From the picture you can guess where this is going. Rach and I have been living in rented accommodation since we move to Chicago. This has been something I’ve always fancied the idea of and it’s been fun.
We’ve lived in some great parts of the city – the first place was in the heart of Lincoln Park, with bars and restaurants all around us. Everything we needed was pretty much walking distance and the general vibe of the area was awesome. On top of that, a short bike ride brings you to the lake which is just a great place to hang out in the summer.
It did come at a price of course; firstly the rent was pretty high – matched only by the Gold Coast. Secondly, because it is an awesome area, it is also very popular – especially in the spring/summer when the bars were heaving … especially one bar opposite us which would be banging on until 3am every Friday and Saturday May through September(ish). Having that much noise going on in front of your place keeps you awake unless you adopt the “Take a dose of Niquil to knock me out” approach, which worked for me.
Third is parking – parking in any city, including Chicago is a bitch, and Chicago’s traffic wardens are happy to share their paperwork with you as soon as possible. They have no qualms in letting you know their given agenda as the word “Revenue” is written on their clothing and vehicles. We managed to finagle $50 per month for our parking space, which is unheard of – when we got the lease renewal through it was $150 and the rent also went up $200.. which was an incentive to move.
The last, albeit minor is that to be close to everything means you probably will be either near a busy street and / or CTA Train (the “El”). In our case it was the latter – which was one of those constant background noises, but it did mean that during the warm weather that you couldn’t really have the window open and watch TV because of the noise of trains passing every 2-5 mins.
(oh, also in renting any place, it’s hard to make it your own as decorating and wot-not is a pain because you have to restore it before you leave)
With all that in mind, we both agree that the 10 months we lived there were pretty awesome and look back on it with fond memories. Even though sharing a laundry room with 5 other apartments did suck.
With our current apartment we moved about a mile east, which means a number of things:
- Because it’s no longer in Lincoln Park it’s quieter – we have more single family homes in the area and less through traffic
- Because it’s no longer in LP it’s slightly cheaper (closer to the lake and city raises the price – the current place is a block closer to the city but 8 blocks further from the lake [8 blocks equates to about 1 mile]).
- It’s further away from bars and restaurants – or rather they are fewer in number and proximity.
- There is free on-street parking (shhhh – it’s a Chicago secret!)
In all cases – and as with all cities – you do need to have your city smarts with you at all time. Certain parts of the city are just known as places where if you don’t hide your stuff in your car it will be stolen. We had our car broken into parked outside a bar in a reasonably busy area because we didn’t hide the boxes of old clothes in the back seat.
Lease is up – Do we move?
The lease expires in August – Since May we have been looking to buy a house in the suburbs. This also comes at a price – we miss out on all the things we love about living in Chicago… but the positives outweigh for us any negatives. We get our own place (yay!); we get a huge place – 4 bedrooms with a double garage and basement and a safe neighborhood, plenty of stores all around us, closer O’Hare, closer to Rach’s work, no change in my commute time…. all for about $30,000 more than my 3 bed, 1 garage place in the UK which is about half the size. Yes, that’s getting sold too – at last!!!
So we’re both really excited to move into our own place – driving home this weekend I realised how I was pretty much over and done with my fill of living in the city – the traffic, the parking issues, the 20 year olds out doing stuff that I did 17 years ago and am over it now and how moving to the ‘burbs felt right. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Chicago. It is a wonderful city that has so many treasures to share if you’re prepared to stay a while or seek them out, but with our plans to start a family and own a home it makes sense to move to Chicagoland aka the ‘burbs…. it also means I get to buy a car!!! 🙂
Next post will include at least one fart joke.