I'm considering moving to Oak Park and we are looking at 2 possible apartments. One is on Washington near Harvey (i believe that's the street). The other is near the library, on Grove.  My daughter will be entering 1st Grade next year.  According to Schooldigger, Holmes ranks much lower than Beye.  I'm leaning toward apartment with Holmes school, but this ranking alarms me.  Any feedback on Holmes? Beye? 

This has been a tough decision for me. I grew up in the city and can't even believe I'm feeling this way.  I don't have fears when I'm in the city and I'm accounting that to having lived in it and played in it throughout my childhood to adult years.  Then I lived in Downers Grove for 5 years.  Downers Grove is a great place to raise a family, but I am a single mom and I actually felt like a "freak" there -- no one was a single mom.  And the diversity just wasn't there.  I started to feel like I didn't fit in and was afraid my daughter would begin feeling the same way.  Anyway, I think living in Downers Grove only 5 years made me "soft."  I like the idea of moving to Oak Park, to me a cross between the city and suburb.  But I've been spending more time in it and I've been sort of surprised.  It's more urban than I thought and certainly more urban than Downers.  So, I'm suddenly questioning my decision to move there.  I'm concerned about safety.  Bizarre, cuz I don't feel this way when I'm in Chicago (where i spend a lot of time). I know how to navigate the city and keep my eyes and ears open.  It just feels like my skin to me.  But I didn't expect this red flag feeling in Oak Park.  Is it crazy to ask -- is Oak Park less safe than the north and northwest side of Chicago?  Cuz I'm starting to feel like it has more of a seedy vibe than I thought.  Please confirm or set me straight.  I don't want to be afraid to come home late at night - which I do becuz I work evening hours once or twice/week.

Thanks. 

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We live at Washington and Taylor.  I have never felt less safe here than I do walking anywhere in the city and I feel more safe than I would say in Rogers Park or Uptown.  As you say though, these days you need to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are. You can search on the Oak Park site for crime and where it has occurred on a map.  That said, if you read the local papers, there is often some kind of incident up and down Austin that you don't see coming in to Oak Park even the 2 blocks to Taylor.

 

I don't have children so I can't offer anything regarding the schools.

 

 

Hi Mary, I would definitely say that Oak Park is not the same kind of suburb as Downers Grove (which is why I live here and not in another Western suburb). The closest comparison is probably Evanston.

 

I can't speak to the schools because I don't have kids, but I personally have never felt unsafe in Oak Park after living the city for 5 years.  I will say that I don't feel that safe on the Green Line, but that's a whole other discussion since I was robbed on the train.

 

In general, I would say that you do have to be alert about your surroundings. Lock your doors and keep an eye out for suspicious activity.  I don't think Oak Park will ever be as safe as suburbs further west, but this is just something that comes with the territory. You can get more information on recent crime reports on the Village Web site. 

I think both schools are excellent and you will be thrilled with either choice.

Nobody has addressed Mary's main question.

Is it normal and appropriate to feel more unsafe here than in Chicago, say the north or NW side?

Mary- your very articulate post summarizes my feelings exactly after living here for four years. It's hard to explain, but it's here.  It's hard to put your finger on it, but it exists.

Brad - I thought i did address it when I said I feel more safe than I would say in Rogers Park or Uptown.  So to clarify, for me personally, it's not normal to feel less safe here.  I either feel the same or safer but with the knowledge that this is an urban area more than it is suburban with the need for awareness that an urban area can bring.

Brad said:

Nobody has addressed Mary's main question.

Is it normal and appropriate to feel more unsafe here than in Chicago, say the north or NW side?

 

 

I should add that it's awesome to be walkable to the library, Scoville Park (park next to the library) and Downtown OP and The Avenue.  Not sure if you know this but there are concerts in Scoville Park on Sunday nights during the summer.  Tons of people come out to enjoy the weather and music and then sit outside and eat dinner on The Avenue or Lake Street. If you like to be near the action, the apartment on Grove is for you. 

 

Regarding schools, pull up the school report cards for each school, goto the very bottom of the last page of the report, and take a look at the "meet and exceed" sections.  You will see a great percentage of students meet and exceed at both schools. 

 

Regarding crime (good point Brad), the stats here are similar to Lakeview or Lincoln Park. 

good to know

Judith Warren said:

We live at Washington and Taylor.  I have never felt less safe here than I do walking anywhere in the city and I feel more safe than I would say in Rogers Park or Uptown.  As you say though, these days you need to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are. You can search on the Oak Park site for crime and where it has occurred on a map.  That said, if you read the local papers, there is often some kind of incident up and down Austin that you don't see coming in to Oak Park even the 2 blocks to Taylor.

 

I don't have children so I can't offer anything regarding the schools.

 

 

That's promising. Thank you

Krista said:
I think both schools are excellent and you will be thrilled with either choice.

Wow. This is both interesting and good to know. 

All of the replies are helping me with my expectations and awareness which I think in the end will make a difference in my comfort level. Thanks

Brad said:

Nobody has addressed Mary's main question.

Is it normal and appropriate to feel more unsafe here than in Chicago, say the north or NW side?

Mary- your very articulate post summarizes my feelings exactly after living here for four years. It's hard to explain, but it's here.  It's hard to put your finger on it, but it exists.

 

I have never felt unsafe in Oak Park, but I don't think you can be as complacent as you might be in DG. Certainly people have had their iPhones grabbed on the CTA and bikes get stolen out of garages all the time, but basic precautions (stay aware of your surroundings being #1) go a long way.

 

My oldest child attends Lincoln Elementary and I have been so impressed with her school. It seems every Oak Park parent thinks their neighborhood school is the best in OP, so I'm sure your daughter will be happy.

 

Main library is a gem and the concerts in Scoville Park on summer Sunday nights are great fun for families.

 

 

Its pretty obvious to me the difference between Oak Park and the vast majority of the North and NW sides of Chicago. 

 

With few exceptions, when you are on the northside of Chicago you are at least several miles away from "the hood" and its associated social pathologies.  Here in Oak Park, we are literally across the street from the city neighborhood of Austin, which recorded 23 homicides in 2010.  (For comparison, Uptown had 4 homicides in 2010).

 

Our police do a wonderful job of minimizing "spilling over" crime, but our sheer proximity prevents us from having an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude to the severe problems of the urban poor that most northside residents (much less Downer's Grove residents) can get away with.

Agreeing with Bri, I think Brad's (and possibly the poster's) apprehension has to do with the fact that Austin is closer to Oak Park than it is to the north or northwest sides of Chicago.

 

Coming from Lincoln Park or other north side neighborhoods, Oak Park is not the pristine oasis that people expect. We came to OP from a neighborhood (Humboldt Park) where gangs were out in the open, and gunfire not unusual.  We feel safe.

 

The "spillover" most clearly manifests itself at Halloween, the parks, and near the CTA and the library.

 

Oak Park isn't the Gold Coast, Wrigleyville, Downers Grove, Wilmette, or Oak Brook.  Prospective residents should understand that.  Austin was here before we got here and it will be here if/when we leave.

 

That said, feeling unsafe doesn't mean you are unsafe, and feeling safe doesn't mean you are.  One should feel safe going to the grocery store.  Not necessarily so.

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