Renting and Leasing
If you are relocating to the Chicago area, you may not be ready to purchase another home. In that case, renting or leasing may be the perfect solution. Within the city of Chicago, there are more than 530,000 total renter-occupied units, and more than 43 percent of the renter population is made up of one-person households. An average apartment rental rate for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment is $1,078 and for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment, the average rate is $1,282 per month. You can find cheaper apartment options by expanding your search away from the most popular neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for an apartment, a townhouse, a mid-rise, a high-rise, condominium or a single-family home, you’ll find a unit to suit your tastes and lifestyle.

As you drive through the Chicago neighborhoods and review listings online, you’ll soon discover how affordable buying a home in certain areas can be due to the current housing market; however, it still may not be the right decision for you at the current time. Here are a few considerations when determining if you should rent or own.

Reduced Flexibility. If your company relocates employees frequently, or you’re not interested in staying somewhere for more than a year or two, you may want to think twice about buying. The costs you incur when selling a home (realtor’s fees, closing costs, costs to market the property) may outpace any gains in the property’s value or selling price.

Not Ready to Commit. How likely is it that your life and your needs will change? Is your family growing, or do you have children who are getting ready to leave home or go to college? Is divorce or separation a possibility in your near future? Will there be other demands on your income or savings?

Return on Investment. Most people believe property always appreciates or gains value, but that’s not always the case. A change in the neighborhood or the economy can affect the value of your property, which certainly is an issue currently. Sometimes you’ll make money as a result, but you may lose money on your investment if you haven’t owned the property for long. You’ll also need to consider any additional money that you put into the property for improvements or upkeep while you live there.

Maintenance Responsibility. Homeownership requires being responsible for making the repairs or hiring others to make them, being available when repairs need to be made and paying for the repairs.

Lifestyle Factors. Is the neighborhood you’re interested in affordable with an adequate selection? Is it close to work or school? Can you find rental housing where you would like to live, or is a home you buy the only option?

Tax Advantages. If you itemize your income taxes, you can deduct the interest you pay on a mortgage and property taxes. You also can deduct points paid to lenders in the year that you incur that cost. If you don’t itemize, you won’t get these deductions.

Peace of Mind. Ultimately, you need to decide if you’ll be more satisfied and comfortable in a home you own or in a home you rent.

LOCATION
— Central Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago, more commonly referred to as the “the Loop,” is home to the second largest business district in the United States. While in previous years downtown primarily was used to accommodate office buildings and retail shops, the Loop has now become a very popular choice for living. Brand-new high-rise apartments and condominiums have enticed many busy professionals to settle in the area. Downtown renters on average pay $1,400 for a studio apartment and for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment approximately $1,675. Although housing costs are considerably higher than other parts of the city, the plus side is you’re just seconds away from a range of entertainment—the performing and cultural arts, dining, nightlife, sporting events, festivals and shopping. The newest addition to the Chicago skyline, Trump International Hotel & Tower, houses 486 residential condominiums and upscale amenities, such as a deluxe spa and health club, indoor parking, 75-foot indoor pool, grand ballroom, five-star restaurant, 24/7 room service and a prime view of the city and lake.

— North Side
Known to have many of the city’s nicest apartments and housing, the North Side is made up of mostly residential areas. The two-mile Gold Coast area includes a limited amount of high-rise apartment spaces (many provide garage space with the lease) and a larger selection of expensive condominiums. This prestigious neighborhood is a shopper’s paradise with many high-end boutiques nestled throughout the streets. Plus, only a short walk away on North Michigan Avenue, the famous “Magnificent Mile” offers newcomers more than 460 retail stores, dining, night life and landmarks.

Lincoln Park, the heart of the North Side, is the perfect place to find an assortment of rentals and accessible parking. Many younger educated professionals as well as new families and recent college graduates occupy this area; making the median age about 31. Quick downtown commuter access via three neighborhood train stops along with plenty of outdoor amenities, including the Lincoln Park Zoo, make this area a popular living destination. Housing ranges from high-rises to two- and three-level brownstones to cottages. Due to the popularity of the area, housing costs can be somewhat high.

Between Gold Coast and Lincoln Park is Old Town, a quiet neighborhood that attracts single professionals and many from the gay community. Tree-lined streets, small yards, balconies and old architecture all help preserve the true neighborhood feel. Housing includes single-family homes, apartment buildings and two- and three-flat buildings.

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