Most affordable beach towns near Chicago

7 Most Affordable Beach Towns to Live in Near Chicago 2024

Chicago is famous for its skyscrapers, pizzas, and city life. But do you know there are Chicago suburbs that are lake towns with sandy beaches? We are not talking about the super rich Chicago suburbs, these are the affordable Chicago beach towns with median home prices between $169,000 and $389,000. These beach towns are on Lake Michigan or the quiet lakes of Lake County. Here are the cheapest lake beach towns to live in near Chicago.

Beach on Lake Michigan

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Most Affordable Beach Towns to Live in Near Chicago

North Chicago, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $168,544
  • Beach: Foss Park Beach

North Chicago is the most affordable beach town near Chicago. While many beach towns carry hefty price tags for homes, North Chicago’s median home price is only $168,544. 

Beach on Lake Michigan

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, 38 miles north of downtown Chicago, North Chicago stands out as one of the most affordable places to live near Chicago.

North Chicago is home to Foss Park Beach on Lake Michigan. 

Foss Park Beach has recently undergone extensive renovations to make it safer to swim, cleaner and more user-friendly.

Efforts to make Foss Park beach more swimmable have not gone unnoticed; in fact, Foss Park Beach was lauded with an award as the best restored beach for 2023. \

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Zion, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $188,706
  • Beach: Illinois State Park Beach

Zion is one of the most affordable beach towns near Chicago with a median sale price of $188,706.

Beach on Lake Michigan

Located in Lake County, 1.5 hours north of downtown Chicago, Zion is often overlooked. It is a great option for anyone looking to live near the beach and Chicago without the hefty price tag.

Zion is home to Illinois Beach State Park with 6.5 miles of sandy shore on Lake Michigan.

Illinois Beach State Park is not just a beach but a large state park with over 4,000 acres, for swimming, boating, camping, hiking, fishing and picnicking.

Formed by glacial movements and winds from the vast Lake Michigan, Illinois Beach State Park has a rich diversity of animal life and plants with dunes, marshes and oak forests. 

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Waukegan, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $201,115
  • Beach: Waukegan Municipal Beach

Waukegan is one of the most affordable beach towns near Chicago. It’s an inexpensive Chicagoland suburb for those wishing to live near the Windy City, with the median sale price of homes standing at $201,115. 

Beach on Lake Michigan

Located just 48 miles north of Chicago, Waukegan is a 1 hour and 18 minute train ride to downtown Chicago on the Metra.

Waukegan is home to Waukegan Municipal Beach, an expansive 400-acre lakefront area with a beautiful mile-long sandy beach- perfect for relaxation and water activities. 

Activities like swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, kiteboarding, sand soccer, and sand volleyball are popular at Waukegan Beach. 

For boating enthusiasts, Waukegan Beach has a 1,000-slip marina. 

Located just a short walk to downtown, Waukegan Beach is also a hub for community gatherings in the summer. The Stiner Pavilion, located near the beach, hosts live music and summer concerts. 

There are food concessions at the beach serving ice cream and brats, and food trucks at the beach during weekends. 

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Wauconda, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $282,165
  • Beach: Wauconda Beach Park

Wauconda is one of the most affordable beach towns near Chicago. With the median sale price of homes at $282,165, it a budget-friendly town for those wanting to live near a beach and the Windy City. 

Beach on Lake Michigan

Located in Lake County, Wauconda is 45 miles northwest of Chicago. It is a beach town with a small-town feel. 

Although not located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Wauconda is on Bangs Lake. 

The town’s main beach, Phil’s Beach, is a sandy beach with lots of family-friendly water activities.

For younger visitors, a splash pad offers refreshing fun, while baggo boards provide light-hearted entertainment for all ages. 

Adding to the fun are inflatables set up on Bangs lake, making for an adventurous swimming experience.

The beach isn’t just about water activities. Food concessions are readily available. 

For those seeking a more relaxed ambiance, the gazebo offers a shaded space, perfect for picnicking or simply taking in the picturesque views of Bangs lake.

Mundelein, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $354,889
  • Beach: Diamond Lake Recreation Beach 

Mundelein is another affordable beach town near Chicago. With the median sale price of homes being $354,889, it is an appealing combination of lakeside living and easy accessibility to the Windy City. 

Beach with sand toys

Mundelein is located northwest of Chicago in Lake County. The train ride on the Metra from Mundelein to downtown Chicago is 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

A central attraction of Mundelein is the Diamond Lake Recreation Beach, spanning 100 acres of natural lake, sandy beach and grassy area.

Diamond Lake Beach is a family-friendly beach. 

A prime destination for water activities, residents can indulge in swimming, boating, or renting kayaks, paddle boats, and stand-up paddleboards at Diamond Lake Beach.

Families with children will appreciate the kids’ playground conveniently situated on the sand, while the shaded picnic areas provide a comfortable setting for picnicking.

Check out our list of the Best Chicago Suburbs for Families

Lake Zurich, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $372,004
  • Beach: Paulus Park Beach 

Lake Zurich is an affordable beach town in the Chicagoland suburb. Located northwest of Chicago, Lake Zurich is an hour and 15 minute train ride to downtown Chicago. 

Paulus Park Beach Illinois

With homes selling at a median sale price of $372,004, Lake Zurich is a beach town near Chicago that offers affordable lakeside living. 

Home to Paulus Park Beach, a sprawling 41 acres of lakefront park.

Paulus Park Beach is a family-friendly beach-  perfect for swimming and relaxing on the beach. 

Those interested in fishing will find ample opportunities along the shores of the lake.

For families, Paulus Park Beach is great because aside from the beach, there is also a splash pad. It is a popular spot, especially during the warmer months, allowing kids to cool off in playful jets of water. There is also a well-equipped playground at Paulus Park Beach.

Check out our list of Free Things to Do in the Chicago Suburbs

Evanston, IL

  • Median Sale Price: $388,131
  • Beaches: Lighthouse Beach, Lee Street Beach, South Boulevard Beach, Clark Street Beach and Greenwood Street Beach

Evanston is an affordable beach town located just north of Chicago (28 minute train ride). With a median home sale price of $388,131, it’s a lot less expensive to buy a house in Evanston when compared to other Chicago suburbs beach towns like Glencoe and Winnetka.

Evanston, IL Beach

Evanston is a beautiful Chicago suburb on the Lake Michigan shoreline and is home to several beaches. Among them are Lighthouse Beach, Lee Street Beach, South Boulevard Beach, Clark Street Beach and Greenwood Street Beach.

Of all the beaches in Evanston, perhaps the most popular and iconic is Lighthouse Beach. 

Named for the nearby historic Gross Point Lighthouse, Lighthouse Beach has a nice expanse of sandy shoreline, making it an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking. 

Its proximity to the lighthouse adds a touch of historical charm, along with stunning lake views making it one of the most popular beaches in Evanston. 

Living in Evanston means you get the best of both worlds – lakeside living and the proximity to the bustling city of Chicago. 

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