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* I don't remember when New Homes kicked off their YoChicago blog, so my perception that it started with an unusual amount of momentum could be faulty. All I know is I noticed it one day as a full-fledged real estate blog. But not just any real estate blog--one with a real focus on city real estate. On renting, too, a market that tends to be ignored by the Trib and Sun-Times. Who, incidentally, could probably do their theoretical chase for young readers a world of good by devoting even a marginal amount of attention to the sort of real estate issues 20-somethings face.
Sorry, I was talking about YoChicago. Anyway, it's a good barometer of local real estate, and they do a fine job of trading off between the expensive (and thus sexy to advertisers) sorts of apartments that real estate journalism usually trades in, and . . . well, the sort of stuff I can afford.
* Housingmaps.com is useful, especially if you don't know the neighborhoods all that well. Which is not something to be ashamed of, incidentally. I didn't know that Noble Square was a subsection of West Town and/or a tiny neighborhood between West Town and Bucktown until one of my friends tipped me off that it was a good place to live.
* I don't know how comprehensive the data is that Rentometer draws on, but it's cool-looking, and fun to play with.
* When I was looking for apartments without a clear idea of what parts of the city were too sketchy for me, I used chicagocrime.org. Statistics can lie, of course, so ask around, but it's worth a look.
* If you need to avoid a particular gang, or want to be in a particular gang, these maps might be of help, though I can't vouch for their accuracy.