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Relocating to Chicago - Short term housing

Relocating to Chicago - Short term housing

Old Jul 2, 16, 1:57 am
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Relocating to Chicago - Short term housing

Hi, I'm relocating to Chicago for work in August, with my family (wife + 2 children).
I work for a small company and I'm more or less on my own for organizing housing.
We're looking for a place to stay the first few weeks while we find a place to rent long term.
Anyone has some good references? Most service apartments seem to be downtown, which is not the area where we wil be looking to rent long-term. We'd rather find something in Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Park area.
Or should we stay downtown initially, because it will help us get around visiting different houses easier?
Been looking on Airbnb but availability is very low when looking to rent for a few weeks and I dread moving after a week.
All input welcome!
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Old Jul 2, 16, 5:54 am
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Not much advice except I am wondering how old your kids are and if they will be attending public school. This I think should be carefully considered.

Some schools in Chicago are REALLY bad.
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Old Jul 2, 16, 6:21 am
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Early welcome to Chicago!

Most short term accommodation is downtown, it's probably your best chance to get something decent. Other than airbnb, the areas you want to live will likely all require longer term leases.

If you'll be taking the train to look at houses, it will be easier from downtown. The neighborhoods you listed are served by the blue, red, and brown lines and of course the stations are close or together downtown.
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Old Jul 2, 16, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by toomanybooks View Post
Not much advice except I am wondering how old your kids are and if they will be attending public school. This I think should be carefully considered.
Some schools in Chicago are REALLY bad.
Thanks for the advice. Yes, school area will be top criterium.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 5:26 am
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Originally Posted by Ghentleman View Post
Thanks for the advice. Yes, school area will be top criterium.
There are a bunch of huge fans of Belgian beer here in Chicago on Flyertalk. Contact us when you get settled and we will introduce you to the local products.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by toomanybooks View Post
There are a bunch of huge fans of Belgian beer here in Chicago on Flyertalk. Contact us when you get settled and we will introduce you to the local products.


Ghentleman, how familiar are you with Chicago? Feel free to share ages of your kids, housing requirements, budgets, etc., and I'm sure that several of us may be able to provide some pointers.

I'm a first-time landlord, and used a number of different sources -- some local, some national -- to list my unit. I'd suggest checking out:
Domu.com
Craigslist.org
OnRadPad.com
Zillow.com
Realtor.com

Someone mentioned AirBnB. While this might be a bit more upheaval than you're interested in, consider doing AirBnB rentals -- maybe a week or two each -- in the neighborhoods you're considering so you get a better sense of the area. I have a client who moved to Chicago and relied a bit too heavily on the suggestions of future colleagues, friends and real estate agents, and now regrets his choice of location.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 12:36 pm
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Thanks for all the responses so far!
I've only been in Chicago twice, and checked out the Wicker Park, Logan Square, Gold Coast neighborhoods.
Kids are 9 and 8. Looking for a house (or flat, condo).
Prime concern is access to a good public primary school.
4 BR. good connection to ORD and downtown. garage or bicycle storage. some kind of outdoor space would be nice, or close to a park.
Would like to keep budget under $5000/m. including all utilities.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 12:40 pm
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An additional question is how long do you plan to be in the US? ie is this a potentially permanent move or is it a couple of years in the US and then back?

If the latter, you might be interested in an international school that would keep your children in a more "european" educational environment. I know there's English (British School), French (Lycee Francais), German (GISC) and just looked this morning and discovered a Dutch one (Tulip). They're not cheap.

Chicago Public Schools has a number of options, but for this upcoming school year (starts September 6th) you're already well past the deadlines to apply for anything other than the local school where you live, which you get into automatically. As chgoeditor said, if you'd like to share some more details, we may be able to help out more.

Be aware that there is the potential for a teacher strike. There is no contract. This happened 4 years ago and the teachers went on strike a week into the school year. There's something contractual for new teachers, they have to get their first paycheck before they're officially in the union, so they waited to strike until that occurs. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen this year.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 12:56 pm
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If top public schools are a #1 criteria you might look in someplace like Wilmette or Winnetka.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by glg View Post
If the latter, you might be interested in an international school that would keep your children in a more "european" educational environment. I know there's English (British School), French (Lycee Francais), German (GISC) and just looked this morning and discovered a Dutch one (Tulip). They're not cheap.
There's also GEMS World Academy.

It's important to understand that there can be a wide disparity between a "good" public elementary school and a "great" public elementary school. My sense is that if you're looking for great public elementary schools, you're better off in Lincoln Park or Lakeview than Bucktown or Wicker Park.

I don't have kids, but skimmed a few lists of the best elementary schools in Chicago to gauge neighborhoods. I also know that my friends who do have kids approaching elementary school age -- and who aren't inclined to pay for private school -- either move to Lincoln Park, Lakeview or the north suburbs between Evanston and Lake Forest. I have dozens of friends who have kids age 5 and up, and many who used to live in Bucktown/Wicker Park are among those who have moved.

Are you planning to buy a car, and how frequently will you go downtown vs. O'Hare? If you're commuting downtown via public transportation on a daily basis but only going to O'Hare once a month, that's a different calculation than going out toward O'Hare on a daily or weekly basis, but only going downtown on the weekends. And if your office is downtown, where exactly is it?
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Old Jul 4, 16, 12:14 am
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Thanks.
Looks like we'll be there for 2 years, might be longer.
The expensive international schools are not being considered. I know about the deadlines and application process, that's why we are counting on finding a house in the boundary of a good public school. My children speak some English and I think the'll pick it up fast.
I'll be commuting to merchandise mart almost daily and to O'Hare 3-4 times/month.
We'll have a car but I rather not use it to get to the airport as my wife needs it to get around.
Not too worried about strikes, we're used to much worse here in Europe and my wife will be a stay-at-home mom.
The northern suburbs are a bit too far away to my liking. I'm looking forward to being close to city life, suburbia is not my think. But I might change my mind...
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Old Jul 4, 16, 9:54 am
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Originally Posted by Ghentleman View Post
Thanks for all the responses so far!
I've only been in Chicago twice, and checked out the Wicker Park, Logan Square, Gold Coast neighborhoods.
Kids are 9 and 8. Looking for a house (or flat, condo).
Prime concern is access to a good public primary school.
4 BR. good connection to ORD and downtown. garage or bicycle storage. some kind of outdoor space would be nice, or close to a park.
Would like to keep budget under $5000/m. including all utilities.
I know you said you wanted downtown, but for anything like $5k a month, you could get something approaching a MANSION in some very nice suburbs with extremely good public schools.

I second the idea of Wilmette or Winnetka for a first look. I lived in the city for 7 years and heard some real horror stories about public schools. We got out to a suburb when our son was 4.

There are magazine articles about "the best public schools in Chicagoland" that would be useful to read. Also talk to Realtors.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by chgoeditor View Post
It's important to understand that there can be a wide disparity between a "good" public elementary school and a "great" public elementary school. My sense is that if you're looking for great public elementary schools, you're better off in Lincoln Park or Lakeview than Bucktown or Wicker Park.
The difference is often referred to as "up-and-coming" vs "already there" and you're generally correct. Areas like Bucktown and Wicker Park are starting to see the kinda/sorta transition from young and hip to older and kids. Lincoln Park and Lakeview made that transition earlier. Other spots to look at are Roscoe Village and North Center. They're a few more stops out on the L, but still have good schools.

Originally Posted by Ghentleman View Post
I'll be commuting to merchandise mart almost daily and to O'Hare 3-4 times/month.
In that case my recommendation is to look along the Brown Line. The schools are good, easy commute to the Mart (L stop is connected to the building). For ORD, all the major east/west streets have buses that will take you to the Blue Line. If you're anywhere close to rush hour, the Blue Line will be faster than the traffic on the Kennedy.

Originally Posted by Ghentleman View Post
The northern suburbs are a bit too far away to my liking. I'm looking forward to being close to city life, suburbia is not my think. But I might change my mind...
If you think you don't want to live in an American suburb, you're probably right. Don't buy into the "YOU MUST GO TO THE BURBS FOR SCHOOLS" hype. The schools on the north side are as good or better, the families are probably better off and sadly the schools have a similar lack of diversity.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 12:41 pm
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The difference from just any other suburb afflicted with "affluenza" is the presence of a great university - Northwestern is Ivy League level.

It is no coincidence that the best public schools in California are in Palo Alto (Stanford) and the best in Michigan are in Ann Arbor (U of Michigan).

The other factor is that the kids will be immersed in an English only environment.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by glg View Post
In that case my recommendation is to look along the Brown Line. The schools are good, easy commute to the Mart (L stop is connected to the building). For ORD, all the major east/west streets have buses that will take you to the Blue Line. If you're anywhere close to rush hour, the Blue Line will be faster than the traffic on the Kennedy.
I was thinking the same thing. And the OP may want to consider expanding his neighborhoods to include the part of Lakeview near the Brown Line. The area around the Southport/Roscoe stop is far enough away from the crowds at Wrigley, it's a very safe and family-friendly neighborhood, very close to all the restaurants on Southport, and there are a lot of single-family homes in that area...and those that are for rent should fall under the $5,000 limit.

A couple stops further north of the OP's office, but might even take less time on the train since it wouldn't require a connection.
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