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Why Millennials are choosing Lansing

Parks, schools, neighbors, and diversity make small-town life good for five growing families

by Carrie Steinweg

LANSING, Ill. (March 2018) – In any community, attracting and retaining young people is key to growth and progress. Young couples place roots, get involved, and raise families—and sometimes those kids decide years down the road that they want to continue living in that community, too.

Being a border community that is minutes from Chicago, close to lakefront points of access, near major expressways, convenient to hospitals, shopping, and more, Lansing has a lot to offer. And with modern school buildings, updated parks and downtown improvements, Lansing’s attraction to Millennials is growing.

Choosing to stay here

Jen and Matt Arnold grew up in Lansing and decided to raise their children, Mason and Jasmine, here as well. (Photo provided)

Jen Arnold has fond memories of growing up in the village and is now raising her children—Jasmine, 9 ,and Mason, 6—here as well. “I have lived in Lansing for 30 years and grew up on Ridge Road next to Rico’s Pizza. I loved smelling the pizza cooking,” she said. “I’ve chosen to stay in Lansing because we love the town we have grown up in. My husband and I both grew up in Lansing and have decided to raise our children here. Lansing just has a small town feel to it and that’s a great feeling.”

The Arnold family enjoys spending time in the downtown area shopping, eating, and walking. They use several of the parks regularly, their favorite being the one they know as the “blue park,” Winterhoff Park.

“That’s where we go and meet up with friends from school,” she said. Arnold’s kids attend Coolidge School, where she said the principal and assistant principal know her and her husband by name. “I love that the school has so many activities for the families,” she said. “One of our favorites is the family picnic held the first week of school. You can go and have a picnic at the school with games and food and meet teachers and other parents.”

Arnold also said that Lansing is a village with a tight-knit community. “I love that our neighbors watch out for us, and living on a busy road it’s nice to just talk to people walking by,” she said.

Choosing to move here

Cam and Megan Harvey love Lansing’s diversity.
(Photo provided)

Megan and Cam Harvey moved to Lansing when Visible Music College, Cam’s employer, opened a campus here. Although the couple had the option of living in one of the many surrounding communities, they decided to make Lansing their home.

“We moved to Lansing for my husband’s job in 2014. It was important to us to live near his workplace so we could be involved in the same community,” said Megan. “He walks to work, and I have a Chicago-based job that allows me to work from home. We love that Lansing is a diverse community with a small-town feel that is also close to the amenities of the city. I think life in Lansing is what you make of it, and as transplants we take advantage of community events to go out and meet new people.”

Jenna Comer-Hill (center) works for the Village of Lansing. She and husband Anthony (right), and their son Walker, consider Lansing “a nice and quiet neighborhood still close to the city.” (Photo provided)

It was also work that drew Jenna and Anthony Comer-Hill to Lansing. He grew up in the west suburbs, and she grew up in rural Ohio. They came to Lansing in 2009 and with Jenna’s job as Director of the Patti Leach Youth Center came a residency requirement.

“I love my job,” said Jenna. “We were initially looking to rent, but because of the affordability, we were able to purchase our first home here. We liked the idea of a nice and quiet neighborhood still close to the city.”

The couple are parents of a four-year-old named Walker. “We enjoy raising our son here. It feels safe here, and there are local parks and playgrounds. It’s important to us that we see people in our community that reflect our family,” said Anthony.

Block parties and neighbors that know each other and help each other out are some of the things Jenna likes most about living here. The family enjoys walks in the community with their dog—and they are looking forward to the opening of Lansing’s first dog park. Walker is also gearing up for his first season of T-ball and is very excited.

Alyssa and Chris Keene are realtors and Lansing residents. Alyssa can speak from personal experience when she recommends Lansing’s schools, parks, and community events. (Photo provided)

A realtor’s perspective

Alyssa Keene has a unique perspective as someone who was raised in the village and is now a realtor. She and her husband are realtors with the McColly office in Schererville (she is a realtor in both Illinois and Indiana), and they reside in Lansing.

Alyssa’s family moved to Lansing from Calumet City in 2002. Aside from some moves between 2013 and 2017 due to her husband’s active service in the Marine Corps, she been in Lansing ever since. “We decided to move back to Lansing when he hit the end of his active service in 2017,” she said. “Lansing is a great place to live, with the best access to both Illinois and Indiana. The improvements to Ridge Road, the parks, and the schools make us feel confident in investing in a home in Lansing.”

Because she spent much of her childhood in Lansing—attending the public schools and utilizing such village services as the library and youth center—Keene is able to assure potential home-buyers of Lansing’s many amenities and positive attributes. “I feel Lansing has good resources. I loved Reavis School and Memorial and TF South. I was always involved in clubs, but it seems there are more diverse activities available now, which is amazing. As a kid I was at the library and youth center a lot. I use the gym facilities at the Eisenhower and am looking forward to the new dog park and of course Fox Pointe.”

Keene now lives near the elementary school that she once attended, a neighborhood that she describes as “quiet with friendly neighbors.”

When she is talking to potential buyers, she emphasizes the expressway access, the schools, and the parks. “There are many hidden gems in Lansing that have had beautiful remodels,” said Keene.

The amenities combined with affordability give Lansing an edge over neighboring communities. “For all its amenities, I would suggest Lansing is the best value to a buyer client looking in the area. There is also more inventory compared to Indiana,” she said. Median sales prices have remained more steady in Lansing over the last three years than in its neighboring communities of Homewood and Munster, which is good news for buyers.

Beyond prices and parks and school buildings, Keene said she also touts Lansing’s community events to clients. “I love talking about cruise nights and Lansing Autumn Fest and the Good Neighbor Day Parade. Mostly, there is so much being changed or refreshed, it’s a very exciting time to live here.”

Adam and Alli Barker already enjoy Lansing’s parks, trails, businesses, and eateries. They are looking forward to raising a family in Lansing. (Photo provided)

“Something special happening here”

Although he grew up in East Hazel Crest, Adam Barker got to know Lansing through attending church in the village. “When I was around 13 years old, my family began attending Living Word Church, and from that time on Lansing has had a significant place in my life,” he said.

Barker attended college at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and he lived briefly in the Avondale neighborhood before relocating to Lansing. “Throughout my last year of college and the summer following it, I was involved in a weekly basketball gathering at Living Word called The Church Hoop,” he said. “Through this I had built friendships with dozens of young people in our community, and those friendships were what initially drew me to Lansing. I saw something special happening here, and I wanted to be part of it.”

He and his wife look forward to raising a family in Lansing. “Friends of ours speak highly of their experience with the school system, and we enjoy Lansing’s parks, trails, and all the great businesses and eateries in town,” said Barker. “One of the things we love most about Lansing is the diversity of its residents. It’s a real treasure to live and someday raise our kids in a place that reflects the beauty of so many different cultures.”


Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg is a freelance writer, photographer, author, and food and travel blogger who has lived in Lansing for 27 years. She most enjoys writing about food, people, history, and baseball. Her favorite Lansing Journal articles that she has written are: "Lan Oak Lanes attracts film crew," "Why Millennials are choosing Lansing," "Curtis Granderson returns home to give back," "The Cubs, the World Series, fandom, and family," and "Lansing's One Trick Pony Brewery: a craft beer oasis."