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Moving to Chicago
My husband and I are contemplating a move to Chicago. My husband is orginially from the mid-west and I from the east coast, so we figure this would be a good compromise for our young family since we feel very exposed financially here with the high cost of living although we love everything else about the bay area!!
I am looking for any recommendations of any areas similar to that of Oakland/Berkeley which are somewhat urban/suburban but also have diversity, liberal, in a safe area in addition to any good information about school districts or access to good private schools. We would prefer to stay within the city limits but open to exploring northern city-type suburbs like Evanston.
Also, if there are any good network sites like this one. We have a son who will be 3 next fall when we are thinking about moving and I want to be sure I have a good pre-school spot for him when we move so any advice on how to find resources would be great.
Lastly, any general impressions of the city itself, weather (yes, I know it is cold), outdoor activities- we are hikers and bikers and lastly general impressions about attitudes of people in the city or surrounding areas.
Thanks in advance! Stephanie
Chicago has everything--culture, sports, great food-- and a very unpretentious atitude. -Chicago Lover Karen
As far as pre-schools in the City, the 3 most talked about are
1. Mary Meyer 773-549-0870 enroll the Sept before your child turns 3. (although very hard to get into--I've heard you either have to know someone or be a legacy kid/family)
2. Park West Co-op (in a church (although not affiliated with the church) behind Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park...supposedly a true lottery) 773-327-1115
3. Lincoln Park Co-op. 312-944-5469 in Old Town. Eligible when child turns 3. Call the Sept before turning 3 then they have tour and applications must be in by March 1st
My son went to Near North Montessori, which was wonderful! They have an AMAZING 2 year old program and the school goes until 8th grade.
There are also many Catholic or other religously affiliated schools although I don't know much about them. I've heard people have been very happy with the JCC.
As far as the suburbs go--Evanston is FABULOUS. I have many friends all from Evanston and it's a wonderful and diverse community. I'm told you can also go to public school there--my friends who are from there all send their kids to the public school. It's near the lake, not far from Chicago and just an all around great community.
Oak Park, which is West of the City is also very diverse and probably not as expensive as Evanston (I've been told that Evanston taxes are very high), and yet still close to the City. I never hung out there much but people like it and I think the schools are pretty good. Actually most of the suburban public schools are quite good--so I've heard.
A few important things if you're going to live in Chicago: 1) Northside Parents Network is similar to Berkeley parents network although there is an annual fee. I would encourage you to check it out and join. They also have a FABULOUS school booklet for purchase that will tell you everything about all of the schools and they'll let you know when they're having a school fair. 2) Definitely check out the Chicago Park District website. They have wonderful programs and they don't cost much. The ''moms, pops and tots'' class was great especially the ones at Holstein park, Adams, Shield Park, the cultural center park district, and I think wicker park was ok. I'm sure there are many others but definitely check them out as well as the other classes they offer. 3) In the summertime don't miss the water park at Adams Park playground in Linclon Park--an absolute gem!! 4) Many of the park districts have camp although you have to camp out to sign up, some better than others. But, we belonged to LakeShore Athletic Club which has classes for kids as well as Pee-Wee camp. I wasn't thrilled about the staff but my son had a blast. People aslo rave about the camp at Parker school--although pricey.
Speaking of Parker, there are 3 main private schools in Chicago-- Parker, Latin and The Lab School. The Lab School is AMAZING, near the University of Chicago....if you end up living on the South Side and can afford it, it's one of the best.
Sorry I can't offer more about the suburbs. I personally like the Northern suburbs best because it's along the lake, but you'll have to check it out for yourself.
In the City, the Lincoln Park Zoo is free, but if you become a member you get free parking and that therefore gives you free parking right on the lake front if you like to run or bike. The Children's Museum is fabulous as is the Museum of Science and Industry. The Nature Museum is good, my kids really liked it...and if you become a member of the Nature museum, there is reciprosity with the Museum of Science and industry. The aquarium is great....actually the museums in general are wonderful in Chicago. Also, the libraries offer free passes to the museums if they haven't run out....if I remember correctly, one pass groups together a bunch of museums and you can go check them out...I think you can check the pass out for the weekend.
Many of the libraries as well as the Barnes and Noble (on Webster and Clybourn) have story time for kids, and the Barnes and Noble is a must in the winter as they have a train table in the kids section--a good place to pass the time when it's cold.
The Old Town School of Folk Music (main one on Armitage but have also opened locations throughout Chicago) is great for music classes for kids young and old, and there's also the usual ''Music Together'' classses, etc.
If you're looking for AMAZING gymnastics classes I highly recommend Lakeshore Academy of Gymnastics on Chestnut (an absolute BLAST and has a fabulous class for little ones) and they also have ''Hidden Peak'' Climbing Gym there for I think 5 year olds and up.
Ok, I think my fingers are about to fall off. Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions or just want more info. The winters are tough there (make sure you have a little room in your house as a play space because you'll be spending a lot of time there....but don't worry, you'll be able to afford it, if you've been living here) but the people are VERY friendly and it's a wonderful, fun city.
Take care and good luck. Dana
My husband is considering a job offer in Chicago. I am very reluctant to move. We wil be flown out in April to check neighborhoods and schools. Iwould like my three children to shadow a day of classes there to compare. If you have lived there recently or have friends in the area would you kindly suggest a good school district/neighborhood in vicinity of Chicago? I don't see any good reasons to move (except money and that isn't a strong enough reason for me)Do you know of anything that would entice me to go there? (No, I don't miss the snow and cold.) happy in the Bay Area
It is cheaper to buy houses here, but not much cheaper in some of the most desirable suburbs. People are friendly and probably a little less materialistic than in SF. Family values are very strong - most people I have met here, grew up here and wanted to stay near their families. That is nice - different from all the transplanted people in SF, I loved SF and miss it a lot - but both areas have a lot to offer Good Luck with your decision! jennifer
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