Today I am talking about how we decided to move to Wicker Park. It is the fourth Chicago neighborhood that I have called home!
Charles and I have each lived in Chicago for over 12 years. I have lived in four different neighborhoods. I lived in Lakeview when I first moved here, and then once I moved in with Charles we lived in River North, then Old Town, and now Wicker Park.
We spent a considerable amount of time deciding where we wanted to set down more permanent roots in Chicago. Since we had been living in Chicago for quite some time we were familiar with the city and had a handful of neighborhoods in mind when we were looking to move.
In order to decide which neighborhood was the right one for us, we dated a few! The concept of dating a neighborhood might sound strange, but it really helped us narrow our search for a home. Over the course of several weekends, Charles and I would spend time in different neighborhoods. Just a quick reminder – we made the commitment to buy our home in January 2019, so we were able to explore these neighborhoods pre-covid.
We checked out where the el (train) stations were located. We checked out local bars, restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops. We got a sense of which streets were full of activity – which we wanted to be near – but also the quieter side streets we wanted to live on.
Plus, we scoped out any for-sale signs and looked up information on multi-unit homes that were being built. This gave us a sense of pricing while adding some homes to the list of ones we wanted to tour.
The major things we wanted in a neighborhood with a “neighborhood” feeling, easy access to the el, excellent restaurants, bars where we can have a good cocktail and hear a conversation, and local businesses that we want to support.
There were some things that we loved about Old Town, especially that we were just a couple of train stops from downtown and we were within walking distance of Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan. But, we felt like we outgrew the neighborhood. It has plenty of bars for a night out, but few places where you could bring a baby or have a quiet date night.
We wanted to try a different neighborhood. Our short-list included Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, West Loop, and Wicker Park. I made a push for Andersonville, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago, but it is too far from downtown and the airport.
In the end, we chose Wicker Park. It is one of the neighborhoods we were spending the most time in. Several of our favorite bars and restaurants are here. We love Tortello, Pub Royale, Big Star, Violet Hour, Queen Mary, Piece, Dove’s Luncheonette, and MAK to name a few. Wicker Park has dozens of independently owned businesses that are full of personality. It’s a totally unique neighborhood with so many things to do and places to go.
Another big advantage to living in Wicker Park is access to the Blue Line, which is the train that goes to O’Hare. Pre-pandemic… and probably post-pandemic Charles and I were both going to ORD multiple times each month and spending too much time in traffic.
So there you have it. That is how we picked Wicker Park. Two months in, and even though covid has changed so much, we love our new neighborhood. People here are friendlier. The local Starbucks baristas knew our orders within one weekend. There is so much to do right outside our door. It was definitely the right move for us and we can’t wait to spend more time here.
Want to read more about Chicago? I have written a series of city and neighborhood guides!
What to do in Old Town
What to do in the West Loop
What to do in Wicker Park
What to do in the Gold Coast
What to do in River North
What to do in Downtown Chicago/The Loop
What to do in Lakeview
What to do in Streeterville
What to do in Lincoln Park
200+ Things to do in Chicago
The 20 Best Things to Do in Chicago in Summer
What to Know about Visiting Chicago
Wintertime Date Ideas for Chicagoans
The Ultimate Chicago Travel Guide