With the national average cost of raising a child in the United States has risen to over $245,000, parents have to be extremely well-informed when choosing a home for their family. Families that prefer an urban environment to the prototypical suburban removal would do well to select Chicago as a home, as its diversity, schools of all levels, outstanding museums, and vibrant entertainment scene create a truly unique environment in which to raise worldly kids. The Windy City offers a very different set of amenities, however, depending on which neighborhood a family chooses. Growing up on the North, South, or West Side can be dramatically different experiences (the East Side obviously not being so much of an option for children of the non-merpeople variety).
Families must consider a whole world of factors when deciding which Chicago neighborhood is the best fit for their specific needs. Available schools, neighborhood safety, housing costs, amenities, and nearby activities are all components that go into making this crucial decision. Based on these common parental concerns, these Chicago neighborhoods have earned the coveted moniker of Five Best Chicago Neighborhoods For Families.
Chicago’s original German neighborhood has transformed in recent years into a diverse haven for non-traditional families. Lincoln Square houses around 1,000 small or medium local and independent businesses, many of which maintain that original German flair or bring a Middle Eastern or Thai influence to the area. Housing costs and amenities work in Lincoln Square’s favor. While this area is becoming increasingly more populous as Chicago’s upwardly mobile families flock here, housing costs remain relatively low. To rent in Lincoln Square (which most people do), families can expect to pay around $1400-$2200 per month for a two or three bedroom apartment. This is significantly lower than the average cost to rent in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, or even nearby Logan Square or Wicker Park. Furthermore, the area is rife with parks, grocery stores, medical facilities, and other necessities, many of which are easily walkable, that families require for their weekly errands. Family fun abounds in Lincoln Square as well, as the neighborhood hosts many street fairs and events that children find attractive. Parents can also feel safe in Lincoln Square, as crime rates are significantly lower than the citywide average. However, schools in Lincoln Square lack the reliability of schools in other more established family neighborhoods, so choosing an apartment or house in a good school district may require a little more ingenuity.
Ten years ago, Logan Square and Wicker Park were Chicago’s “next big things.” Now that those neighborhoods have completed their metamorphosis into legitimate family-friendly havens, the northern area of Edgewater has moved into the highly coveted spot of Windy City up-and-comer. Originally developed in the 1880s as a summer retreat for Chicago’s hoi polloi, Edgewater took a bit of a downward turn in the midcentury. Now, however, this beautiful lakefront community has risen again with a mix of apartments, high rises, and single-family homes that appeal to an increasingly UN-esque crowd. The Edgewater neighborhood incorporates a number of attractive and diverse villages that appeal to many different types of families. Trendy Andersonville boasts attractive Lake Michigan beaches, tree-lined streets perfect for family jaunts, and an abundance of local cafes. Lakewood Balmoral offers larger single-family houses, while Edgewater Beach will appeal to families who prefer high-rise living. As in Lincoln Square, most Edgewater residents rent their homes, which come in at a very affordable $1300-$2200 per month for a two or three bedroom. Parks, movie theaters, museums, and festivals abound to bring families to the area both to live and to visit. Amenities such as post offices and grocery stores bring necessities to families with ease. Crime rates are a little bit higher than in other family-friendly neighborhoods, but still much lower than in the city as a whole.
This southern “Village in the City” first originated as a haven for Chicago’s wealthy population following the Great Fire. The easy commute from Beverly to downtown offices and amenities appealed to those original residents and continue to attract families today. Like its neighbor Hyde Park, Beverly is home to many of Chicago’s most well-educated residents and, on a related note, has the third highest median household income in the Chicagoland area. Despite these high incomes, housing prices (median cost being $223,000) and property taxes are not correspondingly high, in contrast to nearby Hyde Park. Nearly every adult in the neighborhood possesses at least a Bachelor’s Degree. As such, school quality is an obsessive preoccupation of Beverly residents, and every child in the neighborhood is guaranteed to receive an outstanding education. Appealing architecture, excellent public transportation, and an abundance of community events are additional bonuses for the many families that call Beverly home. Furthermore, despite its location in the notoriously shady South Side, Beverly boasts extremely low crime rates. A Beverly fan wrote to the Huffington Post, “It is still a place where you can let your nine year old ride their bike around the neighborhood alone or go to the park without an escort.”
Logan Square may receive the award for Most Changed Chicago Neighborhood. What stalled in development and family safety for years has evolved into a funky, energetic enclave for young families of any size. Logan Square houses the popular if pricey Bucktown, a favorite among the “under thirty-five with a young baby” crowd. Homes in Logan Square run around $512,000, with condos clocking in at around $310,000. The combination of affordable housing with edgy amenities appeals to parents on the go. However, Logan Square does not come without a few drawbacks. Public schools in the area aren’t outstanding, so families may have to invest that money that they saved on housing to pay for private school tuition. Furthermore, violent crime rates, while lower than the citywide average, are a tad higher in Logan Square than in other family-friendly neighborhoods.
Home to reliably outstanding public elementary schools and one of the best public high schools in the country, Lincoln Park has long remained a family favorite for high-income parents. First, the obvious and infamous con: Lincoln Park is almost ridiculously expensive. A condo in Lincoln Park will set a family back around $425,000 (which could buy you almost two houses in Beverly), while a house will cost a whopping $1,350,000. Median household income in Lincoln Park is therefore correspondingly high. However, Lincoln Park residents can save on the cost of tuition, as virtually every public school in the neighborhood is guaranteed to provide a child with a top-notch education. Furthermore, the family favorites Lincoln Park Zoo, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, North Avenue Beach, Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, and many other amenities draw countless families to Lincoln Park both permanently and for the day’s amusement. Crime is also extremely low in Lincoln Park, leaving families feeling safe with their children in this much-desired area.