Image by Phil Roeder
Chicago has it all, including world-class sports teams, culture, incredible food, and even access to a Great Lake. Lake Michigan is known for its crystal-clear waters that rival the Bahamas in beauty, if not in temperature, and the fishing is, well, great. If you have always dreamed of living close enough to a lake to enjoy boating, fishing, lakeside picnics, or any of a number of other activities, moving near Lake Michigan in Chicago is a terrific choice.
The Chicago waterfront neighborhoods are some of the best places to live in the city. Many are affluent, with luxury developments and million dollar homes. As would be expected, properties near the beach on Lake Michigan in Chicago can be pricey, and the closer to the shore you get, the higher the real estate prices climb. Still, many neighborhoods with close proximity to the lake are affordable. Depending on which area captures your heart, “affordable” may mean purchasing a condominium or townhouse instead of a single-family dwelling, or possibly even renting, at least for a while. With self-storage options available, temporarily downsizing is no problem. Just stow away the items you don’t need on a daily basis while you’re saving up, and keep an eye out for your dream home.
Go as far south as you can, and you’ll land in Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood. Not only is it near the lake, but a river runs through it, too, giving you waterways to enjoy no matter which way you turn. It is one of the most affordable Chicago neighborhoods near the lake, with median home prices at approximately $158,400, well below the Chicago average of $247,800 and the national average of $181,400. Still, the rent is fairly normal for Chicago—rent in Hegewisch is $933 per month, compared to Chicago’s average of $935. The cost of living in Hegewisch scores favorably, too. Though it is at 102, just above the national score of 100, it is well below Chicago’s 113.
Hegewisch is one of the smaller and lower-key neighborhoods in Chicago. It offers fewer shopping options than other areas, and that includes grocery stores. There are 11 restaurants in the neighborhood, including fast food, a pizza place, and a few quaint local eateries that serve up comfort food.
Being in Chicago, Hegewisch has a couple of parks for outdoor fun, and there is a library in the neighborhood, too. When you are in the mood for more—whether it’s shopping, theater, art, museums, or sports—the nearest of 20 public transit options can take you to other areas of the city.
With loads of local amenities and a stable housing market, the South Shore neighborhood scores high for livability as well as affordability. South Shore Chicago real estate prices vary: rent averages only $816 per month, but the median home price is a bit higher than the statewide average—$210,000 for South Shore, compared to Illinois’ $190,800. Nonetheless, home prices in South Shore are lower than the citywide average. Plus, though the cost of living in Chicago rates 113 compared to the national and statewide averages of 100, the South Shore rates at only 107. While groceries, healthcare, and transportation in South Shore are all about average for Chicago, it is the cost of utilities in the neighborhood that bring the cost of living down in the area.
Most Chicago neighborhoods have their share of bars and restaurants, and South Shore is no different. There are 23 within a one-mile radius of the neighborhood center. Some are upscale eateries, but most are pizzerias, sandwich shops, coffee shops, and the like. If you are looking for inexpensive entertainment in the area, you can enjoy some outdoor fun at any of the nine parks or get some quality reading time done at one of the four libraries. Additionally, there are a handful of art galleries perfect for spending an affordable afternoon appreciating local artists’ works.
East Rogers Park
East Rogers Park is one of the northernmost Chicago neighborhoods near the lake. Though housing costs in other nearby neighborhoods exceed $400,000, the median price for a house in East Rogers Park is around $244,200. That is higher than the national average of $181,400, yet less than the median price in Chicago in general. Renting is affordable in the neighborhood, too, starting as low as $500 per month and going to $6,800 or even higher, depending on how close to the lake you want to get.
The cost of living in East Rogers Park rates 112, just a tick below the city’s rating of 113. As in many neighborhoods in Chicago, some grocery staples in East Rogers Park are more affordable, such as milk, eggs, and potatoes. With 20 grocery stores in the area, you shouldn’t have far to go for those affordable provisions, either.
East Rogers is also the neighborhood to live in for an inexpensive meal out. It boasts 40 eateries, including coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. Many of those are cafes and local “mom-n-pop” establishments that serve up reasonably priced American fare as well as ethnic cuisine.
There are an impressive number of parks in East Rogers: 20 in all. Loyola University is also in the East Rogers neighborhood, offering an array of college-related things to do, including sporting events, art, and theater. Plus, for theatrical entertainment, East Rogers is home to a few community theaters, as well as a number of art galleries.
Oakland is one of the most affordable Chicago neighborhoods near the lake. At around $246,300, median home prices are about 0.6 percent below the Chicago average, and rent is over 25 percent less at $694 per month. The cost of living in Oakland is notably lower than the citywide average, too, thanks to inexpensive goods and services.
There are 24 restaurant choices in Oakland, including four coffee shops. If you opt to live in Oakland, you may be happy to find a Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles in your neighborhood, but you’ll also be near other affordable food choices, including cafes, BBQ joints, and fast-food favorites like McDonald’s.
With 15 parks in the Oakland neighborhood, there are plenty of inexpensive outdoor activities to occupy your time. And with 20 public transit options in the neighborhood, it is easy to get to the lake or take a train, subway, or bus to anywhere in the city you want to go.