It'll cost you $3 million for Trump, trains or Twister shower

A six-bedroom, 7,747-square-foot Swiss chalet-style River Forest home for sale.

Prices always vary, but Chicago living — it'll cost you. We matched up a trio of listings on the market between $3 million and $3.5 million — more specifically an apartment in Trump Tower, a Lakeview neighborhood home that wears its feelings on the walls and a suburban home in River Forest with a railroad running along its perimeter.

Homes with seven-figure price tags occupy a rare niche in any real estate market, but last year, 378 homes sold between $2 million and $5 million in the Chicago area, according to Midwest Real Estate Data. Currently, a search on Redfin.com of homes in Chicago brings up 80 listings within a $3 million-to-$4 million price range. Here's a look at how suburban life compares with the city of Chicago.


River Forest, 846 Ashland Ave.

Listed for $3,495,000


If you've ever found yourself admiring the perfect little cottages in a model railway display, this Swiss Chalet-style home in River Forest, for sale by Alan and Nancy Smiley, is your dream come true.

Where you'll find it: River Forest is a small, suburban village known for its Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes and tight-knit community, about 11 miles west of downtown Chicago. The village has a population of 11,170 residents (according to the 2010 census) and is closely associated with the neighboring suburb of Oak Park. It's also home to Dominican University and Concordia University Chicago.

What you'll notice: The nearly 90-year-old home has its own outdoor ridable model railroad and is known as "the train-man house." Alan Smiley worked on the train's insertion for nearly five years — he says it was his dream to own a large train since he was a young boy.

"I thought he meant a little train … and then he took a spray can (to mark where rails would go) and started walking around the house," said Nancy Smiley. "It was for a train that can pull 10,000 pounds." The railroad has 15-inch-wide tracks that run some 700 feet. When it was ready to run, the Smileys held a special train spike ceremony and invited the neighbors to take a look.

Details, details: Built in 1926, the home has a "Roaring '20s" influence, Nancy Smiley said. She said the area was popular among young immigrants who wanted to invest in real estate.

"They built good businesses and then put some money into a solid house," she said. "In this house there's not a crack in the ceiling — it's built like a bank vault."

History aside, the Smileys insist it's an ideal spot for the modern family. The home has six bedrooms and five baths, a great room with high ceilings and an outdoor setup that holds a pool, solarium and coach house. The Smileys credit the small-town feel for what sealed the deal for them 42 years ago. "This is a community and people know each other," Nancy Smiley said.

Size: 7,747 square feet; lot size 0.85 acres; 6 bedrooms

Year built: 1926

Taxes: $47,978.83 in 2014

Schools: High School District 200 (Oak Park and River Forest High School)

Near North, 401 N. Wabash Ave., Unit 32A

Listed for $3,350,000

If there's one thing residents of Trump Tower are looking for in a home, it's luxury living.

Where you'll find it: This famous high-rise is steps away from designer stores and the Chicago Riverwalk. Whether you like it or not, the hustle and bustle of the Loop and the Magnificent Mile are right outside. Unit 32A is a two-bedroom condo with a living room and kitchen that boast prime north-exposure views, curving around the eastern wing on the 32nd floor.

What you'll notice: The sign on the side of this skyscraper is turning heads even more these days — "Trump" can be seen in large stainless steel letters from miles away. When owners paid seven figures for their homes a few years ago, they surely didn't know the man with his name on the building would become one of the most polarizing figures in the country. But, said listing agent Mehdi Mova, "at this level of real estate, it's more about the investment and what it provides. The actions of one person are not going to affect a building or the value of a building."

Recent Chicago rallies have led to somewhat of a backlash relating to the structure, such as Instagrammers taking angry selfies with the tower.

Tony Levin, the current owner of the condo, said he hasn't experienced any problems with political protests affecting the building's reputation. The tower, he said, has "good management."

Details, details: And there's also room service. Since the building is known as a "condo-tel," or condo-hotel, its live-in residents can also enjoy hotel amenities such as breakfast delivered, a 75-foot pool and a doorman at the ready.

Despite the convenient amenities, many growing families spending over $3 million expect more than just two bedrooms. Levin says the compromise has been worth it to live downtown Chicago.

"For $3 million, maybe you can buy 100 acres of land in the middle of nowhere, but this is Chicago and this is the price point," said Levin, 58. "Compared to New York and other metropolitan cities, Chicago is a bargain."

Size: 3,437 square feet; 2 bedrooms

Year built: 2007

Taxes: $29,909 in 2014

Association fees: $1,967/mo.

Schools: High School District 299 (City of Chicago)

Lakeview, 1457 W. Addison St.

Listed for $3,000,000

Gucci may not be across the street, but this single-family home in Lakeview's Southport Corridor might be the closest thing to a live-in art museum.

Where you'll find it: The 4-bedroom, 5-bath house is just down the street from Wrigley Field in an area thats known for its commercial buildings, tasty restaurants and happening scene. Located on the west end of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, it has the baseball hustle and bustle with a mix of family life — convenient shopping and plenty of green space.

1457 W. Addison in Chicago, one of three similar priced homes being compared in the Chicago area. April 7, 2016 (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

What you'll notice: Owners Paul Reitz and David Rosen, both 52, turned the home into a highly decorative space — most known among its visitors for a three-story water wall that runs along the floating staircase.

Unusual art is found throughout the home — and Rosen said the goal was to have two rooms that were particularly bold in design. For example, the main level is known for an all-red bathroom, complete with a red toilet.

The lower level bath is just as wild — it was decorated with the Milton Bradley game Twister in mind, just for fun. The game's inspiration on the room extends to green, red, yellow and blue dots on the walls. And there's more than meets the eye — there's a hidden room near the door, which is being used as storage. The rest of the home also has bold touches like rich wood floors, marble finishes, black high beams and window skylights throughout. Upstairs, four bedrooms flow together through French glass doors and the master suite has a double-sided fireplace and sunk-in spa bath.

Details, details: The owners have taken many of their paintings down recently in hope that buyers will see the home's unique aesthetic without so much art. "This house has its own personality and its own sense of design," said Rosen. "And it's made for entertaining — we've had an excess of 200 people in that home all at the same time."

Despite his initial search for a much smaller space — around two bedrooms, Rosen said — his decision to purchase the house was a no-brainer upon walking in. "We walked in and our jaws dropped — the structure and the bones were beautiful," he said. "Instead of buying a 2-bedroom condo, we bought a 6,000 square-foot house."


Size: 6,000 square feet; lot size less than 0.25 acres; 4 bedrooms


Year built: 2010

Taxes: $44,052.66 in 2014

Schools: High School District 299 (City of Chicago)