A guide to renting in Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is widely-recognized as one of the most attractive, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, culturally rich and architecturally-interesting neighborhoods in America. Spend an hour or two walking around and you’ll have a solid feel for how Lincoln Park differs from other Chicago neighborhoods, and for why people want to live there.

The location

The Lincoln Park / DePaul neighborhood spans the area from North Ave (1600 N) to Diversey Pkwy (2800 N), from Lake Michigan west to the Chicago River. Its location is between two and three-and-a-half miles north of the center of Chicago’s Loop.

1800 block, Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL

Lincoln Park is bordered on the north by Lake View, on the south by the Gold Coast and Old Town, and on the west by Bucktown and Logan Square.

Lincoln Park neighborhoods

Adobo, Chicago, IL

Lincoln Park encompasses a number of distinctive, smaller neighborhoods:
Clybourn Corridor, DePaul / Sheffield, Mid North, Old Town Triangle, Park West, Ranch Triangle, West DePaul, and Wrightwood Neighbors.

You’ll sometimes see references to East Lincoln Park, which is not a recognized neighborhood, but a reference to the area east of Halsted St (800 W).

Who lives here?

Predominantly affluent, educated young people – half the population is aged 18 to 34 – and they tend to be singles or young marrieds. As you move further away from the dense areas along the lakefront, you’ll find a significant number of families with children, typically age 11 or younger. Closer to DePaul University there’s a significant student presence

Lake at Fullerton, Kardas Photography, Chicago, IL

Over 80% of adults over the age of 25 have a college or advanced degree.

Why people move here

Because it’s Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is widely-recognized as one of the most attractive, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, culturally rich and architecturally-interesting neighborhoods in America. Spend an hour or two walking around and you’ll have a solid feel for how Lincoln Park differs from other Chicago neighborhoods, and for why people want to live here.

Commonwealth Plaza, Chicago, IL

The park. Lincoln Park (the park) is a huge draw. It’s one of the great urban parks in the country, and a number of the park’s prime attractions (the Zoo, Conservatory, Nature Museum, lagoons, etc.) directly adjoin the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Lake Michigan beaches are easily accessible.

Shopping, etc. The neighborhood has great shopping, dining, nightlife, bars, theaters, health clubs, salons – you name it – in a variety of interesting, walkable areas.

Twisted Lizard, Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL

Transportation. Public transportation to the Loop is excellent, in the eastern parts of Lincoln Park, mediocre when you get far enough west. There are CTA Red Line stops at Diversey Pkwy, Fullerton Pkwy and North Ave, and Brown Line stops at Diversey, Fullerton, Armitage Ave and Sedgwick St (just south of North Ave). The eastern park of Lincoln Park has a variety of CTA bus routes to the Loop. East – west buses connect to those routes and to the El from the western parts of Lincoln Park. Cabs are all-pervasive in the area.

Nanny jam on Armitage, Chicago, IL

Neighborliness. The Lincoln Park neighborhoods have a decidedly more residential feel than other downtown Chicago neighborhoods, with great vintage architecture side-by-side with the newer buildings and high-rises It also has a rich tradition of civic involvement, and long-standing active civic, religious and neighborhood organizations.

DePaul Library, Joeff Davis photo, Chicago, IL

Schools. Lincoln Park has some of the best public and private schools in the city, and is home to DePaul University’s main campus.

Neighborhood events . Lincoln Park hosts a wide variety of neighborhood events that draw crowds from the entire Chicago area.

Linicoln Avenue, Kardas Photography, Chicago, IL

Rents. Rents are typically lower here than in downtown neighborhoods. In large part, however, that’s due to the quality of the housing stock (see below).

Why people don’t move here

Because it’s Lincoln Park. There’s a pervasive – and we think mistaken – perception that Lincoln Parkers are status-conscious Chads and Trixies. Lincoln Parkers are a lot more diverse than that, but they’re not very ethnically or racially diverse. Ninety percent of Lincoln Park residents are native-born white, and people who value urban diversity often shy away from Lincoln Park.

Norman Rockwell, Joeff Davis photo, Chicago, IL

Cost of living. The housing stock, bars, restaurants, etc. tend to be pricey compared to other residential neighborhoods.

Traffic, parking. Lincoln Park’s commercial density, especially near the park and along the Clybourn Corridor, puts great pressure on parking and results in occasionally maddening traffic congestion. Parking is unavailable at most of the older Lincoln Park buildings nearer the lakefront, and pricey when available. The lower-density neighborhoods have permit parking areas that prefer residents, but parking is still often an issue.

Skyline view, Kardas Photography, Chicago, IL

Transportation. Expressway access is inconvenient, and can be painfully slow at peak times and on weekends. Public transportation is mediocre in the western parts of Lincoln Park.

The housing stock. People who want the most home or apartment for their money often find Lincoln Park lacking.

Housing stock

1800 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL

Lincoln Park as a whole has a wide variety of housing, but options narrow considerably in both the high- and low-density neighborhoods.

What’s scarce. New apartments with all the latest amenities are in short supply – although newer condos are easily available for rent. Family-sized rentals are scarce, and pricey when available, since roommates chip in to pay a premium for these spaces.

Few of the larger rental buildings in the area feature private outdoor spaces in the form of balconies or terraces. In-unit washers / dryers, which are now common in newer Downtown / Loop rentals, are virtually non-existent in the area’s larger buildings. Parking is almost always an issue.

1960 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

What’s plentiful. Lincoln Park has a larger selection of walk-up rentals than any of the other close-in neighborhoods.

Old Town Triangle Landmark District, Chicago, IL

Older buildings. The larger old buildings typically have small kitchens or kitchenettes with limited cabinet and counter space, radiator heat and window (if any) air-conditioning. Common-area amenities tend to be limited, but may include a sundeck and a small fitness room. Bedrooms tend to be small, but 1-bedroom apartments may include a separate dining area.

Vintage walk-ups. Lincoln Park has a large number of 2- and 3-flat buildings built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Renovations have been of varying quality and many have preserved the original layouts – a single bath, tiny bedrooms, separate eat-in kitchens, and limited closet and storage space.

Wisconsin & Dayton, Chicago, IL

New construction. All of the new construction in the area in the past 20 years has been condominiums or expensive single-family homes. The newest rental high-rise in the area opened in 1987.

Condo, home rentals. On the plus side, the area does have a good selection of condo units and expensive single-family homes available for rent. Rents tend to be higher in the condo buildings, generally due to a higher level of services and amenities.

Landmark, Joeff Davis photo, Chicago, IL

What it costs to live here

Studios. Small (and we do mean small) studio apartments can occasionally be found below $650 (heat included), but typically start at $1,000 and can range upwards of $1,500 in the newer buildings.

One bedrooms. One-bedrooms in older and walk-up buildings may start below $1,200. In newer buildings the rent typically starts upwards of $1,500 and ranges into the low $2,000s.

Two bedrooms. Apartments with a single bath and two bedrooms can sometimes be found below $1,500, but you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000 for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath.

Bissell & Dickens, DePaul, Chicago, IL

Three bedrooms. Vintage three bedrooms – the 3rd bedroom often being closet-sized – start around $2,000 with a single bath. A newer 3-bedroom, 2-bath unit is a rare find at much below $3,000 a month.

Single-family homes. Expect to pay at least $5,000 a month for a decent single-family home, and don’t be shocked by rents that can range upwards of $20,000 a month.

Cafe Bernard, 2100 block Halsted, Chicago, IL

You might also consider

River North and the South Loop are preferred by the younger crowd looking for newer, high-amenity rentals. A slightly older group opts for Streeterville, the Loop / New East Side, and the Near West neighborhoods.

The post-college crowd often heads where their friends do, depending on their budget – to Lake View, Bucktown, Wicker Park at the higher rents, and to Uptown, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square and Rogers Park at the lower end.

Apartment locators

Apartment locators – also known as rental services – often catch the attention of renters via the many 1,000s of repetitive ads they place on Craigslist.

We strongly recommend that renters – first-time renters in particular – make the effort to find an apartment on their own by going directly to the resources listed in the right column of this Guide. If you ask around you’ll find that many first-time renters feel they were duped, pressured, cheated or worse by the locators. We continually refer to the apartment locators as “bedbugs” based on their behavior.

If you can’t find the apartment you want using the resources we list, walk around the area you’re most interested in looking for FOR RENT signs. Many Lincoln Park / DePaul apartments are rented in this manner.

We value your feedback

Add your comments below, with any suggestions you think will be helpful to people deciding whether and where to rent in Chicago’s Lincoln Park / DePaul neighborhood.

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