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Old 07-05-2012, 12:01 PM
 
3 posts, read 3,183 times
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Hello! My husband is in the final interview stages with a company in Chicago (they are located on the brown line near Irving park station). If he gets the job, then I will need to look for a new job myself and some basic research showed me that the companies I would be interested in are mostly in the loop area along Wacker. I grew up in Chicago suburbs (Schaumburg) and I've visited the city, but I'm not that familiar with what it would be like to live there. If he gets this job, we need to move quickly, so I want to get some background information so that we are ready to go with the basics if that happens. So I have a couple questions...

What neighborhoods should we consider?
--Background: We are both 27, recently married, no kids (no plans to have any kids anytime soon). We have a small dog. We would be looking at $1200-$1300/month as a budget for rent. What can we get for that budget? Is that leaving us with just a 1BR (we are coming from Dallas and have a 1300 sq ft. town home for $1100, so I know we will likely have to downgrade). We might be able to push the budget a little higher but it depends how fast I'm able to secure a job too. Right now I'm just considering that he will be the only one with income initially. I think we would ideally like to be in the city and have an easy commute (no more than 30 minutes) on the train or a bus. We'd like to live in a nice, safe area, something close to entertainment.

Do we need a car? We currently have 2 cars, and I was thinking we could at least be able to get rid of 1 car. Whenever I've visited the city I've never had a car and it's easy to get around, but of course that's only been for a week at a time, so I don't know if it would be different living there and maybe getting stir crazy. I do have relatives in the suburbs (Plainfield, Palatine...), but I wonder if it's better to just not have any cars so we don't have to pay for parking and then just use Zipcar when necessary?

Last edited by kthom12; 07-05-2012 at 12:11 PM..
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:13 PM
 
483 posts, read 783,878 times
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Your husband is unlikely to need to drive to work, so you can go down to 1 car. I would keep the 1 for now. It's not too bad having a car in Chicago, even if you don't have a reserved parking space. Keeping 1 car gives you some flexibility/convenience, i.e. for visiting relatives in the 'burbs and going grocery shopping. Also, there's always the chance that your job will be in the suburbs and require a car for commuting.

In terms of neighborhoods, you essentially have to make a trade-off. Less central/happening and you might be able to get a 2 bedroom in your price range. More central and I think a 2 bed would be tough if you want any other types of amenities (in-unit washer/dryer, parking, balcony, etc.). Getting those amenities (except balcony) will be tough for any size apartment in the popular areas such as Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc.

For slightly less expensive places, consider Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, North Central. These are fun and safe areas that would be great for a Brown Line commute (and pretty decent into the Loop too).

Overall, though, I think you'll either have to raise your rent budget a bit or lower your expectations.
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:22 PM
 
14,357 posts, read 15,856,694 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rca215 View Post
Your husband is unlikely to need to drive to work, so you can go down to 1 car. I would keep the 1 for now. It's not too bad having a car in Chicago, even if you don't have a reserved parking space. Keeping 1 car gives you some flexibility/convenience, i.e. for visiting relatives in the 'burbs and going grocery shopping. Also, there's always the chance that your job will be in the suburbs and require a car for commuting.

In terms of neighborhoods, you essentially have to make a trade-off. Less central/happening and you might be able to get a 2 bedroom in your price range. More central and I think a 2 bed would be tough if you want any other types of amenities (in-unit washer/dryer, parking, balcony, etc.). Getting those amenities (except balcony) will be tough for any size apartment in the popular areas such as Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc.

For slightly less expensive places, consider Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, North Central. These are fun and safe areas that would be great for a Brown Line commute (and pretty decent into the Loop too).

Overall, though, I think you'll either have to raise your rent budget a bit or lower your expectations.
I agree with most of this. Get rid of the second car, live along the Brown line in either North Center or Lincoln Square (you're husband can walk to work if you live in North Center). I think you can find a 1-2BD in that price range in those areas. It won't be super modern and definitely will not include parking or in unit W/D.

Good luck and welcome home!
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
15,320 posts, read 21,889,052 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kthom12 View Post
Hello! My husband is in the final interview stages with a company in Chicago (they are located on the brown line near Irving park station). If he gets the job, then I will need to look for a new job myself and some basic research showed me that the companies I would be interested in are mostly in the loop area along Wacker. I grew up in Chicago suburbs (Schaumburg) and I've visited the city, but I'm not that familiar with what it would be like to live there. If he gets this job, we need to move quickly, so I want to get some background information so that we are ready to go with the basics if that happens. So I have a couple questions...

What neighborhoods should we consider?
--Background: We are both 27, recently married, no kids (no plans to have any kids anytime soon). We would be looking at $1200-$1300/month as a budget for rent. What can we get for that budget? Is that leaving us with just a 1BR (we are coming from Dallas and have a 1300 sq ft. town home for $1100, so I know we will likely have to downgrade). We might be able to push the budget a little higher but it depends how fast I'm able to secure a job too. Right now I'm just considering that he will be the only one with income initially. I think we would ideally like to be in the city and have an easy commute (no more than 30 minutes) on the train or a bus. We'd like to live in a nice, safe area, something close to entertainment.

Do we need a car? We currently have 2 cars, and I was thinking we could at least be able to get rid of 1 car. Whenever I've visited the city I've never had a car and it's easy to get around, but of course that's only been for a week at a time, so I don't know if it would be different living there and maybe getting stir crazy. I do have relatives in the suburbs (Plainfield, Palatine...), but I wonder if it's better to just not have any cars so we don't have to pay for parking and then just use Zipcar when necessary?
Congrats to your husband. Sounds exciting. So for $1200-$1300/month, you could probably get a 1 bedroom in just about any neighborhood of Chicago IMO. That doesn't mean any building, but the neighborhood. I pay a little over $1300 for my one bedroom in Gold Coast, which is one of the most expensive parts of the City. For the amount I pay, you can get more square footage than I have (I probably have 650 or something) in other neighborhoods. Gold Coast is essentially downtown/next to downtown. You will not get the type of deal you have now though in some of the more desirable areas. You might get lucky, but who knows. Your square footage will not be 1100 square feet on average for that budget and a 1 bedroom I'm guessing. I just say who knows, because I have seen a lot happen with that here. Best thing to do is just look around online so far and see what you can come up with.

As far as your personalities go, what do you like doing?Restaurants? Bars? Entertainment? Just by going off of the 27 and married with no kids, I would recommend either on the brown line of course, or Red Line, or somewhere near it. The area around the Southport Brown Line station is a nice area I could recommend, or maybe around Wellington or Diversey stations. Old Town isn't bad either (near the Sedgwick station). What type of housing are you looking at/OK with? Apartment? Duplex/Triplex? Condo-style?


As far as the car goes, it all depends on what you're doing. If I were you, I'd get rid of at least one car. The public transit in Chicago is very extensive and you don't always need a car. Getting certain places in certain neighborhoods it's definitely less of a hassle sometimes to just ride the train or a bus. The system here is the 2nd largest in the US after NYC. I think part of this will come down to where you get your job too. If you do get one in the Loop, then I don't think you NEED one, although keeping one might be nice to have. I personally got rid of my car when I moved here, and have barely needed it. The only times I do is for Target, although there's a few Targets in the city (with one opening in the Loop later this month). The trick comes down to how you lug, say, a coffee table back.

The Zip Car thing is cheap and works of course, or you can use a cab (have done this many times). For larger items of course, places will have shipping (sometimes free, sometimes not). If you think about it though, getting rid of a car will give you extra $$$. The unlimited monthly pass for the CTA is around $80. If you think about owning an extra car you may never use, your insurance is probably at least that high, if not higher per month, plus you have to get a wheel tax (I think that's $85), and then you have to register your car here (a few hundred), and if your place doesn't have free parking, you either have to pay for a space or get zone parking on the street ($25/year).

For general info though, you have to convert your plates to Illinois ones within 90 days of moving. They usually require proof that you actually live here now. Along with that, you have to convert your license to Illinois too, which involves taking a 30 question written test (unless you have a ton of driving infractions, then you'll probably need to do a road test too).


Overall though, you have many areas to choose from, but for both of you, I'd stay on the Brown or Red lines. There's other great areas of the city, like on the Blue Lines, but your husband's commute might not be great especially if he has to take a bus from these areas. I'd keep one car for now and see how much you guys actually need it if you're located within walking distance of a train or good bus route.
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:44 PM
 
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Thanks. Good news that we can get rid of at least 1 car. Geez... written test though, huh? That whole license/license plate thing sounds complicated. I don't even know what wheel tax is, haha. Though I guess I could see some need for 1 car at least until I get a job and we get settled. Maybe we will see how much we actually use it and then decide.

If I had a job immediately we could push our rent budget to $1700-$1800, but I don't want to rely on that. I think it may take me a bit to find something so we will stick with our lower budget for now. We could always upgrade after a year or so. I'm okay with an older place. We don't need granite countertops or anything fancy. In unit washer/dryer or at least hookups would be another plus, but we could deal without it for a bit until we get settled as long as the laundry facilities are decent. We could deal with 1BR we would just have to get rid of a lot of stuff before we move.

We aren't so much into bars (at least not in the go out and get drunk every night kind of way -- once in a while is fine). We would mostly want fun/nice restaurants, close to shopping for me, being close to Wrigley (Go Cubs!) would be a major plus and close proximity to festivals and other things going on in the city like that.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
15,320 posts, read 21,889,052 times
Reputation: 7318
Quote:
Originally Posted by kthom12 View Post
Thanks. Good news that we can get rid of at least 1 car. Geez... written test though, huh? That whole license/license plate thing sounds complicated. I don't even know what wheel tax is, haha. Though I guess I could see some need for 1 car at least until I get a job and we get settled. Maybe we will see how much we actually use it and then decide.

If I had a job immediately we could push our rent budget to $1700-$1800, but I don't want to rely on that. I think it may take me a bit to find something so we will stick with our lower budget for now. We could always upgrade after a year or so. I'm okay with an older place. We don't need granite countertops or anything fancy. In unit washer/dryer or at least hookups would be another plus, but we could deal without it for a bit until we get settled as long as the laundry facilities are decent. We could deal with 1BR we would just have to get rid of a lot of stuff before we move.

We aren't so much into bars (at least not in the go out and get drunk every night kind of way -- once in a while is fine). We would mostly want fun/nice restaurants, close to shopping for me, being close to Wrigley (Go Cubs!) would be a major plus and close proximity to festivals and other things going on in the city like that.
The written test isn't that hard. It's basically 20 multiple choice questions and 10 matching. The matching show 10 street signs without the words and you have to tell what the sign is (i.e. Stop, Railroad, etc). Probably 5 questions are on Illinois DUI laws, and the rest are questions like "In the case of your car hydroplaning, what do you do?" type of things. The "Rules of the Road" are available online, or you can go pick one up for free at a DMV office that administers tests. I think it's $35 for the test, and to get your license which is printed up right there for you after you pass.

Wheel tax is just something you have to do:
Cook County Government, Illinois - Revenue, Department of / Wheel Tax/ Vehicle Sticker

Registration and all that is no different than any other city or state. Prove your residence in a few ways i.e. utility bill in your name type of thing.


For your housing, if you want a 2 bedroom, you could probably find for your budget as other posters have said in an area like Ravenswood (i.e Montrose, Damen, Western brown line stops). You will be able to find some older places for that I think, but 1 bedroom you could find anywhere.


I would recommend the Southport corridor for you guys honestly. There's a number of restaurants, shopping, and some bars, even an old Movie Theater that plays indie/foreign films and classic films every weekend. Overall it's not rowdy. It is near Wrigley Field, but far enough away where it's not crazy. Depending on where you live there, it wouldn't be a far walk to Wrigley. It's probably a little over a half a mile walking between WF and the Southport Brown Line station. Some nice construction in the area too for housing. Irving Park Brown station is 3 stops away, and Brown Line takes you directly to the Loop. If you need to transfer to Red Line (transfering is easy), then the stop directly south of that, Belmont, allows you to do so.

www.southportcorridor.com
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:06 PM
 
14,357 posts, read 15,856,694 times
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I know many people who don't change there plates or licenses right away. I wouldn't worry about that.

I'm not sure what the "wheel tax" is. There is an IL License Plate fee every year of $99 and a City Fee of $85.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
15,320 posts, read 21,889,052 times
Reputation: 7318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlajos View Post
I know many people who don't change there plates or licenses right away. I wouldn't worry about that.

I'm not sure what the "wheel tax" is. There is an IL License Plate fee every year of $99 and a City Fee of $85.
I believe the Wheel Tax and the "City Fee" are the same things.

If you get ticketed for something and they find out you have been living in Chicago for a long time, they aren't always going to pass it off. It's generally a good idea to register your car in Chicago even if it costs a little bit IMO.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:33 PM
 
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I doubt you can find a decent apartment really close to Wrigley in your price range. You are probably going to be a decent little CTA ride away from the core of Lakeview on you budget. You might get lucky and find a spot in Andersonville which is quite safe and walkable or maybe something that is in one of the more promising parts of Uptown.

It would be nuts for a couple without kids to have two cars if one is working downtown. The costs and hassle are just worth it.

There are someplaces that really do not want tenants with pets and other places that are OK with a small dog though they'll stay probably want additional damage deposit..


The turmoil in the real estate markets is doing all kinds of weird things to rents. In some areas where you could count on fairly decent deals the shear number of people that are out looking for apartments has caused landlords to raise rents. In other areas, often with newer units in condo buildings, the inability to sell has forced quite a few folks into the "involuntary landlord" role and you can rent for a relative bargain. Feet on the ground is often the best way to find the deals. If you have friends / relatives that could either scout out situations for you OR let you temporarily stay at their place will you are up here for some preliminary apartment hunting it can really pay off nicely...

Chicago can be a wonderful city for those with the money to take advantage of its offerings but it not cheap and attempts to skimp on your housing budget can have serious negative sonsequnces -- even having a moderately costly bicylce or home entertainment device stolen is like paying for extra month or so of rent. Property crimes like that don't have too much lasting impact, but if you are totally clueless and rent in an area with more serious issues due to lack of doing research things can really be much worse...
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:41 PM
 
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If you're husband will be working near the Irving Park brown line and you'll hopefully be working downtown, you've actually set yourself up nicely as 27 year olds to choose some really nice areas with really easy commutes. The Brown Line will take you right downtown, and your husband could potentially just walk to work if you get a nice location. You can find apartments that are 1 bedroom for $1,300 for sure. Probably not as big as you have now - but decent at least to get your feet on the ground.

I would check out a map and generally look within 2-3 blocks of any brown line station from Rockwell to Armitage. Maybe try to focus around Andersonville as well would let your husband have a very short commute, and if you get a job downtown you could jump on the Ravenswood Metra station right there and be downtown within 15 minutes.

If it were me, as far as nightlife and restaurants/shopping as well as work locations - I would set my "ground zero" of apartment hunting anywhere right near the Irving Park, Addison, Paulina and Southport stations.
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