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DC to Chicagoland

wpeters

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My job may relocate me from suburban DC to Chicagoland. It's still early in the process, but I'm looking for feedback on the Libertyville area. I'm mid-30's and would be moving with wife, kids, etc. in tow.

What should I expect in terms of lifestyle differences/upgrades/downgrades? My knowledge of Chicago is based solely on a few visits, so it's pretty superficial.
 

burningbright

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Some quick, rattled off observations I've made after living 10 years here as a DC transplant myself:

Transportation

1. You will still have the same amount of traffic if not more, only you will have to pay daily tolls to sit in the traffic, at least where I live.

2. HOV lanes? What are those? Left-hand lane is the fast lane? What does that mean?

3. Gas will be slightly more expensive.

4. You will miss the Metro after riding the Metra though the el is pretty efficient.

5. Illinois state troopers are not nearly as strict as Virginia state troopers.

Housing/Community

1. Property taxes are obscene pretty much anywhere in Chicagoland.

2. Just because it's the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright doesn't mean all the houses are nice. I miss the old colonial bricks in NoVa. Expect side paneling galore and cloth awnings over windows here.

3. Your neighbors will most likely be friendlier in Chicagoland than in NoVa.

4. There's a 1 in 5 chance that your mayor or any other mayor in the Chicagoland area will go to jail, usually for embezzlement. In DC the politicians are just better at hiding it.

5. A lot of fat white folks out here. Not too much diversity out in the suburbs but plenty in the city, it's just all highly segregated so know your neighborhoods.

6. If you're coming from Fairfax or Loudon County schools, your kids will be climbing several rungs down the ladder. I'd look at private schools or homeschooling.

7. Grocery prices are cheaper here, being so close to America's bread basket and manufacturing plants.

8. The restaurant scene is much better out here than in DC. More choices and higher quality. See fat people comment though.

9. You will miss having good seafood.

10. Chicago has a lot to offer, activity-wise, for people of all ages. Your kids will love the city and you will probably fall in love with it too, provided you don't have to drive in it.

Weather/Climate

1. This will be one of the biggest adjustments (yes, even after the winter you guys just had).

2. You don't know what cold is until your nose hairs freeze the second you walk out the door.

3. The old saying applies: "There are two seasons in Chicago: winter and construction."

4. Topography. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, gigantic glaciers scoured out all known topographical features. Surprisingly I had a very hard time with this. There's something incredibly unsettling about being able to see for miles and miles while driving along any interstate in IL. It's also sad that a place like this can get so much snow and virtually no sledding hills.

5. You will miss forests and mountains...and beaches. You will be 800 miles away from the nearest real beach.

6. Do not swim in Lake Michigan, no matter who you see out there frolicking.

7. Just because you've moved up in latitude does not mean you will have mild summers. Expect very hot, humid summers, with Spring and Autumn lasting approximately 2 weeks each.

I'm sure there's more people can add, both good and bad, as well as more specific things. I've got to run out and meet some friends but I'll try and think of more. Overall, it's a good place to live but I miss the Eastern Sea Board to the point where I'd be happy to move back, possibly New England though, not DC.
 

globetrotter

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I moved here from new york, my standard of living increased dramatically. chicagoland is a great place to raise a family. I send my kids to public schools, we find them very good. there is a lot to do on weekends, and I find it very affordable. if you have specific questions pm me.
 

wpeters

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Thanks, folks. Much appreciated. GT, that's a very kind offer. I'll PM in a week or so when/if this gets more serious. Bbased on today's developments, it's getting more serious quickly.

Public schools are one of my biggest concerns. We're in a really really good public school district in NoVa. I know nothing about the districts in the Chicago burbs, so I'll need to research.

I'm bummed to hear about the traffic. I was hoping to leave some of that behind in DC. Apparently not.

I remain optimistic about an uptick in affordability. I'm been researching houses in Lake County, and they seem almost (gasp) reasonable compared to DC.
 

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