With so many choices, finding the perfect spot in this diverse, sprawling metropolis is no easy task. Seventy-seven neighborhoods comprise Chicago’s distinct cityscape, and each is unique. Want a family-oriented neighborhood close to the commuter line? Ravenswood and Lincoln Square are great choices. Want easy access to downtown without paying thousands of dollars in rent? South Loop, Bridgeport, and Wicker Park are all viable options. Which neighborhood is right for you? We’ve isolated several specific, life-changing events that may catalyze a move. You’ll love our recommendations. Check them out, and then check out our Chicago storage solutions.
The “Out-of-Town but Not Out-of-Place” Move for Newbies
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to move to Chicago—America’s City of Neighborhoods, City of Big Shoulders, the Second City and unofficial capitol of the Midwest. You might find yourself in one of several situations: You’ve just graduated from that small liberal arts college in the suburbs. You’re transferring jobs. You’re ready to move out of your parents’ basement. You want to experience something new. No matter the circumstances, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Windy City.
If you’re new to Chicagoland, you’ll want a community-oriented neighborhood with a thriving social scene. Wouldn’t it be a drag to move into your apartment, but find yourself binge-watching Netflix because of the lack of social resources? Regardless of demographic, occupation, or lifestyle, one neighborhood reigns supreme for aspiring Chicagoans—Lakeview.
Just four miles north of the Loop (accessible via the Red, Brown, and Purple L lines, plus nearly a dozen busses), this neighborhood has what it takes to help new residents put down roots. Lakeview has the amenities that come with wealthier, more expensive neighborhoods, but it comes with a laid-back attitude and budget-friendly price tag. There’s always a reason to explore, socialize, and experience city life. You’ll find conversation and friends no matter how you choose to spend your time—whether you’re touring Wrigley Field, catching a Saturday Silent Cinema showing at the Music Box, or tasting house-made brews at Uncommon Ground. Steps from Boystown, the city’s LGBT+ neighborhood, and Wrigleyville, which boasts almost eight blocks of bars, restaurants, and Cubs-themed adventure, this neighborhood’s friendly residents are more than happy to show you the ropes of Chicago living.
Bonus Tip: Other Chicago transplants may try to convince you that the Loop, River North, or Gold Coast are the best places to live. We’re not going to deny that there’s a lot to love about these neighborhoods, but they tend to be more expensive (River North’s median one-bedroom rent is over $2,000) without necessarily offering more community amenities. These areas can be a good choice if it’s a five-minute walk from your office. All we’re saying is that you should rely on more than one or two casual opinions before making a final decision about where to live.
The “Better to Have Loved and Lost” Breakup Move
So you broke up with your long-term, live-in partner. Whether there’s bad blood or you maybe, eventually want to remain friends, you’ll probably find yourself in an uncomfortable, or altogether unbearable, living situation in the short-term. Chicago’s lease laws are notoriously strict, so you may be having trouble breaking your contract without breaking your finances. In the meantime, you’ve been crashing on a friend’s couch in Roger’s Park—a whopping nine miles away from your downtown office. It’s time to find your own place, but you don’t know where to move.
Any Chicagoan can tell you. The city’s massive size does nothing to hinder running into people you know. This makes avoiding your ex exceedingly difficult—especially if you still want to treat yourself to a good weekend bar crawl or lay claim to your favorite fitness center. If you want to limit the potential for running into your ex while still enjoying the city’s vibrant nightlife, we recommend living along the Blue Line, specifically the Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, and Logan Square areas. The Blue Line, while normally a pain in the butt for most Chicagoans, is remarkably isolated from other major transit corridors. However, recent developments have made these neighborhoods a hotspot for new, innovative bars and restaurants, and the expansion into Ukrainian Village has made this a relatively affordable option. Additionally, Milwaukee Avenue’s buffer-protected bike lanes provide the perfect catalyst for a much-needed lifestyle change: Ditch the car, grab a bike, get healthy, and save some cash.
The “We’ve Outgrown Boystown But Still Want a Fun Neighborhood” Move
Everybody eventually reaches that point where maybe you still want to be able to head to the bar once in a while, but you’re getting fed up with loud partyers and vomit-crusted sidewalks. If you’ve reached this point in your life, you might also be considering settling down in one way or another. Whether that means tying the knot, planning a family, or settling into a long-term career, you’ll want some type of external stability to reinforce and accommodate your upcoming plans.
For those looking to leave rowdy Boystown and Wrigleyville, we recommend Andersonville, the North Side, historically Swedish neighborhood. The area is full of long-term residents and younger transplants alike, creating a community-oriented, friendly, and progressive atmosphere. Reasonable rent prices (median cost of a one-bedroom is around $1,000/month), large homes, and an impressive array of bars and restaurants coalesce to create a perfect home for the “mature” Chicagoan. Andersonville sits along the Red Line, and the 22 Bus (Clark Street) will get you down to the loop in 30-40 minutes.
The “Our Kids are Too Big for that Lincoln Park Two-Bedroom” Move
It finally happened. You met your partner, settled down, and now have a 3-year-old and another on the way. You’ll quickly find that the two-bedroom apartment you’ve occupied for years no longer provides the space necessary to raise a child. You want a kid-friendly home and a family-oriented neighborhood, but you don’t want to sacrifice trendy bars, restaurants, and shops to get it. Luckily, a couple of Chicago neighborhoods fit this difficult bill.
Lincoln Square is the perfect neighborhood for young families. The area is full of middle-class professionals and creative 20-somethings, and is surrounded by nearly a dozen elementary, middle, and high schools. A mostly residential area, the neighborhood offers a community charm difficult to find in Chicago’s ever-developing North Side neighborhoods. The summers pack a seriously impressive itinerary of events (Puppy Parade, anyone?), while winters can be spent in the neighborhood’s cozy restaurants and coffee shops. Additionally, most residential homes are single-family and duplexes, which makes moving significantly less stressful. You won’t have to deal with elevators, flights of stairs, or excessively curious neighbors.
If you’re on the South Side, we recommend moving to Hyde Park, home of the University of Chicago. Though students from the University are Hyde Park’s most visible group of residents, the neighborhood boasts a diverse array of ages, lifestyles, and professions. As a resident, you’ll also gain easier access to the University of Chicago’s Lab Schools, which offer an incredible education for kids ages 4-18.
The “Kids Have Moved Out and We Want Our Lives Back” Move
Congratulations! You’ve raised your children, are thinking seriously about retirement, and can finally call yourself a true Chicagoan. What may be your last Chicago-area move will have a few things on the must-have list. You want to downsize, decrease your rent, and join a community. These spots can be found all over the city, but two areas stand out as the epitome of easy, quiet living.
Though not technically in Chicago, Evanston is a wonderful alternative to typical city-living. The area is serviced by the Purple Line, which provides easy access to downtown should you want to visit the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera, or Art Institute of Chicago. However, Evanston has a distinctly residential atmosphere. While the downtown area is populated with Northwestern University students, single-family homes line the lakefront and city edges.
Conversely, South Siders should consider moving to Beverly, a traditional family neighborhood with famously entrenched Irish roots. This neighborhood provides a close-knit community unlike anywhere else in Chicago. Neighbors know each other on a first-name basis and are always willing to lend a helping hand. Though there are no nearby L stops, the Metra commuter rail provides easy access to downtown Chicago and the Southwest suburbs.
Make Your Move Easier with Closetbox
No matter your age, occupation, or most recent life-changing event, we have a tip to making your move easier: a full-service storage solution. What happens if you want to hold onto your college belongings, but they pose a hazard to young children? Moreover, downsizing while moving from Lincoln Square to Beverly is more than a hassle—it’s downright stressful. We want to help.
Our Chicago storage team provides the perfect supplement to your moving woes. Our full-service storage solution—which includes complimentary pickup, on-demand and itemized returns, and a digital inventory—is perfect for mitigating the inescapable stress of moving, downsizing, and decluttering. We’ll do the heaving, hauling, and heavy-lifting so you can focus on what’s important—graceful transitions between neighborhoods, apartments, and life stages.