Moving to Evanston

Parent Reviews

It sounds like a college town would be up your alley. If you want to stay close, check out Evanston, IL. It's a suburb, but has a pretty dense walkable downtown that feels like a small city. Other northern suburbs are nice too, but I think Evanston is maybe the most progressive? I lived in Chicago 10-15 yrs ago, and Chicago itself tends to lean very democrat, but it's a different kind of liberal than, say, Berkeley... not really environmentalist or anti-capitalist at all. If you can go a little farther, consider Madison, Ann Arbor, or Minneapolis/St. Paul (not really a college town, but very progressive).

Hey! My husband and I grew up in Evanston, which is just outside of Chicago. It's got pretty much everything you're looking for. I'd check it out. If my husband's job wasn't so completely Bay Area-focused, I'd move back there in a heartbeat. It's a great place to grow up and live! If you want to ask any questions, you can email me at joey.harmon [at]

Hi there! I would highly recommend Evanston. It has racial diversity, college town, safe, very good neighborhood vibes, close to public transportation and most schools there are good. It's very liberal. I love all of the northern suburbs along the lake, but you get less diverse as you go up the shore -- Highland Park and Wilmette are awesome, for instance, but 98% white (Evanston is more like 70%). I personally know several families who live in Evanston (and I lived there too!) I also know the mayor of Highland Park really well and she is fighting for more diversity and equality - happy to put you in touch if you are interested. I will note that I am biased as I am a Northwestern grad :). The burbs get a lot more conservative as you head away from the lake. 

My mom is from Evanston, IL and I grew up visiting during the summers and then also during Thanksgiving and wintertime. I'm not sure about the recycling, etc. part, but this city checks all the other boxes except maybe when it's snowing/too cold to be outside for too long; I don't think their winters are typically as bad as some other Midwest/East Coast cities though. It's a beautiful city and right on Lake Michigan.

I grew up in Evanston, IL and it fits a lot of what you described.  Its a university town, with Northwestern there, and quite diverse and liberal with an easy train or El ride into Chicago.  My knowledge of it is a bit dated, but I loved growing up there.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Moving to Evanston for a post-doc at Northwestern

July 2008

Hi. My husband just received three offers for a post doc. One in NYC, one here at CAL, and another in Evanston. We are grappling with which one to do...but are leaning towards the best one for my husbands career—Northwestern. But we are also concerned about getting into a preschool at this late date, which neighborhoods we should live in, and if there are any good young conservative synagogues. Any advice you can give to this native Californian would be greatly appreciated.

mother of two under three, wife of genius

My husband and I went to grad school at NU and we really loved it...well, except for the cold, snowy winters and the hot, humid summers! But Evanston really is an excellent little town, with easy access to Chicago on the El. It's got great restaurants, shops, a movie theater, and some beautiful tree-lined streets. And best of all for us and our dog, it is right on Lake Michigan with lots of parks and places to walk along the shore. I'm not sure what has changed in the 5 years since we left, but for the nicer neighborhoods of Evanston, I'd recommend staying north of Dempster St, and as far east as you can get (closer to the lake, campus, El stations). Of course prices will be higher in that part, but still will seem low compared to around here.

I'm not familiar with the synagogues, but had a fellow grad student friend who went to a conservative one that was either in Evanston or just north in Wilmette. There is a large Jewish population in Evanston, Wilmette, and Skokie, which is just to the west of Evanston, so I'm sure you will have no trouble finding a synagogue you like that is close by. Good luck deciding!

I lived in Evanston while I went to grad school, when I was first married and a bit after my divorce- a total of about 6 years. It's a great city. People are friendly, there's lots to do, the lake is a great place to hang out during spring, summer and fall. There's plenty of good restaurants and its a family friendly town. I am Jewish, but didn't go a synagogue then (it was about 30 years ago), but there is a nice size Jewish community so you won't have a hard time finding a synagogue. Chicago is also a great City to live near. Lots of activities and fun places to take kids. The midwest is very family friendly. It does get VERY cold in the winter and can get very humid in the summer. My neice and nephew, who have two elementary school age kids, recently moved to the north part of Evanston and love it there. Houses are on the small side, but it's really a community. Reva

Skokie has a large Jewish community, definitely a few synagogues, and is only 15 min. by car from Northwestern's campus. There's also a JCC on the border of Chicago and Evanston. Chicagoan