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Old 06-06-2010, 12:45 PM
 
Location: B'More
179 posts, read 356,205 times
Reputation: 147

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My company will be relocating the family from Indy to Chicago, and after checking taxes and other considerations I decided it's best to stay in the great Hoosier state. I've read just about every thread on this forum regarding commuting to Chicago from NW Indiana, the schools (looks like quite a bit of argument among those who live in Lake County), trains, etc. We currently live in Carmel and really like the schools and the community. I was wondering if Munster or Highland would be comparable in terms of community makeup & school performance? Anyone who have lived in both places?

Work will be downtown and I've been commuting a few times a month up there already so I'm fairly familiar with the drive - looks like Lake Shore Drive going north in the morning is *not too bad* and going south in the afternoon towards the Dan Ryan (and then Chicago Skyway back towards I-65) is *not too bad* either. My cousin lives in downtown Chicago and has been lobbying hard, but if we're going to be spending $400K on a place I'd rather that be a house and not a cramped condo - despite the convenience.

Thoughts on Carmel vs. Munster/Highland?
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:22 PM
 
4,176 posts, read 6,334,661 times
Reputation: 1874
Quote:
Originally Posted by casualsurfer View Post
My company will be relocating the family from Indy to Chicago, and after checking taxes and other considerations I decided it's best to stay in the great Hoosier state. I've read just about every thread on this forum regarding commuting to Chicago from NW Indiana, the schools (looks like quite a bit of argument among those who live in Lake County), trains, etc. We currently live in Carmel and really like the schools and the community. I was wondering if Munster or Highland would be comparable in terms of community makeup & school performance? Anyone who have lived in both places?

Work will be downtown and I've been commuting a few times a month up there already so I'm fairly familiar with the drive - looks like Lake Shore Drive going north in the morning is *not too bad* and going south in the afternoon towards the Dan Ryan (and then Chicago Skyway back towards I-65) is *not too bad* either. My cousin lives in downtown Chicago and has been lobbying hard, but if we're going to be spending $400K on a place I'd rather that be a house and not a cramped condo - despite the convenience.

Thoughts on Carmel vs. Munster/Highland?
You're 100% right to stay in IN as opposed to IL.

If I were in your position, my goal would be finding the community that best fit the needs of myself and my family. The way I see it... who cares how comparable your new town is or is not to Carmel when you're leaving Carmel and moving to NWI? I'd compare the local communities to each other.

Munster has better schools that Highland though that comes with a price premium. You could consider the Lake Central system, which takes students from Schererville, St John and Dyer.

Sometimes (esp on some of the forums here), Munster is portrayed as the end all/be all. I don't think it's hands down better than the other nicer towns in the region, such as the three mentioned above and Crown Point. You could consider Crown Point, but it is going to be a more significant commute to Chicago. A similar point could be noted for St John.

I'd strongly recommend taking the train to Chicago, though that does get mundane fast. Between weather, parking, construction, etc driving can be a nightmare. You can get a monthly fare and learn more about the train service at the link below.

I'd recommend Dyer, Schererville or St John over Munster. Your dollar may go a bit further and, while they're building up, they're (for the most part) not quite as crowded as Munster.

Good luck with the move. Don't take my 'who cares' comments the wrong way. It's just that I wouldn't be too concerned one way or the other with the place I was LEAVING!

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:06 PM
 
2,157 posts, read 5,492,148 times
Reputation: 1572
Default Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by casualsurfer View Post
My company will be relocating the family from Indy to Chicago, and after checking taxes and other considerations I decided it's best to stay in the great Hoosier state. I've read just about every thread on this forum regarding commuting to Chicago from NW Indiana, the schools (looks like quite a bit of argument among those who live in Lake County), trains, etc. We currently live in Carmel and really like the schools and the community. I was wondering if Munster or Highland would be comparable in terms of community makeup & school performance? Anyone who have lived in both places?

Work will be downtown and I've been commuting a few times a month up there already so I'm fairly familiar with the drive - looks like Lake Shore Drive going north in the morning is *not too bad* and going south in the afternoon towards the Dan Ryan (and then Chicago Skyway back towards I-65) is *not too bad* either. My cousin lives in downtown Chicago and has been lobbying hard, but if we're going to be spending $400K on a place I'd rather that be a house and not a cramped condo - despite the convenience.

Thoughts on Carmel vs. Munster/Highland?
Schools

Out of Munster and Highland, I would choose Munster. The schools are one of the best in the region and is the school system that has been least affected by the recent budget cuts. They are also finishing up a total reconstruction of the athletic fields and building a new natatorium. As for the elementary schools, two of them (Eads and Elliot) has been completely rebuilt within the last five years, and Frank H. Hammond (the newest prior to the other one's rebuilding) is on a large campus that includes Frank H. Hammond park in the Fairmeadow subdivision. The one complaint I have with the schools is that elementary students who live in the subdivision "West Lakes of Munster" (which is on the extreme and isolated southwest part of town) have to go to the furthest elementary school (Eads) which is on the northwest side of town -- the reason? Because the subdivision and school are west of Calumet Avenue and the other schools are east of Calumet. However, the school corporation owns land in that subdivision that will more than likely house a new elementary school in the coming years.

Highland schools are not bad, but are not much to write home about. Also, they have faced some more serious issues regarding funding for some programs so that is something I would check out.

Lake Central Schools are pretty good too. However, just as how the town of Munster may feel crowded, the schools in the Lake Central district ARE crowded and continue to grow. The area voters voted down a referendum to construct a new high school (for good reasons) and there is still much resistance to build a new high school as well as a new elementary school. Lake Central High School has over 3,000 students and room is running out and some classes are being held in modular classrooms. I realize that Carmel has very large schools as well (mainly the high school) but if this is something you are worried about then this may be something to consider. The school system, besides the overcrowding, is still a very good option.

Crown Point schools are very well regarded. They have the biggest newest high school in the area and performs very well consistently each year. Their middle school was also completely rebuilt on the old high school site and is very modern and centrally located as well. The school populations are high as well and as most of the Crown Point area is still not developed, it will continue to grow.

Community makeup

As far as community make up goes, Munster used to be a very solid middle class community but quickly became home to more professionals as many former Chicago residents began to move in looking for an affordable yet upscale suburban lifestyle. The community is somewhat diverse yet remains pretty stable. It is a very safe community overall. Munster also is known for having many parks all over town and is still looking to expands upon its parks system. The Centennial Park in Munster is beautiful and has a driving range, small golf course, botanical garden, fishing pond and outdoor ice skating in the winter. There is also a veterans memorial across the street. The housing is more expensive than it's neighboring towns but still affordable as opposed to the Illinois suburbs. $400,000 would get you a very nice home in Munster. Lastly, in the region, Munster has a reputation for being a "snobby town" but this snobbery is nothing compared to that found on some areas in the north and west suburbs. I know that Carmel has that reputation as well so if you do not mind dealing with that then I am sure you will be fine in Munster .

Highland is geographically about the same size as Munster. It still remains a majority solid middle class community although there are some professionals who live there. The town is more diverse (in many aspects) than Munster but especially when it comes to some retail and dining. It has a lot of mom and pop style stores that are very popular. Downtown Highland is one of the few towns where the downtown is actually a destination. Their Main Square Park holds some festivities that attract some people from the surrounding area. Personally, I would not mind living in Highland as opposed to Munster. However, if i lived in Highland, I would most likely send my kids to a private school.

As far as the towns of Dyer, St. John, and Schererville go, those towns I would choose over Highland for sure. The housing stock is better than Highland. Compared to Munster, the housing stock is pretty similar with the exception that your dollar will go a little farther than in Munster. However, many people still choose Munster for its schools and location to the expressway.

Crown Point used to feel somewhat removed from the Chicago area but is now feeling more like a suburb as opposed to the small town it was not too long ago. Depending on your preferences this can be a good or bad thing. It is just southeast of Schererville and east of St. John. It is a nice community that is still expanding. If Crown Point was geographically where Highland or Munster is, I would live there. However, it is just too much of a hassle to get to the expressway from certain areas of Crown Point so it was not a viable option. if you are willing to add to commute time but still want good house for your money and a top school district, Crown Point is the way to go.

If you are looking for a community that feels the most like Carmel, your best bet would probably be either Munster, St. John, or Crown Point. Munster for its affluence, top-notch schools, and proximity to a large city. St. john for its newness and proximity to many retail and dining options in Northwest Indiana, and Crown Point for having been a small town (as Carmel was) that is expanding very fast as well as great schools.

I hope this helps!

Also, if you do not mind, would you care to give us more details regarding housing (age of housing, budget, wants/needs, etc.)? It would help all of us steer you in the right direction. Thank you!
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:11 PM
 
Location: City of North Las Vegas, NV
12,600 posts, read 9,388,720 times
Reputation: 3487
agree with above points by NWI and would pick Munster.
Lived in both briefly in Highland and some dozen years in Munster.
If you have kids, its another reason to choose Munster
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Old 06-13-2010, 06:35 AM
 
Location: Hoosierville
17,401 posts, read 14,637,091 times
Reputation: 11605
Taking everything into consideration - schools, housing stock at your price point, commute ... here's my Lake County ranking:
1. Munster
2. Dyer
3. Schererville

But ... let me throw a twist into it: Chesterton

1. Schools are great
2. Commute: You'll have less drive time TO the station (there's a Chesterton stop) but more time on the train. The reverse is true (more drive time, less train time) in the Lake County choices.
3. Housing stock: for $400 will get you some nice digs in Chesterton. I just pulled up some listings (www.gniarmls.com - the public portal of our agent's local MLS) and there's new construction, homes on some land (1.5 acres on one, almost 10 in another) and a home in Dune Acres - which is a community nearly on shores of Lake Michignan.

PS ... St. John & Crown Point does not make my list at all - though they're both perfectly lovely towns - simply for your need to commute downtown. In simplistic terms: it would suck. ;-)
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Old 06-13-2010, 06:12 PM
 
51 posts, read 169,336 times
Reputation: 75
Welcome to NWI!!

Congrats on the move! My wife is from Carmel and I am from NWI. We actually have alot of friends from Carmel who have moved to NWI and all seem to gravitate towards Munster, St. John, Schererville, Crown Point, or Dyer. I think you will find Munster to be a great choice for what you are looking for. The schools are the closest in performance to Carmel (although Crown Point and Lake Central seem to be quickly catching up) and the town has a lot of the qualities I'd imagine you are looking for. In addition, I really like the changes the town is making to try to continuously improve which are included in the comprehensive plan. My wife and I are also considering making the move from Chicago to Munster within the next few years so keep us posted with your thoughts!

Best of luck and welcome to the area!
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Old 06-14-2010, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Carmel, IN
37 posts, read 67,045 times
Reputation: 20
Default Hello!

(read below)

Last edited by MovingToMunster; 06-14-2010 at 12:20 PM.. Reason: new post below
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Old 06-14-2010, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Carmel, IN
37 posts, read 67,045 times
Reputation: 20
Default Hello there!

Quote:
Originally Posted by casualsurfer View Post
My company will be relocating the family from Indy to Chicago, and after checking taxes and other considerations I decided it's best to stay in the great Hoosier state. I've read just about every thread on this forum regarding commuting to Chicago from NW Indiana, the schools (looks like quite a bit of argument among those who live in Lake County), trains, etc. We currently live in Carmel and really like the schools and the community. I was wondering if Munster or Highland would be comparable in terms of community makeup & school performance? Anyone who have lived in both places?

Work will be downtown and I've been commuting a few times a month up there already so I'm fairly familiar with the drive - looks like Lake Shore Drive going north in the morning is *not too bad* and going south in the afternoon towards the Dan Ryan (and then Chicago Skyway back towards I-65) is *not too bad* either. My cousin lives in downtown Chicago and has been lobbying hard, but if we're going to be spending $400K on a place I'd rather that be a house and not a cramped condo - despite the convenience.

Thoughts on Carmel vs. Munster/Highland?
I am also moving from Carmel to Munster!

The advice that I have received from the folks on this forum as well as my family and friends in the area has been PHENOMENAL! I know I will have no regrets moving here! I cannot wait to move! I love Carmel, but have to move up here and even though I have not moved yet, it already feels like home again to me! Casualsurfer, you should definitely choose Munster. As a (soon to be former) Carmel citizen, I can assure this: You will not be disappointed!
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Northwest Indiana
815 posts, read 2,998,404 times
Reputation: 1072
I would look at homes in both Munster and Highland, then make a choice when you have a better idea of what is out there for you. You could pass up the right house if you narrow it to just one of the communities without checking out both.
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:24 AM
 
2,157 posts, read 5,492,148 times
Reputation: 1572
Default TO casualsurfer

Any updates?
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