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Old 04-07-2021, 08:43 PM
 
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Me and my significant other (college seniors, both coming from out of state for our jobs) will be moving to Chicago this summer. I've done a good amount of research but still feel very conflicted on which neighborhood/ area would be the best for me to start my life in the city. I'm primarily conflicted between West Loop/ Lincoln Park or Lakeview/ Wicker Park. Given my circumstances below, what would you think would be the best place for me? Or is anyone willing to share what these neighborhoods are like as of recently?
=-=
Budget: Comfortable with $2000-$2400, but cheaper is always preferred. No more than $2400-$2600.

Commute: Both of our jobs are on the western side of downtown right next to the river. So, we will share the same commute (if not working from home). Some options:
-A) West Loop: 10-20 minute walk to work, 5-10 minute walk to the green/ pink line. Probably walk to work most days and uber/lyft occasionally? Or live closer to the green/ pink line and go by train?
-B) Lincoln Park/ Lakeview: Live right along the brown line and train into downtown, with a 5ish minute walk from the station to work. Probably the most straightforward and reliable commute.
-C) Wicker Park: Live along the blue line and train into downtown, with a slightly longer walk to work.

Housing desires: Luxury high-rise/ loft apartments appeal to us moreso than grittier or less modern places. We are however open to less “nice” places that are more spacious and with cheaper 2 bedrooms.

Neighborhood desires:
-Easy commute into downtown.
-Somewhere that feels relatively clean and safe, although we're okay with a little grit.
-Somewhere with a lot going on, and lots of fun/ interesting things to do. An "exciting place to be". Ultimately, I want to live in one of if not the most fun places to be in the city for a young person experiencing life in Chicago for the first time.
-Plenty of young and friendly people where it will be easy for us to make friends. We look pretty young ourselves and want to be someplace where we feel that we don't stand out too much.
-Great drinking/ restaurant scene (we prefer cool, artsy, and unique spots rather than hyper-upscale and commercial places).
-Good arts and shopping is preferred too but not necessarily needed.

Here’s our current thoughts on the options we’ve narrowed down to:
-West Loop: Being able to walk to work is a huge advantage. Also, this is the one neighborhood we got the chance to visit recently and honestly we loved it - the industrial vibes and concrete and all. I like how it's both quiet but also that there's a lot of things to do there and plenty of bars/ restaurants (perhaps the best drinking and food scene in the city?). Feels safe and centralized. Downsides are that this is probably the most expensive place to live, and also there may not be as many young people to meet and befriend. It may also be a bit on the boring side compared to LP/LV and WP.
-Lincoln Park/ Lakeview: My biggest draws to LP/ LV are that it's a very centralized location with easy train access into downtown and across Chicago. Close to the lake, plenty of shops/ restaurants/ bars/ etc. Very "transplant friendly".
-Wicker Park: WP seems like the most “interesting” and “happening” place to be, with the highest density of friendly young people and things to do. From what I’ve read, this seems to be the most trendy option with the best neighborhood feel. However, housing might be lower quality and it might not be quite the place to be as it used to be. Location is a bit inconvenient as well if we're ever trying to do things in other parts of the city.
=-=
I understand that there's a lot of information already out there on this and that these threads may be a bit annoying to some, but a lot of the information I'm finding seems a bit outdated, and I figured I may as well try to get some tailored advice specific to my situation. Thanks in advance for any and all advice/ recommendations. Also, I'll happily provide more info on my situation if needed!

TL;DR - Where would you prefer to live if you were young and new to the city: West Loop, Lincoln Park/ Lakeview, or Wicker Park (or somewhere else)? Why?
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Old 04-08-2021, 05:51 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
142 posts, read 67,088 times
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Sounds like Wicker Park best meets your “wants” as far as neighborhood vibe etc. Take the plunge!
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:24 AM
 
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I am quite familiar with Wicker Park and can clear a couple things up that may or may not help you.

Housing of lower quality...There are plenty of nice newer units. There are plenty of older and remodeled units. There really isn't luxury high-rise with concierge service if that's what you are after.

Might not quite be the place it use to be comment. Depends on what is meant by this. Yes it has changed a lot since the 1990s High Fidelity days and is no longer the hipster\gentrifying neighborhood it once was but that ship sailed long ago. Long ago. There is still a mix of nicer upscale mixed with grungier places and some music venues. Its proximity to Logan Square provides an additional opportunity for more to experience as well as the 606.

I hung out in WP a lot in the mid\late 90s since some of my fiends lived there after college. I no longer live in Chicago but it is still one of the primary neighborhoods I stay in while back in town. Partly because of the neighborhood feel and partly due to family in Avondale I visit (and Staropolska).


If we returned we would consider Wicker Park for sure as well as Lincoln Park\Old Town due to its proximity to the lake and the park. There is just so much outdoor space between the lakefront and Lincoln Park we find that appealing. OP pointed out an appeal to the West Loop and all the concrete so an obvious differing of opinions there

my 2 cents.


Quote:
Originally Posted by haverlywave3255 View Post

Commute:
-Wicker Park: WP seems like the most “interesting” and “happening” place to be, with the highest density of friendly young people and things to do. From what I’ve read, this seems to be the most trendy option with the best neighborhood feel. However, housing might be lower quality and it might not be quite the place to be as it used to be. Location is a bit inconvenient as well if we're ever trying to do things in other parts of the city.
=-=

TL;DR - Where would you prefer to live if you were young and new to the city: West Loop, Lincoln Park/ Lakeview, or Wicker Park (or somewhere else)? Why?
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:28 AM
 
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Wicker park can feel very congested at times. I'd also say it is maybe less on the "high rise" side than a Lakeview East is.
Really, lakeview and LP are hard to beat. Right near the Lake, I run every morning along Lakeviews shore. Plenty of younger people, of which I am on the fringe of no longer being considered, age wise, lol.
Wicker has all of that also, minus the Lake. It can have a sort of grimy, punk vibe in places, which is fun. I am not positive but I feel like Covid knocked some choices dining and drinking wise out a bit. Amazing houses if you can afford them tho, parking can be tough in both areas.
West Loop is just fine, maybe even more affordable as downtown hasn't really gone nuts like some parts of the suburbs or other parts of the city.
I love all the areas mentioned. If it were me, factoring commute, I'd let that be a bigger factor. I am jealous of this choice, frankly.
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:52 AM
 
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Depends how much your lack of commute means to you. If that is really important, then maybe West Loop. There's a lot newer of a feel to West Loop, IMO and if you prefer living in a building that has amenities like a gym and such, that may make a difference. LP and Lakeview have some high-rises along the lake, but other than that it's a lot of 2-3 story walkups. Some older and some newer, but there are probably plenty of older walkups with updated interiors and a lot of space. You'll have fewer amenities and lack of building security, but there's a bit more privacy than living in a couple hundred unit building for a comparison.

I lived in walkups in 2 different parts of Lakeview in 2008-2016, one very close to Wrigley and one further southwest in Lakeview. Close to Wrigley may not be your style, but in Lakeview there's plenty to do, a lot of small businesses, and proximity to the lake in that neighborhood, same with Lincoln Park. If I had to go back in time and choose from scratch, I'd probably make the same decision. Granted, in 2008, the West Loop was not the same as it is today, but I'm also more of the preference of a "neighborhood" feel that Lakeview/LP offers compared to West Loop, which has a bit more of cold or impersonal feel to me.

I've always found the traffic in Wicker near the 6 corners intersection to be a massive headache, just as a visitor to that neighborhood. Generally, it's a nice neighborhood, though.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
6,084 posts, read 2,935,908 times
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These provide a general, summary of the feel of each (in the beautiful pre-COVID times ):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-6Nkae5Hh8


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu6ruH0dsz0


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSIK1bg5yEY


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80cCo3AaHuk
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:22 AM
 
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^^^ very cool.
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Old 04-08-2021, 02:49 PM
 
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Thank you everyone so much for the replies. Lots of great information. I won't respond to everything to avoid spamming, but I have a few follow-up questions..

Quote:
Originally Posted by hendersj31 View Post
I am quite familiar with Wicker Park and can clear a couple things up that may or may not help you.

Might not quite be the place it use to be comment. Depends on what is meant by this. Yes it has changed a lot since the 1990s High Fidelity days and is no longer the hipster\gentrifying neighborhood it once was but that ship sailed long ago. Long ago. There is still a mix of nicer upscale mixed with grungier places and some music venues. Its proximity to Logan Square provides an additional opportunity for more to experience as well as the 606.

I hung out in WP a lot in the mid\late 90s since some of my fiends lived there after college. I no longer live in Chicago but it is still one of the primary neighborhoods I stay in while back in town. Partly because of the neighborhood feel and partly due to family in Avondale I visit (and Staropolska).
I suppose what I meant by that comment, is that to my understanding WP has been a very fun and interesting place to be, but that it may have largely "passed its peak" - meaning less variety and quality of restaurants/ bars/ shops, more commercialized, etc. I guess I'd prefer to not live in an area that is somewhat "on the decline"? Idk.. a lot of these thoughts probably aren't even things I'd notice while actually living there, and overall these are very picky considerations. Basically, I just want to know whether or not WP is still a very fun and lively place, and that all the praise I've seen of the neighborhood still applies (as usually the praise has come from pre-2015).

Anyway, since you're familiar with the neighborhood, do you have any recommendations for specific areas in the neighborhood where I should look? As of now, my only idea is to be near the Division/ Polish Triangle area, since I want to be close to a train stop and also close to restaurants and bars. What're your thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deslok2 View Post
Wicker park can feel very congested at times. I'd also say it is maybe less on the "high rise" side than a Lakeview East is.
Really, lakeview and LP are hard to beat. Right near the Lake, I run every morning along Lakeviews shore. Plenty of younger people, of which I am on the fringe of no longer being considered, age wise, lol.
Wicker has all of that also, minus the Lake. It can have a sort of grimy, punk vibe in places, which is fun. I am not positive but I feel like Covid knocked some choices dining and drinking wise out a bit. Amazing houses if you can afford them tho, parking can be tough in both areas.
West Loop is just fine, maybe even more affordable as downtown hasn't really gone nuts like some parts of the suburbs or other parts of the city.
I love all the areas mentioned. If it were me, factoring commute, I'd let that be a bigger factor. I am jealous of this choice, frankly.
Do you recommend any specific areas in Lakeview/ LP for housing? I've been thinking of looking around Clark/ Diversey, near the Diversey stop, or near the Armitage stop. Any of those areas you'd recommend over the others?

I have also been suspicious that Covid may have knocked a lot of the food and drinking options out of Wicker Park. Would be curious to hear if anyone else can speak to this.
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Old 04-09-2021, 03:11 PM
 
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This is what I would recommend too and the part I prefer. I know for sure there are newer units along division but I do not know the price range or availability. If the busy street is too loud then of course there are plenty of flats on the side streets.
We prefer this part really because of some of the places we like such as Vinnie D's (good beef and gelato), Bangers and Lace, Yolk, Emporium(Not open) and a bunch of other things. We are older though so what's good for me may not be for you.
I understand the whole commercial aspect and while more chains have definitely moved in I do not feel it is anywhere near an issue.

Like another poster said, You are trying to decide between three really cool neighborhoods. It's a good problem to have.


Also, Clark and Diversey is a great spot.


What I cannot comment on and you may want to try to collect information on is the commuting on the el. I know the blue can be pretty tough since it comes from the airport is can be jam packed by time it hits Division.


Quote:
Originally Posted by haverlywave3255 View Post

Anyway, since you're familiar with the neighborhood, do you have any recommendations for specific areas in the neighborhood where I should look? As of now, my only idea is to be near the Division/ Polish Triangle area, since I want to be close to a train stop and also close to restaurants and bars. What're your thoughts?


Do you recommend any specific areas in Lakeview/ LP for housing? I've been thinking of looking around Clark/ Diversey, near the Diversey stop, or near the Armitage stop. Any of those areas you'd recommend over the others?

I have also been suspicious that Covid may have knocked a lot of the food and drinking options out of Wicker Park. Would be curious to hear if anyone else can speak to this.
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Old 04-10-2021, 11:35 PM
 
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how about Fulton Market area, and the area that is on Milwaukee Ave that is about 600 North going north? I was driving down Elston Street going south and when you get to the river it turns into Milwaukee. they have some very cool looking industrial type apartments. They are probably about 100 years old. That area used to be a warehouse/industrial area. (maybe you can do a Google view if you want to take a quick look at it. That area is right on the edge of downtown. Theres lots of restaurants. As for nightlife, i dont know but you can take a cab anywhere. You are right near Restaurant Row on 800 W Randolph area, and right north of Greektown which is Halsted.

The west loop and River West Area have that loft industrial feel, also Old Town (600 N Wells area) also Armitage Ave right by Lincoln Park.

If you go to Taylor Street, that has another really sweet feel to it.. it is full of historical homes that you can afford and Taylor St has those sweet restaurants and street lights that are from 2 centuries ago so it looks very pretty and quaint. Was an Italian neighborhood when chicago was new.

some people like the area that is the South Loop, even as far as the Prairie District. there you will live by lots of things to do, museums are there, restaurants, theatres (actually the Loop has Theatre Row I think on Randolph St. but you can cab to them or take the CTA.

Going north, you might love Lincoln Park, you can go on side streets and live in some very quaint and cool homes/apartments/condos. Take your pick. Lots to do walking around.

for lakeview, used to be about 10 years ago, very cool, that was Boystown, the best bars and nighclubs for dancing and just people watching, but now since about 10 years ago, those places and people have moved up north to like 5600 North Clark area, so Lakeview has turned into a knid of extension of Lincoln Park, lots of families and kids have moved in. you might like Andersonville (5600 North by Foster and Clark area).

I'd say Google Street View and/or take a walk down these areas, or do a sightseeing on the bus, car, etc. Go day and night and you will get a different vibe.
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