princely sum... Though if you are coming from London you'll feel like it is a bargain.

More details would help, perhaps use the Chicago forum too.
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:05 AM
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Still waiting on the offer so no specifics yet, but a decent salary is going to be needed to finally tempt us over!

I think we could rent our UK property for something in the region of the equivalent of $3000pm.

My job would be based in the Lincoln Park area, but with 3 children the suburbs would be a more attractive option. Somewhere with rail links would be even better.

Appreciate your early thoughts. Need anything else?
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Old 04-18-2008, 05:55 AM
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Just so you know..theres a difference between N.Chicago (the town of North Chicago) and the Northside (of the City of Chicago) . Stay out of North Chicago cause its unsafe . If you want a very nearby suburb of Chicago , consider Evanston, Skokie, etc... Im an Englishman too. Born in Wansted, Essex but have lived here since i was 6 years old. Moved to Cornwall, England when i was 18 but didnt like it too much. Came back to Illinois. There you are...'Bobs your Uncle' !
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Old 04-18-2008, 06:15 AM
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Born in Wansted! West Ham fan? It'll be a wrench for me leaving them!

Seriously, thanks for the advice on the nuances. Evanston is a place that keeps cropping up when I discuss this with people. Do you know of the schools there?

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Old 04-18-2008, 06:30 AM
28,453 posts, read 85,467,108 times
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Still not easy. The thing is that to rent a single family house (or even a large apartment/condo/townhouse) in Lincoln Park itself could easily cost double or more what you'd be receiving on your home. Some lovely options, but then you'd also have to make decisions about schools -- there is considerable competition for the slots in the best public(free) schools and the private (fee based) schools are quite expensive.

Lincoln Park is about an additional 25 minutes or more from the main train stations west of the loop, even a close in suburb would put your total commute close to an hour... It may be possible to commute part way via surface rail from north suburbs and part way via bus, hard to say hard long that would take without an exact address.

You might be able to cut that in half by living in the City, if not Lincoln Park then a surrounding area. There are several city neighborhoods that are nearly as desirable as Lincoln Park for families with children, some are much more affordable. Strangely in the City more affordable neighborhoods generally have more options for yards and such too. I would guess this has to do with "exclusivity" of Lincoln Park more than anything else.

Would your employer be providing a housing stipend for a temporary situation or is this a more long term relocation? There is going to be a big difference in your lifestyle and potential commute depending on where you locate.

The predominate commute is toward Chicago's central downtown, the core of which is the Loop. The secondary commute is from Chicago's neighborhoods out to suburban office parks. A commute into Lincoln Park is nowhere near as common. On the one hand this is good, as you'd be opposite the crowds. OTOH you'd have to be more creative and flexible to get to most of the typical less dense suburbs. Another option would be to consider the more densely developed suburbs adjacent to Chicago, like Oak Park to the west and Evanston to the north. The rapid transit lines (CTA El) are a bit more direct from the north, you'd be making sort of a "hockey stick" commute from the west, but it would still be more direct than taking the commuter surface rail lines (Metra) into the city and then transfering to buses or El... There are also towns like Skokie that are on the El, the schools are well regarded but considerably different than Evanston -- many more immigrants, predominantly from Asia & Eastern Europe. A totally different feel. Certainly less expensive than the priciest areas of Evanston, but still no bargain. Rental houses are much pricier than the towns rental apartments, which would probably offer the things you are looking for with three schools age children...

Both Oak Park and Evanston have some lovely neighborhoods and schools that are well regarded. Those neighborhoods are very nearly as pricey as Lincoln Park to rent, though your money would probably go at least a bit farther.

The main difficulty I see with go further out to less dense suburbs is that your commute time/distance is going to rise far greater than your cost will fall. The most desirable suburbs have few rentals and tend to be quite pricey. Because of the total time that a public transit commute to Lincoln Park might take driving might be a better alternative -- the details of parking at your place of employment might be another factor in that decision.

If you explore the online maps you can get a sense for how long a drive you'd have to make and/or the routes for public transportation. The travel time estimates from the official sites are strongly biased to the "majority" commute -- it is hard to say whether your somewhat unique commute would be lengthened a lot or just a little...

Frankly other than DePaul University there do not seem to many 'global type" employers in Lincoln Park -- there may be a few niche firms but if that is the case maybe they have some suggestions of what has been successful in similar transfer/relocation situations...

If you were heading into the the Loop there are many more options.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:50 PM
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I digress, but Ibe - how could you leave Cornwall? Ok, I was a middle-aged woman, not an 18 year old guy, but the view out my window in St. Ives would've kept me there - anyhow, yes, Evanston would allow you to actually sp end time with your family, be picky on the schools, they do differ - the housing cost would be high, but it's a wonderful lifestyle.
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