There are many things to love about Chicago. The architecture, food and entertainment options are among the reasons many call Chicago home. While it may be sweet home Chicago to some, almost eight out of 10 residents say that the cost of living is high in Chicago.
Fortunately, there are some less expensive options outside of the city with still plenty to do, see and eat. Here are eight of them, all of which are either easily accessible by Metra or a nearby expressway and fewer than 50 miles from downtown Chicago.
As long as you travel off-peak times outside of rush hour, you can still reach the city in less than an hour.
Located along the Fox River, this suburb northwest of Chicago is the eighth largest city in Illinois. Residents take advantage of their proximity to the Fox River Bike Trail, while arts and culture lovers will appreciate the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and Historic District.
Kids of all ages can have fun at Santa's Village in nearby East Dundee, an amusement park that's been entertaining families since it opened in 1959.
The Milwaukee District West Line runs right along downtown Elgin, with the last three stops located in Elgin. The Elgin stop is one large block away from the Elgin Tower Building and Fountain Square Apartments.
Aurora is called the “City of Lights" because it was one of the first cities in the country to adopt an all-electric street lighting system in 1881. Today, most people are drawn to the city for its affordable cost of living compared to its neighbors.
The Fox River not only connects the communities around the Aurora area but the city also has the longest stretch of unbroken shoreline of any community along the river, making its trails popular among cyclists, runners and walkers.
A Metra line features two stops to Aurora, making it particularly convenient for those who work in Chicago or want to venture into the city for fun.
A western suburb of Chicago, Naperville residents are drawn to the strong schools, good jobs and access to healthcare. It's also a city that actively works to preserve its history.
The Naperville Historic District has more than 600 buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. Those who love the outdoors appreciate the greenery found throughout the city, as well as almost two miles of pathway along the Naperville Riverwalk.
Residents in and near Joliet enjoy the miles of trails along the Illinois and Michigan Canal, as well as thousands of acres of lakes, rivers, forests and parks.
From antiquing to hiking Starved Rock State Park and catching a Joliet Slammers baseball game, there's no shortage of fun activities. Along the Heritage Corridor Ale Trail, there are a number of breweries to enjoy.
Chesterton may be located in Indiana but its location just over the Illinois border makes it a convenient spot for those who crave a more rural farm-town lifestyle to a busy urban atmosphere.
Filled with parks and trails, young professionals and families love the suburban feel and highly-rated public schools. Chicago transplants often cite the cost of living and a calmer way of life among the reasons they now call Chesterton home.
Easy access to the South Shore Line, which drops residents at Millennium Station in downtown Chicago, makes it especially convenient to live there but still commute easily and quickly into Chicago.
Small town Midwestern charm with big city amenities are among the reasons residents love living in Geneva. On the western fringe of the Chicago suburbs, Geneva has strong Swedish roots and its annual week-long Swedish Days Festival in the summer draws crowds from near and far.
It's also part of a tri-city area which includes St. Charles and Batavia. During the summer months, its downtown is bustling as families and friends enjoy shopping the charming boutiques or dining at its many local restaurants. The Riverwalk provides a lovely respite year-round and the nearby Fox River Trail is perfect for biking, running and walking.
Lush and mature trees line the winding streets filled with old Victorian homes, quaint shops and local restaurants of this Chicago suburb.
A family-friendly community, Algonquin boasts strong schools and beautiful parks. Although it's 43 miles from Chicago, it's a short trip to the city by either train or the nearby expressway.
Mention Gurnee and most people immediately think of Six Flags Great America, the amusement park that welcomes thousands of roller coaster and thrill seekers every summer. But Gurnee is more than just an amusement park attraction.
The Chocolate Sanctuary is a chocolate-inspired restaurant while the Bittersweet Golf Course offers a challenging and scenic 18-holes. Gurnee Mills also offers more than 200 manufacturer and retail outlet stores.