There are many things to love about Chicago. The architecture, food and entertainment options are among the reasons many call Chicago home. However, almost eight out of 10 residents say that the cost of living is high there. Fortunately, there are other cities near Chicago with still plenty to do, see and eat.
Here are 10 communities within 50 miles of downtown. All are either easily accessible by Metra or a nearby expressway. So as long as you travel off-peak times outside of rush hour, you can still reach the city in just about or less than an hour.
Oak Park is a charming, tree-lined suburb just west of Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line includes several Oak Park stops, making it convenient for those who want to live in a suburb but still have easy access to Chicago.
Oak Park is a bustling city with an active downtown complete with restaurants and independent boutiques, strong schools and active community members.
This town is also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, which attracts thousands from around the world to see the architect's prairie-style home.
Evanston borders the northern part of Chicago and while it's a northern suburb, parts of it feel very much like a busy metropolitan city.
Northwestern University calls Evanston home so part of the north and east part of Evanston is home to students as well as established families who live in older and grand single-family homes. Residents love their tree-lined and quiet streets and easy access to the beaches along Lake Michigan.
The city is large enough to have a few distinct shopping districts, including downtown Evanston, which has been completely transformed over the past decade with a large movie theater and larger retail establishments. Popular Central Street has more independent boutiques.
Elmhurst is a bustling and diverse western suburb of Chicago. Not only does it have great schools (including a university), but it's filled with other cultural amenities including a robust library, fantastic museums, a conservatory and more. Its downtown is home to many independent boutiques and restaurants, too.
A Metra train line services its residents and depending on how and when you're traveling, it's possible to get to and from Elmhurst and downtown Chicago within 20 to 30 minutes.
A western suburb of Chicago, Naperville residents love 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. Naper Settlement is a family-friendly, 13-acre outdoor museum campus with gardens and events hosted throughout the year.
Those who love the outdoors appreciate the greenery found throughout the city, as well as almost two miles of pathway along the Naperville Riverwalk.
Aurora is known as 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 move here 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.
Mention Gurnee and most people immediately think of Six Flags Great America, the amusement park that welcomes thousands of rollercoasters and thrill-seeker every summer. But Gurnee is more than just an amusement park attraction.
Only Child Brewing is a family-run craft brewery while the Bittersweet Golf Course offers a challenging and scenic 18-holes.
Gurnee Mills also offers more than 160 manufacturer and retail outlet stores.
Located along the Fox River, this suburb northwest of Chicago is the seventh-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.
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 that 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.
Chesterton is in Indiana and 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.
Chicago has a lot to offer its residents but if you're looking for similar amenities and a bit outside of the hustle and bustle of the busy city, all of these cities near Chicago have it.