Navigating a Move to the Chicago Suburbs — All the Way From Montana

Feb 9, 2022

This growing family navigated a major move…from halfway across the country

Leah Gjertston and her family were ready to settle down in the suburbs — just not in their immediate suburbs. When Leah first reached out to Suburban Jungle, they were living in Bozeman, Montana, on a year-long sabbatical contemplating a major move.

“We knew we’d be coming back to the Chicagoland area,” Leah says. “But during the pandemic, we ended up in Bozeman — so now we were looking for a new place to live from far away.”

Prior to landing in Montana, the family lived in a two-bedroom condo in downtown Chicago — and always planned to head back. During this year-long sabbatical period, they decided to assess their options and determine what was next.

“We were familiar with the area and still had family here to help scope out places,” Leah explains. “We also had our Suburban Jungle Strategist Heather Jagher to help us. Both Heather and our Suburban Jungle realtor Rachel were so great — it didn’t actually feel that crazy to buy a house we’d never set foot in.”

Finding a community that met their “must-haves”

The first step: identify their “non-negotiables” — what they knew they needed in their “forever” home and community.

“We were looking for access to natural spaces like the Cook County Forest Preserves,” Leah says. “We were also looking at school quality — our older son starts kindergarten in the fall.”

A small-town feel plus access to the commuter rail were also high on their priorities list.

“Downers Grove felt like a perfect fit, from our very first call,” Heather says. “It’s a great, family-friendly area with A+ schools, an easy commute, and access to lots of outdoor activities — including the Cook County Forest Preserve, which was a must for Leah.”

Quickly, Leah and her family dove into video walkthroughs, exploring Downers Grove — and touring several homes in the area — with Rachel. They closed on a house they love in August – without ever seeing it in person.

“I’m very risk-averse by nature,” Lead shares. But, “working with Heather and Rachel just made it feel really safe and easy.”

Settling into suburban life

In August 2021, Leah and her family closed on a house in Downers Grove and made the move from Montana.

“They’re within walking distance of the commuter rail, but also have plenty of space to spread out and work from home,” Heather says. “And when they want to get outdoors, they’re 10 minutes from the Morton Arboretum — and lots more. It’s a great fit.”

Leah agrees and adds that, ultimately, it’s their neighborhood that made this transition so easy.

“Downers Grove definitely has the small-town vibe we were looking for. The block that we’re on is really amazing and very tight-knit. Right away, neighbors came over to introduce themselves, and invited us to block parties — and there are three other families that have boys the same age as mine, right here on the block,” she says.

Looking back, they’re thrilled with their decision and are loving life in Downers Grove — and she encourages other families looking to make a big move to take a breath and go.

“If it’s the right thing your family — if it’s what you need to do — just go for it.”

Find the right suburb for your family — whether it’s just minutes away or halfway across the country. We’re here to help every step. Get in touch now to schedule a free Suburbs Strategy session.

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