Welcome to Illinois!
Perhaps a new job hire or a transfer has brought you to Chicagoland. You are not alone. Chicago remains a city where businesses and their employees can thrive. Last year, for the sixth year in a row Chicagoland was named top metro area in the nation for corporate relocation and investment by Site Selection Magazine.
I’m a seasoned relocation pro, having worked with employees and firms who have hired me to help ease the transition for relocating employees.
Finding you a house—a shelter—is the easy part. There are thousands of available properties in the area. But, how do you want to live in your home, how do you want to play, how do you want to connect to your new community? Of course, the number of bedrooms, school districts, and commute times are all important; but, the bigger question is how do we help you love where you live?
We will have a conversation to identify your priorities. Everyone is different. For every transferee who says they want to be able to walk to a lively area, I have another transferee who craves wide open spaces and privacy. Your priorities are yours alone. My job is the find the home that matches your priorities. Look online and you will come across all kinds of housing options. From high-rise condos to country estates—all are available to you. Deciphering the different communities is the challenge.
Because many of our transferees work at Corporate Headquarters in the Deerfield/Northbrook area, along I-294, this article will focus on the communities that are within a reasonable commute to HQ. Near the end, we will focus on areas farther west in Barrington with easy access to Chicago.
Click on the photo links for each community for a link to videos, photos and home searches.
These communities are beautiful tree-lined towns, many with charming downtowns, on Lake Michigan, and easy access via train to Chicago. Much of this area is served by New Trier High School, which is consistently named one of the top public high schools in Illinois.
Housing options vary. There are architecturally significant older homes, and some have been renovated. They may not offer wide-open spaces or large kitchens. There is also newer construction built on “tear-down” lots and the price tag reflects the quality.
Current homes for sale range from $450,000 to over $10M.
Click on links below for more information about these communities including photos and videos and to search for homes there.
Evanston is unique because it definitely has a more urban feel. It is also the home of Northwestern University. Evanston offers a wide range of housing options—current homes on the market range from $300,000 - $5.75M for a home on Lake Michigan. While very close to the city limits of Chicago, it may not be the easiest driving commute to your office if it is located north of Deerfield.
Located in both Lake and Cook Counties, these towns are the closest to many suburban corporate campuses. All three communities offer excellent schools, train options to Chicago, and have plenty of “big-box” stores as well as boutique shops and local restaurants.
Many transferees ask about an area in Glenview called "The Glen." The Glen is a decommissioned Naval Base and is now a planned community with condos, single family homes, shops, restaurants, trains, etc.
There are options for housing at a wide point in these communities with a mix of old and new construction. But, the average list price in these three communities is $750,000 and the average year built was 1977.
Each of these North Shore towns really have their own identity. They are connected by miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and miles of biking and hiking paths.
Highland Park offers much in terms of recreation: Chicago Botanical Gardens (which is actually in Glencoe but just south of Highland Park connected by a bike path), Ravinia Music Festival, a vibrant downtown and beach. Architecture here ranges from vintage to very modern.
Just north of Highland Park’s downtown is a smaller community with limited housing options called Highwood. Highwood is known for it’s bustling restaurant scene and is a destination location for many on the North Shore.
Ft. Sheridan spans both Highland Park and Highwood. Ft. Sheridan is a decommissioned Army base and includes former officer's mansions on the shores of Lake Michigan and vintage barracks that have been converted into trendy loft style condos.
Lake Forest is well-know and prestigious with gorgeous historical mansions, smaller vintage homes in-town and a charming downtown and beach. It is also home to the beautiful Lake Forest College. One of the advantages of Lake Forest is that it has the lowest property tax in Lake County.
Lake Bluff is just north of Lake Forest and is much smaller than Lake Forest but also has beautiful tree-lined streets and a beautiful beach.
Home prices range from a current low of $250,000 for tiny homes in Highland Park to a current high of $22M for an historic Lake Michigan estate. Lake Forest homes have a current median list price of $1.4M (which means there are plenty of homes both above and below that price point.)
Lincolnshire offers homes on a bit more land and features mid-century architecture as well as newer construction. Lincolnshire is known for its outstanding school district in Stevenson High School and offers a few shopping areas.
Vernon Hills is a shopping mecca with a major mall and every other convenience imaginable. There is one large planned development that includes thousands of homes and several golf courses called Gregg's Landing. The current median list price in Gregg's Landing is $900,000.
Libertyville is known for its charming downtown and excellent schools. This town is often named as one of the best towns in Illinois by various publications. Median list price in Libertyville is just over $650,000.
If you venture a little farther west in Lake County you'll find the Buffalo Grove and the "60047" communities of Long Grove, Kildeer, Hawthorn Woods and Lake Zurich.
Buffalo Grove is a convenient location for many with access to several highways and commuter trains. Housing is affordable here with the average list price about $535,000; but, the homes are a bit smaller on average at 2100 square feet and were built in 1977. Stevenson High School serves Lake County part of Buffalo Grove, while Buffalo Grove High School is in Cook County.
Long Grove is known as the "historical village" since it has a historic downtown, covered bridge and many weekend festivals like Chocolate-Fest. Committed to the environment and open spaces, most of Long Grove is on 1+-acre lots. Long Grove is also served by top-rated schools including Stevenson High School.
Kildeer is connected to both Long Grove and Lake Zurich and the village is split between Stevenson Schools and highly rated Lake Zurich schools. Housing options range from about $500,000 to $2M for newer homes.
Lake Zurich is always rated very high as "family-friendly" or "best place to live in Illinois" based on its schools, shopping, housing affordability, with a median list price of $450,000.
A little north, but pretty far west, is the town of Hawthorn Woods. Hawthorn Woods is a bedroom community and offers options for homes on 1+ acre, new construction, or gated golf course living in the Hawthorn Woods Country Club.
The northwest suburbs are highlighted by the communities along the UP-NW Metra commute train line to Chicago. These communities offer a compromise between city/suburban work and life.
Because Arlington Heights has all the amenities and conveniences you would expect to find in larger urban settings, Arlington Heights gives most cities a run for their money. Located 25 miles northwest of Chicago, the community has a vibrant downtown area, theaters, restaurants, shopping, parks, recreation and two commuter train stations. It’s no wonder Arlington Heights tops the list of the highest-populated villages in the country.
The Village of Mount Prospect is a nationally-acclaimed community with small-town charm and tree-lined streets. Once rated one of the “Top 50 Places to Live” in the United States by Money magazine, Mount Prospect is known for its great housing, high-performing schools, and outstanding services.
Palatine has mastered the art of balance. The growing community has a healthy mix of residents who enjoy its friendly suburban lifestyle and businesses that fuel the local economy. The village embraces growth to support a wealth of amenities and services. The Palatine Park District has 28 parks, an 18-hole golf course and a variety of classes from fitness and sports to arts and crafts. Bicycle riders enjoy the village’s scenic four-mile trail through parks, residential areas and nearby Deer Grove Forest Preserve.
The Barrington Area encompasses many communities, each with its own personality, but that share the same school district and dowtown. In the center is downtown Barrington with its bustling shops, historic homes, and commuter train. Farther to the south is South Barrington with some newer, spacious homes, shopping, and easy access to the tollway. Barrington Hills is known for its equestrian estates. To the north is Lake and North Barrington with many luxury homes built in the last 20 years. This area also includes the Wynstone Country Club gated community. If you want charm, check out the neighborhoods around Tower Lake and Timberlake as well as the many communities that border the Fox River. With miles of horse trails, walking trails, and open space Barrington offers a peaceful life; but, with the ease of thriving town.
If none of these options suit you, we can continue to look farther north, which offers more affordable housing and access to the Chain of Lakes. If you are looking for something closer to the city, we can checkout near suburbs, and even in Chicago.
Don't get overwhelmed. Together, we'll find a place that matches your needs and your budget.
Welcome to Illinois!