More moving to Chicago advice

I have an appointment this weekend to go talk to the ‘Regional Housing Centre’ in Oak Park, looking for 2-bdrm apartments to rent.

Just wondering if long-time Chicago and/or OP residents have any advice on what in particular to watch out for – especially in vintage buildings. We have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for and a price range and all that, I just wonder if there are Chicago-specific pitfalls we might not have thought of.

Eg. Is it realistic for vintage buildings in OP/similar areas to have central air/heating?

Any advice appreciated!

Also, if anyone has experience renting a house, what is the feasibility of doing so? Would you recommend it in comparison to condo/apartment renting?

I don’t know about Oak Park but in Chicago it is unlikely you would find central air in a vintage building unless it has been heavily renovated. Heat is usually going to be steam/radiator heat in unrenovated vintage buildings. In my experience, most vintage buildings that have been converted so they have central a/c and heat have also become condo buildings.

Don’t take this to mean you won’t be able to find a rental with central air and heat. You can probably find something to your liking, but you will have to look around more.

“This isn’t anywhere near Austin or Lawndale, right?”

My brother and SIL used the Oak Park Center (not Centre, are you Canadian?) and really had a good experience with the staff there.

And yeah, vintage= steam heat and window a/c units. But heat and water are generally included in the rent.

It’ll be VERY rare to have an old building with central A/C - it’s just too damn expensive to retrofit it into a building with no vents.

Try to stay a few blocks west of Austin. West of Ridgeland is good.
If you can find something West of Ridgeland and North of Lake for a decent price I’d seriously consider it.

Street parking can be horrible. Make sure your apartment either has parking or is zoned for overnight street parking permits; many streets in OP are not zoned for overnight parking and you really don’t want to walk 4 blocks every morning through unplowed streets and sidewalks Dec through Feb just to get to your car.

Not sure if you have kids or are interested in a church but mention it to RHC and they’ll try to help.

Are you going to use public transportation? OP has Metra trains as well as the el Green and Blue lines. Both el trains are safe during normal working hours but I would not ride either late at night. The Metra and green line run down Lake Street, the blue line runs down the Ike.

Anything I forgot?

Ditto…my wife and I lived in an apartment at Madison and East for several years, which we found through the center. Lovely vintage apartment in a courtyard building, steam heat (heat and water were included in the rent), no A/C (we supplied our own window unit, which was allowed).

Agreed with zoid that parking can be a PITA. There was no overnight street parking in our neighborhood. We were able to park overnight in the nearby Jewel parking lot, but the cars had to be out of the lot by 7 a.m. When it snowed, it was an even greater PITA.

Whoops, forgot all about this thread! Thanks for the info, guys. Looks like we prob. Will not be going vintage after all.

OP seems like a great town! Can’t wait to move!