Situated just 16 miles north of downtown Chicago, the quiet and serene suburb of Wilmette has much to offer homebuyers of all walks of life – whether they be retirees looking to downsize or first-time homebuyers seeking top-rated schools and refuge from the urban rush. The Village of Wilmette is not just any suburb, though. With renowned cultural attractions like the Bahá’í House of Worship, local retail shops, picturesque beaches and its own CTA stop, Wilmette uniquely fuses suburban charm with urban convenience.

As of 2016, Wilmette’s population was at 27,219 residents, according to U.S. Census data. The owner-occupancy housing rate between 2012 and 2016 was a high 86.6 percent, which is not surprising given the predominance of homeowners farther from the urban core. However, new research points to an increase of both young buyers and renters venturing outside of the city center for accessible suburbs like Wilmette where growing into a home with a future family in mind is more straightforward.

According to a 2017 study from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the majority of Americans prefer to live in communities where private yards and accessibility coexist. Chicago’s convenience factor is unparalleled, but most urban homeowners sacrifice a true backyard for a small balcony or a rarer (and pricier) rooftop deck. In turn, Chicago suburbs like Wilmette become the perfect middle ground for would-be city dwellers who require more space without a lengthy or tedious commute.

How much do homes cost in Wilmette?

With a median household income of $138,651, first-time homebuyers might assume such suburban real estate is out of reach. While Wilmette boasts its fair share of architecturally-significant residences and sprawling new construction projects, home prices aren’t far off from the Chicago market in a lateral comparison. The median price for a townhouse for sale in Wilmette (60091) is $295,000 compared to $497,000 in the city (MRED InfoSparks). And, Wilmette’s median condo price of $273,000 is far more affordable than Chicago’s mid-range condo price of $328,000.  

Looking broader at all residential real estate, Wilmette’s median sales price in April was $765,000 – a 17.5 percent increase from the month prior. One year ago, the median sales price in Wilmette was well under today’s market at $651,000. The time it takes to sell a home in Wilmette has sped up significantly, too. The median number of days on the market is just 33 – down 45.9 percent from March. Last April, homes there took around two months to sell.

Both home price growth and swift sales point to a tighter homebuying market in Wilmette, which is further proven by dwindling for-sale inventory.  There were 197 homes for sale in Wilmette last month, which is 11.3 percent less than the number of homes for sale one month earlier. For comparison, 222 listings were available on the MLS during the same month last year. Even so, new listings are up 14.7 percent (109 in April), which is a normal trend given the seasonal Chicagoland real estate market, which typically gains steam as the spring progresses. Last April, there were 95 new listings in Wilmette.

Renting in Wilmette

Outside of the private rental listings in Wilmette, there are several new construction projects aimed at enticing former urbanites. The Residences of Wilmette from M&R Development broke ground in September 2016 just one block south of the Wilmette Metra train stop. The complex includes studios, one, two and three-bedroom residences. Pricing varies depending on size, but $2,125 to $4,800+ per month seems to be the norm this time of year.

Unlike many suburban rental complexes, the Residences of Wilmette offers similar perks to those common in luxury apartment buildings in neighborhoods like River North. In addition to an outdoor terrace, green roof, fitness center, community spa, resident lounge, business center and pet grooming room, the building also offers complimentary bike sharing, electric car charging stations, Luxer package service and Pressbox dry cleaning lockers. Apartment interiors veer contemporary with slab cabinetry, tile backsplashes, quartz counters, Bosch stainless steel appliances, Grohe fixtures and in-unit, full-size washer and dryers.

Living in Wilmette

Sixty-three percent of Millennials with school-aged children prefer the suburbs, and Wilmette is a strong example of why. Wilmette’s Public School District (39) serves over 3,500 students between Kindergarten and 8thgrade. There are four elementary schools in this district, including Romona School, which boasts a 10 out of 10 GreatSchools rating. Marie Murphy School (Avoca School District 37) for grades 6-8 has an impressive 9 out of 10 GreatSchools rating, while New Trier (10 out of 10 GreatSchools rating) in nearby Winnetka regularly ranks as one of the best public high schools in the state.

Outside of schools, the tight-knit community of Wilmette benefits from several local events and attractions. Private dance studios, art shows, theatre opportunities and literary events, along with the Wilmette Historical Museum’s packed activities calendar, keeps residents more than occupied. For fresh fruits, veggies, flowers, cheeses, meats and breads, the Wilmette French Market in the Village Center runs every Saturday between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. between late April and early November. During the warmer months, Wilmette residents can choose from two beaches that run along Lake Michigan –  Gillson Park on Lake Avenue and Langdon Beach steps from the corner of Chestnut Avenue and Sheridan Road.

Although there’s plenty to do in Wilmette, residents can easily access downtown in about 45 minutes via the Metra Union Pacific North Line, which extends from Kenosha to downtown Chicago. As mentioned, the last stop on the CTA Purple Line is at Linden Avenue and travels south through Evanston and the far north side of the city, where travelers can transfer to the Red Line to get to the Loop. Best of all, most street parking in downtown Wilmette is free – a privilege that’s hard to come by in the city.




Featured image: Z Chicago / Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette