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Old 05-06-2008, 07:37 PM
 
450 posts, read 1,771,381 times
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Reading the posts in this section over the past few months, I've come up with a few questions. I'm considering a move to the Chicago area -- early 30s, single. My parents are also contemplating retirement, and we are looking for a place we can all live.

Right now, we live in Southern California, where we've been for about six years. There are many things we like here, many we'd change, and we may end up staying where we are. But we may look at moving.. and Chicago is high on our list.

We're sports fans, particularly hockey. We all enjoy going out to eat, hang out at bars -- not nightclubs -- and we're far more into steak, sports bars, microbreweries more than anything too trendy or yuppie.

Yet at the same time.. we'd prefer something semi-urban. By that, I mean no huge yards (allergy nightmare!), preferably within walking distance of shopping and restaurants, and walkable areas -- places where you actually see people on the streets. In addition, I am somewhat concerned by the "white flight" from some suburbs I see -- our area here is happily diverse, and I really enjoy having people from all cultures all around. I don't think any of us could really enjoy a 99% white, 80% native-born suburb. Would we find a city where we are happy?

Evanston and Oak Park come to mind... but.... for what you get, it's expensive -- even by California standards. Once again, because of allergies, new or completely renovated (recently) are about the only options -- those areas are far too expensive. California might not be cheap, but a 2700 square foot house in a nice area, not far from the ocean, runs in the 750-800K area, and for my parents' house, they certainly would not want to go beyond that price. It seems Evanston would be every bit that much in a nicer area...?

For me, I'm considering an urban condo (again, new construction) -- possibly downtown Chicago (sorry, I know this is a suburb forum, but our issues cover both city and suburb, so I don't know where to put it) -- preferably under $400,000 for 800-1,000 square feet. Is that within the realm of possibility?
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Old 05-06-2008, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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Much as I like Oak Park, there are lots of other burbs with walkable neighborhoods, often located around a commuter rail (Metra) station. Even some of the outer burbs have a small, older neighborhood around the train station surrounded by a much larger area of newer, tract housing. All you need to find is an older neighborhood with a tear-down new-construction house. Luckily for you, tear-downs are quite common around here as people are interested in the older neighborhood but not necessarily the older houses.
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Old 05-06-2008, 08:39 PM
 
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Thanks for the info -- do you have any suggestions of some of those suburbs with walkable downtowns? Also, do they tend to be pretty active in the evenings?

The problem with tear-downs is price.... I should clarify, by new construction, I mean not previously lived in... being sure the previous owner had no cats/dogs is a tough thing, and if they did... ugh.... months of misery at best!
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:07 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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Yeah, I know what you mean about the allergies. My wife's the same way. It took us a while to find a house that didn't have cats or dogs living there. It's not impossible though, you'll just have to tell your realtor to screen the houses for you.

So what exactly is the price range for your parents? If its 750-800k, that probably buys a pretty nice house in most suburbs, even on the north shore. Are your parents open to buying a condo? New construction condos in downtown Oak Park go for under 400k. They could even get a nice lakefront condo in the city for well under that price.

Regarding suburbs with walkable downtowns, there are probably too many to name. I think most of the towns with Metra stations have at least a small walkable downtown neighborhood. I'm only familiar with the west suburbs. The one's that I know of that have nice downtown areas with walkable residential areas are Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Geneva, Riverside, La Grange, Hinsdale, and Naperville.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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In California, we had places tell us they could not tell us if there had been dogs or cats there due to "privacy laws." We obviously replied by saying we could not live there due to severe allergies that could even lead to hospitalization. Very quickly, we figured out new was our only option in California -- but I hope/suspect other states are more allergy-friendly in that regard!

$750K would kind of be the top end they'd like to go to... condos, I don't know if they'd be interested or not... more likely, they'd be open to a one or maybe two-story townhome. Generally, one story homes would be a strong preference.

Sounds pretty encouraging from what you have said so far -- thanks again!
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Old 05-07-2008, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Sugar Grove, IL
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you might consider naperville. the downtown is truly walkable. there are lots of places to eat etc. there are condo buildings around as well. If your parents didn't want to do the house thing, there is that new senior development on rt 59 called monarch landing. looks like they have lots of stuff there for the senior crowd. It certainly didn't seem like an "Old folks home".
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Old 05-07-2008, 07:14 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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I'd seriously consider not buying a SFH if I were your parents. Being retired and with allergies, why pay a premium for a yard and maintenance headaches? Don't forget property taxes will eat up 1.5 to 2.5% of the sales price every year (no prop tax revolt here yet.) A townhome may be a good compromise.

500k will buy a nice condo in the nice part of Evanston. They can walk to restaurants, shops,and the lake. They can take the train into Chicago to visit your highrise lakefront condo.

Regarding your condo in the city, expect to pay $300-400 per square foot for new construction in a desirable neighborhood. There's a glut of new condos coming on the market, so you can probably get something in the lower end of that range.
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Old 05-07-2008, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
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Sukwoo was right on the money. I absolutely agree with regards to your parents.

Condo in the city on your budget should be relatively easy to come by as well.
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Old 05-07-2008, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgresident View Post
you might consider naperville. the downtown is truly walkable
I agree, downtown Naperville is amongst the best in the nation, IMO (suburb wise). However, its not very diverse like the OP is looking for.
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Old 05-07-2008, 05:22 PM
 
450 posts, read 1,771,381 times
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I think they'd be hesitant for a seniors' home... they'll be in the 60ish range when this would happen, but they tend to be younger-type 60ish... I'm not sure that would be what they'd want.

As far as condos, that might work. The big thing is, I don't think they'd be interested in paying single family home prices for condos -- to them, it's just not good value per square foot, which I can understand. At the same time, if it was the right situation, I think they'd be open to a condo -- Evanston just seems like a place that's pretty comparable to where we are now, only with a larger downtown area (waterfront community, downtown, diverse, etc.).

The downtown Chicago condo prices seem to be right about what I expected. I'd say in SoCal, you'd pay 400-550 per square foot, so while Chicago is cheaper, it's not really a dramatic difference, but that's what I kind of anticipated.

Allergy-wise... communities closer to the water (within about two miles) are a huge advantage -- it is hard to overstate the difference that makes for allergies! Past two miles might still have some advantage, but once you're 10-15 miles from the water, I find the effect pretty much disappears.
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