I am considering a position at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) main campus. Where in Chicago should I live?
April 13, 2012 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Where in Chicago should I live if I take a position at the Illinois Institute of Technology?

I am considering taking a position at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) main campus. Where in Chicago should I considering living?

What neighborhoods should I be considering?

How safe is the area around IIT?

The campus looks fairly well served by public transportation including the CTA red and green lines and a Metra station. I plan on renting an apartment or condo at first.

-Easy parking for my car and another. I need to drive my car to other cities regularly and my partner also needs a parking spot.

Things I Like:
-Short commutes
-Easy access to public transportation
-Safe and low crime neighborhoods
-Other interests include ultimate frisbee, sailing, windsurfing, biking
-I think I would prefer to live in a more urban area
-Relatively low cost but nice housing options.
-Asian grocery stores
-Easy access to green spaces
posted by cycleback to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I'd highly recommend the McKinley Park neighborhood, which is just a couple miles west of IIT. If you ride a bike, it'd be a short ride. McKinley Park features the park it is named after, a really nice park at that. It's primarily a residential neighborhood, but you definitely feel like you're in the city. A short drive or bike ride to Chinatown up Archer Avenue.

The neighborhood is served by the Orange Line on the El, either the 35th/Archer or Ashland stops. It's very quick to Midway Airport, only about 10 minutes on the El. Plenty of parking. And definitely an affordable neighborhood. When I first moved to Chicago I looked in Bridgeport, Pilsen, etc. but found that the apartments in McKinley Park are much nicer. I've been in the neighborhood for 5 years now.

My apartment is available for rent (I'm leaving Chicago), MeMail me if you might be interested.
posted by BugsPotter at 4:03 PM on April 13, 2012

The Bridgeport neighborhood is right next door, and a pretty safe area. You could also look in the South Loop area or Chinatown, although parking will be a bit more difficult in those areas.

Ultimate frisbee is pretty popular on campus, and it's also not far to the lakeshore bike path.
posted by borkencode at 4:26 PM on April 13, 2012

The area around IIT is improving by leaps and bounds. I don't know about the crime, but it feels much safer than it has in the past.

(My criteria for this is generally: are there businesses? And do the people you see around look like they are doing something, or just hanging around?)

I would think that the South Loop area would be pretty good for your criteria. Close to the lakefront, close to work, close to public transit, close to downtown, close to Chinatown for all your Asian grocery needs. When i go through there during the day for work, it always has a nice urban feeling, without a congested feeling. I don't know about prices though. If your housing doesn't have 2 parking spaces available for you, you can probably find a lot nearby that could accommodate.

As far as public transit goes, you would be well served to look at the CTAs bus maps, and potentially pick a place that's near a convenient bus route. Housing near El stops is going to always be more expensive, but I don't think that's as much the case for bus routes. Maybe look for something between Roosevelt and Cermak, and East of Clark to the lake. The only downside is that the area can get a little congested during Bears games, but that's only really like 8 times a year.

One thing a friend of mine did for parking was to get a monthly pass at a lot near work, and keep the second car there. Maybe IIT has a monthly lot that works that way? You could keep your car at work, and your partner could use the spot at home.
posted by gjc at 9:36 AM on April 14, 2012

Response by poster: Is living in one of the Northwestern neighborhoods feasible? Any other neighborhoods on the red or green lines I should look at?
posted by cycleback at 8:44 PM on April 14, 2012

General advice: stay south of Belmont: north of that would take forever to get to work.
Transferring from blue line or to the red is a hassle and can add another 15 minutes to each direction. Not deal breakers but something to consider. The Green line stop is in the middle of campus, the red line is on the expressway and shared with the White Sox, so I would lean towards the green line.

Short commute:
South loop: expensive. good luck with the second car. Short commute.
Little Italy/ University Village - along Taylor street there is various cafes and restaurants. lots of students. Can get two cars parked. Bike friendly. Bus service to IIT would be SLOW. Trains slower. Housing tends toward run down student joints.

Bridgeport, Canaryville and Chinatown are bike friendly.

Chinatown is downwind of a very old coal plant - so the air quality there is even worse than average. It is supposed to close down in the near future.
Bridgeport is ok - has some of the same air quality issues Chinatown has. Isn't well known but has decent spots to go out to.
Got nothing on Canaryville.

Bronzeville: IIT is located there. Immediately around IIT it is mostly fine- but there are few services.

Farther south is Hyde Park, home of the UofC, and is nice and booky. West on the green line is west loop, which is a little spotty (few services) but is getting a new station in the happening part of town. Farther west (way far) is Oak Park, which on the Green line would take at least 45 minutes to get to IIT. I live here, so I think its the best. There is heaps of spots north and northwest, and that is where many of the cool kids live.
posted by zenon at 10:03 PM on April 14, 2012

Hi Cycleback, welcome to Chi Town! We have an apartment for rent in East Ukranian Village (also called East village and often included in Wicker Park), which is not next door to IIT but it is a MUCH hipper, safer and more fun neighborhood IMHO. It is $900/month, recently rehabbed but still somewhat vintage/rustic. No laundry facility in building however, which may be a deal killer. You can ME-mail me for more info. and no, Northwest suburbs would be completely inconvenient for you since you will be working Southeast. What a great time of year to move to Chicago! Best of luck.
posted by Lylo at 2:26 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bridgeport sounds like it might be right for you. It's safe, affordable, diverse, quirky, near Chinatown (Asian groceries!) and just across the Dan Ryan from IIT. Parking is easy. Since it has been a middle-class neighborhood forever and hasn't really gentrified in the stereotypical way, you won't find many fancy apartments, mostly understated but well-kept buildings.

Pilsen is just a little further away and also worth considering. It has more of a typical gentrification dynamic--primarily latino with an influx of artists, etc. over the last couple decades. In addition to older flats, you'll find lofts and condos built during the boom, many of which are now for rent at affordable rates. Parking is slightly harder, as the area has more of a dense urban feel.

Bronzeville is rapidly improving in terms of safety and general pleasantness, and has lake access--recently given a big makeover, no less--but is short on retail and services. As you'll notice from the Green Line, big chunks of it are empty lots, mostly thanks to the CHA Plan for Transformation. But other parts are intact or have filled in nicely.

McKinley Park is like Bugs said--quiet, nice, affordable, somewhat off the beaten path--though the commute to IIT would be tricky despite the fact that it isn't far away. (Orange line to Roosevelt and transfer to Green maybe?)

Hyde Park, Kenwood, and Oakland are worth considering, especially if Hyde Park continues to draw in new stores and restaurants, but you'll pay more if you want to be in the portion between 47th and 59th where there is the most going on. The South Loop has less to do than you'd expect (though it too is slowly getting better) and is even more on the expensive side, especially once you include parking. I lived there for a year when I first came to Chicago, and I can't recommend it.

Neighborhoods with direct Green Line access south of Bronzeville--Washington Park, Englewood, Woodlawn--have serious crime problems and are basically de-urbanizing before our eyes. West on the Green Line past Ashland is not quite as dire, but is not good either. I'd stick with the near South Side if I were you, probably Bridgeport or Pilsen.
posted by hal incandenza at 11:13 AM on April 19, 2012

« Older Travels with Charlie, revisited.   |   Best rotary-style electric razor? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.