Relocating to Chicago
Are you relocating to Chicago? Perhaps a new job hire or a transfer has brought you to Chicagoland. You are not alone.
According to a March 6, 2018 Chicago Sun-Times article, “Chicago named best corporate relocation target:”
Chicago is No. 1 when it comes to corporations that want put down roots in a new location.
In 2018, Site Selection magazine named Chicago as the “top metro area in the nation for corporate relocation and investment,” for the fifth straight year.
In order to be considered by the magazine... new facilities and expansions must meet at least one of three criteria: capital investment of at least $1 million; creation of at least 20 new jobs, or at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.
Chicago claimed the top spot in the rankings based on “…275 municipalities and seven counties comprising the new Chicago Regional Growth Corporation, 10 viable candidate sites for Amazon HQ2 or any other corporate campus, impressive transit-oriented, mixed-use redevelopment and — perhaps best of all — housing stock that people can actually afford,” Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection, said in a press release.
I’m the Corporate Relocation Director for Weichert Realtors-McKee and we work with many relocation firms who have been hired 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. If you are at home looking on one of the many real estate web sites you will come across all kinds of housing options. From high-rise condos to country estates—all are available to you. Deciphering the different areas 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.
Cook County North Shore: Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe
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 $350,000 as the lowest priced available home to $10M.
Cook County: Evanston
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 $200,000 - $4.2M for a historic mansion 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 in Deerfield.
North Shore, west of the lake: Glenview, Northbrook, 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 $850,000 and the average year built was 1977.
Lake County North Shore: Highland Park, Ft. Sheridan, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff
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, 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 $15M for Michael Jordan’s home. Lake Forest homes have a current median list price of $1.25M (which means there are plenty of homes both above and below that price point.)
Lake County West of I-294: Riverwoods, Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills, Libertyville
West of Deerfield, from south to north are Riverwoods, Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills, Libertyville.
Riverwoods is part of the Deerfield school district but the homes are on a bit more land. The community is along the shores of the Des Plains River and features many significant examples of mid-century residential design, including over 40 homes designed by "prairie modernist" architect Edward Humrich.
Lincolnshire also offers home 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 $650,000.
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 $600,000.
Farther West in Lake County
If you venture a little farther west in Lake County you'll find the Buffalo Grove, 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 $425,000; 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 $600,000 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.
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.
Northwest Suburbs in Cook County
Transferees often gravitate towards some of the towns along "Northwest Highway" like Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights because of their lively downtown areas and easy access to commuter train lines.
Both towns offer a wide variety of homes from very modest homes to mega new construction on tear-down lots. Most of the homes sit on smaller lots. These communities often attract those moving out from the city of Chicago who don't want to give up their urban conveniences.
If none of these options suit you, we can continue to look farther north, (Gurnee, Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Antioch) which offers more affordable housing and access to the Chain of Lakes. If you are looking for something closer to the city, we can check Park Ridge and even in Chicago.
Don't get overwhelmed. Together, we'll find a place that matches your needs and your budget.
Welcome to Illinois!