A guide to renting in Chicago’s Near West neighborhoods

Chicago's Near West rentals

A guide to renting in Chicago’s Near West neighborhoods

View south from River West Lofts, Chicago

The area we refer to in this Guide as the Near West is generally bounded on the east by the Chicago River, on the west by Ashland Ave (1600 W), on the south by the tracks just north of 16th St (1600 S), and on the north by Chicago Ave (800 N).

View from West Loop, Joeff Davis photo, Chicago

Near West neighborhoods

The major Near West neighborhoods are the West Loop, Fulton River District, River West and University Village. Smaller sub-neighborhoods in the area are Fulton Market, Greek Town, Jackson Boulevard, Little Italy and Randolph Market. Click on any of the links for area maps and photo slide shows.

Who lives here

The racially and ethnically diverse population consists of mostly young singles and couples.
Scene at Reserve, Joeff Davis photo, Chicago
The area does have a very visible number of families with pre-school children. The area is home to two of Chicago’s best high schools – the public Whitney Young Magnet School and private Saint Ignatius College Prep – but there are few families with older children here.

Why people move here

Proximity to the Loop, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Medical District is the primary draw for many residents. Easy access to major expressways and public transit is another.
Dragonfly Mandarin restaurant, Chicago
There’s also a wide range of dining and nightlife options, although many of the venues cater to tourists and out-of-area visitors. The panoramic views of the Chicago skyline are some of the best in the city. Many people love the vibrancy and grittiness of the architectural mix.
Athens Restaurant, Greek Town, Chicago
Most of the housing is new or of recent vintage, and somewhat less expensive than comparable options in the Loop and on the near north side.

Why people don’t move here

Rental housing consists almost exclusively of high-rises, a few rental loft buildings, larger apartment complexes and condos. Walk-up housing in a locale with a strongly residential feel is scarce. Townhomes and single-family homes are even scarcer. Parking in some of the areas is difficult or expensive.
 Aerial view of West Loop, Chicago
Walkable retail shopping options are limited in the immediate area, although the big-box complex along Roosevelt Road is nearby. Younger people whose friends are mostly in Lincoln Park, Bucktown and other neighborhoods find that they have difficulty getting their friends to visit, and spend more time in those neighborhoods.

What it costs to rent here

With few exceptions, you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000 to $1,800 for a studio or convertible, $1,250 to $2,000 for a 1-bedroom, $1,700 to $3,000 for a 2-bedroom / 2-bath, and $3,000 to $5,000 for one of the few available 3-bedrooms.

Rents at the complexes on the western edge of University Village can be considerably lower. You’ll also find the occasional bargain when renting a condo – but won’t find the extensive amenities the high-rises offer.
Under the L, Joeff Davis photo, Chicago

You might also consider

If proximity to the Loop is your primary objective, check out our Guides to renting in Streeterville, the Loop / New East Side and South Loop.

Guides to River North and Gold Coast / Near North are coming soon.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brian November 15, 2010 at 10:25 AM

We have rented in what I guess is called the Fulton River District for the past 5 years. We really enjoy the area but are hesitant to lay down roots for one simple reason. There is no neighborhood school here. Yes of course we are within an attendance area, but that school (Brown) is about 2 miles away. If we lived across the street we would be in a different attendance area (Carpenter) but that school is also about 2 miles away. Just a quick trip across the river puts all the kids on the north side of the Loop in the South Loop Elementary area – again, nearly 2 miles away! I challenge anyone to find another place in the city where the local school is so far away.

Until the city builds a new school in this area, all of the families with young children will continue to move away.

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