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rpcb Mar 20th, 2006 07:18 AM

Naperville...Any thoughts?
Hi everyone,
we are a family with 2 elementary aged children. We are relocating to Illinois this summer. We think that we have narrowed down our choices to either Naperville or Wheaton. We have visited each several times but feel that we may be missing something. I always think that is is wonderful to have an insiders take on a particular location. Can any natives comment on these communitites? Housing prices in each are within our range, so thankfully that is not a limiting factor in our choice. Our top priorities would be an excellent school system, lots of kids around as well as a kid friendly environment. Any thoughts on pros/cons of each would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

vinman Mar 20th, 2006 07:41 AM


I live in Warrenville which is smack dab between the two communities. Both are generally nice places to live for families. It also depends on what you like and where exactly you live. Naperville is enormous. There are beautiful, homey areas near downtown and in the older sections. Furthere south, you have lots of new construction and some of the snobbier neighborhoods. To me, I prefer Wheaton because of the greater character overall and the reduced snob factor. Wheaton has a strong religious tradition which may or may not appeal to you. Both areas have great school systems although the school district in the southern part of Naperville is in great turmoil over the building of a new high school. It has brought out some real ugliness among the afore-mentioned snobs. Some of these people act like middle class folks are all in street gangs and live in the slums!

seniormsuedu Mar 20th, 2006 08:12 AM

My little granddaughters (oldest in first grade) are growing up in Naperville south. They live in a nice older subdivision just north of 75th St. - there are also lots of newer subdivisions south of 75th.

There are many nice shops and restaurants in Nvlle, art festivals and a big community "swimming hole" downtown. Lots to do. Many park reserves for hiking and biking, lots of wildlife. I love visiting there. Can take the El straight to downtown Chicago.

Wheaton, in my estimation, is more conservative.

Marija Mar 20th, 2006 02:01 PM

My sister and her family (including a 5 year old and 8 year old) live in Naperville. They love it. People are very friendly and very family oriented. My sister quickly made friends with many of the moms. I know more people in her neighborhood than in mine and I've lived in the same house for twenty years! Naperville is always rated as one of the top spots to raise a family.

swalter518 Mar 20th, 2006 03:54 PM

At the risk of getting flamed here, I'd broaden my search-both are nice places but very insular communities (especially Naperville)--my experience has been that people in Naperville tend to ignore the fact that they live anywhere near one of the nation's major cities and take a "there is no need to ever leave Naperville" attitude. To me it's the consumate suburb of strip malls, subdivisions and chain restaurants. Wheaton is a much more established community with a very conservative past, which may or may not appeal to you. Given that Wheaton is more established, it doesn't have the growing pains of Naperville that some have alluded to here-a majority of Naperville was cornfields 20 years ago.

rpcb Mar 20th, 2006 04:51 PM

Is Wheaton a mix of different faiths? or one predominant? Would someone feel like an outsider if they weren't necessarily of a certain faith?

Joe_H Mar 20th, 2006 07:12 PM

I live in Westmont (about 20 minutes east of Naperville). The main decision, IMO, should be based on work/travel, family, etc. There are many cities to choose from (that have excellent schools). Do you have family or friends that live in the Naperville area? Is your job near Naperville? Do you need to go to the airport regularly? Do you work downtown? How would you park or go to the train station? I would take these factors into consideration.

flamingomonkey Mar 20th, 2006 07:26 PM

If you work downtown, you can live anywhere you're near a train station. If you work in the suburbs, though, make sure you live nearby. I'll assume you either will be working in DuPage County or downtown if you're looking at Naperville and Wheaton. Wheaton is home to a conservative Christian college, but I don't know that it would be accurate to classify the whole town by the school. It may have been true at one time, but the area is so big and diverse now. Personally, I would choose Wheaton or another nearby town. Naperville is nice, but it's also huge. The population is nearly 140,000 and it's the second or or third largest city in the state. I think you'll have more of a neighborhood/ community feel in Wheaton. Another reason for this is Naperville is where people often go when they get transfered, and while this may be you, it does mean a more transient population in some areas. Because of it's size, I think Naperville does tend to be more insular, and forget it's part of Chicagoland. I think Naperville is also more expensive in general, especially in the older parts of town. I don't know what type of housing you're looking for, but if you want a more modest home in an established community I think you might be better off in Wheaton.

swalter518 Mar 21st, 2006 06:43 AM

In response to your question about the religious history of Wheaton, there is a very conservative Christian college located there, but flamingomonkey is right, where it used to dominate the community of Wheaton, it's not that way any more. It tends to be more conservative, but probably not much more conservative than most other suburbs, so I wouldn't worry about that.

vinman Mar 21st, 2006 07:30 AM

I would also add that Glen Ellyn, right next door to Wheaton, is a nice community similar to Wheaton in terms of character.

eroz Mar 21st, 2006 08:14 AM

Both are great for families. Naperville is the new "hot" suburb so may get less house for the dollar. Growing a ton. Has a cute downtown and shops/restaurants.

bandwife May 9th, 2006 10:22 AM

I've lived in/around both and prefer Naperville.

Yes, it is quite large, but it's "sprawling" and not so much a big booming metropolis. The historic district is great if you can afford it. There has been drama about the new high school in district 204, but I wouldn't let that deter you. We liked it for the proximity to everything (shopping, restaurants, great hospital, schools, etc.).

I agree with other posters - Wheaton is very conservative. What with Wheaton College and the large number of churches in town, you tend to see lots of those little "Jesus fish" on the back of people's cars and lots of Republican signs in yards during campaigns. Not that there's anything wrong with either of those things - just my observations. That said, it's very charming. They have a great farmers market during the summer.

JJ5 May 9th, 2006 11:41 AM

Just my opinion, but I would definitely vote for Wheaton between these two. That's considering that the job commutes are comparable, as that makes a huge difference.

Bigger isn't always better, I've found overall.

IMHO, I would pick several other suburbs over these actually. Hinsdale being one.

cheribob May 10th, 2006 04:31 AM

I have lived in Naperville for 15 years and I vote for Naperville.

They have a great newspaper, "The Sun" that keeps me informed of all the local happenings.

They have a great library, "Nichols Library", they have a wonderful community beach, "Centennial Beach", they have two park district golf courses, they have lots of open space, where one can walk paths, bike, take your dog to the dog park.

There is a skateboard park for the kids, the DuPage Children's museum, North Central College where you can see a lot of concerts, plays etc. I saw community theatre productions of "Evita" and "A Little Night Music" there. Plus the local ballet school puts on a production of the "Nutcracker" every year.

They have great festivals, from the famous "Ribfest" to the Sep Art fair and "The Last Fling". Plus a terriffic Farmer's Market every Saturday.

They have a beautiful downtown area with the River walk along the DuPage River, as well as great shops & restaurants.

If people from Naperville seem insular it's because Naperville has everything.

swalter518 May 10th, 2006 07:58 AM

Cheribob just proved my point...

ChiDad May 10th, 2006 09:47 AM

Grew up in Wheaton in the 1970's when it was the same size as Naperville. Returned from CA and lived in Glen Ellyn from 1998 through 2004. Our kids are now 16,14,10 and 6.

My take would be that Naperville is now populated by a large number of transferees. It is also big enough that different parts of the city will give you different experiences. Wheaton is a great town for kids. Not nearly as many transferees "passing through" and not facing growing pains to the extent that Naperville is.

For younger kids, I'd recommend south Wheaton in either the Farnham subdivision or Seven Gables. Very nice parks and lots of kids around.

I'd also recommend Glen Ellyn and Hinsdale as great places. However, the housing is more expensive in those towns.


JJ5 May 10th, 2006 09:53 AM

Kevin really is a ChiDad and has hit the crux.

All my friends and acquaintances from Naperville love living there, yet always complain of the 2 or 3 year neighbor- and then they are gone. Many of the families there are corporate mobile.

kevin_in_seattle May 10th, 2006 10:08 PM

Remember...this is the town in which the mother killed all of her children a few years ago. National news. Not your typical normal place. This is still the midwest. . If you like what I consider the worst gridlock traffic I have ever experienced in my life, hot humid summers, brutally cold winters, and overpriced housing ad mosquitos, hey-go for it. Ex-longtime chicago resident--finally moved the hell out.

Racy May 11th, 2006 07:38 AM

Kevin, I'm not a fan of Naperville (which affectionately refer to as Napertucky) but I fail to see how one woman's unfortunate case of psychosis has to do with quality of life there.

rpcb, if you're white, Republican and Christian you may well like DuPage County, where both Naperville and Wheaton are located. If you're not, you probably won't.


margiecpa May 11th, 2006 07:52 AM

Kevin in Seattle glad to see you finally left cause clearly not the place for you.

I have lived in Naperville for the past seven years and while it is not the most ideal place for single people it does seem to cater to families. Pretty much everything is geared toward families and couples and not so much single people.

I also think any of the other areas mentioned would also cater to the upper middle class families that everyone is so quick to bash Naperville about.

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