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Affording the Best of Chicago

Posted by : Premraj | Posted on : Saturday, December 14, 2013

Affording the Best of Chicago
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Where might you find 11,841 people?

If you’re having trouble picturing that number of people, it’s one-fourth of Wrigley Field.

What place holds 11,841 people? Surprisingly, it’s an average square mile of Chicago.

So how does it feel to share your square mile with 11,840 other people? Crowded?

Of course it does. That’s what has spurred the movement out of the city’s heart and toward the hinterlands.

Once you factor in the rest of Cook County, that density is cut in half. So it’s no surprise that space is scarce in Chicago proper. Scarcity drives prices up.

As a result, residents have moved away from the city’s heart and toward the ‘burbs. It’s often a foregone conclusion that they’ll live on the fringes of the city as they begin planning to buy a home.

But the space they gain comes at the cost of so much. It’s not just about being able to brag about how close you live to the Sears Tower. Chicago, like any great city, has a pulse. It’s alive.

And you feel less of that pulse, even working downtown, if you put your head down each night in Joliet or Naperville.

But what’s the solution? How do you get Chicago’s vitality with the benefits of a less crowded neighborhood, and at a price you can swallow?

It’s easier and cheaper than you think.

Of course, a very real problem is space. You will probably end up in a smaller place if you make a move downtown. So how do you, like George Carlin said, find a place for your stuff?

Your current square footage may be your starting point for selecting new housing, but that number can be distorted.

Keep in mind one thing: The things you use day-to-day, what you might call your working stuff, is not nearly as voluminous as your total possessions.

In other words, many of the things you’re storing in your suburban basement are things you don’t need every day. What you use on a regular basis–your clothes, your books, your household appliances, and so forth–need space.

But there are lots of other things that you need to have but don’t necessarily need to live with.

Given what you are paying for the cubic feet of space where you keep those items–holiday decorations, vacation items, and the like–you can undoubtedly find more inexpensive ways to store your personal things.

Finding the handiest cheap storage Chicago has to offer in your neighborhood isn’t hard, and it will help you completely rethink your image of how much space you really need.

This idea is at the heart of why your downtown-dwelling co-workers and friends are able to live happily so near the heart of the city and don’t spend their time with you in a constant funk about having to cram their possessions into every available space.

Many apartment buildings have basement space available for each unit. Self-storage facilities dot the city. And some residents have space in their businesses or at property elsewhere in which they can keep long-term items.

While it may seem simple to drive 13 or 14 miles a day to escape the downside of downtown, we’re not talking highway driving here.

Even via interstate, high traffic counts will make your freeway experience more like a driveway experience. A quarter-million cars per day drive on I-94 near I-55, and you think commuting is quicker?

A home nearer downtown will cut down not just on the time you spend in traffic, but on the side effects of that lost time.

Your car really does not like to drive that way. Your wallet doesn’t want you making that many trips to the gas station. And your blood pressure would prefer you avoid the madhouse of trying to shoehorn your vehicle into the daily procession toward the heart of the city.

And you thought living on the upper floors was hard. Imagine locking the door, riding down an elevator, and boarding the L for a quick ride to the office. Sounds better than the squinting, glinting glare of a few thousand windshields in the morning sun, doesn’t it?

Of course, downtown life isn’t for everyone. Your background and the things that you enjoy for recreation fit into the equation, and they may be just the reason you avoid the downtown area.

But factoring in hidden costs like commuting and potentially unneeded square feet of living space can make the downtown life more financially appealing than you might first think.

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