City or Suburbs: Which Chicago Neighborhood is Right for You?

  • Chicago
  • 02/24/21
How to decide if you should look for a home in downtown Chicago or one of the city’s many suburbs.
Chicago is a vibrant and exciting city. With a population of 2.7 million, Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States. From its fantastic architecture to its thriving restaurant scene and relatively low housing costs, Chicago is the choice for many families to live, work, and raise their children. If you’re considering relocating to Chicago or are ready to make the move from renting to buying Chicago real estate, you need to put some thought into which area is right for you. There are pros and cons of living both in downtown Chicago and in its many suburbs. Before you start looking at homes for sale in Chicago, consider the pluses and minuses of each so you can make the best decision for you and your family.

Pros of City Living

There’s something incredibly exciting about living in the heart of a big city like Chicago. The energy is infectious, and there’s always something new to see or do. Downtown Chicago is made up of a variety of neighborhoods, including The Loop, Gold Coast, and gorgeous  Lakeshore East where the river meets the lake. If you decide downtown living is right for you, you’ll be able to choose a neighborhood that best fits your unique personality and needs. Here are some of the top pros of living in the city.

  • Proximity to dining and entertainment. There are more than 7,300 restaurants in Chicago, and many of the best are in the downtown area and within walking distance or a short drive of each other. Downtown is also home to theaters, live music venues, art houses, and more.

  • Easy transportation. If you live and work downtown, you likely won’t need a car and can easily access outdoor venues. Downtown Chicago features the beautiful trails around Lake Michigan that are perfect for biking, walking, or hiking. There are also nearby parks, notably Millennium Park and Grant Park, that are ideal for a stroll with your dog or an outdoor picnic.

  • World-class shopping. If shopping is your thing, you can’t do better than The Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. With more than 450 retailers, The Mile features three vertical shopping centers with everything from major department stores to boutiques, jewelry, and more.
There are, of course, drawbacks to living downtown. These include the lack of space (most downtown Chicago homes are condos or townhomes without yards), higher taxes and cost of living, and crowding. You’ll also likely spend more on Chicago homes for sale in downtown areas versus the suburbs.
yacht on body of water near buildings

Pros of Suburb Living

Many families gravitate to Chicago real estate in the suburbs, and for good reason. Suburbs such as Clarendon Hills, Buffalo Grove, Long Grove, and Naperville have populations ranging from around 8,000 to more than 125,000, making it easy to choose one that fits your exact needs. Here are some of the pros of living in a Chicago suburb:

  • More space. Single-family homes are much more the norm in the Chicago suburbs, and with these types of homes comes yards and more distance from the neighbors. This increases privacy and is also great for those who don’t like living near strangers.

  • Excellent schools. The Chicago suburbs are well-known for their top-quality public schools. Adlai E. Stevenson High School, located in Lincolnshire, has been ranked 16th in the nation for best public schools, followed by New Trier Township High School in Northfield, which came in 50th.

  • Small-town feel. If you want the classic hometown feel while still staying quite close to the excitement of the city, check out homes for sale in the Chicago suburbs. Many suburbs, such as Western Springs, have small populations (Western Springs clocks in at 13,187), a quaint downtown area, and extremely low crime and poverty rates
Drawbacks to living the suburban lifestyle are mostly based on personal preference. Those who want to be immersed in the vibrancy and diversity of downtown life will likely find the suburbs a bit bland. If a big part of your life is hitting the newest clubs, bars, or restaurants, you may get a bit bored in the ‘burbs.

Chicago LED sign

Which Chicago Neighborhood is Right for You?

Once you’ve decided whether to look for homes for sale in Chicago suburbs or downtown, it’s time to pick the right neighborhood. Here are the tops neighborhoods of 2020 in the Chicago area:

  • Bridgeport. Located on the Southwest Side of Chicago, Bridgeport has historical charm, affordable housing, and plenty of nearby restaurants.

  • North Center. It’s all about Lincoln Avenue for this trendy neighborhood. It has plenty of entertainment options, nearby public transit, and delightful riverside parks, making this a perfect choice for couples or young singles.

  • Beverly. If space and a single-family home are top on your wishlist, you’ll want to check out Beverly. With one of the highest rates of homeownership in the city, this is a stable community with tons of historic charm.

  • Uptown. Want the buzz of city life right outside your door? Uptown has an exciting entertainment district and trendy lakeside apartments that are ideal for young couples.

  • Oak Park. Located just on the other side of Chicago’s city limits, this suburb is just 10 miles from the Loop. With 60 designated historic landmarks and plenty of homes with midcentury pedigrees, Oak Park is an architectural enthusiast’s dream come true.
Chicago is a city with tons of history, some of the best entertainment in the world, and plenty of options when it comes to homes for sale. Whether you choose Chicago real estate downtown or in one of the city’s more than 100 suburbs, you’ll want to work with an experienced realtor who can help you choose the best home for your lifestyle.

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