Living Outside the Loop

When I was admitted into Booth, I was excited for the diverse student body, strong academic curriculum, and vibrant campus community. While I cherished the opportunity to live in Chicago, I also had my concerns. Specifically, I had read that ~75% of Booth students live downtown, or what Chicagoans refer to as the “Loop.” However, I knew that living in the Loop wouldn’t be an option for me.

My fiancé is a native Chicagoan who had been living in Lincoln Park for several years as her job is located north of the city. Since her job requires a car, it behooves her to live further north so she can avoid as much morning traffic as possible. But since the Harper Center in Hyde Park is south of the city (and thus in the opposite direction from her job), we decided to split the difference and live in Gold Coast.

This may be a refresher on Chicago neighborhoods to loyal TBE readers, but Gold Coast is located approximately 1.5 miles north of the Loop and 2 miles south of Lincoln Park. We fell in love with the neighborhood due to its Lake Michigan views, tree-lined streets, and eclectic mix of restaurant options. But given that most of my Boothie peers live in the Loop, I was candidly concerned as to how I would integrate myself socially and how I would commute to campus.

Fortunately, my social-related apprehensions were immediately alleviated once I started my MBA program. I quickly learned that many social functions take place in River North, which is a trendy area laden with bars and restaurants located approximately halfway between the Loop and where I live in Gold Coast. If I want to venture to the Loop, whether it’s for a group study project or social event, all I have to do is take the CTA Red Line train two stops, and I’m there in under 10 minutes.

Chicago’s transportation system makes it incredibly easy to commute between neighborhoods, and it’s also one way in which I commute to Hyde Park for classes. Typically, if I use Chicago public transportation, I’ll take the Red Line two stops and then switch to the Metra train in Millennium Park, where I’ll always meet dozens of fellow Boothies hopping on at the same stop.

Even though I have to switch lines, I can stay underground the entire time from before I get on the Red Line until I arrive in Hyde Park. This is especially important during the long Chicago winters! That said, more often than not, I will Uber or carpool with a group of other Boothies who live in Gold Coast or River North. The students living in this area share a GroupMe chat, and there are always at least a few people who are going to or coming back from Hyde Park at the same time as me.

Full-Time students also have the option to take classes with the Part-Time students at Booth’s downtown location, the Gleacher Center in Streeterville, which is within walking distance to both my apartment and the Loop. The flexibility to go to school right off Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago provides a convenient alternative. Not to mention I get to meet Boothies who are in the Evening and Weekend programs, many of whom live all over the city and suburbs.

As I reflect upon my Booth experience, I’m glad we chose to live in Gold Coast and be in a neighborhood that suits both my needs and those of my fiancé. While most of my friends live in the Loop, it’s very easy for us to get together. Further, Chicago’s excellent public transportation system and ridesharing with fellow Boothies make for very convenient and affordable options for commuting down to Hyde Park. From the academic curriculum to the wide array of living options within Chicago, Booth truly does provide a flexible MBA experience, and it’s just another reason I knew that Booth was the perfect business school for me.


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