Living in Evanston, IL
August 23, 2006 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Evanston_Filter: My cousin will be moving to Northwestern University - he got a job there. He is looking for a place to live, close to campus so he can walk to work. Can anyone recommend places, areas, streets that will be good, as well as those he should avoid?
posted by jak68 to Travel & Transportation around Evanston, IL (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was at an open house a few weeks ago for an apartment at Optimum Towers. A little pricey for a suburb, but absolutely beautiful views and place. I think there are apartments for rent as well as for sale in that building.
posted by JakeWalker at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2006

Which side of campus will he be working at? It's fairly big. Evanston has changed a fair bit since I lived and worked there 10 years ago, but it was fairly easy to find housing there just about anywhere. North of campus is where things start to get more expensive though.

Anything east of Ridge between central and dempster should be walkable and a perfectly fine place to live.

Evanston and northern Chicago should also be very bikeable, so if your cousin wants to bike to work, he'd have more options.

As far as areas to avoid, that'd depend on what your cousin is comfortable with. For me, there's not really anywhere in Evanston I wouldn't be comfortable living, but I did live for a couple of years in the worst neighborhood of far Northern Chicago, which at the time was known as the Juneway Jungle and never had any problems. Still, I don't think that there are really and BAD neighborhoods in Evanston itself.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:50 AM on August 23, 2006

I recommend looking on or near Ridge Ave. I lived at Ridge and Church back in 1999, back when the only thing between the Metro and the L was the Levy senior center. It was an easy commute by bike or walking to campus, and the area was fairly calm. Once you go west of Ridge, things get a lot more suburban - single family homes with garages and lawns - but probably more expensive too.

Your friend could take the other route and live in one of those huge towers like the Park Evanston.

There are also some great places up near the football stadium.
posted by billtron at 11:57 AM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

Is he looking to buy or sell?

Either way, it's pretty expensive to live in Evanston. A LOT of people I know who work at NU end up living in Chicago for that very reason.

And does your cousin mind living in and amongst other college students? The immediate commutable area around NU has quite a few students living there, which may make weekends challenging noise wise.
posted by cajo at 12:06 PM on August 23, 2006

I meant buy or rent up there.
posted by cajo at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2006

When I was an undergrad at NU, I lived near the corner of Sherman and Foster, but, as you might expect, that's a huge "student ghetto" area, as is everything in Central Evanston.

As a grad student, I lived in South Evanston, near St. Francis Hospital, which was mostly untrammeled by students and was less expensive. It was actually a reasonably good place to live.

Of course, this was all a LOOOOOOOONG time ago (1980s), so YMMV.
posted by briank at 12:09 PM on August 23, 2006

You might also want to pose your question to Locals who belong to 43Places.
posted by NYCinephile at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just whatever you do, don't rent from Parliament. Not sure about now, but ten years back they had a lock on scads of the old buildings around town (like Ridge & Church, where I also lived) and I generally found them to be crappy landlords. I'd stay away from the Blue Whale (billtron, do you recall what street it's on? Maybe Hinman? It's an old 70's building that's big and... blue) or other apartment buildings that get high student turnover. I recall some really great places a few blocks south of campus. Dempster, Greenleaf, hunt around there. The area has some true gems. Hey, billtron, remember the apartment that caved in from too much snow? I had lived there 95-97.
posted by incessant at 12:18 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

blue whale. wow. my cousin lived there. don't live there.

incessant, thanks for the memories. I do remember that snowy apartment.
posted by billtron at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2006

Response by poster: thanks for the tips; i'm finding out the answers to some of the questions above (buy or rent? Rent, I imagine/ which part of campus?/ and living with students ok?).

meanwhile if you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them!
posted by jak68 at 12:56 PM on August 23, 2006

I would recommend living south of the university, within walking distance of an El station.

If your cousin has time to look before moving, he might want to try Apartment People -- my husband and I used them about 5 years ago, and although we didn't go for an apartment through them, it gave us a good feel for the area in an afternoon, and helped us narrow down what we were looking for. We then found our place in the Evanston Review.

The area immediately around Northwestern, especially to the north and west, tends to be either expensive, or apartments for students. The area south of school, down to Main, is quieter. If you live too far past Main, that's starting to get outside walking distance.

We lived just southwest of Dempster & Chicago Ave. It was about a 20 min walk to work and about 4 blocks from two major grocery stores, 2 blocks from the El train.

But when I would stay up late at night, I would often hear gunshots from about a mile west. The police blotter always confirmed it the next day. So I would avoid living west of Dodge Ave., until he's more familiar with the area. (It's too far to walk from there, anyway.)

Also, both apartment break-ins and car theft are big in Evanston, no matter the area. We only had one attempted break-in (I was awake and they ran off), but our building's laundry room was broken into and ransacked every few months. The area is plenty safe, just sayin'.

Anyway, I like living in Chicago much better. It's more affordable and has a mix of all kinds of people. :-)
posted by limeswirltart at 12:58 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

If he lives in Chicago, he will need to live close to the purple or the red line for easy train service. The purple line only runs on weekdays in a express service to Evanston, so be wary of the train schedules. I would recommend neighborhoods like Uptown or Rogers Park for closeness to Evanston. Probably 10-15 minute train ride.
posted by rabbitsnake at 1:00 PM on August 23, 2006

Ditto on the Juneway Jungle (on the Chicago side we have the Jonquil Jungle)

if you're looking to buy, hit up one of the seedier spots on Howard (the Evanston/Chicago border). That area is undergoing some serious renovation and you'll probably have some good return on your investor (you'll also be a force of gentrification, just so you know)

I would also recommend living in East Rogers Park, the northernmost Chicago neighborhood, which is a great community, has some unbelievably cheap rent, and is about ten to fifteen minutes away from Northwestern via the El.
posted by elr at 1:02 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I lived on a tiny street (Garnett Place) between Ridge and Maple and it was fine. (However, our landlord lived in a different state and thus was not all that attentive to repairs.) It was close to the Foster el stop. Your cousin might not want to get a place DIRECTLY underneath the el line, but I don't remember the el being atrociously noisy.

He might be interested in being pretty close to the el stops, though? (north to south) Linden/Central/Noyes/Foster/David/Dempster/Main/South Blvd/Howard. The Main/South/Howard neighborhoods weren't as nice as everything north from there.

The Chicago Reader is a free newspaper (printed weekly, in four big sections) and it has a ton of information about everything -- he might want to start reading that online. I love the Chicago Reader.
posted by oldtimey at 1:14 PM on August 23, 2006

I also recommend south Evanston. It is a nice bike ride/walk along the lakefront to get to campus (they even plow the path in the winter). The area between Main and Dempster is particularly nice.
There are also shuttles that can increase options if he doesn't have a car. The Ryan Field (football stadium) shuttle runs reliably and often during the school year, while the intercampus shuttle is year-round but often delayed.
posted by Sloben at 1:19 PM on August 23, 2006

Response by poster: Hi gang,
for what its worth, here are my cousin's responses:

-mind living with students?

I can be neighbors, but I am not interested in sharing. I would like a studio or one-bedroom.

-buy or rent? (rent, i imagine)


-which area of campus are you working in?

I am sort of on the North-Eastern end, within the life-science and engineering complex.
posted by jak68 at 1:45 PM on August 23, 2006

My friend lived near the Dempster El stop, and it only took a few weeks for him to get accustomed to the loudspeaker announcement ("This is Dempster. Next stop Chicago.") every 5-10 minutes. After a few years even I stopped hearing it when I was at his place.

Fortunately for your cousin, the purple line stopped running all night, which means that he can sleep in relative silence at night, but if he wants to stay out in Chicago late, he will have to get a cab back home from Howard St. Evanston is a lot like Boston in that regard.

Incidentally, my father-in-law did his residency at Northwestern in the 1960s, and he and his wife fondly remember going to Howard on dates. Apparently it was the coolest place in Evanston back then. Who knew?
posted by billtron at 1:48 PM on August 23, 2006

("This is Dempster. Next stop is Davis.")
posted by billtron at 1:49 PM on August 23, 2006

If he's going to be farther north, perhaps the Noyes St. area? I always see lots of college kids up there.
posted by 912 Greens at 2:44 PM on August 23, 2006

I second the recommendation for the Apartment People. Like limeswirltart, I didn't lease from them, but they really gave me a good tour of the area I was interested in (not Evanston, sorry), and I had a good feel for where I should and shouldn't live when I was done. They are a little high-pressure, depending on the associate you get, but overall it was a good experience.
posted by Not in my backyard at 3:10 PM on August 23, 2006

I feel like I should have something to contribute to this thread.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 3:52 PM on August 23, 2006

Go Tech! oh memories...As far as students go, Sherman and Noyes is the new student ghetto, so I would avoid there probably. South of Clark will be a half hour plus walk up to Tech, which is fine in the summer but horrible in the winter. Garnett is nice, I had a few friends living there in my senior year, but most of the places there are pieces of a house, so it would probably be harder to find a single. Avoid being west of ridge, it gets sketchy pretty quickly! Sherman anywhere is actually a lot of students, a lot of the frats and sororities keep their off campus houses around there (Sherman and Foster especially) so there's a lot of partying, especially in the fall and just after rush in January. I used to live at Emerson and Maple, which was a quieter area and next to the shuttle stop at the grad student dorm. It was a little sketchy sometimes though, but I liked my apartment.

Apartment people is good, also check out the listings in the Daily Northwestern, they have them online, you can get to it from hereandnow.
posted by orangskye at 7:29 PM on August 23, 2006

Huh, I disagree that there isn't anywhere "okay" to live there. I've been through every neighborhood of that town in stupid clothes at 3 a.m. and drunk as a skunk. Sketchy! Feh. Admittedly I do have low standards. I mean, sure, we had the once-in-a-while shooting at or near our high school, but....

Anyway, if what you're talking around is what I assume it is, here's data on where the black people live, here's where the white people live, and here, more interestingly, is where people of 2 or more ethnicities cohabitate. That last one may be an indicator to locate pockets of students--but also lil' neighborhoods that are likely to be the funnest places to live. (More gays cohabitating to make your neighborhood sparkle, a nice mix of different cultures, open-minded folk, stores and restaurants that cater to non-Americans, that sort of good stuff.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:47 PM on August 23, 2006

We rented from Robinson Rentals-- had a one-bedroom on Reba Place near Ridge. It was a 10 minute walk to the El, close enough to Main Street, Chicago, Dempster, and the lake to get there whenever we wanted, but far enough away from students to have peace and quiet and have some neighbors in single family homes (which equals easier parking than on Hinman or other such streets where all the buildings are apts. Think about it.)

Renting from Robinson was a great experience-- they had quite a few vintage-type buildings and they were reasonably well kept-up. Our maintenance guy was available and most people seemed happy to live there. Just don't go south of Reba-- the next street south which is escaping me was ghetto-ish.

Just re-read the question-- if he really wants to walk to work, have him stay at the YMCA for a week or two before picking a place cold. That way he can get a better feel for the neighborhoods.
posted by orangemiles at 6:10 AM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks for the tips everyone. metafilter hive-mind rocks. ;)
posted by jak68 at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2006

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