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Old 02-10-2010, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
20 posts, read 56,201 times
Reputation: 11

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We are looking to relocated from Atlanta to Chicago. We are from Wisconsin originally and that is where the majority of our family is. So we will be traveling there often to see them. Work will be in the Loop. Ideally, we would like the Metra to be walking distance. We have 3 kids (8, 6, and 2), so family friendly, great public schools, low crime are a must. We need a yard. It doesn't have to be huge, but it does have to have a backyard. I have a "pie in the sky" dream and I am not sure if it is actually attainable so I would like any information you have. I really want a walkable community (trains, library, shops, restaurants, parks, school, basic grocery needs, fruits, veggies, bakery, butcher). The idea of walking to the beach is a huge plus. Baiscally, I would like to park the car for the week, and walk to everywhere I need to go. Budget would be $1M. Under would be great. We are looking at Winnetka, Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, Western Springs and LaGrange.

Our concerns are that we end up in an area where others look down their noses at you. I know this can happen anywhere, but we are really trying to get away from this. Here in Atlanta, we are in the THE best school district in the state. You pay a price to get in. It seems a lot of people think that makes them better than most. We are the down to earth type. We do our own yard work, not because we have to, but because we like to. Our idea of a dinner party, is some brats and burgers on the grill with some good friends. We do like the finer things in life, but we don't NEED them. Some of the posts on here about Winnetka make that area not seem so "neighborly"? I would really like to here from some folks there since it does sound like a great place....and they have the lake!
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
5,479 posts, read 11,425,635 times
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I worked retail in Winnetka in the '80's and I found most people to be down to earth. The snobs were the exception rather than the rule. People with very recognizable last names were typically very friendly and approachable.
Walking to the lake is a bonus, but your 1M may not go that far in east Winnetka. Check out Wilmette and Lake Bluff as well.
Away from the lake I would also suggest Glen Ellyn, Barrington, and Arlington Heights. Saving a few hundred thou on the house would certainly bolster the retirement savings!
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Barrington
62,870 posts, read 42,769,276 times
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Sounds like you want an " in town" location. I am not sure that " walking everywhere" is possible in any of these places.

$1MM will not buy as much as you might hope for if you want to be walking distance to a beach.

Pay attention to property taxes and the impact on your monthly payment.
This may or may not eliminate Winnetka and close proximity to beaches.

It's been my experience that snobism, anywhere is subjective. There are people who define themselves by their stuff or lack thereof, on all rungs of the economic ladder.

As it relates to The Village of Barrington aka " the Village", it has much of what you are seeking, including a walk to Metra. The actual on the train commute runs about 45 -minutes, on an express train. Only you can decide if this is too far out, or not to pursue.
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 4,204,262 times
Reputation: 600
Quote:
Originally Posted by Badger96 View Post
We are looking to relocated from Atlanta to Chicago. We are from Wisconsin originally and that is where the majority of our family is. So we will be traveling there often to see them. Work will be in the Loop. Ideally, we would like the Metra to be walking distance. We have 3 kids (8, 6, and 2), so family friendly, great public schools, low crime are a must. We need a yard. It doesn't have to be huge, but it does have to have a backyard. I have a "pie in the sky" dream and I am not sure if it is actually attainable so I would like any information you have. I really want a walkable community (trains, library, shops, restaurants, parks, school, basic grocery needs, fruits, veggies, bakery, butcher). The idea of walking to the beach is a huge plus. Baiscally, I would like to park the car for the week, and walk to everywhere I need to go. Budget would be $1M. Under would be great. We are looking at Winnetka, Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, Western Springs and LaGrange.

Our concerns are that we end up in an area where others look down their noses at you. I know this can happen anywhere, but we are really trying to get away from this. Here in Atlanta, we are in the THE best school district in the state. You pay a price to get in. It seems a lot of people think that makes them better than most. We are the down to earth type. We do our own yard work, not because we have to, but because we like to. Our idea of a dinner party, is some brats and burgers on the grill with some good friends. We do like the finer things in life, but we don't NEED them. Some of the posts on here about Winnetka make that area not seem so "neighborly"? I would really like to here from some folks there since it does sound like a great place....and they have the lake!
You are going to be in a real shock in terms of cost of living moving from Metro Atlanta to Chicagoland. I am assuming that you are coming from the Roswell/Alpharetta area. Home prices in that area compared to all areas of Chicagoland is like a bargain.

First let me defend my home. Winnetka is not full of snobs, and while there certainly are competitive people (that goes for all of the Chicago burbs), most try to embrace everyone in the community.

I would like to know what kind of a home you are looking for, because under $1 million, is where things start to get tricky with Hinsdale, Winnetka, Glencoe, Western Springs, Clarendon Hills, etc., especially with three kids. You'll find a better selection and larger homes in communities like Glenview, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, Naperville, Wheaton, and Glen Ellyn.

The two most widely regarded school districts in the area are New Trier Township, and the schools that feed into Hinsdale Central High School. New Trier is made up of Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe, most of Northfield, and small portions of Northbrook and Glenview. Hinsdale Central feeder districts are Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, and Oak Brook.

Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Western Springs, Downers Grove, La Grange, and Elmhurst all have reputable school districts, with Lyons Township (La Grange & Western Springs), probably coming out on top.

I would recommend you take a look at the real estate first to get a snapshot of how much house you can afford.
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Old 02-11-2010, 05:41 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
20 posts, read 56,201 times
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We are actually in East Cobb. I know that we definitely get more house for our money down here and taxes are incredible low. While the houses are large, we literally have no back yard. I like new builds, open plan. We would have to have 4 bedrooms. The house that I really like in Winnetka is on the market for $1.7. We could go to $1.4 or so. In Wilmette there seems to be a bit more on the market in our range. What are the main differences between Wilmette and Winnetka?
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 4,204,262 times
Reputation: 600
Quote:
Originally Posted by Badger96 View Post
We are actually in East Cobb. I know that we definitely get more house for our money down here and taxes are incredible low. While the houses are large, we literally have no back yard. I like new builds, open plan. We would have to have 4 bedrooms. The house that I really like in Winnetka is on the market for $1.7. We could go to $1.4 or so. In Wilmette there seems to be a bit more on the market in our range. What are the main differences between Wilmette and Winnetka?
Well if you have $1.4 million then you should be able to look into Wilmette or Winnetka. I think you will still find that the homes are on the small side when compared to the Atlanta area. I also think that you'll find the yards to be small, particularly in Winnetka, because they are generally taken up by driveways in your price range.

Wilmette is the more affordable of the two communities. Wilmette and Winnetka both feed into New Trier Township High School District, and are highly acclaimed for their K-8 programs. Both are on the same par for schools. Wilmette is more than twice the size (population) of Winnetka, therefore there are less services offered. Wilmette's services are also strained, especially the kids programs. Wilmette's kids programs are completely open to neighboring towns, and you'll find many children from Glenview, Skokie, and Evanston taking advantage of those. Both offer a great community feel and have wonderful streetscapes.

I personally think that you should look into Glenview. Some homes that you look at in Glenview will be in the Avoca K-8 district and New Trier 9-12, but most will be in the Glenview K-8 and Glenbrook South 9-12 a very well regarded school district.

Property taxes will range $18,000 to $28,000 in your price range, varying by property across each town. Brand new homes will not be assesed, so all you can do is estimate and compare.
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:11 AM
 
Location: Winnetka
114 posts, read 361,657 times
Reputation: 76
I have lived in Winnetka for 16 years, have 4 kids, 2 grads from NT and 2 there. When moving from Evanston I had many of the same concerns you have regarding the "snobs". As others have posted, you can find that anywhwere, even in a trailer park! I have absolutely found that the people are terrific here. Of course every once in a while one encounters a bad apple but that will happen anywhere. My family sounds very similar to yours only we are older.

As far as housing, Winnetka is much more affordable than it has been in years. I know the market well-I have been an agent for about 10 years. Currnetly in Winnetka, there is a 15 month supply of homes (a healthy market is about 5 months). Sale to original list price is around 83% for properties that have been on over 6 months. In this market, you can find something in Winnetka for around $1m and walk to the lake, town and train. Wilmette is not as oversupplied and sale/list is about 87%.

One of the big differences between Wilmette and Winnetka is that although Wilmette is larger, there are fewer walk to town, train, lake options in the 1m or even 1.3m and under price range. Another plus to Winnetka is that the train is "buried" here. Kids, cars, biker riders, pedestrians, etc. do not have the hassle or traffic snarls that Wilmette has because the trains run in a gully. That may not seem to mean much but trust me, when your child is going to his buddy's house and you know he doesn't have to cross the tracks it provides a lot of peace of mind. Wilmette is a lovely community, about 2.5 times larger than Winnetka. Both towns have their advantages and disadvantages. Both have excellent school systems feeding into New Trier, a nationally recognized public high school. Each of these communities have extremely low crime rates, particularly Winnetka.

If you prefer newer, there is a nice supply of "gently used" new construction on in both towns. Sometimes it is preferable to purchase a home 8 or 10 years old because they are often a bit larger than the brand new properties due to building code changes.

Personally, if I had family in Wisconsin that I was planning visiting often I would begin my search on the North Shore. The other suburbs you mentioned can add a lot of time on to your trip.

Good luck. It's lovely here!

Last edited by Rlest8; 02-11-2010 at 07:43 AM..
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 4,204,262 times
Reputation: 600
Absolutely if I was planning on traveling to Wisconsin I would stick with the North Shore communities or other Northern Suburbs. We are very close!
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:18 PM
 
Location: Chicagoland
4,028 posts, read 6,902,813 times
Reputation: 1324
I would like to suggest Park Ridge also. It has more of a community feel than a lot of the North Shore cities (Wilmette, Winnetka, etc...) and is more down to Earth. The downtown has everything you listed within walking distance. It is closer to the loop by about 30 minutes + than most of the North Shore suburbs. The elementary schools feed into Maine South, which is a top ranked high school in the state. I would agree with US-Travelers' comment about New Trier Township and high schools but I wouldn't say that Hinsdale Central is nearly has high.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:37 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 79,912,262 times
Reputation: 18640
I'll put in my plug for the western suburbs that the OP mentioned -- the range of folks that live in someplace like LaGrange or Elmhurst is going to be a much wider swath of "normal" than in places with much higher "high ends". Even in Hinsdale the tear downs have had a fairly broad 'leveling effect' and there really is not much ability to say that anyone is from a "less desirable" portion of town they way that folks far away from the Lake might feel on the fringe of a North Shore suburb...

While you don't have the proximity to Lake Michigan that parts of the North Shore might have, I do think you can find some terrific options especially given that you have 3 kids -- in the most compact of the towns (especially Western Springs and Clarendon Hills) it is very easy for the kids to walk to school, library, park district and similar things. A nice plus.

If you truly want brand new construction that is typically the least likely to have discounts, but there are good values in homes that are either or newer construction OR renovated fairly recently. Some builders have parted with brand new places for considerably less than they would have a few years ago. If you only care about having four bedroom and a decent sized backyard there are several option that I can think of well below $1M...

As to concerns about family in the Dairy State, with the recent completion of the additional lanes on 294 I routinely make it to the Wisconsin border in nearly the same time as my friends that live in towns on the southern end of the North Shore, so really not much trade off as long as you realize the additional time spent on surface streets getting to the eastern suburbs is typically pretty close to the offsetting any additional distance getting to eastern DuPage / Western Cook directly via 294...

Finally as to the quality of the high schools I would direct you to make your own conclusions from the the fine summaries compiled for US News :
http://www.usnews.com/directories/hi...ty/detail+less
http://www.usnews.com/directories/hi...ty/detail+less
http://www.usnews.com/directories/hi...ty/detail+less
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