Author Topic: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?  (Read 1015 times)

mindshift88

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Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« on: January 03, 2020, 11:27:09 AM »
I recently got a promotion and need to move my family to Chicago from a very small town in Western Maryland. I'll be working in the loop and am looking at potential places to rent. We have 2 girls and a boy, ages 10, 8 and 4. My younger daughter has mild autism, previously Asperger's. We also have a small dog. We've been looking at suburbs on the North and West with good schools such as Naperville, Barrington, Mount Prospect, & Arlington Heights but I've been finding the rent to average around $1800-2200+ for a 3-4 bedroom place and am struggling to find something a bit cheaper than that.

Would like to keep my car for costco or Sam's trips if possible, but our main priorities are:
1)a decent school (public, small class size, daughter with mild autism would do well)
2) reasonable commute to downtown Chicago
3) safe walk-able location close to grocery store

Total pre-tax salary is $80k. About $7500 in high-interest credit card debt I'm working to pay off, no other debt. Credit score around 650 due to 96% CC utilization and a bankruptcy from around 5 years ago. No late payments. We don't have a rough budget proposed as we're moving from roughly half the salary in a low cost rural area.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

GizmoTX

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2020, 12:07:12 PM »
Avoid Chicago schools & city taxes. However, you'll need a car in the suburbs for shopping.

Check out Libertyville. Great schools, delightful small town vibe, & a train station to the Loop.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2020, 12:29:13 PM »
I feel for you.  I live alone in the city, have been looking to make a change, and gheez, it's gotten expensive here.  In general, it feels like there's really high rental demand.

That said, your pooch and credit are adding to your challenge.  Of course, the pup is part of your family (most places allow pets, but many charge a monthly fee for a dog).  I would seriously look into trying to "hack" your credit score higher to around 700.  This would increase the number of units you would "qualify" for.

For what it's worth, I have heard in general, the South suburbs are cheaper (than say Barrington or Naperville..), but don't know enough about them to recommend any particular one(s).

slappy

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2020, 01:33:30 PM »
Can you stick with a three bedroom, at least for now? Once you have been in the area awhile, increased your salary/credit score, you can start looking at places in other neighborhoods that are "better". You list of wants seems out of reach for all the restrictions you have on you.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2020, 01:50:25 PM »
I live in Northwest Indiana and work in the loop, but most of my coworkers live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The train commute from the Portage, IN / Chesterton, IN stations is about the same as going to Barrington stop (a bit over an hour in both cases). Parking tends to be an issue at the Barrington stop and you might have problem getting a parking pass if you live outside the town. Parking is free and plentiful at most of the Indiana stops. Barrington, IL schools certainly do rank better than the ones near Chesterton and Portage, IN, but that's probably more a reflection of student body (and their parents) than quality of education.

Unfortunately, neither Portage nor Chesterton is particularly walkable, and unlike Barrington the train stations are not located in the center of town.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 02:00:07 PM by YttriumNitrate »

Sibley

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2020, 09:31:40 PM »
I also live in Northwest Indiana. I have coworkers literally everywhere. It's all expensive, just degrees. Buying in Indiana is much more affordable, but I don't know what the rental market is like at all.

Chicago public schools seem to be all over the map quality wise. In Indiana, some districts are good, many are terrible. Even some of the "good" schools I hear complaints about and don't know enough to fairly judge. Naperville schools are good, but the commute there is longer and it's expensive.

For a sweet spot, maybe try looking at Willowbrook/Darien/Downers Grove/Clardenden Hills area. They're west, not as far out as Naperville though. I have no idea about schools though, sorry. There's several Metra stops in that area, the BNSF line is one of the busiest of the Metra lines, goes into Union Station. I used to take it.

mspym

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2020, 11:43:02 PM »
My husband is from the Chicago area, possibilities as follows:
- Oak Park - the public schools are great and you can commute no issues, really walkable, an accepting and inviting community.
- Forest Park is "cheaper, not as nice but not horrible"
- Berwyn could be okay
- Le Grange "could work as well"
- Riverside was the first planned suburb and is really lovely.
- See what you could find in Evanston - it's a neat little town also right next door, you could try Skokie. Plus this is the next L-line that's going to be redone so the trains will become a lot nicer, we had no issues

Indio

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2020, 07:56:19 AM »
Not sure about schools, but have you loked at the Itasca, Schaumburg area? It's a little cheaper than Naperville with similar train commute. 

frugaliknowit

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2020, 08:48:33 AM »
I live in Northwest Indiana and work in the loop, but most of my coworkers live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The train commute from the Portage, IN / Chesterton, IN stations is about the same as going to Barrington stop (a bit over an hour in both cases). Parking tends to be an issue at the Barrington stop and you might have problem getting a parking pass if you live outside the town. Parking is free and plentiful at most of the Indiana stops. Barrington, IL schools certainly do rank better than the ones near Chesterton and Portage, IN, but that's probably more a reflection of student body (and their parents) than quality of education.

Caution about Indiana:  The Southshore line in general has pretty spotty service (I hear), plus keep in mind the station is on/near Michigan Ave which is very far East.  If you are working say near the Willis Tower (west part of loop), it is quite a long walk, which, while it might be healthy, might make your commute time longer than you think, adding to the temptation to take cabs/Ubers during bad weather, adding to your expenses.
Unfortunately, neither Portage nor Chesterton is particularly walkable, and unlike Barrington the train stations are not located in the center of town.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2020, 09:23:32 AM »
Caution about Indiana:  The Southshore line in general has pretty spotty service (I hear), plus keep in mind the station is on/near Michigan Ave which is very far East.  If you are working say near the Willis Tower (west part of loop), it is quite a long walk, which, while it might be healthy, might make your commute time longer than you think, adding to the temptation to take cabs/Ubers during bad weather, adding to your expenses.

I've heard other people complaining about the reliability of the South Shore, but in my experience the South Shore is at least as reliable as the trains to the northwest suburbs that my co-workers take (possibly more so). The South shore is electric, so maybe 2-3 times a year there will be issues with ice on the overhead wires. While the South Shore is more susceptible in that regards, it has fewer at grade crossings compared to many of the metra trains so there are fewer delays due to car crashes and suicides.

While the South Shore's stations are about as far east of the loop as OTC / Union are to the west, it does have some advantages in that it has two stops by the loop (Van Buren & Millennium) and the pedway can get you from almost across the width of the loop from Millennium station to City Hall without ever going above ground.

GoCubsGo

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2020, 09:51:13 AM »
The suburbs you mentioned may make it tough to find something under $2k a month.  Good schools definitely dictate rent price as the taxes tend to be much higher in top school district cities. As a landlord in the western suburbs, it might make it tough with that credit score, income and a pet and you may have to settle for less than you expected . Naperville is like 3 different cities depending on what part you are in (there are areas in Naperville that are a 15 minute drive just to get to the train to Chicago).  The most expensive is the area by the Metra train and also has the best rated schools (not a coincidence). Naperville is consistently ranked as a top place to live.  A walk to train location will save you money on parking but those tend to go for more per month (do the calculation on what parking fees are vs the extra rent). Given that you are commuting to the loop, the proximity to train will be a huge factor. should you choose the suburbs.  Arlington Heights has a great downtown.  Wheaton is ranked as a top place to live and has incredible schools with a great reputation for special needs.  The rental market in all the areas you described is going to be competitive.

researcher1

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2020, 10:27:10 AM »
I recently got a promotion and need to move my family to Chicago from a very small town in Western Maryland.

Total pre-tax salary is $80k. About $7500 in high-interest credit card debt I'm working to pay off, no other debt. Credit score around 650 due to 96% CC utilization and a bankruptcy from around 5 years ago. No late payments. We don't have a rough budget proposed as we're moving from roughly half the salary in a low cost rural area.
Does your wife work?  If so, what is your total household income?

There is no way I would move to Chicago, with a family of 5, on only $80K/yr.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Family of 5 Moving to Chicago - Where to Live?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2020, 04:09:17 PM »