What is Wilmette’s Appeal?

Your friendly neighborhood James breaks it down for prospective newbies.

Hi Patchers, hot enough for ya? This week I had planned on doing a parody of the standard “How to Beat the Heat” column, but luckily a better idea come about.

Earlier in the week a costumer asked me what is the appeal to Wilmette. The customer, Joe, is looking to move somewhere he and his wife can settle long term and raise their children. Joe approached me for my obvious abundance of knowledge of all things Wilmette, and he was wise to do so. I mean, come on people, look at me. I’m out-f@#$ing-standing.

First thing I told Joe was to review for the perspective of a married couple who successfully raised a family in Wilmette. I figured that would be beneficial, also I am still quite proud of the piece and it deserves to be referenced whenever possible.

But I also want to weigh in with my own argument. Make no mistake, I believe that Wilmette is an ideal community to plant roots and raise kids.  But I suppose I should justify that with some sort of supporting evidence.  And what better way to support an argument than with a bullet point style list?  (Seems lazy?  F@#$ you, it’s hot.)

  • Size: Wilmette has the best of both worlds with the feel of a small town without actually being all that small. Our population is somewhere between 25,000-29,000 people.  Not a bustling metropolis by any means, but a large enough group to create diversity amongst religions, political parties, and personality types.  I have never seen the appeal of living in a town where everyone agrees on everything.  Wilmette is large enough to offer a healthy level of spirited debate, but can still be circled by bicycle in under an hour.
  • Schools: I don’t want to revisit the can of worms that was the Education Referendum.  All that aside, Wilmette is still home to some exceptional schools.  Each one of the four elementary schools has it’s own unique personality suited to it’s area of the village.  Funneling students through Highcrest and WJHS allows them to gradually ease into larger schools before being dunked into New Trier.
  • Proximity: Evanston and Chicago are both right around the corner. How often you choose to frequent the windy city is up to you.  Still, it is always a positive to have a major city close, but not too close. Also, Lake Michigan is a natural resource that never looses its charm.  Sure it has to be closed when it’s ungodly hot outside.  Still, you can’t say enough about having the combination of , , and the all in your backyard.
  • Identity: Wilmette is a town. Though it may fall into the category of suburb it is far from suburbia. The village has a rich history spanning over a century. It is not a pre-fab cookie-cutter bedroom community. Our collection of small businesses, houses of worship, and homes make us unique. Our neighborhoods each carry their own personality -- be it Linden Square, East Wilmette, West Wilmette, Indian Hills, Central, Ridge, or the C.A.G.E.  Each neighborhood has character that makes the town both more personable and identifiable.

Which brings me to my final point. Sure, the houses are nice, the schools are highly recommended and recognized, and Chicago is just a 15 (or 90) minute drive away. But what really makes Wilmette Wilmette is…..

  • You: Our citizens. Wilmette is filled with people who give a f@#$.  People who are invested in the community and are willing to sacrifice their time to see it improve and prosper. You are the reason Wilmette is a place worth living in. People’s passion for their families is the driving force behind our town hall meetings, PTO associations, and local elections. You have studied hard and worked harder to get to where you are and you appreciate it.  That is the appeal of Wilmette.

So there you go Joe. I hope that helps you and your wife as you weigh your options. Everybody else, take care and stay cool. And if you really are looking for ways to beat the heat, I strongly recommend loitering in the frozen food section of Jewel. Their A/C is killer, and as long as you have a shopping cart in front of you, no one is going to ask any questions.



Did I miss anything?  Disagree with my assessment?  Want to help Joe out?  Leave a message in the comment section.

Willie Wilmette July 24, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Wilmette is very quite, except for one neighbor who illegally sounds his horn when they pick up the kids. They must be from Chicago. Being near the lake brings us cooling breezes when the wind cooperates. Our crime rate feels non-existent, how long did it take to solve the metra bike thefts? Would they ever be solved in Chicago? The taxes are low compared to Chicago & Evanston. The transportation options are amazing. Interstate highway, bus routes, bike trails to Wisconsin, the El, and the Metra. The lake gives us the feeling of openness that the western suburbs do not have. Our 5 shopping districts are so popular that on a sales per capita basis we beat just about all of our neighbors except of course Skokie with Old Orchard Mall. The diverse architecture. There must be a thousand more reasons. Would this all be possible without the wealth of the citizens?
Mike Boyer July 27, 2011 at 01:00 PM
It all starts with the lake. If the lake wasn't here, Wilmette would be just another grid layout suburb. Even if people didn't move here because of the lake, they moved here to reap the benefits the lake has provided Wilmette.


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