Which suburbs feel most like the city? StorageCafé finds out

by Emily Mack

With the ability to work from home, the pandemic triggered an exodus to the suburbs. And while those communities offer a respite from city crowds, the lifestyle is not for everyone. Therefore, many homebuyers prefer suburban locations that maintain a somewhat urban feel. But where is that possible?

In a recent study, StorageCafé identified the suburbs with the biggest city vibes. Factors included housing affordability, median household income, the quality of public schools — plus of course, the shopping, eating and entertainment options that so define city life. Chicagoland suburbs ranked high on the list.

Twenty-one of the top 100 city-like suburbs were in the Chicagoland area — more than in any other metro area. Among those 21 Chicagoland suburbs, five graced the top 10. Lake Forest ranks as No. 2 in the nation, after Southlake, Texas, and No. 1 in the state of Illinois. With 3.5 shopping venues per 1,000 residents, Lake Forest offers a range of activities in addition to providing ample suburban space.

One spot behind, Highland Park is No. 3 on the national list. The area boasts high household earnings, a median of $150,000 per year, plus a low population density and a range of local jobs: There are roughly 57 businesses per 1,000 residents in Highland Park.

Directly behind Highland Park is Geneva: the fourth-most amenity rich suburb in America. Geneva also offers, on average, 2,218 square feet of park space per capita – more than five times the national suburban average.

Geneva is followed on the list by Calabasas, Calif., then Burr Ridge, Ill. at No. 6. Located a half-hour outside of Chicago, Burr Ridge is one of the wealthiest communities on the list with a median household income of $160,000. After Burr Ridge is Oakland, N.J., Brentwood, Tenn., then another Illinois suburb at No. 9: Northbrook. It was followed by Garden City, N.Y. in the No. 10 spot.

Other Illinois that appeared on the list are as follows: Deerfield at No. 15, Glenview at No. 17, Lincolnwood at No. 24, Algonquin at No. 28, Vernon Hills at No. 36, Crystal Lake at No. 38, Bloomingdale at No. 44, Lake Zurich at No. 46, Orland Park at No. 51, Downers Grove at No. 56, La Grange at No. 64, Frankfort at No. 75, Morton Grove at No. 79, Wilmette at No. 81, Elk Grove Village at No. 88 and Buffalo Grove at No. 95.

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