Downtown sees rise in residents moving out, heading for suburbs or North Side neighborhoods

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CHICAGO —As the pandemic forces many Chicagoans to work from home, some are trading their small city condos for large suburban homes.

Change of address forms show just how many are making a move in Illinois, with data from the U.S. Postal Service showing filings from March to September rose 10% over last year from 15,533 in 2019 to 17,210 in 2020.

While the data gives some idea of how things have changed since Illinois’ stay-at-home order on March 21, the numbers reflect just a slice of the trends since the USPS can only provide data from zip codes which received at least 10 filings due to privacy concerns.

Looking just at downtown Chicago, the 60654 zip code which includes River North and River West saw the most change of address filings in September with 528 submitted.

The director of the Great Cities Institute at UIC, Teresa Cordova said even though some numbers may indicate a move to suburban life, city lights have a tendency to pull people back.

“Quite frankly I don’t think we’ll see a huge movement out,” Cordova said. “But I still think, particularly among the younger population, we will still see a draw to stay downtown. It’s hard to see past this pandemic right now.”

Evanston Chamber of Commerce head Roger Sosa said he’s not surprised the suburb is one of the top zip codes people are moving to as they leave downtown Chicago.

“We’ve seen luxury buildings and occupancy rate seems to be pretty good,” he said. “We provide a lot of the things that you see in the city – funky shopping and cool restaurants.”

Downtown change of address forms also place people in DuPage County, River Forest and Northwest Indiana. There’s also a shift from downtown to northern parts of the city like Lakeview and Lincoln Park or west to Ukrainian Village.

All of it right now though is just an initial look at how the city is changing, as Chicago waits for the end of the pandemic to assess the long-term impact.

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