Sorting Through the Real Estate Market in Northern Illinois

By: Art Gib

Even though it isn't nearly as big as Texas or California, Illinois is currently the fifth most populous state in the nation. And, of the millions of people living in Illinois, 75 percent of them have settled in the northern part of the state.

People are drawn to Northern Illinois for many reasons. The area is not only beautiful, but successful as well. Universities, favorite 500 companies and numerous research facilities all attract students and employees to Chicago and the surrounding cities. One reason why businesses thrive there is because northeast Illinois is an ideal transportation hub. With a natural Lake Michigan port on the east side of Chicago and main waterways like the Mississippi, Illinois and Chicago rivers nearby, it is very easy to move goods to and from the area. Not to mention the extensive railways that run across the state.

With so many people living in and around Chicago, there is obviously a vast amount of real estate in the area to accommodate them. If you are looking for Illinois real estate in or around Chicago, just finding which houses are for sale can be a little daunting.

Before you even begin looking at houses though, I would recommend learning a little bit about the neighborhoods in and around Chicago. That way, you'll know more about the environments, price ranges and attractions that are available.

One of the most expensive real estate areas is central Chicago. This would include any real estate in or around the Loop. The Loop is the second-largest business district in the U.S. (right after Manhattan). Here you'll find all the downtown attractions of Chicago. Apartments or penthouses in this area will likely be somewhere between $700,000 and several million dollars. If you are a wealthy, city-dweller, it might be the place for you, but personally I would prefer northern Chicago.

Northern Chicago is still very expensive, but there are beautiful parks, beaches, running trails and neighborhoods in this section. The closer you live to the city center though, the pricier the real estate becomes. I like this area because it tends to have bigger homes and lots, which is nice in such a populated area.

Although Southern Chicago has a reputation for gangs and poverty, the area possesses favorable characteristics too. For example, some of the city's largest parks are in the southern section and there are a few middle and upper-class neighborhoods are there too. Southern Chicago is largely industrial though.

Western Chicago seems to be a popular area with students and is famous for its ethnic diversity. Median rent prices in this area are around $500. A few well-known neighborhoods in western Chicago include Wicker Park, Garfield Park, Austin and Lawndale.

These overviews barely scratch the surface of the different regions in Chicago, but they may help point you in the right direction. Each area has several neighborhoods and each neighborhood possess a different flavor. If you need to commute to work, look for a home near Chicago's excellent public transportation hubs.

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