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Wilmette for Young Families

By Karla Thomas – Co-Founder of Homeology

Every time I take new clients out to look at communities and homes, especially if they are relocating from out of town, I am able to experience that community through their eyes and needs. Recently, I helped a young couple from NY with 3 kids work through the community selection process.  With help from Homeology, they narrowed their choices to Lincoln Park and Wilmette. After looking at housing in Lincoln Park in the $1.2-1.5 Million bracket and still not finding the space and quality they needed, they decided to give the North Shore a try. For this family, while they craved the larger, more city like and diverse feel of Evanston, they were truly drawn to the A++ schools in Wilmette especially at the high school level. This was a reminder to me of how important the school benchmarking process in at Homeology. I have families that run from the rigor and competitive nature of New Trier while others will settle for nothing less. It truly is a personal decision.

Our clients started their tour of the community by visiting Central Elementary and Mc Kenzie Elementary Schools.  They were impressed with both schools, Mc Kenzie recently having been renovated, and Central with a huge technology program coming in the near future. They decided to limit their search to these schools because of the proximity to the lake and downtown.


So we all set out to look at houses and here’s what my clients learned along the way:

  1. Inventory is low! This is not a Wilmette problem, it is true for many of the most sought after suburbs.
  2. For a Budget under $1.8 Million they needed to decide between the following two options :
    1. Newer construction west of Green Bay or
    2. Vintage charm (most with updated kitchens and baths) closer to the lake. YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM BOTH!
  3. If you live within 8 blocks of the lake, use of the lakefront becomes a lifestyle and not just something you do sporadically. Gillson Park on the lake is a true Gem.
  4. For families of 5 or more, that require the 4 bed / 3 bath second floor  lay out…it’s a tough hunt. While this may sound excessive at first glance, if you have 3 kids who will eventually be teenagers, you want the kids to have two baths to share between 3 teenagers.
  5. New Construction is getting bigger and bigger… and is now too big in their opinion. Developers are trying to get the most out of their 600K land purchase, so they are building gigantic 3 floor, 6 bedrooms plus office, plus workroom, plus playroom Mc Mansions. Even when you can afford it, the space is excessive and hard to manage.
  6. Above all, they loved the feel of Wilmette. People were friendly and willing to talk to a potential new neighbor. Parks were a plenty, the walking downtown and access to the lake, makes Wilmette a unique community that they are excited to settle into this coming summer.

It was a great experience to see Wilmette through my client’s eyes.  I learned that even with a sizeable budget, families have to understand what is most important to them and make important trade offs, such as giving up city life in favor of space and schools.  I also could see the wonderful things Wilmette has to offer and understand why it is such a highly desired community.