Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Goodbye -- First SF, Then Chicago, Now Evanston

We are coming to the end of househunting. Today was Evanston's last stand. We have been giving a lot of serious thought to whether it would be best to settle into a house we are just ok with in order to stay in the geographic region we desire, i.e., northern Chicago area, near almost all of our friends here, the lake, Wrigley Field, the places we like to go out -- everything we know as Chicago. Staying on the Metra rail line that goes to Kenosha and being near Northwestern University are also pluses of Evanston.

But the fact is, that after seeing the houses we could get in Oak Park, there are no houses in Evanston in our price range that we are OK with. We saw six today.

One of them was in a pretty good area and aesthetically appealing -- a bungalow -- and had all the rooms we wanted: two bedrooms, an office, and space in the finished basement for a guest room. However, it had the alley running past the living room and master bedroom windows. What's more, when you sit in the living room and look out, much of what you see is the continuation of that alley across the street. Also, no backyard, only a concrete parking space, and then a huge three-car garage.

I feel that the alley running along my side windows would always bother me.

The second was in the same neighborhood but built way at the back of the lot, with no garage. Easier to dismiss because I don't think you could build a garage in the front of the lot and we have to have one. The third was a teardown shack in a great neighborhood full of large houses. With no basement. The fourth seemed promising, although it's a little far from downtown or any other shopping or, well, life. We were grappling with the fact that it doesn't have a basement when the heater kicked in. Because the furnace was on the first floor, the noise was so loud it frightened us. The fifth and sixth were even farther away from the areas we would like to frequent in Evanston, and we didn't especially care for either of the houses. One of those was also on a dumpy street.

Bottom line is, when I picture living year-to-year in each of these houses, I don't see myself as being as happy as I do when I picture the same in any of the Oak Park houses we like. Ditto when I see myself walking with the stroller around most of the immediate neighborhoods around the houses.

Our top house in OP is three blocks from a street with a great cafe, some shops and some kids' classes. The elementary school -- which I'm touring tomorrow -- is a block away, as is a park with an activity center. A block in the other direction is the park districts' gymnastics center. Another block or so to the ice rink and pool.

What I don't like about moving Oak Park is this:

Yesterday I had lunch at a mommyfriend's house. Last night, a couple friends who just came to town from SF came over for dinner, some beers and a board game. The mommyfriend lives in Evanston and the SF friends live in Wrigleyville. They took the El home at the end of the night.

Who would come over if we live in OP? Not many people. And since we won't have any babysitters, at least at first, and will be on a tighter budget, we won't be going out to meet up with people.

You may say, Oh, you'll meet new friends in OP. I guess we'll see about that. But I will point out that in one year of living in Chicago, I haven't really made any totally new friends. Most of the people we hang out with are friends from college who have also found their way to Chicago. Epu has made friends at work, but that's more of his social life than ours.

OK. But I think we are going to move to OP anyway. Because I think we have ruled out Evanston.

So. Beware: If you live in the Chicago area and know us in RL, the systematic high-pressure "Move to Oak Park" campaign is about to be launched. Ask not for whom the propaganda tolls, it tolls for thee.

Saturday we're viewing our top 3 OP houses again. The owners of our favorite are getting very anxious to sell and we have promised them a decision on whether an offer will be forthcoming next week. I'm pretty sure it will. I also think we will get a good deal on the place because they are so anxious.

Next week, hopefully, I'll be past my Evanston mourning and will post all the things I love about Oak Park, which are many.


Notta Wallflower said...

H and I are in the process of house hunting. Your prospects look so good compared to ours. Most of what we could possibly afford are not in the best areas or they're incredibly small (under 1000 square feet). I wish you guys luck, wherever you end up. :-)

Carrie said...

Believe me, I would have been thrilled to be able to afford any of the houses we've rejected here when I was back in SF. Thrilled. Even the tiny little carriage house/shack we went in today.

I still feel incredibly lucky that we're going to get into a single family home on only one salary, and I am totally psyched about how nice the houses we're considering are.

ioio said...

Do what makes you happy. And it seams as great at the social life in Evanston would be, it wouldn't be worth your unhappiness! And really, as much as we say that we go out, we really stay at home WAY more than we ever go out.

Home is where the heart is and that seems to be Oak Park. You'll love it there--in the spring time, the leaves and the green trees!

Good luck on the decision!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, you will like the OP school. I'm not even remotely in the area so I don't have any idea what to expect. I am anxious to read your report on the school. Just keep in mind that even though you really liked Lincolnwood in Evanston, it's also hard to know everything about a school until your kids are there. You need to be comfortable in your home.
I'm sure that having parents as involved as you and your husband are, your kids would shine in any school. Hopefully you have a wonderful tour guide and a happy experience on the tour. A good tour can make all the difference in the world, no matter what features the school does or does not have.

Best wishes for your new home.

**I really do enjoy this little glimps into the lives of such a charming little family. Thank you for sharing.

Hillary Steiner said...

You mentioned really likeing the grey house. I looked it up again.


Don't know a thing about the area but you have to love your house. That's where most of your time will be spent.
Good luck

Bert said...

Hooray for a decision made and settled upon! I'm so excited for you to set up shop in a new home. And, like you said, it will be such a contrast to your little TIC in SF. (Which you made quite homey, but could not make any larger!)