Where to Buy Now

The silver lining behind the residential real-estate collapse is the opportunity for housing bargains. Here are 14 up-and-coming Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs where prices are relatively low and the promise for future growth is strong

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County: DuPage
Population: 48,995

The grand old Tivoli Theater and the red-brick and terra cotta train station in the center of Downers Grove have gained several new neighbors in the past decade: condo buildings, airy new retail spaces, and a big municipal parking structure. The same sort of thing has happened along many of the town’s residential blocks, where newly built houses have been tucked among existing homes.

The town already had a heterogeneous mix, everything from ornate Victorians to low-slung ranch houses. The newcomers have mostly come in a few notches higher than their older neighbors, but those new residences are suffering most during the real-estate downturn. In early summer, I wandered onto Bryan Place, a short street northwest of the downtown area that has been made over with nine new houses by assorted builders. Five of them were occupied, and the other four—complete, ready for occupancy, and all priced around $700,000—were sitting empty. Of course, an overload of new houses, with their relatively reasonable prices marked down by tens of thousands of dollars, makes this town a magnet for bargain hunters.

PLUS: The well-performing Downers Grove North High School, the 135-acre Lyman Woods Forest Preserve, and transportation. Downers Grove sits at the junction of I-88 and I-355, and on top of that, says Bomba, “my train-snob clients love the excessive number of express trains” headed into Chicago during the morning rush hour.
MINUS: Some streets have developed a discordant look, with large new houses squeezed between and towering over older, more horizontal residences.




6 years ago
Posted by Laura Calvache


I like the concept of your article, reading with interest what neighborhoods will be up and coming in the near future, hoping that many realtors’ opinions would be shared as well. So, I examined with keen interest what the perspective is on Albany Park. However, this realtor finds your assessment of my neighborhood to be somewhat incomplete. Thank you for a great try, but maybe a little more substance is what is needed? For example, where but in Albany Park can you get a 3-4 bedroom, 2 bath home on an oversized lot for under $500,000? Smaller starter homes with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath are starting around $200,000 which is a resonable price for having your own home in the city. We are also close to some great trendy areas, like Lincoln Square and the Kedzie Brown Line stop, but yet close to the airport via Blue line or freeway and mall shopping in suburbs via the freeway. Thanks again.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Palos Heights is actually in the SouthWEST suburbs, a great area. The people are a lot friendlier than you will find on the north side and the areas and houses are overall not as old. Nearby Palos Park is one of Chicago's wealthiest and unknown suburbs and nearby Orland Park has everything!

4 years ago
Posted by mikeP

Why take a chance in an "up and coming" neighborhood when there is so much inventory in the established "always wanted to live there" neighborhoods? I think during a hot market is the only time you invest in up and comers.

4 years ago
Posted by monica1980

I agree with many of your choices, a smart person knows you buy low and sell high. Thanks for all your research it really comforts me to know that all my feelings about some of these investments I have made will pan out. I purchased a home in Aurora for less than what the previous owner paid of course she took a big loss when she sold due to her employment and I on the other hand will have the chance to wait and watch my investment grow. I have been watching real estate for many years and the best advice has never changed and that is location, some of the areas you have suggested are not just up and coming they are hot as far as shopping and so much more.Geneva offers one of the only dog friendly indoor malls and Aurora (Rt.59)has a casino, excellent parks and great access to the tollway and Metra.

3 years ago
Posted by jennifermadonia

Where can I purchase a copy of the October Issue of your magazine? I can only find November Issues on the stand.

3 years ago
Posted by Elizabeth Riley (Chicago magazine)

Hi Jennifer!

Back issues of the magazine can always be purchased through the site here: http://bit.ly/uHO2R3

Let me know if you need anything else.

2 years ago
Posted by Ben

I bought in Bronzeville three years ago and it was a great decision. The proximity to the lake, US Cellular, IIT, the Police HQ, downtown, and great transportation links are fantastic. There are amazing houses with history and character. People are generally very nice and welcoming. It's still rough around the edges, but I've seen good progress in the past three years even with the soft economy. A new bank replaced a fried chicken restaurant. Old run down buildings have been torn down and replaced with grass and trees. The new marina at 31st street is beautiful.

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