The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of downtown office workers in work-from-home stasis for months. Some believe this could cause a long-term shift in employment practices, as companies discover employees may work just as well or better from home, or may prefer a mix of WFH and office time.
Which left me wondering: How far can you get away from it all without totally getting away from it all? If months of WFH has you wanting more open space without losing access to the city, the Metra can take you to a different region — or state — and keep you close enough for regular work and weekend trips. Here's what's available at the end of the line.
Heritage Corridor and Rock Island Line to Joliet
For $449,000 you can live like a magnate in Joliet — specifically, William Moore of the Moore Stove Factory, who built this local historic landmark in 1872. (The wraparound porch and hip roof were added around 1910.) The tiki theme of the porch is, uh, not original, nor is the in-ground pool or master-bath sauna, and the interior renovations give it a mostly contemporary look. But the gorgeous wood floors remain, and there’s an ornate William Moore stove in the sunny second parlor. It’s a mile from the Joliet Metra station.
UP-N to Kenosha
It’s less than a mile to the Kenosha Metra stop from this four-bedroom, 1,988-square-foot house. But the more important landmark is Lake Michigan, which is just on the other side of the neighboring public park, itself squeezed between a beach and a harbor. For $344,900, you get a handsomely renovated exterior with solar panels, a wrap-around porch with open and screened sections, and double-paned bedroom windows with sunrise views of the lake.
UP-NW to Harvard
In its 120th year, this massive Victorian house has been both well maintained and renovated with appropriate contemporary touches. At just under $350,000, it's not cheap, but it boasts six bedrooms and three bathrooms with much of its original flooring, trim, and doors still in place. (The radiators also still work, but there’s backup forced air.) It’s an eight minute walk to the Harvard Metra station.
MD-N to Fox Lake
This very ‘70s townhome, a seven-minute walk from the Fox Lake Metra stop, fits three bedrooms and three bathrooms into 1,500 square feet for the price of just $132,000. That means some of what you get is pretty basic, like a small kitchen with minimal fixtures, but it’s also got exposed brick, a fireplace, and two balconies between three floors. Plus, it's an eight-minute walk to the lakefront park.
UP-NW to McHenry
Brightly restored in baby blue, this 1902 American four-square has a massive wrap-around porch in front and a big deck in back. The McHenry Metra station is a half-mile away, and even closer is the McHenry Riverwalk along the Fox River. At more than 1,700 square feet and just $225,000, it devotes a lot of space to a roomy kitchen that opens out onto the deck. Quaint touches like interior French doors, built-ins, and a pocket door separating the entry from the living room give character to a comforting space.