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Child/family friendly Chicago neighbourhoods?

Travel Forums North America Child/family friendly Chicago neighbourhoods?

1. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 10y

Not exactly a travel question, but a good friend of mine will soon be moving to Chicago with her two children, and is having a hard time finding information on which neighbourhoods (ideally close to the city center (or the el/metra) so she won't have an hour long commute) would be suitable for young children / have good schools / be affordable / etc, especially since any information seems to be getting outdated by the week.
I realize that's a lot to ask, and that good schools / close to the center won't go very well together with being affordable, but perhaps some locals could offer some advice anyway? It'd be much appreciated.

2. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

What type of accommodations is your friend considering - a house or an apartment? There are several good neighborhoods that do have good schools and are not too far from downtown. Also, is she willing to use public transportation, such as the elevated train/subway to get around?

I can vouch for the El/subway. I loved using it when I still lived in Chicago. It got me where I wanted to go in a timely manner and the monthly passes were a money-saver.

Beerman and I will look into some possible areas. What is her timetable - aprroximately?

Here is a great source for housing, etc. - it's the most widely distributed newpaper in Chicago and it's free. It has the largest listing of housing, jobs, etc. and is a staple for anyone in your friend's situation.

The Chicago Reader

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 10y

Quoting Isadora

What type of accommodations is your friend considering - a house or an apartment?

I don't know. She's currently renting a house, but got the feeling she's okay with just an appartment.

Also, is she willing to use public transportation, such as the elevated train/subway to get around?

Yes, she is. (Seemed to prefer it even if possible, given that it'd mean not standing stuck in traffic each day.) :)

Beerman and I will look into some possible areas. What is her timetable - aprroximately?

She hopes to be moving next month somewhere. And thanks very much; this month it'll be me shipping a few truckloads of chocolate to you. :)

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 10y

Hey Isa - the friend wants to go drive through Chicago on Saturday to sightsee through those neighbourhoods she's found so far; if you could let me know such recommendations as you'd have by that point, that'd be swell. :)

5. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

Hey Sander!

We will be spending Thursday and part of Friday in Chicago (with family and friends). It will give us a chance to talk with them about the cheapest, yet most acceptable areas around the city for your friend to "check out". We will post again Friday afternoon, US time. Since it sounds like your friend is already here in the States, I hope that will be a workable timetable for her... Sorry - we didn't realize she was going to be able to "drive around" and thought we had a day or two more to gather info...

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 10y

Ah, yes, on this forum I probably should've mentioned that she's already living in the US. *g* Definitely don't want to seem to be pressing, just thought I'd mention this in advance, so that she could take advantage of such information as you'd have gathered by that time. And thanks again! :)

7. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

We'll do our best today!!!!!! Thanks for the update!!!

8. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

Okay - we have returned from our city visit and this is what we have found...

The first thing, finding housing is really going to be based on how much your friend has to spend/month. Beccause we did not have that info, we found that most rents for housing in the non-suburbian areas of the city are running about $1000/month for 2-3 bedroom apartments. So, with that - it will be to your friend's advantage to talk with some of these agencies for housing help. They are free house/apartment locators. That is, the owner of the building pays them, not your friend.

These locator services are designed to not only help find housing, but also know the schools in their areas and how close things are to public transportation. They are well worth the trouble of speaking with them.

Chicago Apartment Finders
Apartment People
Relocation Central

There are so many apartments in so many (good) neighborhoods in so many price ranges, that the help of professional locators is well warranted. Most of the properties for rent are now handled through these types of agencies because it makes renter selection easier for both the owner and the renter. Above all, she needs to get a driving map of Chicago. The locators should also have maps for her. Just stopping in at one of the offices and talking for a few minutes will be very effective.

Some areas to ask about are:

Ravenswood
Wicker Park
Rogers Park
Logan Square
Ukranian Village
Buck Town
Areas around the University of Illinois - just west of the Loop
Andersonville

The biggest problem in the past few years - good but cheap neighborhoods are becoming gentrified. Those with disposable income are moving in, rehabbing and then jacking up the prices. Also, whole neighborhoods have been demolished to put up condos and townhouses - but not reasonably priced.

I hope some of this info helps. The consensus of opinion of family and friends - use a locator and ask about schools and transportation. They (the family) all live downtown, but have been in the same building for many years. If your friend has about $500,000 in spare change burning a hole in her pocket, she can buy the townhouse next door to our friend. It's for sale, four stories and not close to much public transportation...

Let us know how she gets along. We'll help when we can. ;)

9. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 10y

Thanks Isa, much appreciated! I've forwarded it to my friend. I don't know what exact information she'd already found on her own, but I dare say at least some of that should be useful to her. :)

The chocolate is on its way. *g*