Chicago Life and Style.

Your Home. Your Life. Your Style

Month: April, 2009

What neighborhood do you live in?

I happen to live in the East Village, Ukrainian Village and West Town. Unfortunately, Im not referring to my multiple palatial estates. My modest condo happens to fall into the gray area that surrounds all three of the neighborhoods I mentioned. There was recently an interesting article in the Tribune about this “identity crisis”,0,2690781.story

So, what IS a neighborhood? And how important is it to have clearly defined boundaries—or it is important at all? If you live in Chicago, you know that this is a city of neighborhoods, charming little micro-cities. You can live in a neighborhood for years, never leave it, and never run out of things to do and new places to go. If you are one of the more adventurous people, you may have lived in several neighborhoods. I happen to fall into that category and I think it’s the best place to be—just as living in other cities has made me love Chicago more, living in other neighborhoods makes me appreciate where I am even more.

The good news is, every single Chicago neighborhood has a wealth of fun stuff and places to offer. Sometimes it’s a question of finding a neighborhood that reflects who you are today—sometimes its living in one and finding out who you are while you are there. The “perfect” neighborhood for you may be a moving target. The neighborhoods change, we change, our jobs change, our circumstances change and when any one or all of those things change, a move down the road to the next neighborhood might be the perfect answer.

So, what IS a neighborhood? It cant simply be the geographic area within designated streets. Is it a “vibe”—what the heck is a vibe anyway? Is it defined by the people that live there? The shops that open there? The parking situation? I don’t think there is a universal answer. Although not a philosophy fan by nature, I think in this case, reality truly is perception. I think a neighborhood is defined by all the things I mentioned, but it’s also defined by your experience of it—do you love your house in that neighborhood? Did wonderful things happen while you lived there? Is it comforting because your family or friends have always lived there?

I have lived all over the country in vastly different cultures and cities. One of the things I love most about Chicago is that you can get a U-Haul for a local move instead of a one-way and change your whole life with substantially less effort and costs than schlepping around the country (although Im glad I did it)! Its been a tough 2008, tough first quarter 2009 but Spring is in the air and there are lots of signs that things are improving all over. If you want to make a fresh start—even just down the street, consider a new neighborhood!!

Spring’s the time for dreams

It’s so good to feel spring in the air! Perfect time to dream of your new home. I remember when I bought my condo, it was the dead of winter–but then I had a baby on the way so I wanted to get moved and settled in well before the little one’s arrival.

Timing is important when you’re looking for the perfect home. Spring is when those who’ve been thinking of selling usually list their homes, so you get the cream of the crop when you start early. But many homeowners have other reasons for selling so, like me, you can be sure you’ll always have a wonderful selection of  homes available all year round in Chicago.

The weather obviously isnt the only thing that affects timing. There are always deals to be had but with the way our economy has been struggling, opportunities have been created that we havent seen in years–and maybe wont see again.  Sure, there are two sides to every story but even if you arent a first time home buyer that qualifies for the fantastic $8k tax credit, there are still some tremendous homes and good financing deals around.  Before we all get caught up in the sun and fun, you might want to think about taking advantage of whats out there now.

For Chicagoans especially, Spring is a time to celebrate–the beautiful flowers the city plants, the wonderful small parks dotting all our neighborhoods come alive and its almost time for STREET FEST SEASON!!! Check out Metromix for a full listing of fests.  If you are considering moving to a new neighborhood, these fests can be a great way to scope out the neighbors and get the vibe of the area to see if its a good fit.

Spring is a time of renewal, of new life and a reminder that life goes on, no matter what.  We have been in an entrenched “wait and see” mode watching the market fluctuate. Well, the last couple of months have shown signs of improvement in many sectors and one of them is housing. People are coming out of their winter cocoons and beginning to move forward again. As always, Chicagoans will celebrate making it through another winter and we will renew our commitment to living our best life in this great city. See you at the fests!!