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Lazyhead 09-23-2012 10:28 AM

Hello lovely Mothering families


Our family is relocating to the Chicago area and are looking for input regarding the burbs.  We lived in the city of Chicago years ago and have lived in a small town in Michigan for the past 10 years.  I'm looking for info about the DH will be working near O'Hare so we'd like to live within a 30 minute commute of there in a burb that is it's own town (not just sprawlsville) and is family friendly and fairly liberal/crunchy with fantastic schools.  We'll be making a few trips out there to visit before we move and it'd be nice to narrow the area down to a few that we should check out.


TIA Rainbow.gif

Eyelet 09-23-2012 12:37 PM

Lots of suburbs to choose from, but the deciding factor will probably be your budget and what kind of home you are looking for. :o)


ETA: Burbs that fit your criteria if money is not an issue: Oak Park, River Forest, Naperville, possibly Evanston..

Lazyhead 09-23-2012 12:50 PM

Money is a factor....need a house for less than 400k. It'd be nice to have a decent yard maybe with chickens. Not sure about ordinances there but we can keep a small flock of 4 birds here. Hopefully, not too snooty. I like open mindedness.

Lazyhead 09-23-2012 12:52 PM

Oh and type home--something with 3-4 bedrooms. Nothing crazy huge. I like old houses in a town.

Eyelet 09-24-2012 08:49 AM

I found this thread about keeping chickens in the Chicago area:  Also found this,




Older home with some land in an established crunchy-ish town (and not too far out from the city??) with good schools personally sounds like Oak Park or Evanston to me.. I think if you dig enough, you can find something within your budget. :)

Lazyhead 09-24-2012 08:58 AM

Thank you!  :)


I don't really care about being close to the city.  It just has to be within 30 mins of O'Hare.

Lilyr 09-24-2012 09:42 AM

The towns people are listing here are too far away and too expensive, though they can be crunchy. Traffic to near Ohare from Oak Park or Evanston can be a nightmare. and that is going to be major quality of life issue for your husband. You should check out the current "feel" of Park Ridge, Niles, Morton Grove,and Mount Prospect, etc. Skokie maybe if the commute is okay. None of them were hip or hippie back in the 70's or 80's when i was a kid. But all sorts of people have moved all sorts of places. For instance, Berwyn (a bit too long of a commute, but much cheaper than neighboring Oak Park), has gone from being Bunker-ville, to very diverse, gay friendly,  family friendly  (don't know about the chickens yet). 


Franklin Park (12 minutes from OHare) is where La Leche League started, by a group of women who were crunchy in their way back then.  See what it's  like now.


Park Ridge, Schiller Park, Franklin Park etc. might be TOO close, if you cant get over the plane noise. See what you think by hanging around at night.


Within Chicago itself, I would stick to places along the Blue Line if CTA commuting could work. Otherwise, avoid Chicago from the commuting standpoint alone. Though you can keep 4 chickens in your yard. The towns that are closer to Chicago, even though proximity itself isn't important to you, are less sprawly than those in what we, not so affectionately, call "the land beyond O'Hare."

DoulaSam 09-24-2012 12:04 PM

Schaumburg also might be an option. I live there and can be at Ohare in 15min. It is good access to 90 and 290, has Ikea, decent schools and is reasonably priced. 

Ragana 09-24-2012 12:45 PM

I would also say Evanston, Oak Park or Skokie. Some chickens are allowed in Evanston. Not sure the exact rules, but the city's website should have that information. Bonus - the Lake! Let me know by PM if you are considering Evanston, and I can get you the info on the schools. I have one in elementary and one in middle school.

Lazyhead 09-25-2012 06:15 AM

What about Wilmette?  Or anything south of O'Hare?  We will definitely check out Evanston.  A good friend here is giving me the hard sell on Evanston.  lol.gif  Oak Park is too expensive.  Just looking online for a minute reveals that there is very little that we can afford there.  Plus, it's too much city for me.  I don't want to live in the city.  I did that in my youth and I don't want to any more.  ;)


And I really appreciate all your replies.  It's a huge help to me.  Truly.  loveeyes.gif

Ragana 09-25-2012 06:40 AM

PM'd you. But if Oak Park is too expensive, Evanston might be as well. Did you check out Skokie? Very good schools and a bit more "suburban" than Evanston or OP.

Lazyhead 09-25-2012 06:52 AM

Yeah it all might be too expensive.  :lol

Greenlea 09-25-2012 07:38 AM

I would try Bensenville. They have alot of bigger older houses with decent sized yards in your price range.

I grew up in Elmhurst and love it there! Great downtown area. No chickens here though, although they were just re-voting on that issue. Not sure what came about from it.

Itasca is also very nice. Great little historic district.


Personally I say any school in DuPage County is great. I don't know much about the schools in Cook County though.

Ragana 09-25-2012 07:43 AM

Originally Posted by Greenlea View Post
Personally I say any school in DuPage County is great. I don't know much about the schools in Cook County though.

Schools in Cook County - depends greatly on where you are. CPS is Cook County as are several suburbs like Evanston.

Greenlea 09-25-2012 08:06 AM

Originally Posted by Ragana View Post

Schools in Cook County - depends greatly on where you are. CPS is Cook County as are several suburbs like Evanston.


Yeah, I mean I live in Hanover Park which is Cook County and my son's school is rated 4/10. He's only there right now for pre-school and we'll be moving into DuPage County by next school year, but I would really check out Cook County's schools ratings before moving to that city.  Mainly because the schools in Cook County vary so greatly in their "scores". 

Lazyhead 09-25-2012 08:16 AM

Originally Posted by Greenlea View Post

I would try Bensenville. They have alot of bigger older houses with decent sized yards in your price range.

I grew up in Elmhurst and love it there! Great downtown area. No chickens here though, although they were just re-voting on that issue. Not sure what came about from it.

Itasca is also very nice. Great little historic district.


Personally I say any school in DuPage County is great. I don't know much about the schools in Cook County though.


Tell me more about Elmhurst..... notes.gif

Greenlea 09-25-2012 11:33 AM

Originally Posted by Lazyhead View Post


Tell me more about Elmhurst..... notes.gif


Hmmm...well great schools, lots of parks, great newer library, a pool, skatepark. They have an art museum, movie theatre, lots of restaurants in the downtown area. Its really close to all major highways & tollways. A 20 min train ride to Chicago. Really close to 2 major malls. Family friendly, lots of programs for kids.  Not sure on how crunchy they are though.  And there taxes are a bit high.


Like I said, I grew up there. Moved out when I was 22. I would love to move back there with my family now. I've been looking for a place to rent there, but its a little expensive for me. 

AmandaLynnH 10-04-2012 11:34 AM

We had a similar budget and looked in Oak Park, River Forest (HA!), Brookfield, La Grange, La Grange Park, Riverside, North Riverside, and Elmhurst and ended up buying a 3bd/2bth home in Brookfield and we love it.  It's a bit further south than Elmhurst but the two houses we were considering, one in Brookfield and one in Elmhurst were 100k different in price with Elmhurst being the higher in price + higher taxes.  We haven't had to commute to O'hare since moving so I can't speak to that.  Brookfield and La Grange (Park too) were the best bargains housing-wise with excellent schools.  Elmhurst seems to know they have good schools and housing prices reflect that accordingly.  But nice houses in Brookfield go FAST so if you see one you like, act quick.


Did I mention that I live less than a mile from an amazing zoo?  Walking distance to the Metra?  Easy access to restaurants, shopping, etc?  All with nice low taxes (seriously, watch the taxes as they can get insane!).  We have a nice, big yard too.

loveandgarbage 10-04-2012 11:46 AM

I grew up both in Evanston and Wilmette (and am still connected to family there so I know what they're like now). Wilmette is not in your price range unless you find a fluke cheap house. I wouldn't live there in a million years if you are looking for a crunchy town-- the schools are fabulous in some ways (they score really well) but it's very richy rich and snobby these days. If I were to relocate back to the Chicago area I would try to buy in Evanston. It's pricey as well, but you can find cheaper houses on the South and West sides. I would also suggest checking out Berwyn. It has a great reputation nowadays for being crunchy and more forward-thinking.

mamalisa 10-04-2012 12:23 PM

I've lived almost everywhere from Wheaton to Berwyn/Lyons.  I highly recommend Glen Ellyn, especially for schools.  I loved living in the LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Brookfield area, but house prices can be insane.  I miss living a mile from the zoo!!  My best friend lives in Berwyn and has an amazing house that she got for a steal (it needed a lot of work) but the schools aren't the best.


LaGrange/LaGrange Park might be great for you.  House prices are reasonable (sort of), LaGrange Road is a straight shot to the airport (30 minutes-ish to 2 hours (I kid), depending on the weather, phase of the moon, whatnot).  The little downtown area has everything you need, Metra is right there and you're close to regular grocery as well ethnic markets.

AmandaLynnH 10-05-2012 12:04 PM

Berwyn is a nice area too and is really working on improving its image but as others have said the schools are not the greatest and when we looked there we found a lot of houses with a ton of "bedrooms" that weren't legally bedrooms.  But there are some beautiful bungalos there but we ultimately found that the layout of the standard bungalo didn't work for us (it's generally two bedrooms on the main floor with a bath in between and then an attic conversion (complete with short ceilings) upstairs.  We ultimately abandoned Berwyn as a possible location for us because the future of the schools is too uncertain and we didn't want to risk our resale value.


La Grange has reasonable houses just avoid the super pretty downtown area.  It's gorgeous but you're looking at housing upwards of 600k and into the millions.  La Grange Park has all the amenities with some more reasonable prices.  We saw a gorgeous rehab in La Grange Park, 4 bds/3bths for $380k which was honestly a bit overpriced.  We would have bought it but we were waiting for our condo to sell.  


Depending on how long you plan on being there look into the high schools.  Both Riverside/Brookfield High School (Brookfield, Riverside, North Riverside, and parts of La Grange Park filter into it) and Lyons Township (La Grange and a few other suburbs filter into this) have excellent scores but will offer very different experiences due to their sizes.  Lyons is HUGE with two campuses and they split the freshmen and sophomores from the juniors and seniors.


Honestly, house hunting in the area was very trying.  We loved Oak Park but the houses in that price range often needed a lot of work and/or were just really lacking in space.  Unfinished basements with low ceilings are very common from what we saw.  Houses in Oak Park like what we wanted were still 500k+ with very high taxes (they take their high school seriously but with somewhat mixed results - OPRF scores lower than both Riverside/Brookfield and Lyons but is still excellent).  Elmhurst had more updated houses with more space but the ones in our price range (same as yours) were often in a less desirable location (right near the highway/train, etc) and were right at the top of the budget).  Riverside had some nice stuff too but again, higher priced because it has that notoriety (Riverside itself was designed by the guy who did central park) and they seem to pay the lion's share of taxes towards the high school over Brookfield.  


We saw a lot of homes that were overpriced considering the condition they are in.  A lot of outdated kitchens and baths yet sellers seemed to think that it was worth what it would be if the kitchen and baths were newer.  Lots of 70's white cabinets with the wood strip at the bottom.  And sellers just don't seem to get it.  It's understandable, I was a seller myself at the time, there's no motivation to update/upgrade because that's money they won't see back, but they still think their homes are worth more than they are.  But there are some gems out there and I like to think we got one.


The forums on are also very helpful and helped us narrow down our search.

Lazyhead 10-07-2012 09:30 PM

First of all, thank you so much to all you awesome mamas out there for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. It is extremely helpful.

We are here visiting and have visited, driven through, checked out rentals in: Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Downer's Grove, Elmhurst, Park Ridge, Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette, and Glenview. Of these, our favorites are Glen Ellyn and Wilmette. Glen Ellyn is SO CUTE and Wilmette has the lake *swoon*. I'm concerned about the snooty and conservative factor in each place.

Tomorrow we are going to check out Evanston but the commute to the NW side of O'Hare is worrisome for my husband.

Should we also check out La Grange and Berwyn?

Oliver's Mama 10-08-2012 05:55 AM

Coincidentally, my husband works along the NW border of O'hare, so we have spent much time researching the best towns with decent commutes to that area.  We currently live in Wheaton/Glen Ellyn, (dh got the job AFTER we moved here, and we're stuck right now, otherwise we would have never chosen this far from o'hare) 30 minutes is rare; it's usually 45-55, unless he's working off-hours. Snootiness is sometimes an issue in Glen Ellyn and yes DuPage is historically a conservative/republican stronghold, but it's not shoved in your face or anything.  I do think there's a strong stereotype for snootiness on the near-north lakeshore.

We used to live in the LaGrange area (LOVE IT), but commuting that far north to o'hare would be a nightmare.  Generally, any road going north in that area is packed in the morning, and southbound is packed in the evening, particularly rt 83 which is the main artery to nw o'hare.  Downers Grove area is out too, for the commute.  I've never lived in Berwyn, but I doubt it'd be under 30 minutes.

DH's parents are in Elmhurst and whenever he goes to/from their house to work, it's 15 minutes, so that's a great option, and it's a stellar town.  We've also considered Mt Prospect- 15 minute commute to the north and excellent schools. both of those towns have cute downtown areas with trains and nice neighborhoods near the downtown areas too.  We considered branching out toward the Schaumburg/ Arlington Heights area too.  Elmhurst and Mt Prospect were definitely the best finds- in my opinion, it's as close as you can get to the airport without the noise issue, and still have great schools, town centers, and very few shady areas of town.

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