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Ryan81 Nov 3, 2006 7:11 PM

Living in CHICAGO
Born and Raised in Iowa, the first city I ever visited was Chicago. I was awe struck by the incredibly tall buildings and awesome skyline. It just seemed like such a cool place to live. I was 7 then, and have ever since wanted to live in Chicago. 18 years have passed...I have since graduated College with an Architecture degree, am married and currently live in Kansas City. I am working to make my dream of living in Chicago a reality.

I decided to start this post to lay the ground work for this upcoming move. All we need is a place to live and a couple jobs. The job thing shouldn't be too hard, but I have no idea where to live, and don't have the resources to fly to chicago all the time to check out places to live. I am looking for a neighborhood not downtown, but VERY near downtown. I want Downtown Chicago to be easily accessable. I want to feel like I'm part of the city. I don't know if I want to be any further away from the core of the city than wrigleyville, but what do I know?

All we need is a One bedroom apartment in a neighborhood that is very safe (for my wife's sake) perhaps off street parking, and a nearby train. Oh, and cost is important too. I am looking to spend around 800.00 per month. My wife and I are 25, so it would be nice to live in an area with people our age...this however is not essential.

1. Safety
2. Cost
3. Location

I guess what I'm getting at, is to ask all of you (that live in Chicago) where you would suggest...either based on where you currently live in Chicago, or a location you know of that fit my criteria. Other questions I have for anyone who cares to reply to this is why do you like the area you live in. What are the benefits.

Help make this dream a reality, any information anyone could supply would be greatly appreciated.


Marcu Nov 3, 2006 7:17 PM

Logan Square might be a good option. It's got blue line el access and it's much more affordable than the other inner neighborhoods (eg lincoln park, wicker park, lakeview). Parking might be a bigger issue. You might be able to get a 1 bedroom for $800 but off-street parking will cost extra (maybe $100 a month or so).

Also, consider living in a neighborhood like Lincoln Square or Roscoe Village. It's not as close to downtown (maybe 30 min away by train) but you'll be able to get something of much better quality for $800 than you would in a closer neighborhood.

Finally, consider getting one of those apartment finder services. They are free for the tenant and they'll drive you around and show you the various neighborhoods and the various units. They are great for people just moving to the city. I personally don't recommend "Apartment People" but I have heard good things about some of the others.

Hope this helps. Good luck and let us know how the move goes.

Grego43 Nov 3, 2006 7:36 PM

Good advice, Marcu.

Andersonville & Ravenswoood good as well. I lived in Ravenswood for 4 years in the mid 1990s, on Hermitage Ave. I was 2 blocks from the Montrose "L" station on the Brown line. Beautiful tree lined streets, well-kept multi-unit buildings with plenty of on street parking, lots of young people with kids. Walk to about a 20min walk to Wrigley Field, 20 minutes to the Loop via the Brown Line.

Good Luck! I wish I was your age starting out in Chicago all over again...its was a FANTASTIC life experience for me. When I can finally leave South Florida, I'm heading back to Chicago...until then, I have to be satisfied by a few visits every year.

forumly_chgoman Nov 3, 2006 8:02 PM

I would add edgewater and RP to the can get quite nice apts for 800 or so a month esp in RP, now some will tell you oh RP....sorry RP = Rogers Park, some will tell RP is dangerous......this is actually a rather big myth, most of RP is quite nice there are a few dicey areas, but even these are generally improving.

RP has the advantage of great Redline access....the Redline is the "main" branch of the CHi the redline runs north / south much of the length of the city....its is the L stop at wrigley and has several subway stops DT (downtown).

For 800 you can probably find yourself a nice 2bd, parking might be a little harder.....unless you find a building that has a garage.......look at 2 or 3 flats in particuliar, up to 6 flats is my general rule of thumb. In general stay away form larger tenement style building at least in RP.

Also RP has great Metra access...Metra is the heavy rail transport system in Chicago....I use it quite a bit to get to the Loop. Usinf metra it generally takes me about 25 - 30 min to the Loop door to door

I live in RP and was actually raised in RP, though I have lived elswhere in the city. The closer to Loyola U. that you are the more people your age there will be. RP isn't really a hot-bed on 20-somethings but there actually is a strong underground youth culture here.

Other areas like Lakeview (Wrigleyville --- I hate that term) will gemrally be more expensive. Wickerpark/ Bucktown you probably can still find some bargains but its getting tough -- andf these area have some real dicey areas as well, though just as RP most of it is quite nice.

LOgan square.....a little firther away might be a possibilty for you.

On the south-side, Pilsen if you don't mind living in a neighborhood that might seem quite "ethnic" -- at least for someone originally from Iowa ( I don't mean any offense by that). There are also areas west of the loop and south of the loop that might interest you.......however in general the transport coverage is not quite as good as mnay of the northside hoods

VivaLFuego Nov 3, 2006 8:35 PM

Ravenswood is a good suggestion; by Metra its only 13 minutes to downtown (on the brown line, it's anybody's guess these days).

Since Safety is #1, I would DEFINITELY NOT look at Rogers Park, Logan Square, or Pilsen. These are all areas where either myself or people I know have been mugged, assaulted, etc. RP has some niec areas to be sure, but the "bad blocks" are interspersed and especially for new transplants and someone who places safety as #1 I would just avoid it.

My recommendations, in addition to Ravenswood (Ravenswood is a big neighborhood that includes Andersonville and Lincoln Square, both lovely):
- check out Ukrainian Village, which is about as nice as Wicker Park but much cheaper (not quite as close to the train, though).
- Lakeview. A very large but very cool area, mostly people aged 20-40, and I'm positive you can find something you like in your price range. transit service is plentiful, very ped-friendly neighborhood, tons of retail/restaurants/nightlife/shopping, easy access to the lakefront. The area by the lake is about as "urban" as it gets, population densities mostly around 30,000 ppsm, and in some areas over 60,000! Actually, Lakeview would be my top recommendation to you.

You might surprised at the deals you can find in the "expensive" areas though, if you look hard enough and aren't too picky about the amenities of the apartment. Don't completely overlook Wicker Park, Old Town or Lincoln Park.

Great to hear you're moving here, I'm sure you'll love it. I've spent my whole life here and I'm always finding something new to fascinate me (and I have a pretty short attention span)

Attrill Nov 3, 2006 9:11 PM

I would definitely second the suggestions of Logan Square and Lincoln Square - both affordable and easy around from using the Blue or Brown lines. I haven't lived in Pilsen for 10 years or so, but I think it is a great area as well.

To look at crime rates in specific neighborhoods you can look at a couple sites:
They both have maps so you can see reported crimes around any apartment you're looking at. Safety is best judged on a block by block basis in any part of the city.

Wheelingman04 Nov 4, 2006 5:23 AM

He may also be interested in the near west side. UIC and Little Italy area? Can you local Chicago people tell him about the near west side?

brian_b Nov 4, 2006 5:37 AM

Near west side is nice, though I only live at about 600 west. Access to downtown is great (given that it is downtown).

I'd say that Lakeview is a great area, especially if you can find a place cheap enough east of Halsted and south of Addison. The access to transportation downtown, Lake Michigan, and Lincoln Park make this my favorite section of the city. It seemed extremely safe when I lived there. The only problem is finding an apartment with the right mix of size, condition, and price. It's no surprise that tiny apartments cost as much as they do!

jcchii Nov 4, 2006 2:29 PM

I was going to say roscoe village too.
I hadn't thought about little italy. that area is up and coming.
I don't know what prices are like. most of the new construction there looks like two-flats and condos

Chicago311 Nov 4, 2006 4:54 PM

Congrats on your decision to move to Chicago. I grew up in, among other places, Kansas City and I have been living in Chicago for almost 6 years now. I've lived in two different parts of Lakeview and in Lincoln Park. I agree with the poster who said you should look at Lakeview first. Here's the reasons:

Aside from Lincoln Park, Lakeview is probably the "safest" neighborhood in Chicago. That's not to say that it's perfectly safe. It's also not to say that there aren't other relatively safe neighborhoods. But Lakeview and Lincoln Park are the most gentrified parts of Chicago right now. As a result, they tend to be the safest as well. Lot's of neighborhoods are pretty safe, but I think those two are the safest.

Generally speaking, Lakeview has more to do within walking distance than any other neighborhood in Chicago. Again, there are lot's of great neighborhoods that are very pedestrian friendly, but I think Lakeview is the best neighborhood if you want to be able to walk places -- even better than Lincoln Park.

Although Lakeview is more expensive than most other neighborhoods, you will be able to find a decent 1-bedroom apt. for $800 per month. Just remember that apartments here are different than in K.C. You don't get as much for you money -- especially when it comes to "luxuries" like big bathrooms, closets, and new appliances. You also will get a little less for your money than in some othe neighborhoods, like Roscoe Village, Uptown, Andersonville, etc.

Here's the thing. There are lot's of neighborhoods that would be great to live in. But for someone who is new to Chicago, who will be learning about the city, and who isn't familiar with their surroundings, I think your best bets are Lincoln Park and Lakeview. Lincoln Park is more expensive and the benefits of living there aren't much different than Lakeview. It's just a little closer to downtown. Yes, LP and Lakeview have a lot of yuppies. And yes, they are seen by some as being pretentious and snobbish. But until you become more familiar with the city, you will probably feel safer and more secure if you live in one of the two neighborhoods. You will also be close to the El, to buses, and to a ton of bars, restaurants, and shops. After you've been here a while, if you want to try a different neighborhood, you'll have some experience under your belt and you can move.

Do a google search for "chicago neighborhood map". You should be able to find a good one that shows all the different neighborhoods.

Just my two cents.

UrbanSophist Nov 5, 2006 4:59 AM

I agree. For a person who is new to the city, and wants to be in a super safe neighborhood, Lincoln Park, Lakeview both make a lot of sense. And Lincoln Park has the park as well. I think it would be a more fun Chicago experience as well, with more to do in the immediate area. If I was moving to Chicago for the first time, I would like to live in Lincoln Park.

That being said, you'll eventually learn the city and find lots of great neighborhoods and get a better idea of which part of Chicago best suits your wants and needs.

Marvel 33 Nov 5, 2006 5:28 AM

I'm not sure if you could find an $800 apartment in Lincoln Park or even in Lakeview. Maybe for a vintage gardern studio-apartment in an older building but not a one bedroom.
In that price range I would probably go with Ravenswood, Edgewater, Rogers Park, Ukranian Village, Logan Square, Lincoln Square, some parts of Wicker Park and Roscoe Village. Of these neirbohoods my first choice would probably be Lincoln Square - wonderful neighborhood, active night life, a great variety of restaurants, safe, close to public transportation (brown line).
If you could spend little bit more ($1,000 - $1,200) then I would look in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town or Bucktown.
Good luck!

asher519 Nov 5, 2006 9:25 PM

I'm sure something could be found in Lakeview--at least on the edges of Lakeview--for $800. Though I left Chicago about seven years ago, I remember finding cute, little one-bedrooms in the $700-$900 range. Admitedly, rents have risen, but one must at least look.

I agree with Chicago311's view that Lakeview is the perfect "starter" neighborhood. In regards to safety, however, keep in mind that as you familiarize yourself with the city, it will become less of a concern for you. You'll begin to sense when an area's not-so-great and figure out what are the best streets to walk late at night. Also, living in a dense, bustling neighborhood like Lakeview lends itself to a feeling of security. It may also be of interest to know that Chicago actually has a lower crime rate than Kansas City (except in robbery). Like anyplace, it's more about knowing what areas to avoid than trying to find a place that's safe.

asher519 Nov 5, 2006 9:27 PM

In addition...

I love Chicago and miss it dearly at times. Congratulations on your decision to move to this amazing place!!

CGP124 Nov 5, 2006 10:49 PM

You can find 2 bedrooms for 1000 in LP, there were 2 or them on burling that I looked at before I moved into my place. And that was only like 2 months ago. Try craigslist too, sometimes it's a real run-around, but if you find one place that is a deal, then it's all worth it.

brian_b Nov 6, 2006 2:12 AM

I lived at the corner of Sheridan and Wellington in Lakeview 2 years ago in a large 1925 building. I had a smaller studio (650 sq ft) and paid $825 a month. However, I got to watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan every morning from a corner apartment with lots of light.

If you are just fine with no view, it gets cheaper.

Here are a few listings in locations I would recommend:
Great location, only a block from the Red and Brown line El stop

Fantastic location, a quiet street in the best section of Lakeview. You will love the access to the lake and the park. A block east and you have busses downtown, a half mile west and you have the train to downtown

A friend of mine lives in this building and he really likes it. The bedroom is actually a loft over the living area. The location is very good as well. Across the street from the Briar St theatre (Blue Man Group)

Another quiet street in the best section of Lakeview. I don't like the apartment finding services, but they may be worth it for someone new to the city

brian_b Nov 6, 2006 2:40 AM

One last thing...

There are a good number of condos in the South Loop that were purchased by investors. Now that the market has slowed, they are finding it more difficult to sell for the type of profit they wanted and are now offering the units for rent, usually listed on the MLS with an agent (so they aren't as easy to find on the Reader or Craigslist). I really like the South Loop area south of Roosevelt and east of State. I'm seeing a lot of 1BR units in the $1100-$1400 range. These are brand-new (and most have never been lived in) condo-quality units that would sell for $275,000-$350,000. If you can stretch that far, send me a PM when you are closer to moving here and I can give you a listing of what's available.

chicubs111 Nov 6, 2006 4:05 AM

Would it be safe to assume that the north side of chicago is very safe..Parts of the west side are safe and some are bad (more like 50/50 good to bad)...the south side overall is dangerous (I know there are pockets of good neighborhoods but im just saying overall). I really hope the day comes when you can walk pretty much any street in chicago without any fear or hesitaion of you getting mugged or something like that.

Ryan81 Nov 6, 2006 6:10 PM

Keep em' coming
I just wanted to periodically thank anyone who is taking the time to reply to this post. I think it will prove to be very helpful when the time comes to make a decision. My internet connection at home was down over the weekend, so I was not able to check to see if anyone had replied. I am very suprised at the amount of comments that have been made thus far.

Thanks again, and continue to post anything additional that you might think of.


Ryan81 Nov 6, 2006 7:07 PM

Does anyone live near any of the colleges? That seems like it would be an ok place to live

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