Chicago and its suburbs comprise dozens of unique neighborhoods, each of them offering their own array of dining, entertainment and housing options. Some are well-known, while others fly under the radar.

If you hope to move into the city without spending a fortune, you may not be able to afford to buy a home some of the most popular neighborhoods like the Gold Coast or Wicker Park. And if you’re hoping for a good return on your investment down the road, it may be best to make a purchase in a less well-known area with potential.

We’ve connected with some of Chicago's best real estate agents to help us locate five of Chicago’s top up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Near West Side. You won’t find West Loop on this list (it’s just too popular), but the Near West Side has become an affordable option for those who love all that the West Loop has to offer without the high prices.

This neighborhood has plenty of three- and four-bedroom single-family homes, and it's starting to bulk up with new construction, nice grocery stores and retail shopping. “It may not be a walker’s paradise yet, like a Lincoln Park or a Bucktown, but all in due time,” says George Furla, managing broker with North Clybourn Group.

The neighborhood is located just north of Interstate 290 and west of Interstate 90. It’s not far from the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks play. The two teams have also pledged to build practice facilities nearby as part of their plans to make the neighborhood a more family-friendly area.

Furla doesn’t expect the Near West Side to belong to remain up-and-coming list for much longer. “It’s only a matter of time before it connects to the West Loop,” he says.

[See: The 30 Most Fun Places to Live in the U.S.]

West Town. Located to the south of Wicker Park and east of Humboldt Park, West Town – which includes areas such as Ukranian Village and Noble Square – is starting to draw a lot of attention.

Matt Laricy, of Americorp Real Estate, says he’s noticed a recent spike in interest toward areas like West Town that offer a neighborhood feel with tree-lined streets and popular boutiques. “That’s becoming a huge market,” he says. “You can sense the market is shifting.”

West Town is filled with vintage shops and unique dining options, and offers easy access to I-90 and the Western Train Station. The neighborhood also has a lot of newer, luxury condos with more square footage and lower assessments than the skyscrapers closer to the lake.

[See: The 20 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.]

West Lakeview/Roscoe Village. While Lakeview and Roscoe Village have already graduated from up-and-coming status, they have a few specific areas that have recently started to heat up. In Chicago, successful public schools have a way of driving home sales. That certainly has been the case in these areas, specifically for houses within the boundaries of Jahn Elementary School and Hamilton Elementary.

“Over the last two or three years the amount of parent involvement has just catapulted these schools and made them so much better,” says Leigh Marcus, a Realtor with @properties.

The up-and-coming Lakeview area is located just west of Ashland Avenue and north of Belmont Avenue, while the hot spot in Roscoe Village is located just south of Belmont Avenue near Hamlin Park. Both of these areas feature single-family homes for between $850,000 and $1 million, which is nearly 10 percent lower than surrounding areas in the same neighborhoods, according to real estate information site Trulia.

Pilsen. Located near the Lower West Side, Pilsen has come and gone in terms of popularity over the years. Right now, it’s trending upward.

With a variety of single-family homes, condo projects and multi-unit buildings, the neighborhood offers affordability and choice. Pilsen’s popular 18th Street is filled with unique stores, restaurants and bars. “I think anyone that goes down there would be shocked if they drive down 18th Street. I think they would be pleasantly surprised,” Furla says.

This neighborhood is located near the University of Illinois at Chicago and the UIC Medical District, and it's home to a thriving art community. Interesting murals can be found throughout the neighborhood, and Pilsen is home to an art festival each year.

[See: The 20 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S.]

Logan Square. A neighborhood that has benefited from the rise of nearby areas like Bucktown and Wicker Park, Logan Square is on the verge of becoming very popular. Located to the west of Bucktown, Logan Square is filled with the same kind of trendy bars and restaurants as the aforementioned areas, but is a little less jam-packed. In addition to a variety of restaurants and bars, Logan Square is also home to large, popular stores, like Home Depot and Target, with plenty of parking not often found in the city.

“A lot of people who want more space in a trendy area, but also still want to live in the city, are moving to Logan Square,” Laricy says. Logan Square’s proximity to I-90, as well as the L Train's Blue line – which leads directly to O’Hare Airport – make it a great location for commuters.

Those looking to buy in Logan Square can expect to find two-bedroom condos for between $350,000 and $400,000 and houses for less than $1 million, according to Trulia.

Looking for a real estate agent in Chicago? U.S. News' Find an Agent tool can match you with the person who's most qualified for the job.

Tags: Chicago, housing market, home prices, housing


Alex Mayster is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter.

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