A common misperception among outsiders is that Aurora is one of Chicago’s many sleepy suburbs, when in fact it’s a city of its own with a distinct vibe, culture, and economy. Situated alongside the Fox River on the far western edge of the Chicagoland area, Aurora is about a 40-mile trek, which makes it roughly a 14-hour car ride during rush hour, from the Windy City. Though much of Aurora’s commerce and job base remains directly tied to big brother Chicago, the so-called “City of Lights” is a bustling community of 170,000-plus that boasts a variety of distinct neighborhoods and housing options. Here are a few things we thought you might like to know before beginning your hunt for the perfect Aurora pad:
Party On, Aurora. You might also like to know that Aurora offers a variety of activities for both early birds and night owls, including a free zoo, downtown casino, historic theatre, and a wide range of museums, parks, eateries, and after-hours watering holes. Unlike residents of nearby ‘burbs like Naperville and St. Charles, Aurorans don’t have to journey to Chi-Town to get their kicks and their culture.
Hop on the Bus, Gus. Or take the commuter rail, which runs from Aurora’s Union Station to the Chicago Loop. The PACE city bus also runs multiple routes throughout Aurora and the surrounding areas, so you don’t necessarily need your own set of wheels to survive in the city.
Aurora is a sprawling city with a plethora of neighborhoods, all of which offer their own perks. Whether you’re scouting out a pad in the uptown neighborhoods, the densely populated area on the East Side, the West Side, or any of Aurora’s countless other nooks and crannies, be sure to spend some time in the area, getting a feel for its average level of awesomeness and residents, before signing a lease.
Generally, the closer you get to downtown, the more old school the homes and apartments appear, while the brighter, shinier, über-modern rentals are located further from the city center on the far west edge of town near Orchard Road. Rental prices vary depending on size, location, and amenities, but the average rental property costs less than $1000 a month and lucky leasers can sometimes find quality digs in the $700-$800 range.
The most reasonably priced rentals are available on the city’s East Side. Apartments and townhouses can often be found for about $700 in the eastern areas, but again, be sure to scout out the area in advance to see if you’re comfortable with it.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect in Aurora, it’s time for the fun part: Snagging yourself a crazy-cool crash pad. First, though, keep a few things in mind to help decide whether or not a particular rental property is your best option:
Shop the market. Because the city of Aurora doesn’t typically draw large numbers of new residents all at once, apartment managers are never really overwhelmed with applications. You’ll soon realize that you have a wide range of living options in Aurora, from basic 1BR box units for less than $600 all the way up to luxury condos and lofts for $2000 or more.
Read the details. Different property managers have different rules regarding deposits, length of leases, utilities, pets, roommates, occult rituals, subletting, and just about anything else you can think of, so peruse your lease carefully before signing the dotted line.
Scope it out. Check your new pad carefully before settling in. Make sure the pipes don’t leak, the water pressure and temperature is up to par, the paint on the walls is still in good shape and preferably lead-free, and your appliances function properly. If possible, bring a friend along to take a look as well, as he or she may notice some flaws that your dazzled eyes are too giddy to see.
And now you’re all set to begin your search. So happy hunting, and best of luck in Aurora!