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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,<br><br>
We've been in Boston almost nine years now, but DH and I are both Midwesterners and are considering a move to Chicago in the next couple of years to be closer to our families. Is anyone actually raising children in the city? what's it like?<br><br>
We love Boston, we love being able to walk or take the T everywhere, we like a more urban lifestyle. However, Chicago is a much bigger city than Boston. If anyone's been to both and can recommend neighborhoods with more of a Boston feel please let me know.<br><br>
Another concern is that people out here are generally, so much ruder than in the Midwest. It doesn't bother DH and me... but we don't want DS to be like that. Is it just a big city thing though? Are people in Chicago rude? Again, they've seemed nice enough when I visited.<br><br>
Thanks in advance for --any-- and every comment. I'm interested in any thoughts people have on raising kids in the city.
 

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Hi! We're raising our family in the city here, and we moved here from Boston four years ago. DD is only 7 months old, so I don't have tons of experience in terms of what city life is like with a toddler, etc.<br>
In general, I think it's a great place to raise kids. I've also loved the city (even before I had a child) far more than I thought I would. I thought I'd miss Boston a lot, but I actually really prefer Chicago as a city - the thing I do miss is the close access to the ocean, the White Mountains, the Cape, the Berkshires, etc. But, I've found ways to appreciate the outdoors here too - Lake Michigan is great, and there are some wonderful forest preserves and rivers, and I've taken up road biking.<br><br>
I do find people here to be MUCH friendlier than Boston, and I've also found Chicago to be a very kid- and family-friendly place. While DD is still a baby, my friends with older kids feel the same way. We have a car, but we rarely use it unless we're going out of the city - we take the El and the bus everywhere. And we walk a lot.<br><br>
In terms of neighborhoods, it depends a lot on what you can afford - some neighborhoods are a lot pricier than others. For me, being near the lake was really key, since I love the long (17-mile) bike and jogging path there, and all the green space (there's a huge zoo that's free, for instance, right near a great Nature Museum and several beaches and an organic farmer's market that runs twice a week spring-fall - all great destinations for families). We live in Lakeview, which I love. It has a very neighborhood feel and there are lots of quiet, tree-lined streets, but there's also lots going on and it's easy to get downtown in 10 minutes if I hop on the express bus.<br>
Other neighborhoods by the lake include Old Town and Lincoln Park (closer to the city and more expensive) and Uptown, Edgewater, and Rogers Park (farther north and less expensive, and you'd want to pay more attention to exactly where you lived in them - they have some great areas and some dicier ones). Andersonville is slightly farther from the lake, but is a really neat neighborhood. And places like the South Loop are up and coming. There are also a lot of much more affordable (i.e. you might actually be able to live in a house), family friendly neighborhoods to the northwest, but I know less about them - you don't have the lake as a resource there, but i think some of them have great local parks and nature centers.<br>
Finally, you could also consider a town like Evanston - it's not the city itself, but it still has a slightly urban feel (somewhat like some of the squares in Cambridge, or perhaps Arlington or Belmont would be a closer comparison) and is connected to the city by el and by train. It's very family-friendly, it's more possible to buy a house with a yard, and you're still near the lake. Personally I love being actually in the city, but I know people who are very happy in Evanston.<br><br>
If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask...
 

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I lived in Chicago for a year while I was single. Actually, I loved the idea of raising my kids there. I lived in a lot of different suburbs, and felt a much stronger sense of community in my Chicago neighborhood than I ever did in the suburbs.<br><br>
For what it's worth, I also lived in Lakeview. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
And yes, the people are very friendly I thought. Well, that is until you take "their" parking spot that's clear of snow. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses. I'd be interested in hearing negatives too, people who think I'm nuts for considering it. Also, if anyone can advise me on the public school situation I would appreciate it. I like that Chicago seems to have neighborhood schools anyway, something that makes me uncomfortable about Boston and Cambridge is that you don't know what school your child will be sent to. And we'll definitely check out Lakeview!
 

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We have a 20 month old son and are expecting #2 in June and live in Chicago, about 1 mile from downtown. We quite like the city and plan on being here for the next 5-7 years or so (depending on jobs etc. I'd really like to get back to New England, where I grew up, to be closer to my family).<br><br>
Tons of stuff in the city to do, and there are LOTS of families around. Housing ranges from outrageous (Lakeview and Lincoln park tend towards this end of the range, though you can occasionally find something reasonable in Lakeview still) to very affordable (Pilsen, Bridgeport, Hyde Park, University Village, for example), depending on the neighborhood. Even the affordable neighborhoods can be quite nice and safe, if you know where to look.<br><br>
Schools range from very bad to excellent. The City has an extensive magnet school program and most of these are quite good. You lottery your child into them and the lottery is based on proximity and racial balance. We are planning on using the public magnet school system for our kids when they are old enough. Tons of info about the schools can be found at the cps website (maybe <a href="http://www.chicagopublicschools.org" target="_blank">www.chicagopublicschools.org</a> ?) Also there are many parent's organizations in the city (Northside Parents Network, for example) that have good information on navigating the public and private school systems.<br><br>
It's a very midwestern city (I mean this in a good way) - people are incredibly friendly. It's very diverse. The lake is AMAZING in the summer- completely makes Chicago worth living in. All in all we're quite happy here - much happier than we ever thought we'd be. (We're not really city people, so this surprised us).
 

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Some good neighboorhoods with good public schools would be Edgebrook, Oriole Park, Norwood Park and Edison park. You will have access to public transportation to get downtown. You won't be close to the lake, but I live in Norwood park and the woods are in my neigbhoorhood and there is long bike path that starts there and goes through many suburban areas. There is also a public pool run by the cook county forrest preserve district.<br><br>
There are also quite a few park district pools and lots of parks for the kids.<br><br>
I've lived in the city all my life and I really like it.
 

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Another option -- there are two close in suburbs that are urban, public transportation serves the area and gets you to Chicago easily but you get (IMO) better city/village governments, better park districts and programs and better public schools -- one of them is Oak Park, I live there and love it. The property taxes are on the high side <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="innocent"> but the schools are amazing, it is a true community. I work in the loop (downtown Chicago) and there are three options of public transport to take me there. Many of the families that live in Oak Park are transplants from the city -- once they started having kids or had school age kids due to park issues and schooling issues -- they left and chose Oak Park as the next best option. Just a different option and thought. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thanks, I have heard good things about oak park and evanston, but will have to see them in person. living ni a walkable community is really really important to me.
 

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Oak Park is walkable. I walk to the train in the morning. We walk my kids to school, the park and the library. We ride our bike to the farmers market. And there are many options of houses and townhouses to live near the downtown area so you can walk to restaurants, movies and grocery stores. For us to the downtown (not the school, library and parks - -those are 1-2 minutes), it is a 15 minute walk there -- doable but not an everyday thing.
 

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I want to second Oak Park. I live there and love it. The Park District is excellent, and I look forward to sending my child to school here when he is old enough.<br><br>
It is expensive here though. We were able to buy a home here-but had to do extensive remodeling because we had to buy a "fixer upper" to be able to afford to live here. Property taxes are high-but I feel worth it due to the public schools and park district.
 

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I just wanted to add that the scholls in Chicago are not the best so I would definatly suggest suburbs if you want to go public. I'm not to sure about the magnet schools, I had a friend who went to one but she left in 3rd grade... but I have no idea why. Good luck!!
 

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I was born and raised in Chicago, first Roger's Park area then the Northern suburbs. I love Chicago.<br><br>
Here's the thing though, a place can be heaven or hell for two different people.<br><br>
I loved that I experienced a lot of different cultures. I loved growing up being able to order from Italian menus, Indian cuisine, Chinese food, hotdogs, etc. I loved being able to walk to the library and the park and the grocery store. I loved being able to hop on the L or the bus and go anywhere.<br><br>
But Chicago public school system was a nightmare for me. I was bored, so I didn't do homework. What I remember of grade school is 40-55 kids per class and a young teacher who broke down and cried. I was forced into the LD program ("learning differences"<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> even though I tested higher than most of my grade in most subjects. Of course this could have improved in two decades.<br><br>
I wouldn't call us rude, but brisk. Always in a hurry. We gotta get somewheres, y'know? Quicker to raise a complaint at other drivers on the road, etc. After living in Iowa for 5 years, I've decompressed a bit. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"> On a recent trip back to visit my parents, a guy behind us honked because our car stalled when it was green. I knew I'd been in Iowa too long because I just turned around, looked at him with his hundred dollar shades, and said "Wow, he's angry!" instead of yelling "WAIDAMINUTE, JEEZE!"<br><br>
Hope that helps.
 

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I've lived in Chicago my whole life. I love raising my kids here.<br><br>
There are downsides, of course. School choice is hard - many public schools are awful, most of the rest are mediocre, private is expensive. Our yard is tiny and almost all shade. Our neighbors are about 8 feet away from us on all sides. Things are pretty expensive. The city is rapidly gentrifying in many area (including mine), raising prices even further and decimating the cultural diversity that was one of the best things about parts of the city. Of course, in many parts of the city there is no cultural diversity to destroy, because lots of areas are still sickeningly segregated.<br><br>
However, it's still worth it to me. I have no car and don't need one. I can walk almost everywhere and anyplace that's too far to walk is easily (if not cheaply anymore) accessible by public trans. Classes, museums, parks, live music, good food and tons of other stuff is right nearby. We are never bored, isolated, or stuck sitting in a car all day, like so many of my friends who made the move to the burbs.
 

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I have lived in Chicago my entire life and it is a wonderful city. My kids attend CPS schools and we have been very pleased with the schools and their services. We live in Norwood Park. I attended parochial schools, and there are alot of private and religious schools in Chicago.<br><br>
I don't love our neighborhood, but it is okay. Alot of city workers live near us - police and firefighters (hi Firemom!). I would actually prefer a smaller, more urban setting. We can walk to the rapid transit, but it is an ugly 10 minute walk. Chicago is so big and our commute downtown is still almost an hour one way. I took public transport downtown for 15 years and it was fine, but I would prefer a smaller city. I would love to live in a city like Madison or Milwaukee!<br><br>
My husband works in the west Loop and we have considered Oak Park, but we would have a much smaller house. Also, we love Oak Park, but Oak Park is sort of an island. We don't do things in the western or south suburbs or the west side of Chicago, so it sort of makes sense for us to stay where we are. Evanston is sort of the same. Evanston is great, but only convient to the north side of the city or the north shore suburbs.<br><br>
The longer I live where I do (39 years now), the more I come to find like minded people.
 

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We also live in Chicago, Albany Park to be exact. We Just moved back a few months ago but lived here 2 years ago for a few years and my DH has lived in Chicago most of his life.<br>
I love it.<br>
We have a 9 year old and a 2year old and its great. We homeschool tho so I couldn't give any info on CPS. We don't homeschool because of the public schools "being bad" or whatever. From what I've heard, CPS are pretty good in our neighborhood.<br>
Chicago is a very family friendly place. Of course their are areas that look down on children, usually the trendy 20 something areas. We've been told several times, while looking for apartments, that they would prefer no children. Once, we took the DC to a really nice sushi place in boys town and were made to feel like crap for bringing in a toddler. Again, the trendy areas.<br>
But I have never had any problems at all aside from those I just listed.<br>
The CTA is very family friendly too! Its free for my DS and sometimes, depending on the driver or person on duty for the L, DD is free.<br>
There is always so much going on for families that it would be crazy to assume that Chicago isn't family friendly.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mimim</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10344503"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I've lived in Chicago my whole life. I love raising my kids here.<br><br>
There are downsides, of course. School choice is hard - many public schools are awful, most of the rest are mediocre, private is expensive. Our yard is tiny and almost all shade. Our neighbors are about 8 feet away from us on all sides. Things are pretty expensive. The city is rapidly gentrifying in many area (including mine), raising prices even further and decimating the cultural diversity that was one of the best things about parts of the city. Of course, in many parts of the city there is no cultural diversity to destroy, because lots of areas are still sickeningly segregated.<br><br>
However, it's still worth it to me. I have no car and don't need one. I can walk almost everywhere and anyplace that's too far to walk is easily (if not cheaply anymore) accessible by public trans. Classes, museums, parks, live music, good food and tons of other stuff is right nearby. We are never bored, isolated, or stuck sitting in a car all day, like so many of my friends who made the move to the burbs.</div>
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<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">: I was born and raised in Chicago, and raised my eldest in Chicago (he is now 16) and we moved to Maine 5 years ago and I gotta say I miss Chicago. The only issue as far as raising kids to me is the schools, with ds he went to parochial school. I went to public school and actually went to what was at the time a better magnet school and did ok. I now also have a 2.5 year old and if we were to move back in the next few years she would probably not go to the public schools. That said, there is so much to do all the time.<br><br>
Right now living in New England I am going crazy from cabin fever outside of Boston every place out here requires driving all over which is crazy. In Chicago, I never drove, no car or no license and raising a kid taking els and buses was not a hardship at all.<br><br>
As for neighborhoods, I lived primarily on the northside, when my son was a baby I lived in Lincoln Park and then Wicker Park by the time he was 3 until we moved 5 years ago I lived in Edgewater and Andersonville which were lovely for kids, at one point I lived right in Sheridan Rd across from the lake and a lovely playground.<br><br>
Having spent some time in Boston, I think most northside lakefront neighborhoods would work for you.. also consider Evanston. I love Evanston and since dh is a Northwestern alum it is special to us.<br><br>
Shay
 

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I've lived in Evanston since 1994 and love it. It is extremely walkable and they have just added a ton of new bike paths. Metra, PACE (buses) and CTA make it very accessible to downtown: there are trains that take only 21 minutes to get to the loop downtown! Schools are good, there's a farmer's market, tons of parks, lots of restaurants, art house cinema, beaches, a good library, and the university. There is some diversity here, although not as much as Chicago. But definitely more than any of the other north suburbs.<br><br>
The downside is that housing is expensive here, but that seems to be true in just about all urban settings these days. If you don't mind renting or buying a condo, there are lots of good choices. Buying a single family home is more spendy, but the market is softening up a bit here. There are also some less expensive neighborhoods that are further from the downtown area.
 
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