Making a move in and around Chicago can take on many forms.
Maybe your family has opted to change or start a new school. Maybe it’s a job change. Or maybe it’s realizing that your brood has outgrown your starter home.
Every family’s list of reasons is different, as is what they’re looking for. Some need space, others want access to Chicago’s range of amenities like museums and parks, while others just want to be within walking distance of a great library.
Real estate was considered an essential business during Illinois’ stay-at-home orders, and the spring market kept lookers looking and sellers selling. Realtors altered their businesses to include virtual walk-throughs and “curbside closings,” says Nykea Pippion McGriff of Dream Town Realty and the president-elect of the Chicago Association of Realtors.
“We have 77 different neighborhoods in Chicago and they’re all very unique,” McGriff says. “They all serve different purposes for different families.”
We suggest eight to put at the top of the consideration list with family-friendly offerings that are as much fun to visit as they are to live in.
Avg. home value: $765,003
No. of Parks: 3 (Horner Park, Revere Park, Clark Playlot Park)
Attractions for families: CIBC Fire Pitch, Waveland Bowl, Windy City Ninjas, Present Place.
Best school: Bell Elementary (Public)
Diamond in the Rough: Home to annual summer fests, art and sports, North Center is a hop, skip and a jump down Addison from Wrigley Field. The diversity in European cultures that helped create the neighborhood has also brought a wide variety of businesses to the area — from restaurants to family community events and more.
Avg. home value: $463,930
No. of Parks: 9 (Jane Byrne Park, Seneca Park, Lake Shore Park, Milton Lee Olive Park, Polk Bros. Park, DuSable Park, Bennett Park, River Esplanade Park, Rosenbaum Perennial Garden)
Attractions for families: Navy Pier, Lakeshore Trail, Polk Bros. Park, Magnificent Mile, Theater District, Art Institute of Chicago.
Best school: Ogden International School (Public)
Diamond in the Rough: Living right on the Magnificent Mile means that most homes will be in tall buildings: apartments and condominiums. But, it also means access to in-building services like gyms and security living. The arts in the area are unparalleled and the quick walk to Navy Pier means that families have daily access to the Chicago Children’s Museum, art installations and the No. 1 tourist attraction in the city. Exercise is routine in Streeterville, with beautiful parks and the Lakeshore Trail.
Avg. home value: $464,364
No. of Parks: 6 (Bowmanville Gateway Garden, West Andersonville Community Garden, Andersonville Playlot Park, Mellin Playlot Park, Cochran Playground Park, Bromann Park)
Attractions for families: Swedish American Museum, Andersonville Midsommarfest, Candyality, George’s Ice Cream.
Best school: Chicago Waldorf (Private)
Diamond in the Rough: Rooted in a Swedish tradition, Andersonville is known for its architecture on the north side of town. Great for families with plenty of parks and playgrounds, it is also a mecca for independent shops.
Avg. home value: $396,553
No. of Parks: 10 (Sycamore Park, Elm Playlot Park, Butternut Park, Spruce Park, Bessie Coleman Park, Florence Stout Park, Nichols Park, Nichols Park Community Garden, Bixler Park, Midway Plaisance Park)
Attractions for families: Smart Museum of Art, Robert A. Milliken House, Oriental Institute, Robie House, Museum of Science and Industry, DuSable Museum of African American History.
Best school: University of Chicago Lab (Private)
Diamond in the Rough: Hyde Park is a cornucopia of cultures thanks to its location and its home to the University of Chicago. With museums like the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park to the east and DuSable in Washington Park on its west, Hyde Park residents are surrounded by opportunities to find fun. A weekly summer farmers market brings out families with attractions for children of all ages.
Avg. home value: $356,353
No. of Parks: 3 (Olympia Park, Edison Park, Brooks Park)
Attractions for families: Edison Park Fest, SMASH Toys & Collectibles, EPIC Craft Ice Cream.
Best school: Ebinger Elementary (Public)
Diamond in the Rough: Edison Park is a neighborhood where police, firefighters and teachers choose to raise their children. The mix of white collar and blue collar families creates a melting pot of connection so that the Chicago-sized living feels like a small town with family-owned restaurants and bakeries. In addition, the community gathers together for Halloween and holiday activities.
Avg. home value: $398,382
No. of Parks: 1 (Stanton Park, also walking distance to Lincoln Park, Seward Park)
Attractions for families: Franklin Fine Arts Center, Old Town Theater District, Wells Street Art Festival, LiveWell Week and holiday tree lighting.
Best school: Franklin Elementary (Public)
Diamond in the Rough: A little bit of history and a lot of modern-day amenities highlight life in Old Town. From St. Michael Church to the oldest winery in Chicago, history is all around you. So is the modernity, with Second City, family-owned restaurants and yearly festivals.
Avg. home value: $267,990
No. of Parks: 1 (Printer’s Row Park)
Attractions for families: Harold Washington Library, Not Just Cookies, Gordo’s Homemade Ice Cream Bars, Garrett Popcorn Shops.
Best school: Jones College Prep High School (Public)
Diamond in the Rough: Though most residents of this enclave rent instead of buy, the neighborhood is full of family-friendly fun. With State Street as the eastern border, families are only blocks from Grant Park, Museum Campus and the arts and entertainment on Michigan Avenue.
Avg. home value: $552,789
No. of Parks: 4 (Lincoln Park, Oz Park, Park West Playlot, Mid-North Park)
Attractions for families: Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Steppenwolf Theatre.
Best school: Lincoln Elementary School (Public)
Diamond in the Rough: The ultimate hot spot is the free Lincoln Park Zoo, and residents save the fees to park with the ability to walk there. The zoo holds festivals year round. Hot eating spots in the neighborhood range from Alinea to Molly’s Cupcakes. Walking distance to dog parks and the shoreline gives families a chance to enjoy the outdoors every chance they can.
Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.
This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s June 2020 magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.