Where Should We Live in North Chicago / Waukegan?
June 29, 2012 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Where should we live in the North Chicago / Waukegan area?

We are moving from Seattle to the North Chicago area this fall. My wife will be attending Rosalind Franklin University and I will be teaching in an elementary school in Waukegan. We are trying to find a place to live and are hearing some conflicting information about what neighborhoods/towns are considered safe. On the one hand, we don't want to live somewhere scary -- on the other hand, we don't want to live somewhere that's gentrified or whitewashed. (For comparison, we would feel comfortable living in almost any part of Seattle).

We are a 20-something, white, cis-gendered, heterosexual couple with a small dog, and we would be looking to rent an apartment or small house. Budget is about $1000 a month including utilities, although that's somewhat flexible. We'd like to be close to the El and at least somewhat close to Rosalind Franklin and my school in Waukegan.
posted by rossination to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to work in Waukegan in a school as well, and I lived in an apartment complex off of Lewis Ave. I think my building was on Samson Way. It was on the north side and felt pretty safe. That was 5 years ago.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:15 PM on June 29, 2012

If you want to be close to the El, you'll have to live in Evanston or Skokie but both of those are a hike from Waukegan. Perhaps you mean near the Metra? There are a couple of stations in Lake Forest/Lake Bluff and looking on Craigslist shows there are a few dog friendly apts in that area (a bit over your budget, though). The town of Lake Forest has a pretty cute downtown area, definitely safe, there are dog parks around the burbs. Libertyville is also a nice little safe town with a train station. Both of those places will require a bit of driving for the both of you but I lived near those places and made the drive to Waukegan frequently (and as a teacher, I always liked not living in the town where I taught.)
posted by adorap0621 at 6:22 PM on June 29, 2012

You're way off the El at that point--the northern terminus of the most northerly line is 22 miles south of Rosalind Franklin.

You probably want to look at the Metra, whose Union Pacific-North line runs along the lake to Waukegan, unless you have a car.

If you DO want to live on the El, and the longish commute north is something you're planning for, Rogers Park is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago proper, and the closest to Waukegan and Rosalind Franklin. It's also on the El, diverse, not aggressively gentrified, and very, very affordable.
posted by pullayup at 6:27 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whoops - yes, the Metra, not the El. Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by rossination at 6:27 PM on June 29, 2012

Check out Winthrop Harbor. Quiet and sleepy. Very near a nice state park and the lake. Park City seems awful when I drive through it (not dangerous, just cheap). Zion is weird.
posted by gjc at 6:44 PM on June 29, 2012

A friend of mine used to live in Greyslake, and I took the Metra to visit her. She had a nice apartment with two cats within 5 minutes of the Metra. It was an extremely safe neighborhood, "cute" downtown (with one really cheap, tasty diner, if I remember right), and similar most likely to Lake Forest and Libertyville. I've also been to Rogers Park, which was much different, and which I greatly loved, but I've never known anyone who lived there.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:30 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

As long as Rogers Park is coming up... I lived in Rogers Park and I'd never, ever, ever want to drive from there up to Waukegan or North Chicago every day (though living there was nice - I lived closer to the lake than the train station, though). Metra... maybe (it's almost certainly less time on the train than in the car). The train schedule you'd use is here.. actually, it's probably the line for any town you'd use. The line stops in Waukegan and NC and I have no idea how far it is from the station to your schools. Notice that to take the Metra north on weekdays, you'd be arriving in the north at 6:50, 7:50, 8:50, or 9:50 in the morning. Really, though, I'd look in the 'burbs. (Honestly, any of the burbs on the UP North line are pretty nice.. it'll just be about finding a place in your budget.)
posted by adorap0621 at 7:48 PM on June 29, 2012

I lived in Waukegan for maybe four years. It was a one bedroom apartment in a converted single family house on Jackson near Atlantic for $650 (about seven years ago). My father still lives in that neighborhood, near Victory Memorial Hospital. If I were moving back to that area, I would stay north of Washington, so certainly Waukegan over North Chicago. Plus, there is a Baxter medical plant in N. Chicago that sometimes makes the whole area smell like basement mold.

As for the more western suburbs with Metre stations, like Grayslake or Antioch, you'd probably have a commute of at least 45 minutes in normal rush hour conditions to get to Waukegan - maybe longer. The Metra trains only go north and south, so you can't get from Grayslake to Waukegan via the train.

I suggest looking as close to the lake as you can afford and keep an eye out for converted houses instead of apartment buildings or complexes. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions. Once you get settled, make sure to stop by Louie's on North Avenue for a beer and their 'super-duper' thin crust pizza (with green olives) Yum!
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:10 PM on June 29, 2012

I just graduated from RFUMS - feel free to MeMail me with any other questions that you might have. I lived on campus my first year - not an option for you because of your dog. My second year, I lived in Deer Valley, which was very nice, quiet, but to be honest, living in Waukegan was kind of a drag.

I lived in Evanston for the back half of my medical school years. It was perfect, because it was easy to get to campus via the Metra when I needed to, and it has the added benefit of being pretty much halfway between the two most distant hospitals that we rotated at, plus relatively easy access to Lutheran General (now the primary clinical affiliate for the university). Easy to get into the city via the El or the Metra. Plenty of dog-friendly rentals, too, and close to the lake. Rogers Park also fits the bill here, except for the access to LGH.
posted by honeybee413 at 12:34 AM on June 30, 2012

If I were you, and living locally, I'd be checking for apartments everywhere along the Metra line starting at Highwood and going north. You can make it less expensive if you are willing to drive to the Metra.
posted by BibiRose at 6:12 AM on June 30, 2012

I grew up in that area. STAY OUT OF NORTH CHICAGO. It's horribly economically depressed due to the fact that much of the land is zoned tax free and they just don't have the money to improve. When I lived in my grandparents old house there for a couple of years there were 3 murders on my block in one summer.

As for Waukegan, it's ok, the closer you get to NC the more depressed it is. 10th street is the line of demarcation between Wuakegan/NC. anything between 10th and Grand Ave east of Lewis Ave. will be heavily hispanic, low income, generally safe, but if ya got issues be warned.

The further north you go from "downtown" the better it gets generally, by the time you get to Zion you'll think you're in the south. Try Beach Park, low crime, good access to stuff, ecxept restaurants, there are none, it's a shame.

If ya want details lemme know, I have intimate knowledge of that area.
posted by Max Power at 8:27 AM on June 30, 2012

Hi Everyone! We found a place in North Waukegan, about 2 blocks from Louie's an a mile from the school where I'll be teaching. Thank you for your advice and reassurance. Honeybee and Max, I may PM you in the future with RFUMS / Waukegan questions.

posted by rossination at 3:57 PM on June 30, 2012

Louie's makes great pizza, also try Quonset.
posted by Max Power at 4:36 PM on June 30, 2012

Welcome to Waukegan! Fireworks are tonight at the lakefront ... best to ride a bike/walk or stay on Sheridan Road.

Hope you are able to get down to one of the ArtWAUKs ... 3rd Saturday of the month, at the galleries, restaurants and shops on Genesee Street.

Every other Saturday, there is a new concert series they are trying out at the Lakefront ... Stiner Pavilion ... $5 per person. This weekend is a blues band. Lots of good local music. The ride down to the beach is not that inviting (industrial) but the beach is really nice once you get there. (no lifeguards on duty, though) and if you don't have your city sticker yet, they will ask for $20. BUT that doesn't apply for the concerts.

On Tuesdays, the Waukegan Band plays there ... those concerts are free. They play classical and standards.

Also, great that you are involved with the Rosalind Franklin and the schools. They, along with the Lake County Health Department, have a free medical clinic on the first Wednesday I think) in August every year at Miguel Juarez Middle School. They give "back-to-school" medical and dental exams, available to anyone in Lake County. I think they served 2000+ last year.

Anyway, WELCOME! And I totally agree about the Louie's & Quonset. Great places where you feel like you are stepping back in time! Also, for a bit more upscale pizza, try Fiamico at the corner of Sheridan & Grand. (they use fresh mushrooms! one of my complaints about nearly all of the restaurants in the area -- canned mushrooms. blech.)

Message or post if I can be of further assistance!
posted by Waukegan60087 at 9:54 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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