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Buying in the suburbs - Where is a city girl to start?

I live (and own) in the heart of Lincoln Park. My 1 bedroom is getting a bit too cozy for my husband, cat and I.  The idea of more space, a garden and a little more tranquility is alluring to us. We love living in the city and all it offers - the lake, the culture, being able to walk everywhere - but we are also intrigued by "getting more bang for our buck".  Where do we start in figuring out where we might want to look?  We know absolutely nothing about the suburbs, and what would be a "good fit." Help!
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September 02 2011 - Park West
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I am a city girl too who is now living in the burbs for awhile. I chose a town close to the city (30 minute metro) for practical, professional and personnal reasons and to stay in tune to the city life. My advise would be to tset drive into different burbs that are a distance away from the city that make you feel comfortable. Good luck. 
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November 19 2011
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The recommendation to rent first is an excellent one.

You also don't mention if your current 1` BR is a home or condo.  There is a lot to consider in home & property maintenance that you may or may not take care of now. 

We moved from 5000 sf lot (with manageble lawn & garden) to 1 acre and the yard work is overwhelming sometimes compared to being able to keep our old lot nice and tidy.  The neighbors wandering chickens don't help much either.
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November 18 2011
On your days off put your bikes in the car and drive to the suburbs that appeal to you. Find a park and set off on your bikes to have breakfast or lunch. As well as "looking" say hello to the people you meet and ask them about the area they call home. Are they happy? Do they share your commute time? How is the commute? What would be their choice area now that they have had time to live and play where they presently reside?
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September 29 2011
It sounds as though you are beginning the familiar trek made by many couples that have gone before you.  By chance, have you asked them why they chose where they did?

And, something else to consider, are you committed to leaving the city or just leaving your 1 bedroom in Lincoln Park?

At the top of list are commuting time and financial ability...but you might also want to define what 'getting more bang for the buck' is to you...as that will go a long way towards assessing which areas outside of Lincoln Park may be a good fit for you, your husband and your cat.

Good luck,
Michael
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September 17 2011
With about 200 different communities you can drive yourself crazy. If it was me I would figure my max tolerable commuting time, then look into your school requirements, if any, in those towns. Make a few drives to your initial ideal areas. Get pre approved so you know that the right house and garden will be no problem. Then have a local Realtor from your favorite towns show you the best choices after describing to him/her what you exactly want. I do not see how any one Realtor can specialize in the entire Chicagoland area. Schaumburg has expressways, trains,an airport, it is close to Ohare and into the gridlocked big city, has great schools, lower taxes, great parks, oodfield, restaurants and many employers. I have lived and sold homes here for 27 years. You may like it too.
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September 03 2011
Figure out where you want your monthly mortgage payments first. Also make a list of your needs & wants. Give the list to your Realtor & have them find homes that meet your needs & wants as well as hit your price points. Ask the realtor to separate them by area. Research each location & have the realtor send you information on the area as well. From there you can figure out which location works best for you.
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September 02 2011
Moving to the suburbs from the city can be very daunting, and a step that you are not alone in taking.  There are so many places to consider, it can be overwhelming.  One thing to think about is which direction do you want to live?  If you commute into the city you also want to think about your commute, and what the transportation options are.  If you are really enjoying the city you should also consider how suburban you want to feel.  Some towns like Evanston and Wilmette still feel "urban" and you kind of get the best of both worlds. If you want to still be close to the water then you might enjoy living on the North Shore.  Some towns are definitely more expensive than others, so price range is also something to evaluate. 

You can start a search on your own by looking at realtor.com, or zillow.com, and getting an idea of prices and what you can get for your money, with those other items weighing in as you see fit.  You can also speak with a real estate agent who can give objective advice on amenities and what you can get for your money.  The key thing to keep in mind is "objective advice" -- we are not allowed, by law, to discuss what towns we think are better to live in, or have better schools, etc.  However, for any of those things an agent can't speak to, we can give resources for better understanding from unbiased sources.

I hope that helps!  It's hard to go wrong -- the city is great, and people enjoy living all over the surrounding areas!
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September 02 2011
Your best bet is to do some research. Nothing is better than an educated buyer!! I would also suggest getting an agent that is familiar with the city and the suburbs to help guide you through the process.

For the suburbs, it depends on where you want to move. North, West, or South. There are a lot of options. I know a lot of people who move out of the city, if they go up north, they go around the Schaumburg area. You may want to look into that area and surrounding that. Out west, Naperville is very popular. And if you go south, Orland Park is a great option. These are three options in different areas that may be a good place to start. Let me know if you have any other questions. I live in the city and am from the suburbs, so I know them very well!
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September 02 2011

As you can see, this is a matter of choice!  All of Chicagoland is great and provides it's unique benefits.  I never looked back after moving from the city, but I also drive a lot more!  There are suburbs that offer many of the city aspects (as shown here), but before I would recommend something specific, I'd have to know a lot more.  Where do you work? What do you like to do for recreation/weekends, are you handy, do you travel a lot?  What are your future plans? etc, etc. There are a lot of questions that should be asked before recommending anything specific.

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September 02 2011
Hello michellelukezic;
Interesteing question.
There are so many oprions for you it can be overwhelming where to start.
It really depends on your lifestyle and what preferences you have in relationship to where you now llive in Lincoln Park.
There are Tremendous opportunities in the various suburbs, and many offer the same cultural lifestyle you are now familiar with.
I have been practicing Real Estate for 18 years and know the differences that the varying suburban neighborhoods offer.
Let me know if I may be of any assistance to you.
Good luck in your search.
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September 02 2011
Hi Michelle,

As a city girl myself I always look to Evanston as an ideal facsimileing to Chicago.  

You can have the yard, garden, spacious home, pet friendly neighborhoods, walk to the lake, parks and still have the city "feel" close by, not to mention that you're still close to Chicago.

Oak Park is another nice option, again close to the city, beautiful homes with suburban appeal and many city amenities.

If you're interested I'd be more than happy to work with you on this project, should be fun!

Good luck! 
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September 02 2011
From what you said I would rent in the suburbs for about a year. My guess is you will be yearning to get back to Lincoln Park. You're living in the biggest bang for the buck. It always looks greener on the other side.

Happy funding, Rudi
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September 02 2011
Hi Michelle.

A home search is dichotomous in nature. On the one hand you have personal motivations flavored by what you want (type of home, size, proximity to things to do, transit, schools). On the other hand you have cost. The length of your dollar will vary suburb by suburb and even by areas within suburbs.

The best place to start is to figure out your budget. After you do this set your sights on identifying the right agent. I suggest that you will want to find an agent familiar with the overall suburban landscape and the manner in which your price point plugs in. I also strongly suggest that you identify an agent conversant with the current market and has a proven track record of negotiating deals and protecting client interests.

Best of luck with your pursuit.

Tom McCarey
The Real Estate Lounge Chicago with @properties
Expertise in Luxury Home Marketing, Buyers' Representation and Negotiation

check out my award-winning blog - [Hotlink removed by Zillow moderator. Please see our Good Neighbor Policy for more information about posting in Advice.]
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September 02 2011
You should probably try to find a single agent that can assist you with narrowing down the suburban candidates.  That agent should have a grasp of the different areas and might even take you around, but may also refer you to other agents if you narrow in on an unfamiliar suburb.  Going through one agent will limit the confusion and competition aspect and that agent can better track your likes and dislikes.  There would be no additional costs for this as the seller pays the commission.  

I for one moved from Chicago to Glenview and have lived south as well but I now specialize in the Western Suburbs with a few Chicago clients as well. my website is [hotlink removed by Zillow moderator]
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September 02 2011
I work in the NW suburbs and grew up there. I'm familiar with most of the suburbs. Give me a call or send me an email if you want to get a conversation going and I can try to help you out.
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September 02 2011
 
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Buying in the suburbs - Where is a city girl to start?
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