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Old 03-13-2010, 03:20 PM
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I'm considering relocating back to Chicago after many years away. I have a potential employment opportunity in Buffalo Grove (eastern side). Ideally, I'd love to live in Elmhurst or Glen Ellyn, but that isn't going to be an option commuting wise. I'm a single mum and don't want to spend too much time in the car. I'm looking for a nice, safe suburb between these western burbs and Buffalo Grove that has a nice walkable downtown area with some decent restaurants (not fancy, just somewhere to eat out locally) and things such as movie theater, ice cream store, coffee shop - not necessarily all these things, but you get the idea. I'd ideally not have to get in the car to run a few errands. Also good school district is important. I can probably afford to spend in the $450,000 range for a house.

From perusing the forums it looks like Arlington Heights might fit the bill, what about Palatine? Any other thoughts? Anyone commute that way from Elmhurst or Glen Ellyn?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-13-2010, 03:40 PM
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Not sure if you want to live in downtown Arlington Heights or elsewhere in AH, but that should be well within your price range. My suggestion is to live close to Route 53 so you can hop on the expressway and take that to see your family in Elmhurst.

Commute times from Arlington Heights to Buffalo Grove can vary depending on where you live. Traffic in downtown AH can be kind of miserable at rush hour. Same with Buffalo Grove. It can be frustrating as it can slow to a crawl.

Arlington Heights is trisected by three elementary school districts. On the north end is District 21, which also served Wheeling. District 25 serves the south end of Arlington Heights, and I'm not sure what the third is. For high schools, you probably want Buffalo Grove High School (which mostly serves Arlington Heights rather than BG) over Prospect, though both are good schools.

One neighborhood to consider outside of downtown AH is Terremere, located off of Lake Cook & Arlington Heights Roads. Schools are District 21 elementary and BG High School (District 214).

Palatine is a good choice too, as it has easy highway access, but there is no downtown, but you are still close to Arlington Heights' downtown.

Other than Arlington Heights, there really aren't walkable downtowns in any NW burb, mostly large scale shopping centers on major roads.
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:42 PM
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The commute for Buffalo Grove to Elmhurst is not the worst in the region by a long shot -- linear distance from the east end of Buffalo Grove to the core of Elmhurst is under 25 miles. The improvement to 294/94 has eliminated most bottlenecks. Getting off at Lake-Cook Rd. would put you in the company of dozens of other folks from DuPage Co.. In all honesty the configuration of the tollway with its very limited number of entrances / exits makes this route one of the better ones for the distance in the whole region... Realistically this can be done in about 45 minutes door-to-desk barring a weather related tie up.

Truthfully the core of Palatine is not going to save signficant amounts of time getting to the east edge of BG. The surface streets are pretty crummy and would approach minutes at rush hour.

Whlie the linear distance from parts of AH would be less, the layout (with lots of strip centers and stop lights as well as a high percentage of diagonal streets and train crossings) is not exactly a breeze... You might be able to do the commute in about 20 minutes,

Frankly housing values in either AH or Elmhurst are such that $450K will not buy much in the most desirable parts. That said I think the edge in quality and choice at that price point probably favors Elmhurst a bit, but it is a close call. The tipper might be the "family connection" especially for a single parent - if the family includes some retired grandparents and /or cousins with a stay-at-home parent the savings in hiring a sitter and piece of mind knowing that the kids are with their relatives should be a huge plus...

By the way, both Mt. Prospect and DesPlaines have walkable down town cores, though in this instance the affordability of Mt Prospect is no better than AH, and DesPalaines really does not offer a signficantly better commute situation to offset its weaker school choices...

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Old 03-13-2010, 09:14 PM
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Thanks for the input. I could possibly afford more than $450k if I had to. How much do you think a "nice" - I realize that is VERY subjective - 3-4 bedroom house near downtown Arlington Heights would be?
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:44 PM
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The price range is AH is really pretty broad -- homes that would have been snapped up for tear downs pre-housing melt down have really come back to earth in a big way. You can get a habitable but outdated smaller home for around $250K, and litterally next door there is a place that is brand new for over $1M. As far as "nice" if you want to a place that does not look like in Eisenhower is still in the White House a budget that starts at $500K is more realistic, but there is really at lot of the newer stuff is priced much higher.

When comparing the housing stock to some place like Elmhurst I think you'll find a slighty less old mix in Elmhurst, where the really dated stuff is a somewhat more rare -- seems like even older homes at least have modernized kitchens and that goes a long way toward making the home feel worth saving... The other thing that I like about Elmhurst over AH is that the traditional College Hill area has decades of high end homes along with the kind of development pattern that really is pretty special -- Elmhurst College, the conservatory, two museums, the historic stuff has the kind of appeal that really builds in value.
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:20 AM
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What about a townhouse? Arlington Heights and Palatine both have very nice townhouse developments. Prices are within your range and the neighborhood association takes care of the lawns.
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:35 AM
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The majority of townhomes in Palatine really do not have anything near them that is really walkable. Those in AH that do are in the "upper brackets" and those that are on the fringes have the same problem as Palatine.

Frankly the same patterns in pretty much every town in the region -- the wave of townhomes built in the last decade or so is geared to empty nesters that have the resources to live close to town centers and want the high end kitchens & baths -- they also didn't seem to mind the high price tags. The resale is still largely an unknown as most of these places are still in the "original owner" phase. Some might be OK for a family with kids, but honestly I don't know if the other residents are going to be be happy to have to deal with even well behaved kids that are not their own grandkids -- the inevitably sports equipment, music choices and lifestyle of school age kids is not all that compatible with the reasons that empty nesters get townhouses...

The Chicago region is an area where families are MUCH MORE likley to prefer single family detached.
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:34 AM
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
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Default Live close to work unless relatives will help a lot with child(ren)

Big lifestyle question: The family you have in the area, are they close enough (relationship wise) that they will help you with your child(ren)? If yes and it's more than an occasional weekend watch the kids arrangement then living close to family and commuting might be worth considering. If it is the occasional weekend arrangement, then reduce your commute. Nothing adds daily stress like a long-ish commute, running to pick up/drop-off kid at before/after school care preparing meals, getting to sports and activities. I would look at a 20 minute circle from where you work. Is the job steady & something you would like to do for a long time? If not, look into renting a small house or townhouse. Take a look at Buffalo Grove. Excellent schools and recreational programs. Although it does not have the walkable downtown, there is an excellent village wide bike path system that makes getting out for a walk or bike ride (and getting to parks) easy and safe. Lake co section has better schools and feeds into Stevenson HS; but cook co section still offers decent schools. Arlington Heights is worth considering, but don't go south of downtown or your commute gets too long. I prefer district 25 and district 23 elementary schools over district 21 & 59. High school preferences are Hersey and Prospect.
My neighborhood is not easily walkable to any stores or restaraunts(1.5 mile walk one way), but is walkable to 6 parks, Lake Arlington and a neighborhood pool. So it's a good neighborhood for getting out and about. 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhomes start in the low 200's and go to the mid 300's for larger units. About 20 minutes to Weiland & Deerfield Rd in Eastern Buffalo Grove (Buffalo Grove Metra Station) Vernon Hills, Libertyville and Deerfield may also be worth considering but put you farther from family in western burbs.
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