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Northbrook

Northbrook's River Trail Nature Center  Photo: José M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune

This large, affluent village cradled by I-94 and I-294 boasts a whole lot of everything. Take green space, for example: Northbrook has five interconnected forest preserves (and borders two more) and five golf courses, three of them public. Businesses: Tax revenue from the upscale mall Northbrook Court—as well as from Allstate, Crate & Barrel, and Underwriters Laboratories, all of which are headquartered here—helps keep residents’ tax burden relatively low. Schools: Northbrook has nine public elementaries, and they all receive above-average marks. In 2012, Chicago ranked Glenbrook North the top public high school in suburban Cook County, edging out even Winnetka’s New Trier.

Best of all, you need not be a zillionaire to afford a residence here. You’ll find plenty of mid-rise apartments along Waukegan Road and the juncture of the expressways, plus ranches and colonials of all sizes. Three-bedroom 1,500-square-footers often go for less than $350,000.

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