By Jennifer Riner
In Chicago, where the local amenities are difficult to beat, leaving the urban core is challenging for most. Between Chicago’s many green spaces, renowned restaurants, limitless retail shops and bustling nightlife scene, transitioning to a quieter atmosphere may not be your first choice. Even so, Millennials akin to city dwelling are starting to consider suburban living instead.
Twenty-somethings still believe in the American Dream, research shows. According to a recent Trulia survey, 93 percent of all young respondents said they plan to buy a home someday. Once you consider rising home prices in Chicago and stifling city taxes, young people may find housing opportunities on the western outskirts more reasonable. And, they don’t have to sacrifice quality of life in a predominantly residential setting, either.
Consider the following Chicago suburbs to the west that fuse local amenities, high-rated schools and housing affordability in one.
Located less than 20 miles west of the Loop, Elmhurst is a family-oriented community with a lot to offer new residents. York Community High School, Sandburg Middle School and Lincoln Elementary each hold a 10/10 rating from nonprofit education information website GreatSchools. Per Trulia’s Live Well Index, there are 28 public parks scattered across town, making outdoor exercise easily accessible. Eighty-seven percent of Elmhurst residents are homeowners and the median age is 40.
The median sales price in Elmhurst is $392,000, demonstrating a 16 percent annual rise. For contrast, homes for sale in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood – a favorite among Millennials – come at a median sales price of $512,188.
Downers Grove sits slightly southwest of Elmhurst, but offers a similar family-friendly atmosphere with equally strong schools. Downers Grove North High School, also called Downers North, scores a 10/10 on GreatSchools. Meanwhile, Downers Grove “South” holds a near-perfect 9/10 rating. In terms of activities, Downers Grove has over 600 acres of parkland and public facilities to choose from on a sunny summer (or mild winter) day. The median age in Downers Grove is 43-year-old and 91 percent of residents own their homes.
If you’re looking to buy, the median sales price in Downers Grove is $313,250 – up over 9 percent since last year.
Travel a few more miles west and you’ll find Naperville, a large suburb filled with nightlife and entertainment options to ease your way out of urban living. Despite its fun-loving and social nature, Naperville schools also score well across the board. Both Naperville North and Neuqua Valley High School are rated 10/10 on GreatSchools, along with Clifford Crone Middle School and Patterson Elementary. Plus, Naperville’s large size allows for over 2,400 green acres across 137 distinct parks. Ninety-two percent of residents are homeowners and the median age is 38.
Naperville is yet another affordable suburb with a median sales price of $329,000, down 4.6 percent from one year ago.
The best part? Each of these spots feature Metra train stations for an easy commute to downtown Chicago. Elmhurst falls on the Union Pacific West line that transports commuters all the way from Elburn to Ogilvie Transportation Center in the West Loop. Both Downers Grove and Naperville fall on Metra’s BNSF Railway line, which runs from Aurora to Union Station. All factors considered, moving to the Chicago suburbs is an enticing opportunity.