Quality of Life in Oak Park>Question Details

Amy, Both Buyer and Seller in Saint Louis, MO

We're lookng to buy a single family in Oak Park...

Asked by Amy, Saint Louis, MO Fri Dec 28, 2007

and are curious about the neighborhoods south of the expressway (290). Does anyone have a POV to share? Specifically, how does the area differ from the more expensive northern areas (crime, feel, community, demographics, etc.)?

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8
BEST ANSWER
The area is completely different. You might as well be looking in Cicero or Chicago. Oak Park has wonderful schools and wonderful homes regardless of where you are in Oak Park. If you want ALL the positive aspects and few of the negative aspects of Oak Park, you want to be North of Chicago Ave and West of Ridgeland.

Ridgeland is the East/West dividing line because the East side can be 10' lower in elevations. The lots are smaller and basements often have water problems. The North/South dividing line isn't as clear-cut but it is further North than 290, either Lake St or Chicago Ave.

Oak Park, IL is nationally known for its acceptance of diversity (along with Evanston, IL). At my open houses (on the West side of Ridgeland Ave) about half the couples/families looking were mixed races. It is almost comical looking at the demographics because it is tooo perfectly diverse. Here is an example:

Group #1) White husband, black wife
Group #2) Black husband, white wife
Group #3) Gay couple
Group #4) White family, 2.3 kids
Group #5) Black family, 2.3 kids
Group #6) Asian family
Group #7) White couple with grandma and 2 adopted black children

Personally, I think children will learn more at Hatch Grade School than the overly touted Mann School. I think all the OOOHHH MANN the best scores!!! is really the reason agents get in trouble all across the country for telling you one school or area is better than another. It's a veil of discrimination. Yes, the test scores are higher at Mann but so is the white population. It has NOTHING to do with whites being smarter but it has to do with money is power and subtle discrimination. Hatch has more diversification and SMALLER class sizes.

I grew up in a small white town in Michigan. There was no racism or discrimination because there was no one to discriminate against. When I went to Michigan State Univ, I got culture shock. I didn't see my roommate as black, I saw her as a person. But what a different life and culture she grew up with! I had no idea?! I could tell you a bunch of stories, but the point is, a child will learn more and do better in life if they are exposed to experiences beyond their own.

I think I answered your question specifically, probably too specifically. My summary Point Of View is like Goldilocks: South of 290 is too hard, expensive North West area is too soft, (shameless self promotion now) 1205 N Ridgeland is just right!

Feel free to contact me for additional perspectives of the area.
Ruth

P.S. My first home was in Cicero. One of my soap-boxes is labeled Discrimination in Cicero. You don't want me to stand on that one, it's hard to get me down.
Web Reference: http://www.Oak-Park-IL.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 30, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Thank you Ruth! I appreciate your detailed POV. We had been frustrated because we couldn't get specific answers from our realtor. Elvis, I didn't realize all the restrictions, so thank you for that insight.

Regarding our priorities... we're looking for an urban feel (the good aspects) with a little more gentle way of life (e.g. more space, ease of driving and parking, safe, etc.). Oak Park feels just right. We love the diversity. We also love being able to walk to cafes, bookstores, etc., so we were interested in the Lake street area.

We're a professional couple without kids (yet anyway), looking to find a community where we can grow some roots.

Thanks again for your thoughtful response.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 30, 2007
no problem, Amy... that's what we're here for, to try to shed some light on a process that's often difficult to understand.

(although I'm not sure why I got FOUR thumbs down for telling you that we're not allowed to discuss Fair Housing Issues, and that Ruth's comments were great?!)
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in 60201
MVP'08
Contact
A couple other things . . .

Amy, what are YOU looking for? What are YOUR priorities?

I would like to thank the Oak Park police and fire departments for the unbelievable service to the community. I'm paying a lot in taxes and it is good to know that the police are diligent in patrolling the area to keep it safe. The fire department was exceptionally nice and helpful when my smoke detectors wouldn't shut up.

Thanks,
Ruth
Web Reference: http://www.Oak-Park-IL.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 30, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Thanks everyone for the additional info...I appreciate it very much!

I also wanted to mention that I didn't give any of the thumbs down ratings. It must have been someone else. I gave all positive marks because I found everyone's insight really helpful. Many thanks!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
This website is an excellent source for your question:

http://www.city-data.com/city/Oak-Park-Illinois.html

Greg Zaccagni
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
This is a question for our Ruth. Where are you Ruthless?
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2007
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Check here..........................
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 29, 2008
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