Once a posh resort town for the affluent, Lake Villa today offers a thriving residential and business community that attracts more and more homebuyers each year.
Jill and Ralph Tosi are among those homebuyers, having moved to the Cedar Ridge Estates subdivision from Peoria 18 months ago after Ralph received a job transfer to Racine, Wis.
Listing sheetPrice range: $225,000 to $325,000
Age of homes: 7 to 10 years
Schools: Olive Martin Elementary and Palombi Middle schools in Lake Villa Elementary District 41 and Grant Community High School in Grant Community High School District 124
"My husband wanted to stay in Illinois, so we spent a lot of time looking at homes in Antioch, Gurnee and Lake Villa," Jill Tosi said.
"We chose this area because of the affordable homes where we got a lot of house for the money. (Cedar Ridge Estates) has kind of a country feel with beautiful parks and ponds, and it's close to everything we need."
Situated on Cedar Lake Road south of Monaville Road, the subdivision is halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, which the couple likes.
The Tosis especially enjoy the media room in their home. "We've never had a media room before," Jill said. "We use it all the time to watch TV and movies, and we like watching baseball."
The spacious two-story home with living and family rooms and four bedrooms gives the couple plenty of space for visiting children.
The nice ambience of the subdivision draws people outside to the biking and walking paths where Ralph and Jill like walking their dog, Tabby.
Cedar Lake Estates was built by Orleans Homebuilders and features 171 homes with 2,985 to 3,880 square feet, basements and two- or three-car garages, said Cecilia Grayson, real estate broker with Century 21 American Sketchbook.
"For $250,000 you can get a large house with more than 3,000 square feet with nice walking paths nearby. This is one of the few places where you can get such good value for your dollar," Grayson said.
Grayson, who recently moved to the subdivision herself with husband Brad, says they looked all over Lake County and chose Cedar Ridge Estates because they got the best bang for their buck.
"We couldn't touch the quality of life with this kind of pricing anywhere else," she said. "I'm a good advertisement for the neighborhood."
Neighborhood parks and ponds with water fountains are within walking distance of any home in the subdivision. "There's a nice beach with a picnic shelter for residents. People are friendly. And it's a nice, pretty place to live," Grayson said.
Lake Villa offers a quaint downtown -- the kind people saw years ago -- where if you blink your eyes, you miss it.
"There's a mom-and-pop restaurant where the whole family works and they know who you are when you walk in the door. There's also a beauty salon, pizza place and post office. The village is working on a downtown plan to attract new businesses and development," she said.
Some people say it's so far west, but residents can jump on Grand Avenue and be on I-94 in 10 minutes or less, Grayson said. "We're near several different shopping centers. This is more convenient than many places," she added.
Tosi did her homework figuring that they would be three minutes from Walmart and near grocery stores and everything else they need.
"We like it here," Tosi said. "It's nice and quiet. And there's no city traffic, which I'm not used to."
For recreation, forest preserves border the community while several beautiful community parks throughout the village feature all kinds of sports facilities and activities.