When most people think of Chicago, the image that comes to mind is that of bitter cold winters with wind whipping off the lake and temperatures pushing into single digits. Although it’s cold for part of the year in the Windy City, those perfect summer temperatures are a great reason to enjoy all the natural resources that Chicago has to offer. Over 18 miles of lakefront and 552 public parks is one of the reasons that more than 2.7 million residents have made Chicago their home.
If you are considering moving to Chicago, here is a look at some of the unheralded advantages that living in this great city offers. We also offer what to consider when searching for that perfect home for your relocation to Chicago.
Suburban Perks in an Urban Context
Chicago is the third largest city in the country with just over 2.7 million residents. Located on Lake Michigan, the city sprawls across 237 square miles and offers the perks of suburbia in an urban setting. In neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park, residents can enjoy a backyard and the extra space so often associated with suburban living while only being a 15 minute drive from the Magnificent Mile.
Even downtown Chicago condos are often just minutes away from huge parks that allow you to enjoy a bit of greenery. Gold Coast condos, for example, border Lincoln Park, which stretches seven miles along the coast of Lake Michigan.
Sprawling Public Spaces
While many people agonize over the unfavorable effects of urban sprawl, Chicago is renowned for its hundreds of parks and green spaces throughout the city. The 18.5 miles of lakefront also offer 24 public beaches (including a dog beach for pet lovers), thus allowing Chicagoans to get the most out of those lovely summer months.
To visit some of those 500 plus parks and public spaces, Chicago has recently incorporated over 200 miles of shared bike lanes along the roads that connect the city. The Lakefront Trail is a shared use path for walking, jogging and cycling that runs the entire length of the lakefront. Farther north, the recently renovated North side 606 Trail is converted from an old railroad line into a beautiful foot and bicycle path that offers a safe and fun way to enjoy the urban outdoors.
In the downtown area, both Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park offer huge green areas, unique playgrounds, and ample space to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle while surrounded by the Chicago skyline.
The opportunity to Downsize
For retirees looking to downsize, real estate in Chicago is a solid investment as market trends show a steady 1% annual rise in the median sales price of homes and condos. People looking for second homes or rental properties would also do well to consider Chicago as a destination as rental prices are increasing even faster than the median sales price of homes.
Moving to downtown Chicago, particularly Gold Coast or Streeterville, offers homeowners an option to downsize to a more economical way of living. Scaling down from a 3500 sq ft home in the suburbs to a smartly sized condo is a great opportunity to reduce home expenses and maintenance tasks while also limiting your commute time. High rise condos and lofts in these areas start at a minimum of $250,000 for a one bedroom, one bathroom 850 sq ft unit. Vintage buildings co-exist with sleek new high rises, offering buyers many different choices in finding what best suits their needs.
What to Consider When Moving to Chicago
If you are planning a relocation to the Chicago area, whether it be for retirement, downsizing, or simply a change in lifestyle, here are four things you should consider to find that perfect home.
1. Choose your Neighborhood Wisely
Chicago is made up of 77 community areas that are often grouped in 9 districts or “sides”. A Chicago neighborhood map is helpful in understanding the location of the neighborhood.
Use a resource like the one below to learn more about each neighborhood and what it offers:
Your local realtor can also help you determine where you might like to live based on your wants and needs. Perhaps you want to live close to major expressways or public transportation for an easy commute to work. You may need to live in a single family home in a residential area with great schools. Perhaps you’ve raised your family in a large suburban home, and decide that now its time to downsize and move to a high rise condominium in the heart of downtown Chicago where you can experience the cosmopolitan lifestyle.
The best way to get acclimated to the city is to spend some leisure time in the areas you are interested in. Ask your local realtor to recommend Open Houses you can attend to get a feel for the neighborhood and type of homes that exist there. Visit any restaurants, shops, and other points of interest. We recommend trying out several different neighborhoods to see what you feel most comfortable with.
2. Start your Property Search
Now that you have decided on the neighborhood, focus on searching for the perfect property. There are many search engines on the internet; however, the best way to find the home of your dreams is to work with a local realtor who knows the market and inventory and can help focus you in the right direction. The realtor will help you identify your key needs and wants in a property and then find those properties for you.
Most of your property search is going to be done online, and that’s really a timesaver for you, because it gives you the opportunity to narrow down to your top choices without ever having to leave the comfort of your home. Once you have determined your top choices, your realtor will schedule a tour of properties. We recommend seeing between 3-5 maximum at one time, as more than that will start to blend all the properties together.
3. Make an Offer
When you find the right property, it’s time to take action. Make an offer! Your realtor will provide you with comparative market analysis data to help you determine the value of the property and what to offer. He/she will negotiate to obtain the best sales price for you! Your realtor will guide you through the entire process including providing resources needed to bring the transaction to closure!
4. Time to Move
You’ve closed on your new home and now you are ready to move. If you are downsizing from a large home to a condo, you will need to determine what to take with and what to get rid of. Whether you donate, sell or give away items, you will find that the experience of downsizing can be very “freeing”. Living in less space with less furniture and home maintenance tasks frees up your time to enjoy a completely new lifestyle. If you are relocating for job purposes, retirement, or to be near family, you may find that you prefer to completely re-furnish your new home. Whatever your situation, your realtor can provide you with resources to help you plan your transition to your new life!
If you are considering moving to Chicago, we are here to help every step of the way.