And I need some help! I'm from Hammond, IN, and I don't know much about the DesPlaines area.
What's good? What's bad? Apartment complexes to look out for?
I'd like to live within 10 miles of DesPlaines so I can commute to work by bike.
Tell me anything and everything I need to know please! Also, if you know of anyone looking for a room mate in the area, I'm clean and able to pay my rent, haha.
I once was talking with a suburban coordinator from Active Transportation and we both came to the realization at some point that not all suburbs are created equal.
I'm a fan of the "rail station" suburbs. The downtowns of them are great. They were built before the car boom and were structured to have everything settled around the train station. When I needed to move to the south suburbs I picked a place a mile away from the Metra.
Then there are places that I consider to be hell. A chunk of Orland Park. It's malls and parking lots and six lane streets as far as the eye can see.
God... all this seems so complex. I hope I can figure this out before I sign a lease!
Okay, so I'm on Craigslist, looking at the areas you guys suggested, and I've found my biggest issue.
I have a dog.
Most of these places only allow cats, or no pets at all. =(
It depends what you are looking for in an area to live. Generally, the area east from your job all the way to the lake is very conducive to cycling. There are good routes towards the lake from Des-Plaines via Church St. and then jogging through downtown DP. Des-Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie and Evanston are alternatives that would provide pretty easy access to ride, drive or train into the city and to ride, drive or bus to work.
Live in Arlington Heights. Here is a super safe and suprisingly short way into Chicago on bike:
My yia yia has live in Des Plaines for a while now. It's a pain in the butt to get to from where I live (rogers park). With that said, there's really not much going on there and where my yia yia lives there is just a lot of retirement homes (i'm sure there's pockets of awesomeness, but I've never run into them). But I would tend to agree that living in the city is probably way better. Especially if you live close to a metra line. You would only be minutes from work on the metra, and you can take you bike on the metra (as long as it's not rush hour) http://metrarail.com/content/metra/en/home/utility_landing/riding_m...
but it sound like you would just bike anyways...
OK, OK, OK here is what I've been dealin' wit'.
I've been working a temp contract at 1200 E Dempster/Thacker in DesPlaines fer 8 months. I had moved into a place in Gladstone Park which is under 9 miles to work and is a mostly bike friendly route. Also the Pace busses use CTA rail lines as hub stations so bus bike racks are an option as well.
Your place of employment is south west of downtown DesPlaines so Rosemont, ParkRidge and Franklin Park are 'burbs worth a look. Rosemont is fairly cheap since the hotel/motels taxes keep property taxes low for the landlords but the others aren't that bad but watch for potentially noisy 'hoods and complexes since there can be heavy ethnic elements in many areas (from salsa music till all hours to curry fried odors each distinct group carries its own ... flavor shall we say. Some of the close DesPlaines 'hoods still have 2-3 flats with private and on premises land owners that can be better to live in rather than high concentration complexes.
The close ring of 'burbs can be easier to deal with since many have grid iron street plans and green necklace park systems to allow better routing on a bike.
I believe my current landlord and his ex have rental property in that area so if you get down to brass tacks drop me a line (email@example.com) and I'll ask him about what he knows tho they seem to be long term kind of landlords.
The dog than puts a real crimp in rental places out 'round the NW side but local papers and real estate agents might help. My landlord is very non-pet friendly but that hasn't been a prob fer me right now.
i work in Wood Dale, 21 miles from home in the city on the near west side. My bike commute is a mere 3.5 miles each way. i take the metra. i am in full support of the combined route commute as it will offer you so many options. a question you have to ask yourself, and not posed previously, is how long do you want your commute to be, how long of a commute are you willing to accept. my commute is approximately 1 hour each way. i dont like it, per se, but driving was a million times worse. also, no one answered your question about metra blackouts. only black outs are taste of chicago and the friday of lollapalooza. and you would not be affected by the bike/rush hour rules as you would be a reverse commuter.
if you are willing to accept a longer commute, and you are still considering that into your 10 mile ride, that leaves you with a 7 mile radius of any metra station along the UP Northwest line. therefore, your options are essentially limitless, and rent can be found at very reasonable rates in so many neighborhoods.
i think something thats not being outright stated but suggested mainly by DUG is that one can often expect a better quality of life in the city vs the suburbs. im not going to dog the burbs, but all too often i hear the same story- "i moved out here because of a job in the burbs, wanted to be close to work, and i was stuck in a rut of nowhere to go, nothing to do, nowhere to meet people." if these are things you dont care about, and something you are used to, by all means, enjoy suburbia, but if you wish to explore, wish to meet people, have access to all that is the city, id highly consider it.
2 years can be a very long time in isolation.
and if you want to know my opinion - i favor the neighborhoods along the chicago ave corridor, west of halstead, east of western ave, north of grand ave, south of armitage ave. there are many older buildings (mines from 1904), most of the neighborhoods have lots of charm, great shops, restaurants, taverns, ethnic stores (primarily mexican and polish). many of these neighborhoods are settled by families, many of which have been there many years (my rear neighbor, his family has resided there since the late 1800's) alongside apartments that are more transient. there is lots of cultural diversity through this area, mainly eastern europeans, italians, mexicans, puerto ricans. there is also plenty of gentrification throughout. these neighborhoods lie along several arteries inclucing (east/west) Armitage ave, North Ave, Division St, Chicago Ave, Grand Ave, and Elston, Milwaukee, Ashland, Damen, Western - as your north/south and diagonal arteries. all but 3 of those are bike friendly. the neighborhoods include: West Town, Ukrainian Village, East Village, Noble Square, Buck Town, Wicker Park, Eckhart (sp) Park.
as for dogs, its not easy. i had severe issues at my old place because of a crazy landlord and an energetic dog - a combo for disaster. but i now live in a place with 2 dogs, one of which is 130+ pounds. no issues. many craigslist listings say no dogs, but if you can speak with the landlord and can assure him your dog is no threat to society or the apartment, and ask really really nicely, youll get the ok. they may ask for an additional pet deposit.
good luck with your search