Which of Chicago’s Downtown Neighborhoods Should You Live In?
Whether you recently moved to Chicago or you’re a lifelong Chicagoan just looking for a change in scenery, deciding where to live in the city can be quite challenging. Each of Chicago’s neighborhoods has tons to offer, and those closest to downtown are all incredibly appealing. But how do you choose between some of the most popular neighborhoods downtown?
Let’s take a look at what each of your options has to offer.
Median 1-bedroom rent: $2,100
For the young, fast-paced lifestyle, River North is the place to be. With plenty of nightlife, world-class restaurants, and fellow professionals to enjoy the neighborhood with, you’ll be anything but bored. Thrillist classifies River North as the place to be if “you never want to travel more than 10 minutes from your apartment”; even Lake Michigan is just a few blocks away.
Public transportation is convenient for those looking to head to the Loop (which is conveniently located just across the river), with the Brown and Red lines nearby. The area is also very pedestrian friendly, and you can get to anywhere you need to go – from grocery stores to the Loop – in just a short walk. Only those with a car might think twice; parking can be very expensive, and the traffic doesn’t help either.
Though River North is one of the more expensive neighborhoods in Chicago, gems like Marina City offer residents apartments at a below-average rate with above-average views and location.
Median 1-bedroom Rent: $1,800
If you’re looking for upscale living, look no further than Gold Coast. This beautiful neighborhood is more intimate and laid back than River North, with more mid-rises and walk-ups. Instead of the ultra-modern River North, Gold Coast’s historic mansions and vintage brownstones give the neighborhood a more residential feel. The area attracts a slightly older crowd relative to River North, but is trending younger as new restaurants – as well as condo and apartment buildings – move into the area.
Gold Coast is also a very popular destination for shopping, boasting an impressive roster of unique boutiques and top fashion brands alike. And not just on the Magnificent Mile either; many of its other non-residential streets house upscale shops for those with the money to frequent them.
Median 1-bedroom Rent: $2,070
The Loop is the heart of Chicago for a reason. The historic buildings, towering modern skyscrapers and overall energy cannot be matched by any other neighborhood. As you might expect, the area is home to some great restaurants and quick lunchtime options for every taste.
At night, the area quiets a bit as professionals head home – so much so that many restaurants even close on the weekend – but there is still plenty to do. As with food, you’ll find plenty of options on both ends of the nightlife spectrum, from casual spots like Monks Pub and Sweetwater Tavern to more swanky options like ROOF and Cindy’s.
The city’s most famous parks are right nearby, as are a fair amount of shopping options. Overall, cost of living is definitely not cheap, but if you can swing it then you have to live here at least once in your life.
Transportation is…well, you’re in the Loop! All of the el lines (aside from the Yellow line) are never more than a few blocks away, various Metra lines are nearby, and a huge number of bus lines run through the neighborhood. Of course, if you work in the Loop, walking to your office may be your best bet!
Median 1-bedroom Rent: $2,070
Streeterville is a mix of Gold Coast and River North, and not just in terms of location. There’s plenty to do in the area, from movies to arcades to Michelin Star restaurants, not to mention shopping venues along the Magnificent Mile. And if you’re in the mood to grab a beer and go bowling, Pinstripes and Lucky Strike have you well covered.
The neighborhood is also home to Navy Pier, with its many events, shows, and attractions. Understandably, this makes it a pretty popular tourist destination, but it does guarantee that you’ll never be bored. Outside of the tourists, however, Streeterville is a fairly laid-back neighborhood; there are plenty of bars to choose from but you won’t find the bustling nightlife scene you’ll find in the heart of River North.
Amidst all the fun, don’t think Streeterville is lacking in culture either; this neighborhood is home to the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses one of the largest collections of modern art in the nation.
Median 1-bedroom Rent: $2,070
Like the Loop, South Loop is not quite as busy as some of the areas further north. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything to offer; on the contrary, this neighborhood is situated in between some of the top attractions of the city such as Grant Park and Lake Michigan.
South Loop is home to a wide range of museums, parks, and annual events to keep residents entertained all year round. And the arts scene doesn’t disappoint either, with the Arie Crown Theatre and The Auditorium Theatre putting on great performances.
Multiple bus and train lines service the area, so getting around the city is a snap. But if you’re the active type, the many lakefront and park trails open up the option of bike commuting (as long as the weather holds above freezing).
Median 1-bedroom Rent: $2,100
Unlike the Loop, West Loop has a lot more to offer in terms of nightlife, as well as a respite from the tourists. It also boasts some of the city’s best restaurants, with Au Cheval, J.P Graziano, and The Publican headlining a fantastic array of incredible dining spots.
West Loop is a slightly older and quieter crowd than River North. Residents are within walking distance of downtown and Little Italy, and have convenient access to neighborhood attractions from art galleries to performance venues to community events in Union Park. Public transportation can be a bit tricky if you aren’t near the Green, Pink or Blue line stations, but when there’s so much to do, why ever leave?
Finding Your New Home
We’ve done our best to give you a feel for Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods, but we’ll admit we’ve failed in one respect: telling you which one to choose. And we can’t do that because, well, we can’t decide either. Many Chicago residents bounce around the city until they find the place that suits them, and most of them enjoy all of the places they live.
The six options we listed are all incredible places to call home, and wherever you settle down will be a great choice. If you think River North might be a great choice for you, give us a call at [phone number], or check out our Marina City rental listings and condos for sale. We’d love to help get you settled so you can get out there and enjoy the city.