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Naperville, IL

I am not the only ones who think Naperville, Illinois is an amazing spot to settle down. The city has been labeled time and again as one of the "best places to live in the U.S." by Money Magazine. Unbeatable beauty, high-ranking public and private schools, positive job growth, low crime, rising home appreciation, thriving entertainment and leisure industry (including several world-class golf courses) and close proximity to Chicago have earned this suburban community top desirability. 

While downtown Naperville is a vital and active destination on the weekends as folks from surrounding suburbs come for the exceptional shopping, dining and outdoor amusement, the rest of the city's neighborhood streets remain quiet and peaceful homesteads -- never compromised by the outside interest in Naperville's sights and attractions. The curving residential blocks are set back in subdivisions, protected from busier main roads and the traffic of Naperville's popular business district. Bordered by immaculately maintained lawns, towering trees and healthy hedges, most Naperville homes sit on sizeable lots with attached garages and mature vegetation. Fanned around cul-de-sacs and winding, sidewalk-lined lanes, Naperville properties offer homeowners prime outdoor space with the privacy of individual yards and that comforting unity of close-knit neighbors. 

For the most part, homebuyers find Naperville real estate is concentrated around single-family detached homes. The majority of these houses are good-sized, four-bedroom properties that start in the high $200,000s for an older split-level or ranch; while newer two-story "McMansions" can easily cost over a million dollars. These days, the average sale price for a two bedroom house in Naperville is about $295,000 with an average market time of 66 days. Three-bedroom properties sell for around $334,000 on average, although there are some that go for between $700,000 and a million dollars. The average sale price for a four- or five-bedroom place in Naperville is approximately $530,000, with countless listings in the million-dollar to 4 million dollar range -- mostly for recently constructed, luxury homes.

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Naperville History

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Family excursions are known for their congruent levels of excitement, fun, exasperation and stress. Whether you're heading down to Grandma's house for a holiday meal or moving across country for a "better life," the combination of unconditional love, candid behavior and a confined space, can make for a truly memorable (oftentimes painstakingly unforgettable) time. 

Now, there's no historical evidence to indicate Naperville's founders -- the Naper family -- endured such an experience when venturing west in search of land in 1831, but we like to imagine the underlying tendencies of human nature haven't changed that much since the 1800s. So, with two brothers, their wives, their sister and their mother holed up in the family schooner for two months, the Naper clan made the quintessential family trip, without which Naperville would not exist today. 

Really, Naperville's beginnings are much like that of any other early 19th century settlement in the Midwest -- a small group of pioneers arrive on the scene after a long, perilous journey from the east; they cultivate the land and build homes; survive a few skirmishes with Native American tribes; and establish what would later become one of the area's most desirable Chicago suburbs -- pretty standard, right? Of course, when Joseph Naper and his band of colonists (a.k.a. relatives) spent the summer of 1831 navigating their way through the Great Lakes and inland water systems to finally plant roots some 30 miles from the shore of Lake Michigan, you can bet they had no idea their rustic homestead would later sprout paved residential subdivisions and lush grass lawns for Chicagoland's 21st century homeowners.

After dropping off some fellow travelers in the near Chicago vicinity, Naper and the fam continued their journey. Finally, having had enough of each other's company (we're taking a little creative liberty here) Joe pulled the ship over and told everyone to get out. There on the banks of the DuPage River, the Napers happily de-boarded, vowing never to take another "fun-filled" family expedition again. So that is where they stayed and Naper's Settlement was born.

Within a year the young community had grown to over 100 residents. But word that an attack by the Sauk Indian tribe was in the works forced the entire settlement to relocate to the protective arms of Fort Dearborn. The move was short lived, however, as a subsequent stronghold was constructed at the abandoned site by Captain Morgan Payne in preparation of the ambush. The new fortification, aptly named Fort Payne, allowed everyone to return to Naper's Settlement and continue life in their newfound homeland. Thankfully, the impending assault on the camp never happened and the small development continued to evolve. 

The area's first tavern and inn (which was also the only one west of Chicago city limits at the time) was erected in 1834. The people called it the Pre-Emption House in reference to the government act that permitted purchase of western land tracts for a mere $1.25 per acre. The building later served as the county courthouse and it is said that even President Abraham Lincoln delivered a spur-of-the-moment speech from its rooftop. To this day, visitors come to the Pre-Emption House for a glimpse into Naperville's history.   

In 1857, at the time of its incorporation as a village, Naperville, Illinois was home to around 2,000 inhabitants and was a thriving milling town with half a dozen churches, numerous storefronts, an educational academy, a couple hotels and two breweries. No more sitting around at the kitchen table playing cards with the family on Saturday nights -- this tiny town shaped up to be something the Napers could really be proud of! By the mid 1860s, there was even a convenient train route that connected the outlying community to downtown Chicago. Still, the budding village remained a principally rural area compared to the bustling metropolis to the east, even when it officially became a city in 1890.

It wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century that Naperville saw a boom in population. It followed the completion of two major highways in the 1980s and ‘90s -- I-88 (the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway) and I-355 (the North-South Tollway) -- which provided folks with quick and convenient access to Chicago's southwest suburbs. Naperville's populace practically quadrupled as many growing families traded cramped urban condominiums for spacious homes with private yards. The newly constructed expressways made commuting a viable option, not to mention the city's ever-expanding influence has spurred employment opportunities and real estate development throughout Chicago suburbs, prompting irreversible interest in Naperville's prime residential setting.