Originally Posted by ColetteInIllinois
Basically, liberalness radiates out from Chicago proper, so the further away from the city you live, the more conservative people tend to be.
I think this is true to an extent, and Evanston certainly isn't your only option north of the city to encounter any crunchy behavior.
That said, if it were me I'd probably take the smaller house/smaller yard in favor of a lot of the great stuff a town like Evanston does have to offer - definitely more like-minded AP mamas and GREAT midwives and non-vaxing docs, but also proximity to the lake, diversity, public transit down to the city, walkable great neighborhoods, restaurants, university-sponsored culture, etc.
But those are my priorities. I know many people would value space and a big yard over those things. I don't know the other areas well - as you get closer to Northfield, you're only going to go up in price in communities like Winnetka and Glencoe. Though maybe there are still some affordable places in Wilmette or Glenview, especially farther from the lake? You could also look into somewhere like Skokie (which admittedly I don't know at all) which is probably a lot more affordable than Evanston but still close to those crunchier things Evanston offers.
I tend not to be as big a fan of some of the NW suburbs, in which you can get more space for the money, but they're also a lot more conservative and most of them, especially those built along the expressway, lack much of a sense of community - lots of strip malls, etc.
I suppose if you don't care about being near the city you could also go even farther north - I personally would think Libertyville would be a pretty long commute, but maybe it wouldn't be too terrible? The communities right on the lake (Highland Park, Lake Forest, etc) only get more expensive, but inland there might be some not too far from Northfield where you could get more space than you could in Evanston...
Still, though, from everything you describe as liking, I wouldn't rule out Evanston.