Image via Flickr: Roman Boed
Hey, city-dweller! Isn't it time to just say no to traffic, skyrocketing rents, and tiny living spaces that require Chicago storage space? You don't have to give up your walkable ‘hood and hipster food in order to save some cash. And if you're moving to Chicago from out of state, you might be glad to know that the bright lights and big city aren't your only option for experiencing all Chi-town has to offer.
We've reviewed the best nabes in Chicago proper, including the best ones for families, but what if you're more of a peace-and-quiet kind of person? It's time branch out and explore the rest of Chicagoland. Here are the best suburbs near Chicago to move to—no matter what you're looking for.
- Population: 74,895
- Walk Score: 75
- Public Transit: Purple Line (with express service), Union Pacific North Metra
- Best for: Millennials, singles
Evanston gets top marks for walkability and public transit, it's lined with nice beaches—including a dog beach—and it's got tons of restaurants and breweries. If you're thinking this sounds just like Chicago proper, you'd be right. Apartments near downtown may not be as spacious as other ‘burbs, but there's plenty of storage in Evanston. Did we mention that 1 in 5 people are between the ages of 21 and 34? Millennials and singles, you've found your ‘burb.
- Population: 29,641
- Walk Score: 41
- Public Transit: Union Pacific North Metra, bus connection to Purple Line
- Best for: Music lovers
Highland Park is music to your ears. The town plays host to the renowned Ravinia Music Festival, with more than 140 events and concerts throughout the summer. Year-round, you'll find Chicago's famed local acts at 210 Live. Looking for a spot to jam? The Shed is a music social club with rehearsal and recording spaces, plus live shows. Bottom line: if you're looking for a great music scene and lower rents, Highland Park is one of the best cities near Chicago.
- Population: 27,219
- Walk Score: 57
- Public Transit: Purple Line, Union Pacific North Metra
- Best for: Affluent families
Wilmette is one of the wealthiest suburbs of Chicago, with award-winning schools, historic architecture, and beautiful beaches. This village located just north of Evanston is super commuter-friendly, too, with bike paths connecting to its train station and an average commute time of 32 minutes. Add in a walkable downtown and Wilmette is a winner for all types—if you can afford it, that is.
- Population: 14,700
- Walk Score: 72
- Public Transit: Rock Island District Metra, bus connection to Red Line
- Best for: Affordable housing
You know the phrase "house poor"? Yeah, you don't want to be that. For a more affordable family town, head to the south suburbs of Chicago. Midlothian has good schools and a great small-town vibe. Bonuses for families include the Midlothian Country Club for mom and dad, tons of parks and preserves, and a minor league baseball team in nearby Crestwood to while away those long summer nights. It's everything you need for a picture-perfect family life.
- Population: 27,792
- Walk Score: 35
- Public Transit: Rock Island District Metra, bus connection to Orange Line
- Best for: Nature lovers
Oak Forest is located right next to Midlothian, and it's a dream for nature lovers. Go for a hike or bike ride in Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve, explore the 176-acre Oak Forest Heritage Preserve, or play a round at George Dunne National Golf Course. And since you have to work sometimes, you'll be glad to know the city is home to a Metra line and an easy bus connection to the Orange Line.
- Population: 13,982
- Walk Score: 78
- Public Transit: Blue Line
- Best for: Foodies
The western suburbs of Chicago are home to plenty of great places to live—three on our list, to be exact. First up is Forest Park, closest to downtown Chicago. Zoom into town on the Blue Line for work or play (bonus: that's one of the lines that runs 24 hours). Not to say you ever have to leave home. With a walk score of 78 and a booming downtown with lots of shopping and dining, Forest Park feels just like the big city.
- Population: 15,610
- Walk Score: 64
- Public Transit: BNSF Railway Metra
- Best for: Commuters, families
La Grange is another western suburb with a good walk score, super quick commute, and awesome eats and drinks. So what sets it apart? Its two Metra stops mean a commute time of just 25 minutes, giving it an edge for those who work in the city. And, it has great parks and playgrounds, plus some of the best schools in Cook County. You know what that means—this is one of the best Chicago suburbs for families.
- Population: 17,631
- Walk Score: 44
- Public Transit: BNSF Railway Metra
- Best for: Artsy types
With three Metra stops, traveling to Chicago from Hinsdale is a breeze, and the historic architecture of downtown is just plain charming, with a mix of Art Deco, Renaissance Revival, and Prairie School architecture. Hinsdale is home to two Frank Lloyd Wright–designed homes and 34 by famed architect R. Harold Zook, giving it a quirky vibe that aesthetes will surely appreciate.
We know—Chicago is amaze-balls. The food, the nightlife, the beaches! But now you know a secret: The Chicago suburbs are the place to be, whether you're looking for big-city vibes, outdoor spaces, or small-town ‘hoods to raise a family. Pick your fave, pack up your gear, and move on up in the world.