Author Topic: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)  (Read 9932 times)

MayDay

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University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« on: February 12, 2015, 08:52:47 AM »
Nice place to live?

Ok, I know it probably isn't- seems very poor based on demographics, so I am assuming bad schools, crime etc. I would love to be wrong.

So the real question is how far away to find above average public schools, walkable, bikeable, hippies, organic food, etc.  While not costing a fortune for housing and as short a commute as possible.  All I know about Chicago is Traffic and $$$$ Houses so please educate me!

bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2015, 10:45:45 AM »
Eh, certain neighborhoods are probably better than others. Probably depends on what you're comparing. University Park is like heaven compared to Ford Heights and certain parts of Chicago Heights.

Most of that area has been on a downward swing for the last 10-20 years. Sauk Village is pretty much the 'hood these days. Steger isn't much better. You know you're in trouble when you start having drive-bys.

Frankfort is nice on the other side of I57 but most parts aren't that walkable.

Where will you be working? Where are you living now? Income? Max Commute distance?

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2015, 10:52:57 AM »
I will find out exactly where.

H will make 100-120k, I may pull in another 70-80 (I've been a sahm and may go back).  We want to budget based on me not working in case that is a flop.  Good commute would be less than 15 minutes, definitely needs to be less than 30 minutes. Good public schools are a priority as we have a special needs child who needs services through school.

bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2015, 10:58:31 AM »
Manhattan/Frankfort/New Lenox are all nice areas. Look into the downtown areas for walkable/bikeable stuff. Commutes to University Park would be by car thought unless you're a hardcore bike commuter. Those areas also have good schools from what I've been told.

If you're not coming from a high COL area, property taxes will probably make you choke. Make sure you factor that in when you're looking. I know people whose property taxes are as much as their principle/interest on a 30 year mortgage.

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2015, 11:23:17 AM »
Location of H's office would be right near Governors State University. I might work north of there in Chicago heights, or it could be at H's location.

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2015, 11:29:35 AM »
We currently have a 230k house with 4k annual property taxes. That already seems insane. We are happy to rent if that makes more sense. We currently pay 1600$ a month in payment, taxes, and insurance.

We are not hardcore bikers but we like to bike to parks, shopping, kids activities, etc. Kid friendly biking! Kids are 7 and almost 5.

I'm not willing to count on getting into special charter or magnet schools, I want solid neighborhood schools.


bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2015, 11:45:11 AM »
Hah. Well, welcome to insanity. I have a 1000 sq. ft. house valued at 160k and my property taxes are $4300. Be ready for a 200-300k house to have $6-10k property taxes depending on where you live. Better school district/town, higher taxes.

I'd use Zillow to get an idea of school rankings and rent vs. own ideas. Renting may not be any cheaper. My plan is to rent my house if/when we decide to move and currently should be worth ~$1500/month rent.

Outside of the city, charter/magnet schools aren't really an issue. The area you live will depend on how well the schools are ranked. Frankfort/New Lenox have good schools from what I've heard, but prop. taxes can be nuts.

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2015, 02:02:52 PM »
So I want to ask more broad question.

Is the greater Chicago area a nice place to live?  Are the costs (of housing, commuting, etc) in line with the value you get?  Do you plan to get the hell out as soon as you retire/the kids graduate/whatever?

I have biases.  I would like to examine them carefully.  My biases are towards Chicago having crime, high prices, loads of traffic, and corruption, with not a lot in the positive column except that geographically it makes sense for us (in between both sets of relatives) and being a big city it's got access to stuff like excellent medical care, and cultural stuff. 

bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2015, 02:44:06 PM »
Depends on your expectations. I got "lucky" that work was sparse during/after the recession and I had to travel for work. It gave me perspective on what it was like to live in other areas. If both of our immediate families didn't live around here, we would get the hell out of Chicagoland. My wife works for the state, otherwise we'd probably move even further.

Population density is high, so traffic sucks no matter which direction you're going. Going downtown sucks no matter what time. If you have to go downtown during late rush, you might feel compelled to eat a bullet. There usually isn't such a thing as against traffic anymore. Outbound traffic looks worse some mornings. "Rush hour" is from 5:30am-10:30am and from 2-7pm. On the plus side, Metra (commuter train) is decent if you work downtown and it works for your schedule. I grew up living 30 miles away from downtown. Morning commute time by car is 1-1.25hrs at early rush (leave 5:30 for 7am start), afternoon leaving downtown @ 3:30 is 1-1.5hrs. Metra added more time due to having to drive 15-20 minutes to the departure station for the correct arrival station.

Chicago has all those things. Corruption is down over the old days, but people complain about it more. Certain towns are crime ridden, but you can say that of most metro areas. Even though the 'burbs are urban sprawl, some of them are cities in their own right. Just being in close proximity to the city does not make them Chicago, even though everyone still claims it. Housing costs are high, but out in the 'burbs most things are reasonably priced. Medical care is supposed to be top notch, but I have no personal experience. It may have cultural stuff, but after working in the city for 5 years, I have no desire to go there unless I have to for work. Friends/Extended family love going downtown, but I see it as a huge money waste to see things that I can see on their FB feed later on. Oh, and no matter where you are, there's always WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE*.

Getting back to your first question: Is the greater Chicago area a great place to live? It can be depending on where you live and what you make of it. My highest earning potential is here, and that's about the bottom line to me. I live frugally, so eventually I can FIRE and leave. It's a nice place to visit but I don't want to live here for the rest of my life.

*For reference, I lived in a farm house in the middle of no where while traveling for work. The only person to ever knock on my door was the landlord and that made me pretty happy. My wife and I are pretty self-reliant, so neither of us would mind not having neighbors.

Sid888

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2015, 06:51:57 AM »
Outside of the city, charter/magnet schools aren't really an issue. The area you live will depend on how well the schools are ranked. Frankfort/New Lenox have good schools from what I've heard, but prop. taxes can be nuts.

Agreed - but be careful, i.e. don't 100% rely on a realtor, check out the school district yourself before purchasing.  In Illinois school districts don't  coincide with municipal boundaries.

Indiana is not too far from University Park, so if Illinois' high property taxes outweigh the benefits of living closer to downtown Chicago (and, in my opinion there are many), you should take a look.

A lot of my friends grew up in Homewood/Flossmoor and they seemed to enjoy it.  There are some beautiful areas in Olympia Fields as well.  Check out the Cook County Forest Preserve (http://fpdcc.com/) map for great outdoor amenities.  Orland Park is a very nice area and Palos Heights and Palos Park are right in the middle of the Preserve but it's expensive and a long commute to University Park.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 06:53:41 AM by Sid888 »

prof61820

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2015, 07:00:35 AM »
We currently have a 230k house with 4k annual property taxes. That already seems insane. We are happy to rent if that makes more sense. We currently pay 1600$ a month in payment, tax

See this discussion on renting versus buying in Illinois.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/real-estate-and-landlording/nimble-or-foolish/msg343770/#msg343770

prof61820

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2015, 07:25:18 AM »
Pay attention to our new Governor's budget address on 2-18.

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150212/BLOGS02/150219917/cant-fix-illinois-finances-without-tax-hikes-civic-federation-says

Can't fix Illinois' budget without tax hikes, Civic Federation says
By Greg Hinz

Just days before Gov. Bruce Rauner unveils a new budget that is expected to include few new revenues, one of the state's leading taxpayer watchdog groups is proposing a sharply different path.

In a new report issued today, Chicago's Civic Federation proposes not massive spending cuts but a range of revenues hikes, including a partial rollback of the income-tax cut that went into effect on Jan. 1; expanding the sales tax base to include services; temporarily eliminating the sales tax exemption for food and non-prescription drugs, and taxing some retirement income...

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2015, 07:31:54 AM »
Well lovely.  You guys ate totally making me want to move there! 

Sounds like the state is a financial clusterfuck some levels below Detroit, but still rather concerning. It confirms my feelings that Chicago would be ok for a few years (renting and raking in a high salary) then time to move on.

tyd450

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2015, 07:49:53 AM »
So I want to ask more broad question.

Is the greater Chicago area a nice place to live?  Are the costs (of housing, commuting, etc) in line with the value you get?  Do you plan to get the hell out as soon as you retire/the kids graduate/whatever?

I have biases.  I would like to examine them carefully.  My biases are towards Chicago having crime, high prices, loads of traffic, and corruption, with not a lot in the positive column except that geographically it makes sense for us (in between both sets of relatives) and being a big city it's got access to stuff like excellent medical care, and cultural stuff.

We live in the Western Suburbs (La Grange).  I work in the city and my wife works a few miles from home.  We are both originally from Central IL and our extended family is still down there for the most part. 

COL is pretty damn high, but we decided it was worth it for now.  We have a 10 year plan that ends with us catching FIRE and moving back downstate to be closer to family and enjoying the lower COL.

We chose a smaller house that was walking distance to the Metra and our cute little downtown area which allowed us to sell a car and become a 1 car family.  Even though our house is "small" at 1400 sqft (not really small at all) our property taxes are still almost $8,000 per year.  The schools here are excellent but I don't see how that figure would be sustainable for us long term.  We have neighbors that pay in the $12-15k range annually for property taxes- insane.

The bottom line is that we choose to suck it up and find other ways to save.  My wife is a teacher but I can't do what I do outside of a large city like Chicago (and make close to the same salary) so we are just choosing to do our best for the next 10 years, enjoy the perks of the big city life while we can, and hopefully cashing out on our house which will allow us to purchase our forever home in central IL outright with cash.

So that is our situation- as for you I think I would really consider Indiana.  I think living/working in the Southern Suburbs will make you guys pretty car dependent so you will be driving whether you live in IL or IN.  I would look at New Lenox, Frankfort and Mokena if I wanted to stay in IL.  Otherwise I would look at Dyer, St. John or Schererville, IN.  I really know nothing about the Indiana towns but I would probably check them out just based on proximity and the overall lower COL from living in IN.

Tabaxus

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2015, 08:08:11 AM »
Long-term, Illinois is in a financial crisis that may be the worst in the entire country.  Unsustainable pension issues and our courts have blocked efforts at pension reform because of the pension clause in the Illinois state constitution (you know it's really bad when pension reform gets passed by a Dem legislature and signed by a Dem governor). 

Our income tax burden is actually much lower than most other states (it was 5% flat for a few years, but that was a "hike" and it had an automatic ratchet-down provision that kicked it down to 3.25% this year; Dems refused to repeal the ratchet in a political gambit to make the new Republican (who, obviously, ran on lower taxes) ratchet things back up). 

We just voted in a republican for governor, but I don't think the math works if you don't increase taxes (see Kansas).  Our legislature is solid-lock dem (not sure if it's a supermajority anymore).

Chicago and suburbs:  Property taxes are high.  Rent in the city is high.  There's no question this is a high COL area, but it's nowhere close to the coasts.  I pay $1,400 a month for a 1,000 sq ft apartment downtown.  That's $100-200 below market (I got lucky).  Spouse and I planning to leave when we can--I'll take a giant paycut, probably, but neither of us are "big city people".  We want a house (I've never lived in one) with a yard and a garden, etc., but really don't want to live in the burbs.  YMMV.

bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2015, 09:23:24 AM »
We live in the Western Suburbs (La Grange).  I work in the city and my wife works a few miles from home.  We are both originally from Central IL and our extended family is still down there for the most part. 

COL is pretty damn high, but we decided it was worth it for now.  We have a 10 year plan that ends with us catching FIRE and moving back downstate to be closer to family and enjoying the lower COL.

We chose a smaller house that was walking distance to the Metra and our cute little downtown area which allowed us to sell a car and become a 1 car family.  Even though our house is "small" at 1400 sqft (not really small at all) our property taxes are still almost $8,000 per year.  The schools here are excellent but I don't see how that figure would be sustainable for us long term.  We have neighbors that pay in the $12-15k range annually for property taxes- insane.

The bottom line is that we choose to suck it up and find other ways to save.  My wife is a teacher but I can't do what I do outside of a large city like Chicago (and make close to the same salary) so we are just choosing to do our best for the next 10 years, enjoy the perks of the big city life while we can, and hopefully cashing out on our house which will allow us to purchase our forever home in central IL outright with cash.

So that is our situation- as for you I think I would really consider Indiana.  I think living/working in the Southern Suburbs will make you guys pretty car dependent so you will be driving whether you live in IL or IN.  I would look at New Lenox, Frankfort and Mokena if I wanted to stay in IL.  Otherwise I would look at Dyer, St. John or Schererville, IN.  I really know nothing about the Indiana towns but I would probably check them out just based on proximity and the overall lower COL from living in IN.

This is pretty much our plan as well except we both grew up here. One thing to look our for with Indiana is that while the property taxes are lower, there are other taxes to pay when you file your state income tax. I haven't looked into it too much, but it was interesting the few times we have had to file Indiana.

skyrefuge

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2015, 10:02:03 AM »
I'd say that all the negative things that have been mentioned are reasonably accurate and not overly-complainypants, but I just wanted to mention that on the positive side, Chicago itself is pretty awesome. Ride your bike down the 18-mile path on the Lake Michigan shore in the summer, skate around the new 1/4-mile ice ribbon in the winter, see every band you'd ever want to see at night, and do whatever you want during the day because everything is available.

Of course if you're actually living 40 miles away from those things, and aren't interested in all the travel back-and-forth, then all that awesomeness becomes a lot less valuable.

One thing to note is that the Metra Electric commuter rail line connects University Park to downtown Chicago (a 60 minute ride). UP is at the end of the line, so maybe you could find a place somewhere along that line and do a reverse-commute to UP? Maybe something like Flossmoor? (they have a brewpub in an old train station there, that sounds suitably hippie-walkable.) Or going a lot further north, the cultural mecca of Hyde Park in Chicago (University of Chicago)?

And yeah, in terms of property taxes, realize that the high property taxes are somewhat made-up for by the low income taxes. That doesn't help retirees with no income, but if you're making $150k, that could be like $4k less in income taxes that you'd be paying in some other states, so your total tax burden might not actually be all that different.

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2015, 10:33:25 AM »


Of course if you're actually living 40 miles away from those things, and aren't interested in all the travel back-and-forth, then all that awesomeness becomes a lot less valuable.



Yah, see  that is the problem.  I don't think we are going to see much benefit from living in Chicago.  I've visited enough friends and family who lived in suburbs to know that we aren't going to be trekking in to the (downtown) city all that often.   We'll end up at parks and stuff in our neighborhood.  So really we would be living in suburban strip mall hell, paying high housing costs, for no apparent benefit other than a high(er) paying job.  I guess it comes down to how much higher paying does it need to be to offset the costs of living in Chicagoland.  And how long would it take to get to FIRE at that salary? 

bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2015, 11:28:39 AM »
Yah, see  that is the problem.  I don't think we are going to see much benefit from living in Chicago.  I've visited enough friends and family who lived in suburbs to know that we aren't going to be trekking in to the (downtown) city all that often.   We'll end up at parks and stuff in our neighborhood.  So really we would be living in suburban strip mall hell, paying high housing costs, for no apparent benefit other than a high(er) paying job.  I guess it comes down to how much higher paying does it need to be to offset the costs of living in Chicagoland.  And how long would it take to get to FIRE at that salary?

That's why I asked where you were currently living a few posts ago. It may not be worth coming here by the time you run the numbers.

a rose by any other name

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2015, 01:40:20 PM »
I had to register for this thread because I live in Crown Point, Indiana. It's a cute small town, and not at all suburban strip mall hell--there's a town square with lots of festivals and the downtown area is nice and walkable with a library, parks, bike trail, schools, town pool, sports fields, small museums, shops, restaurants, etc. You're not too far from rural areas either, and the school district is one of the best in the state. CP is about 19 miles away from University Park, so maybe a bit far, but it's something to think about. I'm sure MMM wouldn't condone that far of a commute but it's really up to you.

Indiana does have significantly lower property taxes, and cheaper gas, lower sales tax, lower property taxes. However, most of what I know is comparing Lake County Indiana to Cook County Illinois and since University Park is in Will County (which has much lower taxes than Cook) I'm not entirely sure if IN would be significantly cheaper. License plates for cars are less in Illinois than they are in Indiana, but that's about the only thing I know that's cheaper in IL.

Dyer, St. John, and Schererville are nice towns too, but perhaps a bit more suburban/strip mall like. Schererville does have a small downtown area, but it's not very happening. You'd really just have to visit to see if they're the kind of place you'd like to live. I really think Crete, Illinois is a nice looking small town too that definitely doesn't have a suburban feel (more rural/small town). However, it has a huge problem with residents moving to Indiana (even the mayor admitted it) and the population there has been going down in recent years, I think because of the higher taxes.

I really like living in this area (I'm not from here originally) and would be happy to answer any questions you have. I don't know a whole lot about towns in Illinois but I can always ask some of my friends who live in those areas where the good places to go are (though I will say, their number is dwindling as many of them have moved across the state line). As far as being in the Chicago area in general, here you're far enough removed from it to feel separate if you want to (especially from all of the crime and high prices), but you definitely still feel connected to the city. It's close enough that it's convenient to visit for entertainment purposes and many people even commute in to the city daily.

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2015, 02:03:53 PM »
Yah, see  that is the problem.  I don't think we are going to see much benefit from living in Chicago.  I've visited enough friends and family who lived in suburbs to know that we aren't going to be trekking in to the (downtown) city all that often.   We'll end up at parks and stuff in our neighborhood.  So really we would be living in suburban strip mall hell, paying high housing costs, for no apparent benefit other than a high(er) paying job.  I guess it comes down to how much higher paying does it need to be to offset the costs of living in Chicagoland.  And how long would it take to get to FIRE at that salary?

That's why I asked where you were currently living a few posts ago. It may not be worth coming here by the time you run the numbers.

Sorry, missed that. We are in a small town outside Columbus OH. A decent house (3-4 bedroom, 1500-2000 sq ft) runs 200k or so.  Property taxes will be 3-4k. 2% city income tax. H currently makes right at 100k with a theoretical 15k bonus (actually much less, more like 3-5k this year). 

a rose by any other name

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2015, 02:26:21 PM »
Just going to post a couple of homes for sale in Crown Point in case you'd be interested:

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/118-N-Grant-St-Crown-Point-IN-46307/73320434_zpid/

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/416-N-Court-St-Crown-Point-IN-46307/73403825_zpid/

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/241-E-South-St-Crown-Point-IN-46307/73318293_zpid/

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/606-E-Joliet-St-Crown-Point-IN-46307/73312876_zpid/

And a little information about Crown Point:

http://www.crownpoint.net/square.html

ETA: I'm guessing property taxes on those houses are less than 2k. I looked up the first one and they were $1,800 per year.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 03:13:04 PM by a rose by any other name »

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2015, 02:56:26 PM »
I suggest you call a real estate agent instead of assuming that housing is so expensive. I'm also pretty sure there are crime maps on the internet when you are ready to zero in on a location. A quick google search showed houses in the $200k to $210k range with $4k property tax. I searched a ten mile radius from your workplace. Chicagoland has a lot to offer if you can stand the weather. And it looks like your location is near interstate 57 which I have traveled many times with minimal traffic.

Unique User

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2015, 03:44:12 PM »
I grew up in Park Forest (next to Sauk Trail Woods) and was in the school system that included University Park.  Even back in the 80s, it stunk.  Graduation rate % probably in the 60s and the number of kids that went to college was low.  Rich East was just as bad.  If I were you, I'd look at Flossmoor, Homewood or Olympia Fields since public school is needed.  Housing will not be expensive there, assume you can easily find lots of houses in the under $250k range.  Rich Central is ok, Homewood-Flossmoor school district is probably better.  15 minute commute probably at most, it's a straight shot down Governors Highway.  I used to swim at the Y at Governors State University, but I think the Y closed there. 

Orland, Frankfort, Tinley Park and Country Club Hills probably also won't be too far a commute.   You should easily find a house in the $200k range in those areas.  There are lots of forest preserves and trails.  It wasn't a bad area to grow up, but definitely blue collar at least in Park Forest and University Park.  Walkable and bikeable yes.  Hippies and organic food, eh.  Although there were farmer's markets in Park Forest even back in the early 70s. 

Keep in mind that far south is a 45 minute drive to downtown, but the Metro is awesome.  Good Luck!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 03:55:27 PM by Unique User »

Argyle

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2015, 04:05:46 PM »
I love the Chicago area (where I grew up), and in my experience rentals are a lot cheaper in Chicago than in other big cities, or rather, what you get for your money is much greater.  I wouldn't commute from Indiana, though -- the drive or the train will wear you out.  It's more than an hour.  I did that for several years and I'd never do it again.

But Chicago is a great city.  You can have a great time in Chicago.

bzzzt

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2015, 06:51:03 PM »
I suggest you call a real estate agent instead of assuming that housing is so expensive. I'm also pretty sure there are crime maps on the internet when you are ready to zero in on a location. A quick google search showed houses in the $200k to $210k range with $4k property tax. I searched a ten mile radius from your workplace. Chicagoland has a lot to offer if you can stand the weather. And it looks like your location is near interstate 57 which I have traveled many times with minimal traffic.

10 miles radius from Univ. Park can put you in a horrible area to a thriving area. Have to watch property taxes too, buying from long time owners who bought with a much lower purchase price can cause taxes to rise when someone buys at a higher price (re-assessment).

Lots of reverse gentrification going on in the south 'burbs. The mall in Matteson is about shut down, pretty much only anchor stores left. The area has been pretty hard hit by the recession.

aj_yooper

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2015, 07:04:07 PM »
So would you be working at Applied Systems?  Small towns where you would have to commute, but with good schools-Peotone, IL and Lowel, IN. 

frugalmom

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #27 on: February 14, 2015, 07:13:07 PM »
I will find out exactly where.

H will make 100-120k, I may pull in another 70-80 (I've been a sahm and may go back).  We want to budget based on me not working in case that is a flop.  Good commute would be less than 15 minutes, definitely needs to be less than 30 minutes. Good public schools are a priority as we have a special needs child who needs services through school.

Send me a PM with the nature of your child special needs and I can provide more specific responses; if you are interested.

The City of Chicago and any of the underfunded South suburbs are not going to be the best.  Avoid.  Also if your child is under 3, the head start services are a joke, and often staffed with brand new or "reject" therapists (sorry no better way to explain the people fired by multiple school districts only to be picked up by head start) with very little oversight.  It is so well known that many major employers include weekly therapy for children under 3 as part of the health insurance, when needed. 

Depending on specific need---I find Hinsdale to be the very best for providing services to children in Dupage County and Clarendon Hills in the 181 school district.  If I had a special needs child, I would rent a small cheap apartment in this district to maximize the services.  I have even known people in nice suburbs of Chicago to maintain a family home and rent in Hinsdale to get their children services.

Next consider that the larger school districts provide their own services.  Naperville for example has their own therapists, etc.  Other "smaller" suburbs may use the consortium group SASAD for speech, PT, and OT.  Finally, they may contract out with therapy schools.  Those are very expensive options and are hit or miss.  It can be a very good school experience for a child, but it could also mean a school district provided 60 minute bus ride. It can also be a bad experience if your child's needs are minimal.

Another thing to know, is that in IL you can homeschool a child or send them to a private school and still utilize the school district's therapy services.  Not certain if this is common place.  I have known many a family to send their children to Catholic school to then pull junior out for speech or OT. 


MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #28 on: February 15, 2015, 06:57:17 AM »
Frugalmom, yikes, that sounds very hit or miss.

DS is in first grade, has borderline ASD, I'm sure we could get an official ASD diagnosis if we Dr. shopped. Also a host of other things: inattention, slow processing speed, fine and gross motor delays. And gifted in math, several grade levels ahead, though he is young yet and things may even out his teacher thinks he is quite exceptional. He is currently in a typical classroom receiving pt, ot, speech, and social skills pull-outs.

If we have to do a long commute to get to a school district that can meet his needs in a high quality way, we'll just scrap this job. H is actively applying to other jobs in Chicago, so a general list of what suburbs are good for special ed would help direct his efforts.

couponvan

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #29 on: February 15, 2015, 07:46:44 AM »
If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) from your current location, which it sounds like they do, then obtaining services in IL should be OK.  We moved from CA to IL, largely for the schools.  DH family is here, and his cousins are teachers. They recommended 204.  We picked District 204 for their excellent services, even though it meant a longer commute for DH.  One child in the gifted program, one with and IEP, and one mainstream. I personally wouldn't choose the location you are looking at.

If we had our home purchase to do over again, we would have located closer to the Metra station in much less house. (Compared to CA a big house for less $ seemed like a bargain.) Taxes are horrendous though. 

DH can read/work remotely during his train ride, but it's another 15 minutes to the train. His office is within 1/2 block of Union Station, and you should factor distance in the snow to the office in your considerations.

204 schools are fantastic....It is amazing how good the schools are compared to where we can from.  I see our tax dollars at work, so I don't feel that bad about the expense.  With 3 kids it is way cheaper than public school.

MidWestLove

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2015, 07:55:12 AM »
"The City of Chicago and any of the underfunded South suburbs are not going to be the best"
+1 from person living in Chicago now. if you want very good school you need to go north (Winnetka, Northbrook ,etc) or west of the city.

For us personally (who are moving within next 18 months for schools), we are heading to Indiana (Crown Point/Munster area). good to very good schools, decent transportation into the City of Chicago (if you must), low taxes/crime/issues.  lake effect snow :) closer to the lake..

Unique User

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2015, 12:43:32 PM »
"The City of Chicago and any of the underfunded South suburbs are not going to be the best"
+1 from person living in Chicago now. if you want very good school you need to go north (Winnetka, Northbrook ,etc) or west of the city.

For us personally (who are moving within next 18 months for schools), we are heading to Indiana (Crown Point/Munster area). good to very good schools, decent transportation into the City of Chicago (if you must), low taxes/crime/issues.  lake effect snow :) closer to the lake..

I've been thinking about schools a lot lately (DD starts high school next year) and I struggle with the "must be in good school district in wealthy area" thought process.  I went to crap public schools in the area the OP is talking about moving to and ended up attending a university that consistently makes the top 20 in the US list.  The high school had a more than decent honors program and I took several AP tests which enabled me to start with several credits under my belt.  College attendance was low, graduation rates were low, free lunch rates were high, drugs and fights were common, etc, etc.  I had a parent that didn't really care much about schooling, but I was motivated to get the hell out of dodge, so did well and basically never went back. I guess my point is that it all depends on the kid.  I would never send my daughter to a school district like I went to, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't want her going to school in a wealthy area either.  We sent her to parochial elementary school in a resort town and the choices and lifestyles of many of those families were ridiculous.  I liked the people in our working class neighborhood much more.  When we moved back to the lovely grey-skied Midwest, we choose a one of the better public school systems and ended up moving into a neighborhood that is a couple steps above our last neighborhood, but full of pretentious bs.  I'm okay with the school, but there is little diversity and I'm a bit shocked at the low numbers of kids in the honors classes.  I'm rambling now and I know there are pretentious people and idiots everywhere, but I've realized I want her to go to school with people from all backgrounds and if that means it is not one of the "top" school districts than so be it. 

MayDay

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2015, 06:17:50 PM »
Unique User, I struggle with the same things.  I grew up in a very working class town with solid "good" schools, but nothing spectacular.  It provided an excellent education with pretty much zero bullying, concern about status, keeping up with the Jones', teenage recreational drug use, etc.  For my neurotpical daughter, I would actually prefer a more diverse, less excellent school system.  It's so hard with a special needs kid though, because I know the rich districts have so many fewer kids they need to serve, and so much more money to do it with. 

Going back to my OP, that's actually why I asked for "above average".  I guess to be the most specific possible, I want excellent special ed reputation, above average overall, diverse (or at least not completely homogeneously wealthy and white), with access to a gifted program for younger grades and AP classes for high school. 

couponvan

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2015, 08:21:57 PM »
I will say in my DD's school, there is more diversity that I would have imagined in the Midwest.  Of the 25 students in her class, there are 3 black, 3 hispanic, 3-4 Indian, and 3-4 Asian students.  The school has "some" economic range, although not the range you might find in other areas because the neighborhood feeding the school include larger homes, middle level homes, as well as rental apartments.

I agree that is is very hard with special needs children, as to get the best resources you often have to go to the wealthier districts.  Our school also has special needs/fully contained students, which I think teaches my children to have more empathy/understanding of children with more severe disabilities.

204 is "above average" with an excellent special ed reputation, but the commute to the City will take around an hour to hour and a half by train....

Numbers Man

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2015, 10:49:44 AM »
I suggest you call a real estate agent instead of assuming that housing is so expensive. I'm also pretty sure there are crime maps on the internet when you are ready to zero in on a location. A quick google search showed houses in the $200k to $210k range with $4k property tax. I searched a ten mile radius from your workplace. Chicagoland has a lot to offer if you can stand the weather. And it looks like your location is near interstate 57 which I have traveled many times with minimal traffic.

10 miles radius from Univ. Park can put you in a horrible area to a thriving area. Have to watch property taxes too, buying from long time owners who bought with a much lower purchase price can cause taxes to rise when someone buys at a higher price (re-assessment).

Lots of reverse gentrification going on in the south 'burbs. The mall in Matteson is about shut down, pretty much only anchor stores left. The area has been pretty hard hit by the recession.

I was looking at Peotone, looked like some nice houses. As far as Real Estate taxes, I have never heard of Chicagoland having a California like freeze in property taxes where the taxes are frozen based on when you buy the property. Your property is taxes regardless of who owns the property or how long the property owner has lived there. Like I said, a Real Estate can really help.

retired?

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2015, 11:35:56 AM »
So I want to ask more broad question.

Is the greater Chicago area a nice place to live?  Are the costs (of housing, commuting, etc) in line with the value you get?  Do you plan to get the hell out as soon as you retire/the kids graduate/whatever?

I have biases.  I would like to examine them carefully.  My biases are towards Chicago having crime, high prices, loads of traffic, and corruption, with not a lot in the positive column except that geographically it makes sense for us (in between both sets of relatives) and being a big city it's got access to stuff like excellent medical care, and cultural stuff.

We lived in Elmhurst.  Took the train in.  Very nice area.  The greater Chicago area "ChicagoLand" had a ton of townships that are, say, 20-60k people.  Our kids were in grades 1-5 when we were there.  It was very common to meet families who lived downtown until their kids were school age and then leave downtown for one of these townships. 

Our prop taxes were right about 2% of market value.  It is a fairly corrupt city ..... seems to be a tradition.  You can avoid the negs by living in a township and taking the train to work.  Would be a different experience.  If I didn't have kids, we would have lived downtown.  Getting in to town by car on the weekends can be fairly easy.

We got the hell out after a few years mainly since a) while we liked the city a lot, we didn't see us there for the long-haul, i.e. to retirement and beyond, no family there, cold and very gray from Dec to Mar and b) kids were of the age that it was a decision b/n staying another 10 years (for them to get out of school) and leaving while I had an internal opp that included relo.

dadu007

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2015, 11:52:39 AM »
You are not from there, which means you will never be "connected".  This means even the easy things are hard; finding a good car mechanic, or a dentist who doesn't want to screw you with extraneous charges (been there, done that).
Unless you are particularly exceptional with the gift of gab, getting plugged in to social networks will take a LONG time.
We lived there from 2001 to 2011. In the end, I had a job transfer from there to MN at the absolute bottom of the housing crisis.  Lost all the equity in our house, plus some.  Had to write a check at closing to sell the damn thing.  (Can you tell I'm bitter?)  Had two suicides in our neighborhood around that time; likely due to people who saw no way out of a pending foreclosure.
Chicago/Illinois finances are in melt-down mode.  It's just a shambles and getting worse.  Property taxes are unbearable and you don't get much in services in return.
With all that said, I still have a fondness for Chicago.  I never worked downtown, and so for us it was always fun to take the train down there and play tourist.  You're never lacking for anything to do.
Also, even though I always felt like an outsider, I really liked the people.  They're generally no-nonsense with funny-as-hell biting sense of humor; due to where they were raised, I guess.
It's a no-bullshit city and I love it, but living in the region is tougher than hell, unless you're a 100-millionaire.
BTW, school district quality varies wildly, due to the financial mess. Be very thorough in your research. We homeschooled our two boys while living there, since the schools in our area there were so crappy. (Naperville is a shining example of great schools, but bring the $$$.)
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 12:04:13 PM by dadu007 »

Numbers Man

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2015, 12:41:11 PM »
I suggest you call a real estate agent instead of assuming that housing is so expensive. I'm also pretty sure there are crime maps on the internet when you are ready to zero in on a location. A quick google search showed houses in the $200k to $210k range with $4k property tax. I searched a ten mile radius from your workplace. Chicagoland has a lot to offer if you can stand the weather. And it looks like your location is near interstate 57 which I have traveled many times with minimal traffic.

10 miles radius from Univ. Park can put you in a horrible area to a thriving area. Have to watch property taxes too, buying from long time owners who bought with a much lower purchase price can cause taxes to rise when someone buys at a higher price (re-assessment).

Lots of reverse gentrification going on in the south 'burbs. The mall in Matteson is about shut down, pretty much only anchor stores left. The area has been pretty hard hit by the recession.

I was looking at Peotone, looked like some nice houses. As far as Real Estate taxes, I have never heard of Chicagoland having a California like freeze in property taxes where the taxes are frozen based on when you buy the property. Your property is taxes regardless of who owns the property or how long the property owner has lived there. Like I said, a Real Estate can really help.
Like I said, a Real Estate Agent can really help.

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2015, 02:00:38 PM »
My 2 cents... I live in the western suburbs (Willowbrook, just south of Clarendon Hills and Oak Brook). I moved here from Sac, CA summer 2013. No kids, work downtown. I rent, and am not interested in buying yet.

Clarendon Hills is very nice, but I'm willing to bet is pricey. My area is nice, a little on the rural side. My library is excellent. There's forest preserves with trails, etc very close to me. I like Downer's Grove, but not willing to move and its a little farther from work.

I don't know who mentioned Detroit, but I'm originally from there. I could have gone there instead when I moved. I didn't.

prof61820

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #39 on: February 24, 2015, 12:01:06 PM »
A few interesting posts on the Governor's proposed budget to give you an idea of the issues Illinois is now confronting and how this may impact education and taxes.  The Legislature is controlled by Dems (Super-majorities in the House and Senate) so it will be an interesting negotiation.  Illinois also has an immediate deficit problem with day care assistance, court reporters and prison guards...fairly soon all three areas will run out of money if nothing is done.

http://www.voices4kids.org/governor-rauner-chooses-reckless-cuts/

http://capitolfax.com/2015/02/24/a-look-at-the-proposed-revenue-sharing-cuts/

http://capitolfax.com/2015/02/23/the-165-million-liheap-skim/

http://capitolfax.com/2015/02/23/rauners-punt/
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 12:05:49 PM by prof61820 »

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2015, 12:17:49 PM »
Why not live in the city itself? The burbs mostly seem crappy.. most of the downsides, not as many of the benefits.

prof61820

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Re: University Park, IL? (Chicago area)
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2015, 12:57:15 PM »
Why not live in the city itself? The burbs mostly seem crappy.. most of the downsides, not as many of the benefits.

Schools...