Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Old Jun 28th 2019, 1:19 pm
  #1  
Forum Regular
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 32
Uktous19 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Hello! Apologies for any duplication in existing threads..

My husband has been offered a chance to relocate with his existing company to their Chicago office early next year and we are currently trying to establish costs and feasibility.
His office will be on N Canal St and he would want to commute in by train and be able to walk/cycle to the station at the home end - we will be looking to rent a minimum 3 bed house near a good elementary school for our 2 daughters (aged 6 and 7).

We are in a chicken and egg situation trying to work out rental costs and therefore negotiate his package. My issue is that I'm looking at North Shore suburbs as think that if we are going to Chicago we should be close to the lake. Is this completely naive? Do people go to beaches/walk dogs by the water that much? If we lived in these suburbs would be able to walk there? I am driving myself insane..! Essentially I want to know if I've become unreasonably fixated on the Northern suburbs and should consider the western areas such as Downers Grove which is where a lot of his Chicago colleagues seem to recommend.

Thank you if you have read this far and any help gratefully received!
Uktous19 is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 1:47 pm
  #2  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Hello! Apologies for any duplication in existing threads..

My husband has been offered a chance to relocate with his existing company to their Chicago office early next year and we are currently trying to establish costs and feasibility.
His office will be on N Canal St and he would want to commute in by train and be able to walk/cycle to the station at the home end - we will be looking to rent a minimum 3 bed house near a good elementary school for our 2 daughters (aged 6 and 7).

We are in a chicken and egg situation trying to work out rental costs and therefore negotiate his package. My issue is that I'm looking at North Shore suburbs as think that if we are going to Chicago we should be close to the lake. Is this completely naive? Do people go to beaches/walk dogs by the water that much? If we lived in these suburbs would be able to walk there? I am driving myself insane..! Essentially I want to know if I've become unreasonably fixated on the Northern suburbs and should consider the western areas such as Downers Grove which is where a lot of his Chicago colleagues seem to recommend.

Thank you if you have read this far and any help gratefully received!
I'm in Chicago, and can tell you that people definitely do go to the lake, beaches etc. A lot will depend on how much you want to spend on renting - the further west you go, rents will be less. If you like an "older" (by US standards) area then Evanston to the north or Oak Park to the (near) west of the city both fit the bill, but you will pay rent accordingly and renting whole houses will be quite expensive (unless you are used to paying London prices in which case it will seem absurdly cheap!). Evanston and Oak Park both have decent school systems, but Oak Park is miles from the lake. A little further north Wilmette, Northfield etc also have a decent school system. You can walk to the lake fom some parts of Wilmette, likewise Evanston. Anything west of the city is miles away and you won't be walking to the lake at all. There are other places to walk - look for "forest preserves" which are open parklike areas and some wooded areas with paths in them.

Look at this map - anything stuck right up against the shore is walkable, otherwise probably not. When you look at the map, bear in mind for example that, right by the lake, from the line between the Rogers Park neighbourhood and Evanston to where it says "Chicago" just above "Printers Row" in the city it is about 13 or 14 miles. So you can see the scale accordingly.

https://chicagomap.zolk.com/

To live within walking distance of transport to downtown Chicago, look at the RTA and CTA maps to see where the train lines run. He won't be bicycling anywhere much in winter either - far too cold, too icy, too snowy, and too dangerous. So it all depends how far he is prepared to walk and buying good winter gear for it. CTA is the "El" (trains like London underground) and RTA (Metra and others) are bigger and more suburban.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 1:57 pm
  #3  
Forum Regular
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 32
Uktous19 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Thank you so much for responding quickly. I just need to be pragmatic and do a side by side comparison of e.g. Evanston & Oak Park and see what the difference in rent is as that may well make my decision for me. I blame too much time watching Chicago based TV programmes where characters are always next to the water - I need to get my head around there being other things to do/that define the city. I've seen Northern suburbs such as Lake Bluff mentioned but need to look into commute time as well as, presumably eye watering, rental costs.

If anyone knows of a relocation agent/realtor that could help us get our head around this move (UK/US company have never moved a family before so it's more complicated with school districts etc) then please say..!

Thanks again
Uktous19 is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 2:06 pm
  #4  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Thank you so much for responding quickly. I just need to be pragmatic and do a side by side comparison of e.g. Evanston & Oak Park and see what the difference in rent is as that may well make my decision for me. I blame too much time watching Chicago based TV programmes where characters are always next to the water - I need to get my head around there being other things to do/that define the city. I've seen Northern suburbs such as Lake Bluff mentioned but need to look into commute time as well as, presumably eye watering, rental costs.

If anyone knows of a relocation agent/realtor that could help us get our head around this move (UK/US company have never moved a family before so it's more complicated with school districts etc) then please say..!

Thanks again
Metra train times are pretty fast, so if you are near one of their stations the commute isn't bad. Look up the monthly pass ticket rates to see what you would be paying, not the daily single-ticket rate.

Oak Park is considered a desirable spot to live so won't be much, if any, cheaper than Evanston I don't think. Evanston and Oak Park are both mixed income communities,so where you see housing prices vary by street or area, that is what is going on. Once you are out in the far suburds, housing prices will drop.

I don't know about agents, sorry, but somebody else probably does.

Last edited by Lion in Winter; Jun 28th 2019 at 2:08 pm.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 2:11 pm
  #5  
Forum Regular
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 32
Uktous19 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Thank you again.

I'm making the assumption from what I've read that if your rental house falls into a public school district then that is where your children go. If this isn't the case, please someone tell me!
Uktous19 is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 2:13 pm
  #6  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Thank you again.

I'm making the assumption from what I've read that if your rental house falls into a public school district then that is where your children go. If this isn't the case, please someone tell me!
That is the case. There are a very few "discretionary transfers" but otherwise, not only your district but your school is specified. For example, Evanston elementary school district has several schools in it and which of those schools your child goes to is strictly determined by geography.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 2:16 pm
  #7  
Forum Regular
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 32
Uktous19 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Thank you - you've been incredibly helpful. Obviously we need to do a trip to scope out neighbourhoods but we at least need a shortlist before we come.
Uktous19 is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 2:20 pm
  #8  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Thank you - you've been incredibly helpful. Obviously we need to do a trip to scope out neighbourhoods but we at least need a shortlist before we come.

If you can do a trip, that's perfect. Rent a car. Navigating the Chicago suburbs without one is impossible. Which is another thing to remember in terms of where you live. The further out suburbs are very unlikely to leave you within walking distance of shops.

Last edited by Lion in Winter; Jun 28th 2019 at 2:22 pm.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 6:19 pm
  #9  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 888
Maste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Evanston is a fantastic area to live, the brother in law lives their and we visit often. Lot of nice places there. Not sure how to get into downtown from there, but I'm sure there's a Pacific line nearby. If you don't mind a 20-30 min train ride into downtown Chicago, areas such as Des Plaines and Park Ridge are worth checking out. Park Ridge especially has very good schools, that is where my wife grew up and lived. You can catch a train into downtown easily, and cycle/walk the rest of the way as it goes to Ogilvie Station, which is right on N Canal St! Trains are frequent on the Pacific Northwest line, which is the like Park Ridge and Des Plaines are on.

In fact, I would check out the Pacific train lines and see which areas you could live in that would get you into Ogilvie Station, and right onto N Canal St.
Maste is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 6:32 pm
  #10  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Maste View Post
Evanston is a fantastic area to live, the brother in law lives their and we visit often. Lot of nice places there. Not sure how to get into downtown from there, but I'm sure there's a Pacific line nearby. If you don't mind a 20-30 min train ride into downtown Chicago, areas such as Des Plaines and Park Ridge are worth checking out. Park Ridge especially has very good schools, that is where my wife grew up and lived. You can catch a train into downtown easily, and cycle/walk the rest of the way as it goes to Ogilvie Station, which is right on N Canal St! Trains are frequent on the Pacific Northwest line, which is the like Park Ridge and Des Plaines are on.

In fact, I would check out the Pacific train lines and see which areas you could live in that would get you into Ogilvie Station, and right onto N Canal St.
Metra, not Pacific

And yes, Metra from Evanston into Ogilvie is only about 20 mins.

You can also get the El, which has an express line during rush hour so not as fast as Metra but much faster than the non-express trains.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 6:53 pm
  #11  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 888
Maste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Lion in Winter View Post
Metra, not Pacific

And yes, Metra from Evanston into Ogilvie is only about 20 mins.

You can also get the El, which has an express line during rush hour so not as fast as Metra but much faster than the non-express trains.
My bad! Got the trains names confused, been a while since I used the Metra in Chicago! But yes, they should check out the Metra, anything 20-30mins is a good train commute, and could potentially save a lot of money on rent.
Maste is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 8:10 pm
  #12  
Forum Regular
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 32
Uktous19 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Thanks again - I will follow your advice and look at rent along this trainline.

I need to make a list of all the other monthly costs so utilities, phone, groceries etc - I realise this is a how long is a piece if string but if anyone could point me in the right direction of what we would need to budget for/cost of living reckoner, I would really appreciate it.

I essentially need to work out how much money one person needs to earn to cover a family of 4 (plus dog!) outgoings if living in, e.g. Evanston and commuting into Ogilvie every day. I wish we were in a situation where my husband had been offered a fortune to work in chicago but we need to make sure what he has been offered won't leave us worse off.

Thanks for reading if you have got this far - I need a drink!
Uktous19 is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 8:28 pm
  #13  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Thanks again - I will follow your advice and look at rent along this trainline.

I need to make a list of all the other monthly costs so utilities, phone, groceries etc - I realise this is a how long is a piece if string but if anyone could point me in the right direction of what we would need to budget for/cost of living reckoner, I would really appreciate it.

I essentially need to work out how much money one person needs to earn to cover a family of 4 (plus dog!) outgoings if living in, e.g. Evanston and commuting into Ogilvie every day. I wish we were in a situation where my husband had been offered a fortune to work in chicago but we need to make sure what he has been offered won't leave us worse off.

Thanks for reading if you have got this far - I need a drink!
You can get drink here, so that's covered.

Expect to spend at least as much on food and other groceries as you do in the UK, and in all liklihood more if you live somewhere like Evanston. I find UK supermarket prices compare very favourably.

Check on how your house is heated/cooled. Unless you are brave you will almost certainly need a/c to survive the summer in any comfort. Budget electricity costs on that basis.

If you aren't working you won't have to worry about childcare costs, which are astronomical, so that's good.

Factor in a car, and if you are buying remember that used cars cost a lot more here than in the UK. Petrol is much cheaper, but engines are much less economical in terms of how much they use.

Check your broadband/internet/cable cost - I think it's higher than the UK but not sure. No tv license though. See if you can bundle with your mobile phones.

Last edited by Lion in Winter; Jun 28th 2019 at 8:33 pm.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 28th 2019, 8:39 pm
  #14  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: East Seaxe
Posts: 68,247
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Thanks again - I will follow your advice and look at rent along this trainline.

I need to make a list of all the other monthly costs so utilities, phone, groceries etc - I realise this is a how long is a piece if string but if anyone could point me in the right direction of what we would need to budget for/cost of living reckoner, I would really appreciate it.

I essentially need to work out how much money one person needs to earn to cover a family of 4 (plus dog!) outgoings if living in, e.g. Evanston and commuting into Ogilvie every day. I wish we were in a situation where my husband had been offered a fortune to work in chicago but we need to make sure what he has been offered won't leave us worse off.

Thanks for reading if you have got this far - I need a drink!

Here is the Metra map. Some lines are much more reliable than others. In general, the BNSF and lines going south are the worst. North and Northwest lines are pretty good.


Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Jun 29th 2019, 3:24 am
  #15  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 888
Maste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond reputeMaste has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Advice on Chicago suburbs please

Originally Posted by Uktous19 View Post
Thanks again - I will follow your advice and look at rent along this trainline.

I need to make a list of all the other monthly costs so utilities, phone, groceries etc - I realise this is a how long is a piece if string but if anyone could point me in the right direction of what we would need to budget for/cost of living reckoner, I would really appreciate it.

I essentially need to work out how much money one person needs to earn to cover a family of 4 (plus dog!) outgoings if living in, e.g. Evanston and commuting into Ogilvie every day. I wish we were in a situation where my husband had been offered a fortune to work in chicago but we need to make sure what he has been offered won't leave us worse off.

Thanks for reading if you have got this far - I need a drink!
My in-laws moved from Park Ridge to Des Plaines, and honestly the groceries there are insanely cheap. We always fill up a cooler of meat to bring back to st louis with us when we visit them because it's at LEAST half the price of what we pay here.

If you have a dog, I highly recommend the Des Plaines/Park Ridge areas, there's some pretty cool 'hiking dog parks' where you can go hiking with your dog, but the whole trail is fenced in so you can let your dog off leash without a worry. We have done this with our dog and she loved it. Also is the trail which runs all the way up into Wisconsin. I can't remember the name of the trail, maybe LIW knows it!
Maste is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2022 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.