465 NORTH PARK
This new building in Streeterville was one of the first buildings I looked at! It’s a massive apartment, which made it feel very busy on a Saturday – while the elevators were fast, we did have to wait for awhile quite a few times. The amenities were amazing – large pool area, nice gym and spacious common areas for working. The apartments I looked at felt large and like I would have plenty of room for most of the furniture I plan to take with me, even with the living space having a curved look due to the shape of the building. The closets were massive and the bedrooms were good square shapes! The finishes in the kitchens and bathrooms were all very nice and “on brand” for my aesthetic – white countertops, marble-looking backsplashes, etc.
Like you’ll read when you get to One Bennett Park down the page, I just don’t like this neighborhood. Streeterville, while being just a few blocks away from shopping on Magnificent Mile and steps from the lake, feels isolated and not like a real neighborhood. If I’m not going to have the restaurants and shops right by me, I think I’d rather live in Gold Coast! It’s just more charming to me!
727 W MADISON
Of all the buildings I looked at in West Loop, this was my favorite. The building has great amenities (high tech gym, great common areas for working, pool, etc!), nice finishes and HUGE CLOSETS. The biggest closets I’ve ever seen in an apartment! The floorplans aren’t my very favorite as the building is spherical, but the largest two-bedroom layout is 1,300 square feet giving me plenty of room for most of my furniture. I’m hoping that when I go up again to finalize my decision I can actually tour that floorplan – it wasn’t available to tour while I was visiting in January and I won’t sign a lease without seeing the layout for myself! It may not be what I thought, so definitely want to confirm before I make my decision. The photos you see here are from the smallest two-bedroom layout, which is not one I would live in – but wanted to share so you can get a feel for the finishes/closets/bathrooms!
I also love the location. This one is right across the street from the mother ship: Whole Foods. I love the idea that I wouldn’t have to have my groceries delivered every week – I live close to a Whole Foods now and the accessibility makes it so easy to eat healthy and cook often. It’s also less than a ten minute walk to Restaurant Row where all the trendy eateries, coffee shops and cute bars are in the area. The only downside I found was that the building is situated right against the highway (the Emme was too!) – if you’re anywhere above the tenth floor though, you can’t hear it. I didn’t notice it at all! Needless to say 727 W Madison is a top contender!
This was certainly the oldest building I looked at! While the building is fifty years old, it was renovated last year and now features gorgeous white kitchens, bathrooms and elevated finishes throughout. What I loved most about this particular building was the floorplans are NORMAL! So many of the newer buildings have oddly shaped floorplans due to the spherical shape of the building itself. Astor House has floorplans that feature long walls and no unexpected items like big columns or sections of wall jutting out in strange spots. Of all the floorplans I toured on this trip, Astor House seems to be the spot I’d be able to fit most of my current furniture. I’m almost positive I could do my master bed and rug in the bedroom, use all of my current living room furniture, and even fit my piano in there too!
There are two downsides to Astor House for me. One, even though it’s in the Gold Coast it does feel a little removed from where the shops and restaurants are in the area. It’s a good ten minute walk to those things and the streets surrounding Astor House are pretty quiet during the day. Great for the neighborhood feeling, but not great for feeling in the middle of it all in a new city! The proximity to the lake and short walk to Lincoln Park make it ideal for summer though! The other downside is the fact that it’s old. While the building has made strides to improve the common areas like the gym and pool area, the amenities just aren’t as on par with any of the other newer buildings I looked at. The thing that matters most to me in terms of common areas is the gym, since I consistently work out at home and want the convenience of not having to leave my building if the winter weather is crazy! With that said, Astor House is still a top contender – the floor plans are great and the neighborhood is super charming.
The location of this newer apartment building is actually pretty perfect! It’s just a block or two from restaurants and Washington Park, but on a quiet section of street. The exterior of the building is very attractive and modern, as are the lobby and work-spaces on the first floor. I liked the look of the common area floors as well – the gym is on the top floor, along with a yoga studio and outdoor pool with incredible views all around!
I also really liked that they have a variety of floorplans to choose from. Instead of just one option for one, two and three bedroom floorplans, there are a variety of layouts for each depending on what you are looking for! My biggest issue with Aurelien is the finishes in each apartment. I personally cannot stand carpet, and unfortunately that is a feature in every bedroom. I also thought the bathroom tile used in the shower and some of the other finishes looked cheap, and the look just wasn’t as much my vibe – for example, the closets featured wire racks instead of wood. It’s just a look and it’s not for me! But if you’re looking to be in the middle of it all and near both Gold Coast and River North, Aurelien is an amazing option!
ELEVATE LINCOLN PARK
Of all the apartments I looked at in Lincoln Park, this was my least favorite. The finishes felt cheaper and just weren’t as attractive as the ones at Lincoln Common or Norweta. The layouts were actually great – one of the two-bedroom floorplans had an alcove that would have been a perfect spot for my upright piano or desk! I just didn’t love the look of the kitchens or bathrooms.
As far as the location goes, I did like that it was just off a big shopping/food street! It also happens to be right next to the train, which I just can’t do being such a light sleeper. I do have to say though, that the staff was so friendly and helpful at Elevate. Even though the apartments themselves didn’t meet my expectations, I was blown away by how welcoming the staff at the building was!
This building was another smaller apartment building in West Loop that I looked at and really liked. I didn’t realize this until after I shared my apartment list on Instagram, but one of my friends lives in this building and loves it! The finishes are definitely my style: beautiful white countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, elegant modern touches, lots of natural light and easy, open floorplans. The biggest downfall for me was the lack of closet space! With it being such a new building, I’m actually surprised at how that was overlooked when designing these floorplans. It really is the only bad thing, and unfortunately that is a huge problem for me as a blogger! The only other thing it didn’t have that every other apartment had was an island in the kitchen – I don’t have one in my house now, but it would be so nice to have!
The common areas were smaller, but nice as well. It really is a pretty building! While Emme is technically in the West Loop, you have to cross the bridge over the highway to get to Restaurant Row. Still, a great, convenient location for being near all the best restaurants in the city! While I really did love this building, realistically I need more closet space. If the floorplans at the other apartments I’ve narrowed down to aren’t available when I move, I may take another look at this place!
I loved the finishes in the Lincoln Common apartments! The common areas felt a little worn in (namely, the gym), but the apartments themselves seemed very nice and like good layouts. The bathrooms were very big (and white!) and the living/dining space had a lot of natural light and a neat, open layout. Big closets too! I wasn’t able to tour all of the two-bedroom options, but the floorplans I did see were all very nice.
The biggest downside to Lincoln Common? This part of Lincoln Park feels very college-aged with Depaul right around the corner… which isn’t the vibe I’m looking for at 32 years old. With that said, the area around Lincoln Common is super walkable with lots of great restaurants and fun things nearby. There’s even a big Equinox around the corner if you decide you want to use that instead of the apartment gym – super handy! If I do ever move out to Lincoln Park, I imagine I’d find a house or townhome vs an apartment complex for this reason!
NORTH & VINE
North & Vine is a brand new building right in the heart of Old Town. It won’t be fully open until March, but they were kind enough to show me around a few of the nearly-completed units! My favorite units were on the same floor as the common areas, as those had insanely high ceilings and felt HUGE! While I did like the finishes of the apartments, the look wasn’t really my vibe – it was very industrial with dark hardware and cabinetry. These apartments had a ton of natural light and there were a bunch of different layouts to choose from. All of the closets were very spacious too, which was a plus!
The biggest downside for me was the location. Again, this one sat right on top of the train tracks! I get how this could be good for accessibility, but as a light sleeper I just can’t commit to that. With that said, North + Vine is just a few blocks in both directions from great shopping and restaurants! So you can’t lose in that sense. I also thought the gym was pretty small for the size of the building, and definitely think it would be overcrowded at busier times. Ultimately, I decided this spot wasn’t for me!
Of all the buildings I looked at, this was by and large my very favorite. It is brand new, only features 40 units, but the common areas were created just like the other bigger buildings! That means you’d never have to fight for a spot at the pool or a machine at the gym. That would be SO nice! The apartments themselves were stunning as well. Beautiful wood, heavy doors, clean and modern finishes in the kitchen and bathrooms. The floorplans are open and feature long walls like Astor House, which is ideal for bigger pieces of furniture. Each apartment has a lot of natural light, and the closets are enormous!
The biggest issue I have with Norweta is the location. Since this is my first time in a big walking city like Chicago, I want to be in the thick of it! Norweta, while in Lincoln Park, is further north and west and just not close to much. Maybe I’ll move out there in a year or two, but for my first year in Chicago I want that walkability factor! If you’re looking for a place in Lincoln Park or have a car and don’t need the walkability, I can’t recommend Norweta enough. Such a fabulous property!
OLD TOWN PARK
Of all the buildings I looked at Old Town Park had the most insane amenities, in the very best way! From a massive gym and multiple work and play areas, to an indoor basketball court, pool, sauna and steam room, you’d almost never have to leave the building. These amenities seem like amazing things to utilize in the winter when you’re not trying to leave your place all the time. The apartments were well designed with modern and open kitchens and bathrooms. While the bedrooms weren’t necessarily small, the walls didn’t go all the way across without it jutting in or out – this would mean several pieces of furniture I own (like my dresser) wouldn’t work. The closet space wasn’t much to write home about either, but they weren’t the smallest I’d seen!
By all appearances, Old Town Park seemed like a great choice to me! After I toured it however, I received some messages on Instagram from current or former residents saying that the building management is trying to use it more as like an AirBnB/hotel situation… which means short-term rentals. They’ve even kicked residents out of their apartments to make specific floors totally meant for short-term rentals. To me, that feels unsafe and also super unpredictable. I don’t want crazy parties happening on my floor and different people coming in and out every week! Once I heard that, Old Town Park fell to the bottom of the list. Safety is my biggest priority!
ONE BENNETT PARK
Another building I really loved was One Bennett Park! Like Norweta, this building features absolutely stunning finishes, heavy doors and elegant wood flooring/details. One Bennett Park was built in 2018 features the most amazing community amenities: a massive, high-tech fitness center, beautiful outdoor and indoor pools, an adjacent park for dogs and kids, etc. The building is limestone, already setting itself apart looks-wise from the other buildings I toured. One Bennett Park definitely feels more like residences than it does apartments!
The main downside to One Bennett Park for me is the location. While Streeterville is in close proximity to the shopping on Magnificent Mile AND steps to the lake, the street One Bennett Park is on and the couple of blocks surrounding it feel very isolated and empty. The word “blocks” really means large, long streets too – it’s not small city blocks. It doesn’t feel like a neighborhood, and probably wouldn’t be great for me if I’m planning to shoot outfits around my apartment! I really loved this building though. It’s still a contender if the other two buildings I’m looking at don’t have availability!
THE PARKER FULTON MARKET
Of all the apartments I toured, this was my least favorite. Everything from the interiors and finishes to the location being right on the train tracks! Each apartment featured a gross dark grey/brown carpet, and I just couldn’t pay attention to anything else after that! It definitely feels more male-oriented in terms of design. The hallways are all very dark, and the finishes in the apartments and in all of the common spaces are masculine as well. The reason I wanted to tour it was because they had a 3-bedroom floorplan that seemed doable with my budget, which would have been great to have a dedicated office and guest room! Unfortunately I just couldn’t get past the cheap finishes.
The location seemed right in the midst of everything in West Loop on the map, but as you soon discover, the Parker Fulton Market sits right on top of the train. As a light sleeper, this is a hard pass for me. The common areas all felt worn in and just not as nice as the other buildings I looked at either. Needless to say this one is not a contender.
Along with Astor House, The Sinclair was at the top of my list before I visited! The location on the map seems ideal, as it’s a little further south than Astor House and closer to the restaurants. Unfortunately it is also further west, which I have since been told this particular cross-section of N La Salle and W Division is not a particularly safe spot. Due to the red line train entrance right outside The Sinclair’s front door (truly – right outside), there tends to be some sketchy activity (aka drug activity) going on along that block. During the day it seemed ok, but as a single woman I don’t think I would ever want to walk that section of street after dark! I had multiple women message me about this particular location for this issue specifically, so that pretty much rules this place out for me.
But if that’s not an issue for you (or you’re a dude), the building is so gorgeous! The common areas are hard to beat – a ton of beautiful work spaces, a large pool and sundeck, and an awesome gym. They even have a reformer and megaformer for pilates! My only other issue with this spot was the floorplan for the two bedroom layouts. I’m not sure if it’s due to the shape of the building or what, but I’m not sure I would be able to use any of the current furniture I have in the space. The walls were short or chopped off by columns or pieces jutting out, which basically prevents the use of full-sized furniture in the bedrooms. The rooms felt really small too! Not sure if the one-bedroom options are better, but I couldn’t get on board with the layout of the two-bedroom floorplans.
TWO WEST DELAWARE
I had actually cancelled this tour because the rent for two-bedroom options was much higher than all the others I looked at, but after spending a week in my AirBnB down the street I really loved this neighborhood! I decided to pop in and get a tour just in case it was something fabulous that might be worth the extra rent. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This building was initially built as condos, but after the market crashed they turned it into apartments since many of their contracts fell through. Many of the units are still condos, so the finishes and layouts are all different – the building is working on streamlining the looks of each, but that’s just something they made me aware of while exploring the different options. After looking at a couple of options, I personally think they are charging far too much for these floorplans. While the newly renovated kitchens and bathrooms are nice in photos, some of it still felt/looked cheaply made up close. It makes me wonder if those money issues are why they’re trying to charge an arm and a leg for each floorplan! I saw way better options at better prices at the other buildings I looked at.
The common areas in this building are smaller, but great! I loved the pool area and gym, as well as the little library for working from home/meetings. The very best thing about Two West Delaware is the location. I LOVE this area! So many great restaurants around the corner, and just two blocks away is great shopping. It’s lively and fun, while still feeling neighborhood-y. It’s too bad the building isn’t a winner!
I’ve narrowed my list down to three apartments that I think I would love living in – naturally they are all in different neighborhoods! There are pros and cons to each building/neighborhood, but at the end of the day I think I’d be happy living in any of them. It will ultimately depend on what floorplans are available by the time my house sells and I am ready to sign a lease! I plan to make another short trip up to Chicago once my house sells to revisit those three apartments, tour the floorplans that will be available at the time of my move, and then make a decision. At the end of my last trip, I also reached out to a friend who does real estate to send me options of condos for lease by owner to see what’s available in those kinds of buildings! Hopefully when I make the next trip I can look at a few of those as well just to make sure I’m not missing out on something fabulous. I won’t be sharing what place I choose for obvious reasons, but I’ve had so much fun sharing my apartment hunting journey with you guys! Thanks for following along!
Having lived in Chicago for a decade, I would argue that it is all walkable! I was carless for a few years and it just requires a small shift in habits, such as smaller, more frequent trips for groceries. I would also argue that you get used to the noise. I would have trouble sleeping when I traveled outside of the city, because it was too quiet! I loved living in Lincoln Park because of the slower pace, green spaces and overall better neighborhood feel. I remember also thinking that some locations felt isolated, or not that nice, but once you are living there you learn the shopping locations you like and all of the shortcuts getting from points A to B. Chicago is such a great city and you really can’t go wrong with any neighborhood!!
My older brother owns a large townhome on Astor. I have found it to be a beautiful neighborhood – quiet and family oriented. On Halloween my brother and his family are big on handing out treats and the police have told them Astor street is one of the safest in Chicago. Close proximity to Magnificent Mile and the lake.