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Chicago: Like "Lincoln SQUARE" But Cheaper?

Old Aug 5th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Chicago: Like "Lincoln SQUARE" But Cheaper?

Hello,

My husband and I are moving back to Chicago in April.

In 2005-2006 we lived in a neighborhood called Lincoln Square (Lincoln & Sunnyside at Welles Park to be exact) and we loved it! Looking at the listings now it seems to be much more expensive. I've been looking at Craigslist and the ChiReader for a 2 bedroom around $1000/month. We can go up to $1250/month MAX if utilities are included. And, we can go with a 1 bedroom if it's really big or has a separate study/office/den. Do they usually list this type as a 1 or a 2 bedroom? My husband is a jazz musician so he needs that extra room for his studio, otherwise we’d go with a 1.

Can anybody recommend an area similar to Lincoln Square that might be cheaper nowadays or "up-and-coming"? Relative safety is a must too. I lived in NYC for 10 years and New Orleans for 5, so I'm used to the big city, but I still don't want to live in a bad 'hood. Plus, I do want local amenities...restaurants, shops, pubs in walking distance. Oh, and we're married in our early 30s….no kids.

When do you think we should make our trip to Chicago to secure an apartment for a May 1st move-in date? I was thinking April 3rd-7th??? Will there be enough listed at that time.

Lastly, what is the monthly average of heating costs in Chicago?

Thanks locals!

~Tara
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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Tara...what is the average temperature you maintain in your living space?
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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You can't really get a realistic idea on rent just from online listings, because they are incomplete, change so rapidly, etc. I think with a little looking you could find a 2-bedroom (they call them that usually, even when one bedroom is significantly smaller) for $1200 in Lincoln Square--I know several of my daughter's friends have 1 BR in Lincoln Square for around $900. If you go with a vintage walk-up, heat (radiators) will probably be included. The apartment should be clean and well-kept, but not necessarily updated--ie, no dishwasher, central air, etc. Another popular area is Wicker Park/Bucktown, which is roughly west of River North/Lincoln Park/Lakeview. Not sure of the relative rents--my niece just rented a 2-BR for $1200 (I think). If you have not been to Chicago for a few years, you may be surprised at the resurgence throughout the city. There are many pleasant areas, which would be hard to put a "name" to, but which you, as an experienced city person should be able to detect. One idea might be to get off at various stops on the Brown line and see what you find
I recently looked for a studio in Gold Coast/Streeterville for my daughter, who is starting law school. Rents for apartments I saw ranged from about $900 to $1400--this is a pricier area, walking distance to Michigan Ave., etc--and believe me, the one we lucked into for $925, though at the bottom of the price range, is lots nicer than some I saw for several hundred more a month! So do come in 3-4 weeks in advance and LOOK--none of those nasty agent fees like in New York. You could get someone from one of the apartment finding services to ferry you around, but I suspect the rents for those places are higher to compensate for the fee, which the landlord pays but I'm sure must factor in to the rent.
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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Dukey-

We live in HOT Austin, TX right now and we are very frugal with our thermostat. Central air we keep at 80/81 F. Central heat, I think we kept it somewhere in the 60s.

Does one NEED A/C in Chicago in the summer?

marilynl-

THANKS for all of the info! Good to know there are still affordable rents out there. The places we usually rent are vintage walk-ups, no dishwasher, central air, etc., so that's ok with us. We prefer the "vintage" places actually.

We did use Apartment People when we moved there 2 years ago. It was fun and informative, but, I agree, that the selection was slim and the prices seemed to be higher. The apt. that we ultimately found was in the paper.

THANKS AGAIN!!!
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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topping
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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I suggest Craigslist a month or so before you plan to move. Our son in Chicago and our daughter in NY have found all their apts. this way.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 09:06 PM
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"Does one NEED A/C in Chicago in the summer?"

While it's not something you need every day, all summer long like you probably do in Texas, my answer would be "Yes, one does".

We live in the 'burbs and would be absolutely miserable without our air right now. Not so much because of the heat as the humidity. If you were close to the lake...maybe you could get by without it.

But it does get hot in Chicago. Remember (was it 1995?) when all those people died?

We spent 11 years in a second floor apt in Berwyn with just one window unit in one of the bedrooms. The only way we could keep it comfortable enough to sleep was to shut off the front part of the apt. We'd sometimes go weeks at a time virtually unable to use our living room.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 05:37 AM
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I have lived a few summers in Chicago without a/c, it was pretty miserable on occasion. You don't need it every day, but you need it.

For three years I lived in an apartment that would get so hot in the summer when I wasn't there with the a/c units on that the taper candles I had would warp and twist (at the time I was living in an apartment on the second floor of a brick building built in the 1800's on a street with no trees).

As far as neighborhoods on the northside go, you'll probably get the most bang for your buck in Albany Park or Jefferson Park, but there isn't a whole lot going on over there, so you won't have the dining and/or entertainment options you would have in Lincoln Square, but you can get large apartments for more reasonable prices.

I have noticed that rents in Chicago seem to be increasing as of late. I still think fondly of the huge one bedroom apartment with central a/c that I had in Roscoe village for $400 a month back in the early 90's, the rent for that same apartment has probably tripled since then.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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I just moved from NYC to Roscoe Village. I'm not sure RV is "up and coming" anymore; I think it's already up and has already come. Our rent is still pretty cheap ($1350 for a huge 2br with garage and deck; heat included), but we'll be priced outta there by the time we're ready to buy.

You MAY be able to find a 2br here for your budget, but you'd be cutting it close. I'd say RV is worth a look, because it's a really fun area, loads of good restaurants, a couple of decent bars, El trains nearby, and the Damen Ave, Addison Street, and Western Ave buses right there.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 05:32 PM
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Thanks to everyone who answered my questions. It seems like Chicago is similar to NYC when it comes to the need for A/C in the summer. I never had it in NYC, but boy I wished that I had at times! Movie theaters and the like were cooling-off sanctuaries. This time around, for Chicago, we'll have to invest in a couple of those window units.

Vittrad-

How would you describe Albany Park and Jefferson Park? Are they relatively safe areas? Bus or El nearby?

Also, I do see a lot of decent listings in Rogers Park, Uptown, and Edgewater. What is your opinion on these areas? I’ve read a lot of your posts, so I trust your opinion…I think we think alike…who knows .

Do you live in Ukrainian Village now? How’s that for you? What do you do in Chicago, if you don’t mind me asking?

Oh, and of course, Logan Square seems affordable and the new “up-and-coming” area (or, is that Humboldt Park…or Pilsen)?

If money were no object, I think our top choices would be Wicker Park, Roscoe Village, or Lincoln Square. I don’t know what Logan Square or Rogers Park are like, so I can’t comment.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with NYC at all, but I lived in the East Village, Lower Eastside, Williamsburg, Brooklyn…and, then finally on the edge of Crown Heights in Brooklyn (a very fringe ‘hood, which was ok, but I missed conveniences/shops/restaurants/bars). I lived in New Orleans too (until the storm), but you can’t really live in “up-and-coming”/fringe ‘hoods there. None are ever really “up-and-coming” and you don’t want to die. It’s very segregated and dangerous there.

Well, thanks again!!! I know I’ve hit you with a lot.


TwoFatFeet-

Thanks for the info. As you can read above, I also lived in NYC (for 10 years in the ‘90s when it was still “affordable”) and I also really like Roscoe Village. Isn’t it funny that $1350 is cheap when you’re coming from NYC? We really can’t go above $1200…sigh. Where did you live in NY and why did you move to Chicago? How are you liking it?

Thanks!

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Old Aug 8th, 2007, 06:55 PM
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My neighborhood of East Village/Ukrainian Village is a bit more of a laid-back midwestern Williamsburg (I've been to Brooklyn and to Williamsburg and have the Brooklyn Brewery glass to prove it ... I would recommend it to anyone moving to the city. However, it is getting rather expensive.

Albany Park and Jefferson Park are much more residential (think Queens as long as we are doing nyc comparisons), and both are perfectly safe neighborhoods (there are some pockets of Albany Park that aren't that great) but a bit boring and you won't have the conveniences of Lincoln Square or Roscoe Village.

Humboldt Park is a fringe neighborhood that is still dealing with a fair amount of gang violence as is Pilsen. These neighborhoods are changing, and I know people who have lived there with no problems whatsoever, but I also know people who have lived there and who have been mugged, harassed, heard gunfire, etc. So I'd approach those areas with caution. If we want to talk Brooklyn for the sake of comparison, lets just say I felt comfortable staying with friends in neighborhoods like Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Park Slope, etc but I wasn't all that fond of BedStuy and Bushwick.

Rogers park is a neighborhood that is block by block, some blocks are fine, others are not, and it can be unpredictable.
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Old Aug 9th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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THANKS VITTRAD! That clears things up for me...great comparisons.

Ok, I have this "Not For Tourists Guide" for Chicago. Mine is actually the 2005 version, but I looked online at the 2007 and there seem to have been a lot of changes in n'hood descriptions. One place they described as "up-and-coming" for Wicker Park-types is Avondale. What do you know about it?

Thanks again!

~Tara
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Old Aug 9th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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Tarajane,

I lived near Gramercy Park. I shared an apartment with a few people. Rent for my share was about 1000/month. And that was not easy for me.

My girlfriend and I moved to Chicago because we were both tired of living in NYC. It just requires a lot of energy to live there and we lost it. It's a great place to live, don't get me wrong, but we discovered that it took too much out of us after three or four years. Our job situations worked out really well for a Chicago move, so we jumped.

We're both really happy here. It's not on the level of NYC, but it's a great town. The affordability is the real advantage.
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Old Aug 9th, 2007, 12:00 PM
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My attitude toward nyc has always been that it is a great place to visit (and I do enjoy my visits there), but unless I someone come into an unexpected financial windfall, I'm content to just visit (and flights from ORD leave every hour on the hour).
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Old Aug 9th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Yes, I agree with you both about NYC.

Any opinions on Avondale?

I now have to do some research and possibly post on areas in ChicagoLAND for my parents. They want to leave the DC area (ridiculously expensive!!! especially, for what you get--it is not NYC). Would you happen to know where I should look? I think they'd like Evanston, but they may be looking for more space and a real house. Since they are approaching retirement, they want to downsize and stay under $300K FOR A 2+ bedroom. Only thing is that they're pretty picky. They want a beautiful area with amenities (nice suburban-type ones, I guess) and the most desirable area in Chicagoland for their budget. I don't know anything about the suburbs.

Thought I'd ask...THANKS again.

~Tara
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Old Aug 10th, 2007, 06:37 AM
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I don't really have any opinions on Avondale. I've been through the neighborhood a few times and it didn't make any impression on me whatsoever good bad or otherwise. I know it is by the expressway and there is a stripmall with a grocery store next to the 'el' (subway) stop that I've bought food at once or twice. But I haven't been over there in about 2 years because ever since I had to go through that neighborhood commuting home from a class for awhile, I've had no reason to.
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Old Aug 10th, 2007, 09:00 AM
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Avondale is pretty residential--not much in the way of cafes/bars/etc. If that's what drew you to Lincoln Square, you probably won't find it in Avondale.

At the price range you'd probably have luck in Rogers Park (closer to lake is better), which has been booming. Possibly Logan Square. Pilsen and Humboldt might be too sketchy--they can be pretty block-by-block and still have significant amounts of gang activity.

May 1 is a HUGE moving date--everything good might be gone by the beginning of April. I'd suggest around St. Patrick's Day for checking stuff out.

Also, the Chicago Reader probably still has the best listings, and they're posed online on Tuesdays before the paper comes out (so by the time the paper is printed, good stuff might be gone).

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Old Aug 10th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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Thanks Vittrad & Racy!

Racy--We can only make one trip to Chicago to find and secure an apartment for May 1st. Would there be enough listings already out March 17th to make it worth our while? Don't landlords usually get 30 days notice from their tenants and then they would list the vacancy? That's why we were thinking a visit starting April 3rd...Please let me know what you think.

Do apartments rent mid-month often? Will we have a better chance at a deal if we shoot for an April 1st move-in rather than May 1st?

THANKS!

Tara
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Old Aug 10th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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My husband and I live in Lincoln Square/Budlong Woods (Farragut and Western). We're paying 1100 for a 2 bedroom. If you like the Lincoln Square neighborhood try looking a bit more north - the rent is fairly reasonable. This apartment is the biggest we've lived in. It's really nice.

When we were doing our search we secured our apartment a month before we were moving into the city (using Craiglist). I don't think April will be a problem if you are looking into moving in May.

Also you might try on the other side of Western in general but still around the Square area. At Winnemac and Western there were tons of flats for rent just this last week (who knows - they may be available later).

Good luck.
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Old Aug 10th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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oh yea and we've only turned our AC on for 5 days total this summer. It's been tough, but when we turn the AC on our power bill doubles. (Our heat is included in the rent). Mainly the AC only comes on when we have company - and we haven't had too many visitors this summer
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