Name Brand vs Generic Chicago Neighborhoods

We all know that we can save money in stores by buying the generic or store brand instead of always buying name brand products. In Chicago, you can also save a lot on rent by moving into what I like to call a "generic neighborhood" instead of its nearby trendy and well-known areas, or "name brand neighborhoods."

Switching to a generic Chicago neighborhood can save you a bunch of cash!

For folks moving to Chicago from elsewhere, and those who want to be able to acquire a certain social status by name-dropping their 'hood, it's certainly easy to choose a section of the city that's recognizable. Areas like Wrigleyville, Wicker Park, Bucktown and Lincoln Park have been used in major movies and on TV and have gained quite a bit of prestige. However, these name-brand neighborhoods have their costs. The rent is higher and the competition can be fierce.

By looking to the areas next door to a name-brand neighborhood, you can save quite a bit of cash while keeping your commute close to the same length and not sacrificing too much in terms of safety and convenience.  So, next time you're looking for an apartment and want to save some money, if you are not the kind of person who needs to name-drop their neighborhood in order to be cool consider the following "generic" alternatives:

  • Instead of Wrigleyville, consider the nearby areas of Buena Park, Graceland West and NorthCenter.
  • Instead of Bucktown, look at Avondale, Logan Square and Irving Park.
  • Instead of Lincoln Park, look into River West.
  • Instead of Wicker Park, check out Ukrainian Village and Noble Square, or even the West Loop.

As an added bonus, maybe you'll be able to do that hipster thing and say you lived in a neighborhood before it was cool.

The StrawStickStone rent index (coming towards the end of this month) will compare the luxury apartments in the downtown Chicago area with name brand and generic north side neighborhoods on a regular basis. Make sure to stop by and check out to see how you could save some money on your next apartment.

What do you think? Am I crazy for suggesting that generic neighborhoods are just as good as their nearby name-brand areas? Sound off in the comments.