Average house price: $369,803
Transportation * * (out of 4) Metra is convenient, but the Tri-State Tollway is a bit of a hike.
Schools * * * Four good elementary school districts serve the town; Carl Sandburg, the local high school, performs at about the state average.
Shopping * * * * La Grange Road is all shopping: malls, big-box stores, restaurants, and whatever else residents need.
Plus: The village’s free summer concerts, currently staged at the Outdoor Amphitheater (14700 S. Ravinia Ave.), are a 25-year tradition.
One recent snowy afternoon, Frank Standley brought some reading and paperwork to the upper floor of the Orland Park Public Library, a contemporary space illuminated by the sunlight pouring through its clerestory windows. In better weather, Standley, a construction manager, might have been exploring the bike trail that starts near his condo and meanders north through forest preserves and the town of Palos Heights to the Cal-Sag Channel. Instead, he was enjoying time inside one of the architectural showpieces the citizens of Orland Park have erected to house their municipal institutions. Nearby, the monumental buildings of the Village Hall campus look out over a spring-fed lake, an amphitheater, and expansive ball fields.
With large tracts of forest preserve on its edges and several golf courses and big parks within its boundaries, Orland Park provides lots of green space. But it’s also a thriving commercial center. When Kanye West’s company wanted to open a branch of the Fatburger chain south of Chicago, it chose Orland Park, the shopping capital of the south suburbs. That designation may have its downside—the slow traffic on La Grange Road—but it is also the source of numerous advantages. Healthy sales tax receipts, for instance, meant that every year from 2002 until 2009, each homeowner got a small tax rebate. (Budget shortages nixed the 2010 rebates.)
Although he is an avowed nonshopper, Standley appreciates the amenities that those sales taxes underwrite. “You can really have a nice lifestyle here,” he says, “and it’s not very expensive.”