We moved because we're ready to start a family
A couple trade a 'hood with a busy nightlife for one with a quiet, family-oriented vibe.
A happy dash of kismet led to a first encounter between Michael Weaver and Paul Ruffino back in October 2009. “We went out on a date and haven’t looked back since,” Ruffino says. With plans to marry in November and a baby through surrogacy in the works (due date: summer 2012, “fingers crossed”), they just needed the right home to raise their future family. They found it in an Edgewater two-flat that they’ll start to convert to a single-family home by fall.
The two, along with Ruffino’s pug Spooner, shared Weaver’s Wrigleyville two-bedroom, two-bath condo for about a year and soon realized this setup wasn’t so cozy for a committed couple who were over the whole late-night carousing thing. “We knew we needed a different space, one we could build together,” Weaver says, adding, “We didn’t want to be in the center of the action anymore.”
After briefly considering suburban flight, they decided to concentrate their search in the city. They homed in on Edgewater—a far northeast neighborhood bordered roughly by Devon and Foster Avenues, and the lake and Ravenswood Avenue—because they knew a thing or two about it already. Ruffino, 43, an assistant principal at a public school in Buffalo Grove, had lived in adjacent Edgewater Glen before the couple met; Weaver, 35, a lawyer, has a close friend in the area. They both appreciate the area’s diversity: a mix of singles, families and older couples of various ethnicities, living in single-family homes, small apartment buildings and two-flats.
“We’re not a traditional family, and we want to give [our kids] a real experience of what the city has to offer,” Weaver says. Being within walking distance of their fave hangouts in Andersonville, just to the south, was a bonus too. As for the public schools in the area, the couple say they’re not there yet, but will consider all of their options, including nearby private and Catholic schools .
The one factor they hadn’t considered initially was the east-of-Clark versus west-of-Clark price discrepancy. East-siders revel in Red Line and beach proximity, but those come at a lofty price. “We looked at a place that had all the bells and whistles, but a tiny yard—and it was close to $900,000,” Weaver recalls. Just across that boundary line, prices drop. So, they expanded their scope and lucked upon a spacious two-flat in the low $600K range.
Under a canopy of old trees, their rehabbed, remodeled and rewired 3,200-square-foot 1911 house sits on an oversized 50-foot-by-160-foot lot that more than satisfied the couple’s wish list. “We keep pinching ourselves,” Ruffino says. Inside: a finished basement, six bedrooms and three bathrooms for family and friends to visit, and plenty of elbow room for entertaining. “We like the idea of having a space to have people over and still be in shouting distance of the kids,” Weaver explains. In back, there’s a lovely deck with a wooden staircase to the upper level; a decent-sized yard with a raised stone enclave; and a detached two-car garage, which Ruffino is nearly swooning over. “This is such a luxury; when I pull in, I still think I have to get as close to the wall as I can [like I used to], but I don’t have to here.”
Another comfort of their new home: quiet. Although the Union Pacific North Line Metra tracks are two blocks away, they barely notice. “We used to live right near the CTA,” Weaver says. “The Metra is nothin’.” The absence of drunken twentysomethings at all hours? Not bad either, they say.
Though they’ve gained space and serenity, they’re still nostalgic for a few aspects of their old stomping grounds. “The biggest thing for me is my commute,” sighs Weaver, who used to be two minutes from the Red Line that took him to his Loop office; now Ruffino drops him at the Rogers Park Metra station or he hops a Devon Avenue bus to the Loyola Red Line stop. Ruffino, an amateur chef, loved his quick walk to the meat department at the Halsted Street Whole Foods. “Instead we just walk around the house,” Ruffino says, perking up. Plus, there’s a Whole Foods in Evanston on his way to work, and Weaver’s friend has mentioned a mom-and-pop butcher shop in the new ’hood.
When the couple made plans to buy a single-family house in the city, they thought they’d have to reassess in five years or so and maybe move to the ’burbs after all, but that’s changed, they say. “We’re here till we’re dead.”