From a California Craftsman to a Chicago Bungalow
December 6, 2012 11:07 AM   Subscribe

What are the best neighborhoods around Chicago to buy a classic bungalow for under $350k?

I've lived in Chicago before, but never in the Bungalow Belt, just apartments in West Town and Logan Square. Since moving away, I've acquired a Significant Other with mobility issues who would have trouble with a walk-up and a dog who almost got us thrown out of an apartment, so we would like to buy a single family house immediately on moving back.

But, I loved the denser neighborhoods in Chicago. Ideally, we'd find something that's Brown Line adjacent, but that gets pricey fast. I would be working in the Loop, so easy transit is very important. Where can we find a good mix of local attractions, but that's still easy to commute downtown and to visit the rest of the city?

Also, can anyone MeMail me recommendations for a real estate agent who is good with long-distance deals?
posted by hwyengr to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you consider Evanston a chicago neighborhood?
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:49 AM on December 6, 2012

Yeah, if it's close to the L or Metra.
posted by hwyengr at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2012

Most classic Chicago bungalows in my experience have front steps. Just sayin'...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2012

Front steps are different than a "walk up" which usually means walk up several flights to your apt.

Ya kind of have to hunt and peck for affordable bungalows. I know Berwyn has been advertising it's plethora of them.

These guys may help HCBA.
posted by Max Power at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2012

North Park, very small neighborhood that begins 4 blocks north of Kimball Stop on the Brown Line. Many homes here sell for under $350K right now. VERY dog friendly. (Everyone seems to have one.)
posted by jeanmari at 12:18 PM on December 6, 2012

Yeah, front steps are okay. Parking a couple of blocks away and climbing flights of stairs is not.
posted by hwyengr at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2012

I've spent the past decade in the Logan Square/Bucktown/Ukrainian Village corridor. When my wife and I started looking at houses last year, we gradually worked our way up the Blue Line towards O'Hare until we started finding prospects in our price range. Far and away the nicest pocket of classic, reasonably well-maintained bungalows was just north of Portage Park (the actual park) bordered roughly by Montrose, Central, Berteau, and Laramie. I'd strongly suggest starting your search there. Some of the houses there are quite nice and close to your price range. It's less than a mile to the Blue Line and 90/94, and while it's not Logan Square in terms of nightlife (you'd be amazed if you've been away for a few years), there are movie theaters, shops, and at least one gastropub-y restaurant within walking distance.

From there, you can work your way up the Blue Line towards O'Hare, where you'll find similar houses for less money as you go. Jefferson Park has a lot of modest bungalows and seems pleasant, although it's a pretty long ride to the Loop at that point. You'll find plenty of bungalows if you head west from Portage Park, but I'm not sure what there is to do over there. We ended up buying in Oak Park after realizing that a bungalow wasn't really a good fit for us.

I don't know how important architectural integrity is for you, but be prepared to see some really butchered houses that have been "improved" in ghastly ways. My hopes of finding the quintessential Craftsman cottage in your price range were quickly dashed. If you don't plan to use the attic/second floor as living space or can do some renovation yourself, you'll probably find better options than I did.

I joined MF just to answer this question, so feel free to ask any follow-up questions that might occur. Good luck!
posted by ndg at 12:38 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have family at the edge of Old Irving/Mayfair near the Montrose stop on the Blue Line and that seems to be in the ballpark for brick bungalows around there. You're making me nostalgic for my old brick bungalow, they are awesome.
posted by readery at 1:20 PM on December 6, 2012

Jefferson Park/45th Ward.
posted by timsteil at 1:33 PM on December 6, 2012

Parts of Norwood Park/Edison Park are close to transit to downtown (though car is necessary for day-to-day). They're quieter, but we are able to find a nice house close to the blue line though the area attractions are mainly a few restaurants in Park Ridge and Edison Park.
posted by ejaned8 at 2:54 PM on December 6, 2012

Are you willing to consider the south side? Bridgeport and McKinley Park have Orange Line stations and are pretty lovable neighborhoods. If I were looking for an SFH in the city in your price range, that's where I'd start.
posted by hal incandenza at 9:38 PM on December 9, 2012

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