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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Oak Park, IL

Written by Adam Berns

Oak Park, Illinois, is well-known as the “Largest Village In The World.” It is a wonderful town that welcomes families and is ideal for establishing roots because of its welcoming atmosphere. The original settlers arrived in 1835, and after splitting off from Cicero (a Chicago suburb), Oak Park was incorporated in 1902.

Situated just nine miles from Chicago, Illinois, Oak Park is about as metropolitan as it gets in the suburbs, and it’s full of various people: young professionals, families, and city migrants. In this laid-back area, you can find Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark architecture, a bustling cultural scene, and a bevy of local eateries and cafes.

Let’s check out 10 things to know before moving to Oak Park, Illinois.

1. Living costs in Oak Park are 25% higher than the national average

Oak Park has a cost of living that is around 25% greater than the U.S. average. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that a comfortable yearly household income for a family of four is $89,187.

The average property price in Oak Park is $455,000.  Since there is a lot of competition in the market, it is not unusual for sellers to receive multiple bids.

2. The property crime rate is higher than the national average

Even though Oak Park has a total crime rate that is 35.1% greater than the national average, most of those crimes involve property. Not only that, violent crime is 18.7 percent lower than the U.S. average. Although Oak Park may have a high crime rate, it also has many safe neighborhoods.

The 109 members of the Oak Park Police Department work together to ensure the safety of this town.

3. Springs and summers in Oak Park are hot and humid

In the spring and summer in Oak Park, there is consistently hot weather—with humidity and rain—with temperatures above 78 degrees. Weather conditions can become chilly, snowy, and windy during the fall and winter seasons. Fall weather typically reaches the 60s, while winter weather typically drops into the 30s.

Rainfall averages 30.3 inches and snowfall is 11.7 inches in Oak Park. Everything you need to be ready for every weather, including rain boots, umbrellas, winter coats, beanies, high-quality gloves, shorts, and tank tops, should be in your luggage.

4. Live in Rehm Park or Ridgeland

You might want to think about relocating to Rehm Park or Ridgeland. Students and young professionals flock to the affluent neighborhood of Rehm Park. Keep in mind that Rehm Park is not just a popular spot for young people and undergraduates, but also a great place to raise a family in a safe environment.

In Oak Park, Ridgeland has been a component of the historic district since 1983. Over the course of its 539 acres, 1,558 buildings can be found; among these, you can find several notable structures, like the Unity Temple and the George W. Smith House.

5. Have fun with the family at Wonder Works Children’s Museum or the Oak Park Conservatory

Wonder Works Children’s Museum aims to foster imaginative thinking and natural curiosity in children by providing them with an environment that encourages play-based learning in its 6,400 square feet of interactive exhibit space. Apt for families with small children.

Open to the public at no cost, the Oak Park Conservatory features a variety of showrooms showcasing Mediterranean, tropical, and desert species. An iconic landmark in Oak Park, this conservatory is among the city’s top three historical landmarks.

In Scoville Park, a historic site, you can spend a day enjoying the playground equipment or working on your tennis game. There is now an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at this park as well.

6. Eat at Rustico, Maya Del Sol, or II Vicolo Trattoria

One of the best ways to bring people together is via food, and Oak Park offers plenty of delicious options. Some of the greatest Oak Park restaurants include these:

With a full bar and delectable, authentic Mediterranean cuisine, Rustico is the perfect spot for a night out. In addition, Restaurant Guru voted it one of the best restaurants in the world for the year 2021.

Authentic Italian cuisine is served at II Vicolo Trattoria, an Oak Park restaurant that specializes in homemade pasta, pizza, fish, and great meat. Everyone in the family can find something they like at this restaurant.

Flavors from Mexico, Central America, and South America come together in the Latin American food served at Maya Del Sol, which has been serving customers since 2007. Seasonal specials are prepared using only the freshest ingredients.

7. West Suburban Medical Center, Citizens Rx, and PortionPac are major employers in Oak Park

Even though the city is expensive, there are plenty of jobs in Oak Park so people can afford to live there. Many different types of jobs are accessible to residents in Oak Park. For locals looking for employment, Chicago is a great place to commute for work. 

With a median income of $96,945, Oak Park residents earn more than the average American. The 3.3% unemployment rate in Oak Park is lower than the 3.7% national average, indicating a robust economy.

West Suburban Medical Center, Citizens Rx, and PortionPac are the top three employers.

8. Oak Park is home to some great schools

There are some great schools in the Oak Park suburb, so many families choose to send their kids there. Two popular high schools include Oak Park & River Forest High School and Jones College Prep High School. 

For students in grades K-8, Oak Park is home to Elementary School District 97, and for those in grades 9 through 12, there is High School District 200. 

North Park University, Elmhurst College, DeVry University Illinois, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are all close by and would be great choices for college students.

9. Explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture

Oak Park is famous for being the hometown of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Embark on a tour of his architectural masterpieces scattered throughout the neighborhood. 

Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio to gain insight into his life and design philosophy, or take a stroll through the charming residential streets to admire his iconic Prairie-style homes, including the Unity Temple and Robie House.

10. Check out the Oak Park Art League

Delve into Oak Park’s vibrant arts scene by visiting the Oak Park Art League. This community-based art organization hosts rotating exhibitions showcasing the works of local artists. Attend art classes, workshops, or lectures to explore your creativity or simply appreciate the diverse artistic expressions on display.

Final Thoughts

Oak Park, Illinois, offers a vibrant community with a rich culture and significant architectural heritage. However, living costs are higher than the national average, and crime rates, particularly property crime, are also on the high side. 

Despite this, the town provides diverse dining options, family-friendly attractions, and a thriving arts scene.  Prospective residents should consider these pros and cons before making a final decision. 

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