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basille

Chicago, IL

449 posts in this topic

I live in Chicago and have for many, many years. I'd be happy to provide information (and opinions!) to prospective Chicago residents. I'm also pretty familiar with the major universities (U of C, UIC, Northwestern).

:D

On edit: I am going to include a whole bunch of helpful info about Chicago right up front, and then people with specific questions can feel free to ask away.

The city of Chicago is divided into 77 distinct community areas. Each area is pretty unique, and the cost of living varies depending on which area you live in. To make it more confusing, some community areas have neighborhood names that mark a certain set of blocks. For example, in the community area LAKEVIEW, there is a neighborhood called BOYSTOWN, which is where there have historically been larger numbers of GLBT individuals and businesses.

1. This link will take you to a map of the 77 community areas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_areas_of_Chicago

2. This link is an excellent overview of the different neighborhoods within the designated community areas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhoods_of_Chicago

3. Here are the community areas for some of the major universities within Chicago city limits:

IIT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas%2C_Chicago

UIC and Rush Medical College: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_West_Side%2C_Chicago

U of Chicago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Park%2C_Chicago

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul Downtown Campus, Roosevelt University, Columbia College, John Marshall Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Loop

Loyola University Chicago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Park%2C_Chicago

DePaul University Lincoln Park Campus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Park%2C_Chicago

4. Here is the link to the Chicago Transit Authority. A monthly unlimited pass (trains and buses) runs $75 a month.

http://www.transitchicago.com/

Be sure to check with your university to see if they participate in the U-Pass program. This generally allows you to pay $75 per semester, and it is generally added directly to your tuition bill. U of Chicago does not participate, sorry to say.

5. Many people are concerned about crime in a large city like Chicago. When you have identified an apartment that you like, you can always check the neighborhood crime stats at the following websites:

http://www.chicagocrime.org/

http://12.17.79.6/ctznicam/ctznicam.asp

6. Finding an apartment is a challenge, but nowhere near as challenging as in most major US cities. The rents vary depending on neighborhood, as do the amenties and whatnot. Chicago is a pretty dog-friendly city and the rental market is not brutal. Parking, on the other hand, can be very brutal in some neighborhoods. Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wicker Park and the Gold Coast will make you rue the day you ever bought a car. :) But, in these areas, you can find parking arrangements with parking lot comapnies, and if you can afford it, you can generally rent a parking space for $99-200 per month.

Some of the best online resources for finding an apartment:

http://chicago.craigslist.org/apa/

http://classifieds.chicagoreader.com/ch ... n=oid%3A8&

7. This page should give you a general idea of the cost of rent in some of the more popular Chicago neighborhoods:

http://www.apartmentpeople.com/ranges.asp

Incidentally, the Apartment People are a good resource for people looking to live on the North Side - particularly Lakeview, Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park. They will help you find an apartment at no cost to you: http://www.apartmentpeople.com

If you are interested in Bucktown, Wicker Park, UK Village or East Village, I might recommend North Clybourn Group: http://www.northclybourngroup.com/f-forrent.htm

For other North Side neighborhoods, I have heard some good things about the Apartment Guys: http://www.myapartmentguys.com/id77.html

I did all my apartment hunting through craigslist, but then again, I am very familiar with Chicago, so it was easier for me.

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Wow! That's awesome that you're offering advice. I will most likely be accepting my offer at U Chicago. What areas do you think are best live in for students? lower crime rate, lower price, conveinence, stuff to do etc?

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thank you basille..that's very nice of you! I am probably heading to UChicago too... I heard the area is not very safe, is it true?

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I am also considering an offer from Chicago, so any information would be appreciated. I've never lived in an especially large city before. Is the cost of living high there?

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Do you know which area NWU students normally live in? Do they normally live in Evanston or in Chicago and commute to school? I heard not so many people prefer living in Evanston, why is that?

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I just finished at U of Chicago and I live in Hyde Park. Some people say the crime is bad in Hyde Park, but I loved it here. I used to live in areas of NYC that were much worse. However, there definately is crime and you have to be careful. The further you go away from campus, the worse it becomes.

Public transportation is OK, but not great. It seems a lot of people live in Hyde Park the first year or two and then move to the north side of Chicago.

Hope this helps, I'd be glad to answer any other questions about the area.

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Wow! That's awesome that you're offering advice. I will most likely be accepting my offer at U Chicago. What areas do you think are best live in for students? lower crime rate, lower price, conveinence, stuff to do etc?

Let's see. If you want to live on campus, you'll be living in Hyde Park. There are a number of apartment management companies in the area, though the student apartments are fairly priced and tend to be located close to campus. Hype Park is somewhat isolated from the rest of the city, so it doesn't really have the "big city" feel that the neighborhoods on the northside have. Hyde Park is connected to the city via the Red line and Green line trains. Neither are particularly close... you generally take the bus to the train, which will then take you straight downtown. So if you are looking for a neighborhood with a large selection of restaurants, shops and places to hang out, I wouldn't recommend Hyde Park. However, since Hyde Park is pretty far south, if you don't want to commute then I would recommend living on campus. That said Hyde Park around 57th and 53rd Streets does have a nice little assortment of places to eat. There isn't a whole lot to do in HP, in my opinion, but it isn't totally barren either. And the rest of the city is accessible by public transportation. I lived in a different neighborhood before beginning at U of C so I didn't opt to commute since I knew I was only going to be there 2 years.

Hyde Park itself isn't tremendously crime-ridden, though it does have its share of issues. Break-ins seem to a slight problem as of late, but they are taking steps to solve this problem. HP is surrounded by some rough neighborhoods. HP is around the 5500 block. Woodlawn is the next neighborhood over and it's pretty rough. Around the 6300 block it can get pretty rough. Bronzeville and Kenwood are neighborhing hoods as well (around the 4300 block). They are also fairly rough. Most students find that they do not really need to venture into these neighborhoods, so the threat to students is minimal.

Grad student housing at U of C would be my first bet. Most of my friends lived in grad student housing and had good experiences for the most part. If that housing was not available, I would check with the companies listed on this webpage: http://apartments.uchicago.edu/realtors ... elist.html

Parking is somewhat of a nightmare in the residential areas.

If you are looking to live away from Hyde Park, I'd be happy to share info on the northside neighborhoods as well. From where I live, near Wicker Park, it takes me 35 minutes by car and about 70 minutes by train/bus to get to U of C.

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thank you basille..that's very nice of you! I am probably heading to UChicago too... I heard the area is not very safe, is it true?

As a whole, the university and the area immediately surrounding the school is not too problematic. Campus security does routinely patrol the campus and there are the obligatory emergency boxes. The university is bordered by rough neighborhoods but few students have any real need to venture into the areas, so it is generally not a problem. Things do happen in the vicinity of campus, however. Woodlawn has its share of community violence, as do the neighborhoods to the north of the school. But this is generally self-contained and does not really impact the students much. So it is a presence, but not generally a reality that students will encounter as they are communting to and from classes. There have been reports of break-ins and forced entrances into apartments. The best advice is to just be mindful of your surroundings and use the campus buses late at night when commuting. Lock your doors and windows. Walk with friends at night. General tips for living in a big city.

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I am also considering an offer from Chicago, so any information would be appreciated. I've never lived in an especially large city before. Is the cost of living high there?

It depends on the neighborhood. Chicago is an interesting place that has areas of very high rents and very affordable rents. And sometimes these areas are only blocks apart from each other. In general, there are some neighborhoods that are more expensive: Gold Coast and surrounding hoods, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and Bucktown (in parts). UK Village, East Village, Logan Square, Lincoln Square tend to be more affordable. Hyde Park is mixed - there are some expensive places, but a fair number of reasonably priced small apartments and studios. And U of C has very fair grad student apartment prices. If you are considering Chicago and wish to live on campus, I would check into these first. Their rents are quite affordable. I also posted a link above to some rental management companies that generally have pretty fair prices.

It is more expensive living in a city than in a suburban and rural area. Groceries are a bit more costly, but I think this is likely because taxes are higher. Gas prices are pretty high. Commuting is about $75 for an unlimited CTA pass. When I first moved to Chicago, I was able to make it on minimum wage working FT. Course I lived in a rough hood and had a roommate. :) But I have several friends in my program with me at U of C that have made it work off of part-time employment and their school loans. Students with stipends should fare ok since Chicago is, for a large city, still fairly affordable.

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Do you know which area NWU students normally live in? Do they normally live in Evanston or in Chicago and commute to school? I heard not so many people prefer living in Evanston, why is that?

I've had NWU pals that have lived in Evanston and liked the proximity to campus. The downtown has really sprung up in the past few years and so there are many little places to grab a nibble. And there is a new movie theater and plenty of nice little shops. That said, the biggest complaint tends to be that the nightlife in Evanston is somewhat stilted and not as good as you could get in Chicago. Those pals that attended NWU but lived in Chicago tended to do so because they wanted to be closer to the action, so to speak. If you live near the purple line, you'd be just fine. The commute from the city to NWU via the purple train line runs from 20 to 35 miuntes depending upon where you live. Apartments can be a shade cheaper in Evanston, but not by much. I've not known anyone to accept NWU housing, so I can't speak to that. I know that when I lived in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, there were a handful of NWU students that would grab the purple line at the Fullerton stop. Lincoln Park is a very active area and so I imagine they liked the nightlife. :)

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I would like to get more information about Illinois Institute of Technology.

I have been admitted to the master science program in mechanical engineering.

I would like to know if it is a good institute, is the university area safe?

How much will it cost me to rent a department in the university area ?

Thank you

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Hi basille. Could you tell me what neighborhoods I should look for housing in near UIC? If I end up in Chicago, likely either my husband and I will both be at UIC, or one at UIC and the other at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Is the easiest way to find an apartment to go to these neighborhoods and look for signs in the windows, pick up local papers, etc.?

Thanks!

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I would like to get more information about Illinois Institute of Technology.

I have been admitted to the master science program in mechanical engineering.

I would like to know if it is a good institute, is the university area safe?

How much will it cost me to rent a department in the university area ?

Thank you

Of course. IIT is in the Bronzeville neighborhood. To the best of my knowledge, IIT students generally live off campus - either across the expressway in Bridgeport, or in any of the neighborhoods on the red line. The nice thing about IIT is that you can roll right off the red line train and into your school. So, if you chose to live in one of the northside neighborhoods, your commute would range from 20 to 35 minutes, depending on which neighborhood you chose. I had 2 friends attend IIT and they very much enjoyed their educational experience. And both received very good job offers upon graduation. IIT is respected in Chicago, though I am unsure as to whether it carries that same level of respect everywhere. However, it should help you nicely in the Midwest at the very least.

The area itself is in a state of transition. Historically, it has been very rough there and there are still patches of that remaining. State Street has always been troubling around IIT. As with U of C, most of the students don't really have much need to go into the neighborhoods, and the campus itself is pretty safe, so students don't have to generally confront issues of safety in their daily commute to and from classes.

The areas around IIT are pretty affordable, and you'll even be in walking distance of Sox baseball park. :) If you were looking int Bridgeport and the surrounding areas, I would think you could snatch up a 1 (possibly 2) bedroom for around $555-700. This apartment, for example, is pretty close to your school: http://chicago.craigslist.org/apa/140274157.html

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Hi basille. Could you tell me what neighborhoods I should look for housing in near UIC? If I end up in Chicago, likely either my husband and I will both be at UIC, or one at UIC and the other at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Is the easiest way to find an apartment to go to these neighborhoods and look for signs in the windows, pick up local papers, etc.?

Thanks!

Well if you end up at UIC, I'll have to be on the lookout for you. That is where I have accepted an admissions offer. :)

So, for UIC, there are a number of neighborhoods to consider. Pilsen, University Village, Bridgeport. Really though, since UIC is right on the blue line train (and since SAIC is fairly close to a blue line stop), you could live in any neighborhood that was served by the blue line. For example, I live near the blue line on the northwest side of Chicago and my commute to UIC is 20 minutes via train. So, you could consider Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, UK Village, Logan Square as well.

I would recommend looking on craigslist.org I have found that they have been the best for me when looking for an apartment. There are also companies that specialize in finding apartment and they cost nothing for you. Some companies are better in placing people in certain areas than others, so if you think of some neighborhoods that you like, I may be able to make a suggestion there. Also, check the Chicago Reader Spacefinder website. http://classifieds.chicagoreader.com/ch ... n=oid%3A8&

Craigslist and Chicago Reader are generally the best sources for apartments. Although, I would check the UIC paper too. I think they have an online version, and I know the print paper lists apartments in the area.

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Of course. IIT is in the Bronzeville neighborhood. To the best of my knowledge, IIT students generally live off campus - either across the expressway in Bridgeport, or in any of the neighborhoods on the red line. The nice thing about IIT is that you can roll right off the red line train and into your school. So, if you chose to live in one of the northside neighborhoods, your commute would range from 20 to 35 minutes, depending on which neighborhood you chose. I had 2 friends attend IIT and they very much enjoyed their educational experience. And both received very good job offers upon graduation. IIT is respected in Chicago, though I am unsure as to whether it carries that same level of respect everywhere. However, it should help you nicely in the Midwest at the very least.

The area itself is in a state of transition. Historically, it has been very rough there and there are still patches of that remaining. State Street has always been troubling around IIT. As with U of C, most of the students don't really have much need to go into the neighborhoods, and the campus itself is pretty safe, so students don't have to generally confront issues of safety in their daily commute to and from classes.

The areas around IIT are pretty affordable, and you'll even be in walking distance of Sox baseball park. :) If you were looking int Bridgeport and the surrounding areas, I would think you could snatch up a 1 (possibly 2) bedroom for around $555-700. This apartment, for example, is pretty close to your school: http://chicago.craigslist.org/apa/140274157.html

Thank you for your answer, I'm still waiting for answers from other universities such as Rochester, Brown, Notre Dame. and only then I will decide, I visited IIT and only the idea of living in Chicago sounds really great.

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Thank you for your answer, I'm still waiting for answers from other universities such as Rochester, Brown, Notre Dame. and only then I will decide, I visited IIT and only the idea of living in Chicago sounds really great.

Good luck with those remaining schools! I really love Chicago. I have spent time in a number of major US cities and Chicago always tops my list. Good food, good entertainment, pretty affordable rents and a lovely-looking city to boot. :)

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I will be staying at a hotel during my upcoming visit to U of Chicago. Can you recommend something that is clean, safe, close to the University, and not over the top expensive? Thanks.

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Thanks basille! It does look like we'll end up in Chicago, so I'll have to bring my husband by to look at all those links you provided. It's very helpful to have them all in one place. :D

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I will be staying at a hotel during my upcoming visit to U of Chicago. Can you recommend something that is clean, safe, close to the University, and not over the top expensive? Thanks.

Be happy to help. In actuality, there are not a lot of hotels in Hyde Park. In fact, I don't remember even coming across one. Your best bet would actually be to stay at the hostel downtown if you can get a space and are looking for something REALLY cheap.

The Harris Hostel is actually really, really nice and is in a great location downtown. http://www.hichicago.org/reservations.htm

If you are driving, you could consider staying in the suburbs, where it would be considerably cheaper. If you were not driving and were flying into O'Hare, you could also get a room out there. It would be a hell of a commute to U of C in the morning (Blue line to red line to bus - prolly about an hour and 45 minutes minimum) but you would save money on hotels.

Ummm.... actually call Wooded Isle Suites if they are still around. They are pretty close to U of C. Don't know the prices, though. 773-288-5578

You might also want to try the Ramada LakeShore. They tend to be cheaper.

http://www.ramada.com/Ramada/control/Bo ... andInfo=RA

Not sure when you are travelling, but there is a convention at McCormick the weekend of the Mar 22-26, so the cheaper rooms are going to be snapped up already.

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Thanks basille! It does look like we'll end up in Chicago, so I'll have to bring my husband by to look at all those links you provided. It's very helpful to have them all in one place. :D

My pleasure. Chicago is, in my biased opinion, a great city.

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Wooded Isle suites is the only place I know of in Hyde Park. http://www.woodedisle.com/

Kind of expensive though. You can also ask the department if there is a grad student whose couch you can sleep on.

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Basille--I'm considering U of C for the MPP program at the Harris School. I noticed above that you recommeded graduate student housing? Have you seen any units? What were they like? I know, most of the time people do not recommeded that you stay in graduate student housing so I found your comments surprising! Thanks!

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