Looking to find a place in Chicago to call home? The Second City is a collection of 77 neighborhoods that make Chicago diverse and unique. Finding the perfect neighborhood depends on what you are looking for– if you want an artsy, hipster area, look around Wicker Park and Bucktown, and the Gold Coast is for you if you prefer lakefront luxury and can afford it. College town ambiance can be found in the Hyde Park or Lincoln Park areas, and Wrigleyville is a decidedly blue-collar area. With so many choices, how do you decide which is the right area for you? Look at some of the most important criteria first, like safety, education, and ease of transportation to narrow your choices. Then check out the neighborhoods in depth to see which vibe you like best!
Surprisingly enough, the Gold Coast and other lakefront areas do not top the list as the safest neighborhoods, but rather the enclaves where most of the city’s police officers and firefighters raise their families do! The majority of the men in blue live in the Northwest and Southwest areas of town, in the Edison Park, Forest Glen, Mount Greenwood, Dunning and Norwood Park areas. Conversely, areas without a large concentration of civil servants, like Fuller Park, Englewood and Riverdale have much higher crime rates; the south side of Chicago has long been known as the rougher area of town. You are 15 times more likely to be a victim of crime in Fuller Park than in Edison Park.
Even if you do not have school-aged children, the existence of great schools in a neighborhood has a significant impact on the neighborhood, in terms of safety and property values. If you do have children, education becomes even more paramount to your moving decision. To find a good neighborhood to settle in, take the rankings of the local public schools into consideration; schools in North Park, the South Loop, the Near West Side, Lincoln Park, Roseland and Old Town all have public schools that boast very high graduation rates and school grades. It is well worth checking the Great Schools ratings to ensure that your neighborhood of choice has schools that will provide an awesome education for your children.
Chicago is a very walkable city, with a Walk Score of 75; this means that most errands can be completed on foot. Additionally, there are some neighborhoods, like downtown, Lincoln Park and Lakeview, areas where most residents don’t even own vehicles since parking is scarce as well. It is also relatively easy to get around via bicycle, and most neighborhoods that are farther away from the Loop and downtown areas are easy to reach via the excellent public transportation system that includes the L trains and Metra Rail.
Once you have narrowed your sights to a few neighborhoods, investigate your choices more deeply online and ask current and former residents for feedback on their experiences. Of course, there is no substitute for an in-person visit to your potential new neighborhood before you find movers to help.