Wilmette—which ranked No. 2 on that DePaul study of the metro area’s most transit-friendly towns—offers a near-perfect combination of North Shore amenities and urban access. Recreation? Hello, lakeside Gillson Park, not to mention the fabulous Centennial Park, complete with public pool and ice rink. Fine dining? It’s in Evanston, just to the south. Public schools? Kids here attend stellar New Trier High in Winnetka, just to the north, where median house prices are 69 percent higher than in Wilmette. And commuters have a myriad of options: the Metra, the el, Lake Shore Drive, or I-94. “Property taxes may be high, but you’re getting a lot in return,” sums up resident Mike Meyers, a currency trader and father of two.

Buyers have a wide variety of properties from which to choose, from three- and four-bedroom split-levels near Skokie Highway that sell for around $400,000 to palatial houses near Lake Michigan. Love brick pavers, cast-iron street lamps, and Prairie-style architecture? Head for the Ouilmette North National Historic District, near the landmark Baha’i House of Worship. At presstime, a 10,000-square-footer on a half-acre lot here was listed for $4.5 million.