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View Full Version : Help! Need apartment in Chicago area..on a budget


snickerharley
09-02-2008, 01:23 PM
My husband recently got transfered to Chicago, we are in St. Louis currently but have to be in Chicago on Sept. 15th. WE are looking at apartments similar to the one we are currently in (2br, 1bath, with washer dryer hookups/ pet friendly) we pay about 650 per month here. Everything I am finding online is twice the price for something similar. So I though I would ask all of you for any suggestions on towns outside of Chicago and/or good apartment complexes.
Thanks

Handbag Lady
09-02-2008, 01:32 PM
I would imagine it will be very difficult for you to find such a place.

I live in L.A. and there isn't such a thing as a $650 2 bedroom apartment and I doubt that a city such as Chicago would have one.

We have a medium-sized 2bed/2bath and we pay $2000. It isn't fancy and there are no washer/dryer hookups and pets are extra. I have to scrounge quarters because our apartment managers refuse to install reader cards for the laundry.

I hate to discourage you and I do hope you find something you like within reason!

Momto3Girls&Max
09-02-2008, 02:14 PM
Will he be working downtown? How long of a commute would be acceptable?

You probably won't be able to get anywhere near $650 for a 2 bedroom in the City. Downers Grove, Lemont, Lombard, Orland Park, Oak Park are nice suburbs with a pretty short commute (via commuter train), but a 2 bedroom for $650 is probably unrealistic. You might find a 1 bedroom for that price.

Anne34
09-02-2008, 02:19 PM
Please let us know where he'll be working and we can offer some advise for suburbs to look at. Chicago is big and has horrible traffic so you won't want to be too far away from work if you can possibly help it.

sunshine1178
09-02-2008, 02:20 PM
It really depends where he is working, and where you want to live. I think that the best way to find something safe and affordable is to live far out in the suburbs. If your dh will be working downtown, then try to find something near a Metra (commuter train) station.

Tinley Park, IL is a south suburb that has two Metra stations, and it's about an hour train ride downtown. It's still fairly expensive, but better than the city, for sure. There is affordable housing near Joliet, IL, and the Metra does run out there, but the commute downtown would be longer. Housing in Indiana is usually less than on the Illinois side, if that's do-able for you. I think that the same applies to Wisconsin, if he wants to be north of the city. In general, though, I think that housing costs in Chicago-land are pretty high, compared with other midwestern cities.

Darcy03231
09-02-2008, 02:23 PM
I live in a smaller city north of Boston and there's no way you could rent a 2 bdrm/1 bath apt with washer/dryer hook-ups and pets for $650/mo. That kind of an apartment would be at least $1200-$1500 where I live.

sbsteel
09-02-2008, 02:28 PM
We lived in a great suburb (Naperville) and had a large 1BR plus loft, 1.5 bath, stackable washer/dryer, and pet friendly apartment - it ran us $1100 a month the last year we were there (2007). There is no way in heck you will find what you are looking for in a comfortable, safe suburb/complex for less than $1000/month. The only exception I can think of is if you moved to a fringe suburb that is just starting to grow.

I don't know what area of Chicago you're looking at or where he's going to be working, so that will factor in a lot. I worked in a neighboring suburb, commuted to our Loop office about 2-3 times a month (sometimes I took the train, other times I drove), and occasionally traveled out of O'Hare for work - Naperville was a great location to cover all three scenarios.

If you gave us some more details, I'm sure you'll get some good advice!

Good luck!

dis75ney
09-02-2008, 03:36 PM
We live in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and we will be moving in November/December to a 2 bedroom/1bath apartment with W/D in unit for about $930 per month. May go up slightly - third floor apartments are more expensive due to vaulted ceilings. We don't have pets that can cause damage (we have two guinea pigs...the worst they do is throw hay out of their cage and will poop and pee on the floor while we clean their cage), but the complex we are moving to does allow cats and dogs for an extra deposit - no extra charge for caged animals. The complex also has 2 bed/2 bath units available.

The nice thing about living where we do is that we have easy access to two Metra lines, so if either DH or I were to work downtown or in any town along the rail line, we have an easy commute with no traffic to speak of. Your DH's employer may even offer monthly Metra passes with costs taken out of his check pre-taxes...wouldn't hurt to ask...

You're going to have a hard time finding a 2 bedroom apartment in the city or immediately surrounding suburbs for less than $1000 per month. I personally would suggest going further north - there are some great school districts and (where we are) you can be close to major expressways and public transportation...

Hope this helps, and welcome to Chicago!!!

snickerharley
09-02-2008, 03:47 PM
He will be working in Culmet city? (sp) Yeah I have been browsing the net and we will have to re-work our budget, but I definately want a safe area to live in

Coll0610
09-02-2008, 04:06 PM
Could that be Calumet City? That is a suburb just outside of Chicago, on the south east side. If so, there are plenty of neighborhoods/suburbs you will want to avoid in that area. Do you have kids in school?

daughtersrus
09-02-2008, 04:14 PM
He will be working in Culmet city? (sp) Yeah I have been browsing the net and we will have to re-work our budget, but I definately want a safe area to live in

Calumet City is south east of Chicago so many of the suburbs mentioned will be pretty far. You may want to look at some of the suburbs along I80 like Tinley Park, Orland Park, Matteson, Mokena...but I don't know if you will be able to find something in a safe area within your budget.

DMickey28
09-02-2008, 04:27 PM
Do you have kids?

We looked at lots of apartments in the Naperville and Wheaton areas. We lived in Barrington which is probably way too far north for you as well as the Naperville area. Have you considered looking for houses? We rented a 2BR, 2.5bath with a loft single family house in Hometown Aurora. Now in most cases Aurora is a town you want to avoid so if you have kids look carefully but Hometown is just on the Naperville, Aurora and Geneva line and very decent safe area. It was $1300 rental. The designer created the communities very organized, it was neat with little streets and sidewalks and all the houses where very efficient. It never cost us more than $100 a month for electricity in the winter or summer. The builders had that gaurantee for 5 years and the house was built in 2004. We lived there in 2005/2006. We also had a house in Barrington for $1500, it was older (1950's) with no upgrades, three bedrooms 1.5 bath and full basement. Heating that thing was a nightmare.

Good luck ... I would move back to Chicago in a heartbeat if I could. We lived there for two years and I LOVE IT. It reminds me a lot of Boston, where we are from, but better!!

sunshine1178
09-02-2008, 04:32 PM
Calumet City is south east of Chicago so many of the suburbs mentioned will be pretty far. You may want to look at some of the suburbs along I80 like Tinley Park, Orland Park, Matteson, Mokena...but I don't know if you will be able to find something in a safe area within your budget.

Tinley Park, Orland Park, Frankfort, and Mokena are pretty pricey. Matteson, Park Forest, Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights are less expensive, but... umm... not that nice. I live just south of this area, and I think you should definitely check into living in Indiana - Hammond, Highland, Munster and Dyer are all pretty close. I do a lot of shopping in Dyer, and it seems really nice to me. Homewood-Flossmoor high school received a national ranking this year for something, so that might not be a bad area... Park Forest and Olympia Fields might have nicer older neighborhoods, too; I know that there is a fancy country club in OF.

Maybe your husband could call the Human Resources department at the new location, and see if they can recommend some towns. There might be some nice places close by; I'm not familiar with the neighborhoods quite that north. If you are religious, try calling churches from your denomination and see if they can recommend towns or neighborhoods. I know that when I lived in Louisiana, we actually had a few apartment building owners at our church, and they kept nice buildings.

Colinsmom
09-02-2008, 04:33 PM
OK, I grew up minutes from Calumet City, and it's not *that* horrible everywhere around there (yes, I still go back regularly and know people who still live there). Try South Holland (not on the Dolton border) or Homewood, or go east into Indiana and look at Merrillville, Schererville, etc. You could also go south to an area like Crete. I probably wouldn't live in Calumet City, Riverdale, or Dolton, and there might be others - not because it's not safe to, say, drive through but it is generally less safe than the others and more run down. Going north won't help your price point or your "safety" requirement, and going a ways west, you have to pay a fair amount more to live in an area like Tinley, Orland or Mokena (where you are likely to feel quite safe).

One suggestion is to stop at a police station or fire station and ask the guys where they live. They often have residency requirements and must live in or near town - it's not uncommon for them to congregate in certain neighborhoods, and how much safer can you be than surrounded by police officers and firefighters??

Kae
09-02-2008, 04:45 PM
In Indiana I would go Munster, Dyer, St John further out Valpo.

Kae

mjkacmom
09-02-2008, 05:50 PM
I know Chicago isn't quite as pricey as NYC, but my first apartment in a NYC suburb in NJ (10 miles, 45 minute commute) was $650 a month for a 2 ROOM apartment - 13 years ago! My sister and family live in Naperville, and own a building in Chicago, and I don't think there is much anywhere near your range. I assume his salary has moved up with the COL?

sunshine1178
09-02-2008, 06:52 PM
I know Chicago isn't quite as pricey as NYC, but my first apartment in a NYC suburb in NJ (10 miles, 45 minute commute) was $650 a month for a 2 ROOM apartment - 13 years ago! My sister and family live in Naperville, and own a building in Chicago, and I don't think there is much anywhere near your range. I assume his salary has moved up with the COL?

From our recent housenhunting, I think that the south suburbs are a little bit more affordable than the western suburbs, like Naperville. But it's still pricey. I think that the "mortgage crisis" is driving up rental prices, too, because more people are needing places.

rapmarks
09-02-2008, 06:53 PM
You do have to be careful where you choose to live near Calumet City. However there are some options. I can't believe someone said Olympia Fields is a bad area. My cousin has lived there for 38 years, she is very wealthy and her other home is in Naples Florida. since you are only renting, Homewood might have something nice. Park Forest definitely would, but you have to check out the neighborhood carefully. Matteson might too. further south could have some options or Dyer Indiana.
the fancy country club in Olympia Fields has hosted PGA major tournaments.

aclov
09-02-2008, 07:10 PM
I was also going to suggest NW Indiana. I live in Griffith, IN, you can try as other's have suggested Munster, Schererville, Highland, Dyer. Indiana is cheaper than living in IL and taxes are cheaper. In IL, Tinley Park and Orland Park are nice areas. If he's working in Calumet City than it doesn't make sense to live in the city unless you want to pay more $$$ since he will probably be driving to work.

I would look at Craigslist too.

stacyp9
09-02-2008, 07:11 PM
Don't bother with the western burbs (Downers, Lemont, Naperville) etc. You will never find anything remotely close to that price near the train in those areas. Joilet is a haul from Chicago. The commute will run you an hour and a half into the city during Rush hour. There is decent housing out there and in Plainfield, just make sure you figure in the cost of gas in your budget. I55 is never not backed up.

Affordable and safe housing can be found on the south side of the city. Chicago requires it's police and firemen to live within the city and they congregate in that area. Check out Beverly and Mount Greenwood.

You can finder cheaper housing in Bolingbrook and Aurora but you have to be extremely careful about the neighborhoods there as there are some bad ones.

Chelley00
09-02-2008, 08:24 PM
Just as a point of reference, my ex is paying $1,100 a month for rent on a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment in the Naperville/Wheaton area. They moved there from a 4 bedroom older rental house that was $1,800 a month.

nilseks
09-02-2008, 09:07 PM
You've been given some great tips and advice on certain areas. We moved from the south burbs of Chicago to southern WI a year ago. DH asked co-workers to give him input on different areas. Your husband might want to give that a try. If you have kids, you can use greatschools . net to get an idea about school districts, although keep in mind it is just a guideline and you can't put all your stock in test scores. You're definitely going to get more for your money in Indiana, but a lot of that area is spotty and you just need to do your research and be selective.

A very good friend of mine lives down near St. Louis (Alton) and the cost of living is so, so, SO much cheaper down there. If you truly only have $650 to budget for a living space, your husband might want to re-think whether this is a good job move for him. Salaries are definitely much higher up here than in the St. Louis area, and your husband probably needs to be compensated properly for the move. Most everything will cost more up here--rent, utilities, groceries. There's far more traffic so he will spend more on gas, etc. etc. All things to think about when evaluating a move.

daughtersrus
09-02-2008, 11:08 PM
There is decent housing out there and in Plainfield, just make sure you figure in the cost of gas in your budget. I55 is never not backed up.

Have you been on I55 lately? The traffic is HORRIBLE with the construction, especially coming from Plainfield. The area from Rt 30 to Weber Rd is a parking lot in the morning and from I355 to Weber in the evening.

You can finder cheaper housing in Bolingbrook and Aurora but you have to be extremely careful about the neighborhoods there as there are some bad ones.

I'm not sure about apartment rentals but Bolingbrook was recently voted one of the best places to live by Money Magazine.
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2008/snapshots/PL1707133.html

snickerharley
09-03-2008, 09:48 AM
Thank you all so much for your help :) I think we are going to look in the Indiana area someone mentioned Hammond and I think that is a good option. This has just been crazy we found out last wednesday that we were moving...with only 2 1/2 weeks to uproot. Yes he did get a slight COL raise but we were trying to find a palce similar in cost/ size in order to save more but we now realize that is unrealistic.

Momto3Girls&Max
09-03-2008, 09:49 AM
Have you been on I55 lately? The traffic is HORRIBLE with the construction, especially coming from Plainfield. The area from Rt 30 to Weber Rd is a parking lot in the morning and from I355 to Weber in the evening.


I'm not sure about apartment rentals but Bolingbrook was recently voted one of the best places to live by Money Magazine.
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2008/snapshots/PL1707133.html


That's what stacyp9 was trying to say. That I55 is always backed up.

I'm not sure what was considered by Money Magazine when selecting Bolingbrook as one of the best places to live. As with any other place, there are some really great areas in Bolingbrook and some really sketchy ones. It would be best to visit the area to decide if it is a good fit or not.

aclov
09-03-2008, 10:31 AM
If your looking in Hammond, try south Hammond, the area around Purdue and Hessville area - the streets are named after states. I'd stay away from North Hammond or anything around Calumet Ave. Highland is a nicer if you wanted to go further down, but Hammond would be closer to Calumet City.

stacyp9
09-17-2008, 06:44 PM
Have you been on I55 lately? The traffic is HORRIBLE with the construction, especially coming from Plainfield. The area from Rt 30 to Weber Rd is a parking lot in the morning and from I355 to Weber in the evening.

I'm not sure about apartment rentals but Bolingbrook was recently voted one of the best places to live by Money Magazine.
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2008/snapshots/PL1707133.html


Whoops, that was an unfortunate typo. I drive it every day and I agree. It is always awful and rush hour never seems to end.

I know. There are some very lovely areas of Bolingbrook, primarily west of 53. There are also some neighborhoods with significant gang and drug problems and a significant amount of section 8 housing.