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Villa Park, IL

Is it possible to live near the city in a DECENT apartment?

I'm starting to think I'm asking for the impossible. I have had the worst luck with apartments these past few years and my bad luck continues with my current apartment.

As some of you may remember this thread:
»Problems with a new apartment

I moved from my previous apartment in the city because the building had some serious neglect issues - the main issue being I discovered rotting asbestos insulation. I also had cockroach issues, plumbing issues etc. I got my lease broken and decided to make the move to the burbs. I still work in the city so I settled on the La Grange area. I found a condo that was being rented out by the owner for a decent price near the Metra stations. The price was pretty competitive and the building and unit was in pretty decent shape so I jumped on it.

My problems are no longer with the building itself. I actually really like my apartment. No bugs, asbestos, heat issues etc. Now I'm having problems with the neighbors. This apartment is the loudest building I have ever lived in. I can hear 4 of my neighbors in my unit. The unit across the hall from me had new neighbors move in. The new neighbors over-occupied the unit and ended up being evicted. Yesterday I had a new neighbor move in above me. I was woken up at 1AM to reggaeton music. I lost my patience, went up stairs, banged on his door and threatened to call the cops.

I know this is pretty ranty, but I need to figure out a living situation that works for me. I've never owned a home, but I'm very tempted to purchase a house just to be able to live in peace and in an environment I can control. Anyone that's much wiser than me have any advice?

Again, sorry for being a bit ranty, but I'm just becoming hopeless and miserable at this point. I just think that having a home I enjoy would be something simple, but it seems to be a unrealistic pipe dream for me.

Lisle, IL
You should look for an "owner lived in" 2 flat instead of some apt. block run by some half-ass management company. It would have better upkeep and the owners will most likely be older people with jobs who aren't partying at all hours.

Scoot the World
Mount Prospect, IL
reply to Clever_Proxy
It is going to be hit or miss with any apartment. You won't really know the neighbors until you move in. You also won't know any of the real problems with the building until you move in or talk to an honest neighbor. You can judge the building by looking at it but otherwise you really don't know until you move in.

With all the problems you have been having you really should consider a home. Prices are down and you may find what you are looking for.

Naperville, IL
reply to Jon
My parents and I lived in apt all of our lives til I was in HS. There is always going to be a issue. Actually first one wasn't bad. Neighbors were nice, close knit. We had fun with the other kids. But this was in the late 70's we'd prob be living there all our childhood if it wasn't made into condos.
But all subsequent apt had their share of problems. Loud people, fighting spouses. Jerk off neighbors. Til my parent bought a house.

When my then GF now wife got a apt. We rented once only it was for a good 6 years, but they were getting pricey and again had same issues, loud neighbor, fighting couples. Even jerks taking my paid parking spaces. Once we were expecting we decided to get a townhouse. It was nice living in your own place with your own garage. Thankfully the place was build right! I couldn't hear our neighbors at all. I could barely hear the garage door opener. In the end each rental will have its' issues, but count on loud, obnoxious, inconsiderate neighbors. I think Jon's advice is good. Look for a 2 flat with the owner living in it. But be forewarned the owner might think you are too loud.


Chicago, IL
reply to Clever_Proxy
I lived in the city for years, the best apartment I ever rented was not an apartment at all.
I found a great deal on a small chicago style bungalow rental on the north side. With the economy the way it is today, you may be able to find something like this in the area you would enjoy living.

When looking to rent a house, be sure the home-owner is not activly trying to sell and going to sell it from under you and force you to move without a good notice (6 months to a full year from time they want to list)

Just some quick thoughts...

Lisle, IL

1 recommendation

reply to Warzau
said by Warzau:

I think Jon's advice is good. Look for a 2 flat with the owner living in it. But be forewarned the owner might think you are too loud.

When we had our 2 flat (with "garden apt") in logan square, we basically had "don't be a dick" written into their lease agreements. We were lucky though and had great tenants. And any issues with the apt. would be resolved in a day or two. Some times less, sometimes more depending on the scope of the repair of course. It was a 108 year-old building so it had some issues.

One of my wifes best friends owns a 2 flat (with "garden apt") in Addison mall. I can ask her if she needs a or will need a tenant if you want and can put you in touch with her. She does have 2 pits and a pug, if that's an issue. They're sweet dogs. She works for "Found Chicago" and volunteers for Bully breed rescue. I think she has a couple of cats too. So it's a very pet friendly place as well.

Chicago, IL
reply to Clever_Proxy
Every comment in this thread has something to offer.

There are a lot of variables. Do you like totally spotless, trouble-free living spaces? Or do you like it older, with higher ceilings, woodwork, and some character? It's one thing to live in an unsafe building, it's something else to live in a nice place that isn't perfect and has problems from time to time.

But a lot of people legitimately want something that's new and perfect. And there are plenty of those sorts of places. If that's what you want, move into a newer highrise.

Buying a house isn't a bad idea - and prices are starting to rise - now it the time if you can swing it. But with a house there will ALWAYS be something going on. It's endless. New, old, whatever.

So think about what you want to live in, and then where you want to live. There is a lot of different housing stock in this town. Mainly older, but plenty new too. So there are a lot of choices, although money is always an object.

Man - where are you living? Seems like there's a lot of turnover - and that's bad.
Illegitimati non carborundum

Villa Park, IL
Wow, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the input. It really means a lot. Everyone has some great input.

Ideally I would love to live in a two flat. The main reason I settled on the place I'm at now is because my previous landlord was pushing me to get out after we agreed to break lease. I literally found a place to live in a week and a half. It's technically a condo building so my thought process was, hey, what could go wrong? It must be a better living situation being a condo versus a managed apartment building. I came to the realization that a condo building is nothing but an apartment building that allows you to "purchase" the units instead of rent them. Yes, this building has a very high turnover. The 5 months I've been here I've seen 3 out of the 16 units move in/out.

I think I'm going to let my lease expire and do my best to take my time to find a place to live that I'll enjoy. I understand that owning a house has its own set of challenges but I'm beginning to find myself in a financial situation to where it makes sense for me to find an affordable house. I'm also looking at moving my employment out of the city so I may be able to move somewhere a little bit quieter. I guess for now though, I'll continue to bang the broom on the ceiling when the upstairs unit gets too loud.

Another question. When searching for an apartment, how do you go about the search? Has anyone ever used a realtor for searching? I've heard of people using realtors for high end rentals.


Algonquin, IL
We needed some temporary housing (3 yrs) in the Rockford area. Started looking at/for apartments and came away with sticker shock. Landlords are obviously taking advantage of the mortgage crisis.

It was just too much money to spend for that length of time and have nothing to show but a stack of rent receipts, so we started looking at starter homes.

Many were available at reasonable prices. We found one that met our needs at a good price. Monthly payments are a half or two-thirds of what a nice but smaller apartment would rent for, plus we have an attached garage. Quiet, established neighborhood, but close to shopping, etc.

The market is starting to show signs of picking up, which is good for us since we plan to sell in a couple more years. But home prices and mortgage rates are still low, so it's still a good time to jump in if you're so inclined.

And I know Rockford has been hit hard by the recession, but with the real estate market depressed in general I'm sure other areas will have some relative bargains as well.

Villa Park, IL
I was thinking about going that route, but I'm not sure how the Chicago suburbs will stand up to the housing crisis vs the Rockford area. I know most homes in the La Grange area are fairly out of my price range. Most of the homes are certainly not starter home though...

West Des Moines, IA
reply to Clever_Proxy
I've lived in many parts of the city and have a lot of recent experience. I've lived in Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, Lakeview and even tried out Evanston all in the past 5 years.

Depending on your budget, there is no such thing as the perfect apartment unless you're willing to spend the $$$$. Will you be living alone? I've always had roommates and more recently lived with my now wife at a few of the locations.

Bucktown and Logan Square will be cheaper area to live in and you'll get a nicer place. However, unless your friends live there getting around from those areas is a PITA. This goes for Wicker Park as well, but at least they have a nice epicenter for entertainment.

I would recommend looking into Evanston. There are a lot condo's on the market for rent up there. The area is saturated with condo reno's and owners who are unable to sell. I lived in a newly renovated 2BR, 2BA in Evanston by the Main St Metra stop for $1250 /mos. No problems at all with my neighbors, or condo issues. And if I did have an issue the owner was very responsive. It's more of a family oriented area as well, so it'll be much quieter in general. If you're commuting to the city, the Evanston Metra will take you to Union Station in 15minutes. My wifes commute was vastly shorter taking the Evanston Metra over walking to the redline from Lakeview and taking the CTA. My only beef with living in Evanston is that it's really cumbersome traveling anywhere other than N and S.

I have tried many leasing agencies. I even used a real estate agent once. Lets just say it's a waste of time. They don't know anymore than you do about these apartments that they show you. They look them up in there database and view the same pictures and information that you would. The Agents don't spend time scouting the apartments in person beforehand because the rental market flips so fast. So I would just stick with craigslist or walking around the neighborhoods and looking for signs. Hopefully you have some friends in your desired areas to have them scout for you as they're out and about.


Saint Louis, MO
·AT&T Southwest
My son got a 1-bed apartment near Wrigleyville for about the same price of a really nice apt here in St. Louis. His apartment is cramped, the paint holds the walls together, and hot water barely flows in the kitchen. The landlord is responsive but when I complain to my wife about the place (she was the one that went out with him and an agent) she said this was a lot nicer than the others they found in that price range.