Where should I live in Chicago?
November 15, 2009 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Which Chicago neighborhood should I live in?

I'm looking to move to Chicago from the surrounding suburbs and I don't know where to live. I'm in my mid-20s and I'd like to be around people my own age. I work in the loop so wherever I live would need to provide easy access. I enjoy Wicker Park / Bucktown but feel like half the people are too hip for me and half the people are too fratty. I think parts of Lincoln Park are pleasant but again I don't think it's for me.

I think I would like to live north of the loop. I've heard good things about Andersonville.. I'm kind of lost though. Ideally I'd live in a neighborhood with people I know but I don't know many people in the city so I'd like to live somewhere where I can meet people easily. Your suggestions are appreciated!
posted by prunes to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
When I lived in the city, I lived in Lincoln Square. The rents were reasonable and it was an easy walk to the Brown Line. It's gentrified some, but not too much, I don't think.
posted by sugarfish at 6:47 PM on November 15, 2009

Andersonville or East Lakeview is great. However, they're both predominantly gay, Andersonville lesbian and East Lakeview is sometimes called boystown. Doesn't really matter though. I would go with East Lakeview. You're right by Wrigleyville. Great restaurants. And, you can get a place right by the lake, and, believe me, you'll take advantage of this every day. I lived there, and it had everything. I loved it. It's close to everything. You can part, you can go to galleries. You can be downtown in 20 mins. It's very young. I often said to myself, this place is great, but would be in very better if I were younger.

Seriously? I am a little jealous of you being in your early 20s living in this hood. Memail me for neighborhood suggestions if you move here.
posted by xammerboy at 6:54 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like Roscoe Village a lot. It's a little on the quiet side for a mid-20s sort of person, but you can pretty easily get over to Southport or Wicker Park / Bucktown for nightlife if that is your thing. There's a pretty nice mix of people, it is reasonably close to the El (walk to Paulina Brown Line in 10 to 15 min), and has pretty easy street parking.

Another thing that's nice about RV (though, again, this may not be for a 20-something) is that it is really friendly. My sense is it is a little less transitory than some other neighborhoods, people stick around, and you end up with more people saying hi on the street than you might in other places. This may have to do with the rental/ownership ratio, which I think is more skewed toward ownership than in other places (but there are still plenty of rentals).

Andersonville is great, but that's a long ride on the Red Line to the loop every day.

On preview: when I was in my mid-20s, I lived in East Lakeview and thought it was pretty great too, except that you have to take an express bus downtown because the El is so far.
posted by Mid at 7:01 PM on November 15, 2009

I like the row of bars around The Hopleaf in Andersonville. I have a few good friends who in the area and we always seem to meet new people when we go out. I can't say that for where I live, in Wicker Park.
posted by anthropomorphic at 7:03 PM on November 15, 2009

I miss Andersonville desperately. There's no place in Pittsburgh that fills the hole in my heart that was made when I moved away.
posted by rbs at 7:13 PM on November 15, 2009

Ha. My husband beat me to it. Mrs. RBS here--we had a huge (albeit old) apartment for a reasonable rent (I think about $1400 for a 3BR with living room and large sunroom). There are some really great restaurants right there, lots of cute stores, and a nice mix of people. It's very queer-friendly, and there is a large lesbian population, but you won't feel left out if you're not gay or female. We really liked feeling like we had a neighborhood, and it was nice to have bars and restaurants without the boystown/Wrigleyville crowds. The age range in Andersonville is such that it doesn't feel fratty, but there are enough young people to make it interesting :) And the food... oh my god the food... m. henry has the best breakfast in Chicago.

I worked downtown and took the Red Line. It was about a 25-30min commute and very convenient.

I've also lived in Ravenswood, which was very nice and reasonably priced as well, but it wasn't quite as awesome as Andersonville. Few places are.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:17 PM on November 15, 2009

I got hella helpful answers in this thread about moving to Chicago.

If you want to live on the north side and work downtown I'd recommend living off the Red or the Brown line. I would just plug the addresses of houses you're seeing come up into Google Maps and see how far/long it is to take public transportation to work. Or do you have a car?

Keep in mind some overnight and express service is going to be cut on several bus lines, and the CTA is going to be running less frequently overall. * I've heard estimates that wait time will double on some lines. I'd be wary of moving to a place where I was completely dependent on one bus line.

I really like hanging out with the hipoisie and going to the parties in Wicker Park, Bucktown, Pilsen, etc but the Blue line is kind of spotty with hella closures. The friends I have who live there do love it, however much they complain about the Blue Line.

Andersonville feels like a wonderful interesting small town, Lakeview and Boy's Town are lovely but it's hard to find an accessable apartment in a cheaper price range. Wrigleyville is not as bad as everyone warned me, cheap, and close to the Red and the Brown, but the Cubs fans do drive me bonkers and I think I'd like to live a bit south, closer to Belmont.

I just recently moved here so I am sure there are whole swathes of the city I am missing, but it's the shit and I'm happy for you.

*I linked to an older story because it listed the bus lines, but the fares are frozen for the next 2 years.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:21 PM on November 15, 2009

I lived in Ravenswood and always liked it. But I pined to live in Andersonville.
posted by scody at 7:36 PM on November 15, 2009

I lived in both Andersonville and the South Loop. My commute (to Navy Pier) was an 45 min/an hour from A-Ville in traffic, by bus -- and 10 minutes from the South Loop. I figured I could travel anywhere on the weekends, but didn't want to spend the majority of my time commuting.
posted by melodykramer at 7:39 PM on November 15, 2009

2nding Roscoe Village. Close access to everything. It has a great neighborhood feel.
posted by 6:1 at 7:40 PM on November 15, 2009

I'd look at Lincoln Square as well. Look into the area near Southport Ave on the west side of Wrigleyville. Roscoe is a lot of 30 year olds with strollers.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2009

Are you keeping your car? East lakeview is more friendly to not having one. Most people I know in Roscoe Village have one. Also, what do you like to do for fun? East lakeview it'd be really easy to go running and make use of the lakefront. Roscoe Village may be closer to kickball groups. Lincoln Square is another area to consider but would be a slightly longer commute.
posted by ejaned8 at 7:58 PM on November 15, 2009

Keep in mind that no matter where you live, you can always travel for entertainment; the interesting shops and exotic restaurants and many excellent bars. When I get my party on, I do not mind taking some unfamiliar bus or spending 45 minutes dozing off on the El in the middle of the night.

But grocery shopping and work: these are two things I'm always in a rush for and I don't want to spend a million years on and when the city is drowned in snow I'm going to be happy that they're easy to get to.

So don't worry if people say the neighborhood you want to live in can be boring, or whatever, if it works out for you. Personally, I'm the exact wrong demographic for the chach sport bars full of television and bros in Wrigleyville, but I have a good time regardless.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:11 PM on November 15, 2009

Lincoln Square is a good neighborhood to consider, as is Andersonville. Andersonville is a bit farther from the train, so it might be a little more difficult to get downtown for work, depending on where in the neighborhood you live.

Keep in mind that if you like hanging out in Wicker Park & Bucktown, even if you don't want to live there, you might want to think about neighborhoods from which that part of town is easily accessible. Andersonville wouldn't be among them, unless you like slow bus rides. Ukrainian Village and Noble Square might appeal, though.
posted by me3dia at 9:20 PM on November 15, 2009

Andersonville and Lincoln Square, definitely. The former if you drive, the latter if you take the train.
posted by davejay at 12:04 AM on November 16, 2009

I lived in Lincoln Square for five years and loved it. If you're near Damen or Western you can hop a bus to Wicker Park with no problem.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:07 AM on November 16, 2009

I kind of like Old Town. It is close to downtown, the Gold Coast (nice if you have the $$$$) and has charm.
posted by caddis at 7:07 AM on November 16, 2009

A few thoughts on transportation in Andersonville:

I lived about 3 blocks from the Argyle Red Line station. I liked being far enough north that I could often get a seat, and at the very least could always get on the train on crowded days (unlike some of my fellow commuters at, say, Addison). People at my office in the Loop, upon discovering I lived in Andersonville, would sometimes comment that I lived "soooo far north" but I never really understood their distaste for living north of Lakeview.

I agree with the caution above that living by the Red Line makes getting to Wicker Park a longer endeavor by public transit. I'd If you absolutely must be within a 10 minute train/bus ride to Wicker Park, Andersonville (or nearly anywhere on the north side, off the Red Line) probably isn't for you. However, the occasional 30-40 minute bus ride or $15 cab ride for a night out in Wicker Park didn't especially bother me.

In terms of driving/having a car: I took the bus or train, or walked to get anywhere, and I didn't have my own car. My husband had less patience for CTA's quirks, and he also had further to travel (some days he was on the South Side, others he was up in the North Shore suburbs), so he tended to drive. Admittedly, it was nice to have a partner who a) had a car, and b) was willing to drive me places when I had an appointment that was not conveniently reached by CTA. I do know people who live in Andersonville without cars who rely on friends or Zipcar/iGo. Parking is reasonably easy to find, especially compared to other neighborhoods. I guess what I mean is that having a car (or a membership to a car-sharing service) in Andersonville makes life easier, but it's not unheard of for an Andersonville resident to be car-less.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:17 AM on November 16, 2009

(I don't know if it's obvious or not, but I really loved Andersonville and would be happy to tell you more about it. But I promise I won't post anything else in this thread. Scout's honor.)
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:18 AM on November 16, 2009

When I lived in Boystown my commute to work was a little less than an hour door to door. The Red line got me downtown in about half an hour. The bus was longer, but still really convenient.
posted by xammerboy at 7:40 AM on November 16, 2009

I live in Roger's Park and I love it. It's not quite so crowded as Andersonville, so parking's easier than in that neighborhood and you don't always feel like people are breathing down your neck. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment is from 500-800 a month, and it's not quite as sleazy as Uptown. There are sections I wouldn't want to hang around at night in [really sleazy laundrymats/dollar shops mostly], but it's still a pretty family-friendly neighborhood.
It's a really big Hispanic neighborhood and one of my favorite things about it is all tyhe street vendors. Hot tameles on every corner! At least when the weather's decent.
posted by shesaysgo at 7:57 AM on November 16, 2009

I'm in East Lakeview / Boystown and I love it (heterosexual couple, professionals, no kids if that matters; we own so I can't really speak to rents in the neighborhood). Clubs, bars, grocery, recreational-shopping, chores-shopping, live music, cheap and fancy restaurants (as well as all kinds of delivery), the Lake, bike paths, the Lincoln Park, all within very easy walking distance. I mostly ride a commuter-route express bus which gets me to the Loop in 20-30 minutes (including walk and wait-time) every morning (although coming home is in the 35-60 minute range) but the Belmont el stop is about a half mile walk, too, I just never use it. I've lived in Bucktown, the Gold Coast, Roscoe Village, and East Lakeview. There's partial-express buses which run to the museum campus. It's about an hour on public transit to either airport and it seems there's a critical mass of local bus routes within spitting distance.

I don't get to Wicker Park as much as I used to (when I was younger and when I lived in the Gold Coast and Bucktown, it was one bus ride over, now it's two-bus-with-a-transfer ride), but I have most of what I need nearby. If there is a particular thing in Wicker Park (like the Fluevog store or the Violet Hour) which has no equivalent in my neighborhood, I make the trip; otherwise, I think all the neighborhoods will have something equally appealing as any given spot in Wicker Park.

I wouldn't have a car in the city, but I don't find the pace of public transportation frustrating. I guess the inconvenience of the time cost--for me--is well offset by the gains of not woning and never driving a car. The adjustment was one I made without noticing; it's harder on Guy, who remains in the mindset of you should only ever be ten minutes in transit either side of what you're doing.

I think the best way to pick a neighborhood in Chicago is to live in a couple of them. And while you're living in one, really live in it. Walk up and down the streets around your place and go in shops to look around, go in bars for a drink, say hello to the people sitting on the stoops. Then find out how hard it is to get to the Indian place up on Devon, or down to Chinatown for dim sum, or to the Logan Square Auditorium for a show. Then consider how often you'd rather do that than something within stumbling distance. You'll figure out soon enough where in the city you should live.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:06 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey, EveryBlock Chicago could help you. It's local news at the neighborhood level. Gives you a sense of what's happening in any given part of the city, including crime, general news coverage, etc.

(Disclaimer: I work for the site.)
posted by adrian_h at 8:43 AM on November 16, 2009

We live in southeast Rogers Park, on the edge of Edgewater/Andersonville.

I love it.

-Yes, there is a commute down to the loop every day, but if you are the sort of person who likes some time to relax, stare out a window (because you'll always get a window seat) and wake up in the morning - like me - that can be seen as a benefit. Wicker park will be a pain to reach by public transit if you don't have a vehicle. I lived here for 1.5 years without a car and was perfectly fine. I now live with my boyfriend who has a car, and we never have troubles with parking. My commute to work (in the Loop) is an hour, door-to-door.

-Rent will be much cheaper in the Andersonville area than most other Red Line areas, certainly Lakeview. We have a huge and fantastically maintained 2 bedroom and pay 1000.

- Diverse. According to Wiki, "The 2000 census data, like those of 1980 and 1990, showed it to be one of the most diverse communities, if not the most diverse, in the entire country. A robust mix of ethnic backgrounds with over 80 assorted languages flavor the neighborhood. "

- Lots of cool shops, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Sidenote: Wicker park is where I go once or twice a month for an afternoon shopping with friends, or to go out to the bars, or to get my hair cut. I have never been impressed by the selection of restaurants, personally.
posted by Windigo at 9:05 AM on November 16, 2009

Nthing Lincoln Square. I lived there a year and still pine for it! Super sweet neighborhoods, easy transportation, lots of walking distance grocery stores and shops and restaurants. Plus, the Davis Street theater is always a cheap bet.

I was in my 20s when I moved to Chicago and lived in East Lakeview/Boystown for a few years. It was *amazing* to be so close to the lake, and I miss that aspect of it. Also, lots of little cafes, coffee shops, and things to do, and good for public transportation. It did become a bit of a nightmare when I got a car, and also tough for car-drivers to come and visit me. One night, friends drove around for an hour in the permit-neighborhoods (they had a visitor pass) and still had to cave and pay $15 for parking.

We live in Humboldt Park/Logan Square right now, which is inexpensive and there's some fun restaurants popping up (Urban Belly, Belly Shack? YUM!), but the hipster element is way more intense than Wicker Park/Bucktown. Although, we can walk to both the heart of Logan Square and all of Wicker Park/Bucktown in less than 20 minutes.

Good luck!
posted by knmr76 at 12:34 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

my gentleman-friend and i live in wicker park, on a beautiful tree-lined street around north and western, namely because it reminds me a lot of our montreal neighborhoods.

when we first moved to chicago, we wound up living with his sister in humboldt park -- which was insanely cheap and had some neat things around it (flying saucer, the feed, the continental), but still a little up-and-coming for me and i didn't feel safe walking around by myself at night.

so, we looked at logan square, uki village, bucktown and wicker park when we moved into our own place, mostly because the folks we knew lived in those spots. i wound up going with this apartment because it's a huge 1 bedroom with high ceilings, wood floors and lots of light. plus it is a steal compared to what friends are paying in other large US cities. we pay $950 a month, plus electricity (around $20) and gas ($30).

don't be afraid of the blue line! the construction only goes on during the weekend and they run free shuttle buses which is a bonus because you don't have to pay . . . neither of us has a car -- adam bicycles to work, i take the blue line to my office in the west loop and bicycle on the weekend -- we are heading in the direction of zip-car membership for ikea/target runs and for ease of taking foster cats back to the shelter.

mostly, i love that we live within walking distance of these things ::

- damen blue line stop
- north/milwaukee/damen bus
- aldi!
- odd obsessions, the most in-depth movie store ever created
- depanneur
- sultan's (for a cheap, but ok falafel)
- myopic (used bookstore)
- cheetah gym
- village thrift
- ipsento, and new wave a short bicycle ride away
- bicycle shop
- bucktown/wicker park library
- cheap nail salons (i love me the manicures)
- tasty veggie brunch

you're right that wicker is getting too fratty, we will probably migrate up to logan or palmer square once our lease is up. stick to the western side of damen and you should be fine.

but seriously, don't be scared of hipsters. they are like wild animals -- more afraid of you than you are of them.
posted by chickadee at 8:32 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

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