There are many reasons you may be thinking of down-sizing from one home to another. And to do so you don’t need to leave the beautiful area of Oak Park/River Forest! Now… some may say, “You don’t get it, Steve, it is time for us to get out of here!” OK… well for you snowbirds, that may be a different story. But, I meet many people over the course of the year that want to talk to me about down-sizing from their current large home, townhouse or condo to move into something smaller, less expensive and maybe even more maintenance free… right here in the village.
Here, I am going to share with you some of the questions or issues that arise in these conversations. This is just an outline of factors. There is a whole discussion that goes beyond what you read here. But if my article can help spark the dialogue … then here you go.
“I want to downsize but still need a good amount of space. Can I get that here in OPRF?” – You may be getting ready to move out of your 3200 sq. ft. center entrance colonial in the NW corner of Oak Park and want smaller but not too small. Sure you can get the space. Our area has a good number of condo buildings with larger units in them. However, instead of a 2 bedroom condo, look for condos that offer 3 bedrooms! That 3rd bedroom doubles as a spare room for guests and as an office or a TV room. If stairs are not an issue at this point, we have many townhouse complexes with the space you need. A number of the townhouse complexes are 3-4 stories tall and that bonus space is all the way at the top – the penthouse, if you will. Spacious Oak Park condos or townhouses come in all price ranges from the upper $200k to the luxurious mid-$600k range.
“Can I find attached units (condos, townhouses, etc.) with outdoor space?”- You certainly can! But how much space are you expecting? Full yard? Not likely, but you were probably looking for less maintenance anyway. A place for a small 4x5 ft garden patch is possible and delightfully manageable. For instance, take a look when driving around town. See these newer townhouse complexes built in the last 10-15 years? Most of the units have a little pad or patch of space right at the front door entrance.
Take 101 N. Euclid – “the Euclid Terraces” - as an example. Many of these residents have actually finished their small front patches of land into nice patios large enough to enjoy morning coffee for two to four people around a small table. For the townhomes that are in a row… does the end unit have a semblance of a yard? Many of these yards may look to be common space but they could actually belong to a specific unit. Often, the end unit has the right of use or may even own the land. Case in point, the 413 Wisconsin unit D currently on the market has a typical front deck area. Additionally, it has a 1st level concrete pad off the garage entry just for a grill. The pad even has an awning over it to protect you from the elements!
“I need a building with an elevator and I really don’t feel like there are many options here in OPRF. Is this true?” - Well, we have basically three types of condo building in the area. 1) Vintage - I can count on one hand the number of vintage buildings that have elevators in them. The 333 S. Oak Park Ave and that portion of the Decker Building that is on Pleasant are the only two that immediately come to mind. 2) 50’s or 60’s or 70’s era buildings. They may not be the prettiest buildings in town but they have elevators… many have laundry facilities on the same floor as the unit (i.e. 221 N. Kenilworth) and many have parking spaces most of them “covered” but not a garage. And finally, 3) newer construction… these most definitely have elevators, and there are plenty of new construction condos being developed in Oak Park, especially within walking distance of downtown restaurants, shops, and transportation.
“I’m not staying here! Taxes and assessments are too high!” I understand the frustration, but take some time to research and compare. Many empty nesters start their downsizing journey looking towards the city. You may find a beautiful 1 bedroom condo in the “Loop” in the $400k range with a view of the lake and so much more!! (i.e. 360 E. Randolph) The taxes may look extremely attractive too. ONLY $4900 a year! But what are the assessments? Ah…. now we see. Assessments are over $750 a month! Compare that to a similar 2 bedroom condo in newer construction or a renovated building here in OPRF. The overall “cost savings” end up being negligible and you are likely to gain so much more in space and convenience in Oak Park.
This next step in your life is dictated largely by how you plan to spend your leisure time. Think about the uses you anticipate for the spaces in your future home. Think about the things you can live with and the things you can’t live without. I guarantee you, there is a place for you to call home again in Oak Park & River Forest.