Crucial Things to Know About Living in Chicago as a Newcomer

What would be the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of Chi-town? Deep dish pizza? Gangsters’ paradise? Or perhaps the notoriously bad weather in the Windy City? The competition is fierce, and there is more to add to that list, so all of you planning on living in Chicago, stay tuned to get the scoop.

It is always a great time to move to Chi-town, so if this is your future home, stay tuned to get the scoop.

Moving to Chicago presents many opportunities. Although it is not the capital of Illinois, Chi-town is the largest city in the state, and one of the most important hubs in the US. So, based on that, you can already tell that there’s certainly plenty of reasons to live in Chicago, and we’re going to introduce you to some of them.

Is Chicago a Good Place to Live?

A lot of you are probably thinking about this and wondering how your future life in Chicago might look like. The thing is, we all tend to idealize sometimes but also to stick to some prejudices that are not always necessarily true. Located on Lake Michigan, Chi-town is home to 2.7 million residents in its core, but with 9.5 million in its metro area, this is the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. Clearly, there has to be something good about it when so many people want to stay there.

Is Living in Chicago Dangerous

Safety is always a significant concern, whether you are moving to a city alone or with family and kids. So when there’s such a history and mob reputation as in Chi-town, we understand why you might be concerned. The notorious “Outfit” mob family set the roots of their organization here in 1910, and you are probably well familiar with one of their leaders, Al Capone. Although the “Outfit” organization is still active, that should not stop you from relocating.

Despite its past, Chi-town is not the most dangerous place in the state, and the good news is that the number of violent crimes and murders is dropping. Crime rates vary per area, so when choosing the best neighborhoods in Chicago, pay attention to their crime rates, you can easily find a safe and sound community where you can settle down.

Living in Chicago Pros and Cons

Whether you are moving from a small town to a big city or you are coming here from another major hub, you have to be aware of the specific pros and cons of living in Chicago. It will help you get the real picture and prepare you for that Chi-town lifestyle.

Pros:

  • Excellent public transportation
  • Sport culture
  • Diverse food
  • Numerous parks and outdoor spots
  • Rich history, architecture, and art

Cons:

  • It is expensive
  • Getting used to the weather
  • Crime is a concern
  • Traffic and parking
  • Neighborhood stereotypes
All cities have some pros and cons, but the trick is to learn how to embrace them all.

Is It Expensive to Live in Chicago?

If you are moving out of state on a budget and going to Chi-town, we strongly recommend you take a look at some tips on how to find a job before you move, because life here comes at a particular cost. Even if you restrain yourself from Chicago nightlife and overpriced meals in some of the best restaurants in Chicago, you will still be facing some high expenses. If you are on a budget, consider downsizing, estimate the value of your household goods, donate unwanted items, and save a few bucks on packing services.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live in Chicago

According to Numbeo, an adult person needs slightly more than $1,000 per month for various expenses, without rent. Since most of your income will go on rents, consider relocating to some of the affordable suburbs of Chicago if you are on a hunt for reasonably-priced housing.

Location dictates the price, so if you go further from the center, you can save at least $500 on accommodation. A monthly pass for public transportation is $105, so if you are not using auto transport services, this could be a convenient solution.

Living in Chicago vs. New York

Although Chi-town is known for being pricey, it’s still far in that regard from many US cities, such as NYC. Not to mention some other cities across the world that frequently top the lists of most expensive cities in the world, such as Hong Kong. But let’s stay within the US, and compare the cost of living in New York with the cost of living in Chicago, just so you might understand why so many New Yorkers move to Chi-town.

indexChi-townNew York

1 bedroom apt on a central location

$1,870

$3,400

1 bedroom apt outside of the center


$1,270

$2,050



3 bedroom apt on a central location

$3,500

$7,100

3 bedroom apt outside of the center

$2,180

$3,900

Average monthly net salary, after-tax

$4,350

$5,800

A monthly pass for public transportation

$105

$127

Basic utilities for 914 sq ft apt

$133

$136

Source: Numbeo

Best Places to Live in Chicago

Picking the right community is always a tricky task. Whether you are moving from an apartment to a house for the first time or vice versa, be picky with your future neighborhood. In Chi-town, they believe that the neighborhood you choose defines you. Of course, this is open for discussion, but they like to stick to it here.

Living in Downtown Chicago or Going to the Suburbs?

Chi-town is divided into 77 community areas and multiple neighborhoods within them. As a newcomer, you need to figure out your priorities and criteria for selecting the right community. Whether you are looking for best Chicago neighborhoods for young professionals or moving to the suburbs to raise a family, keep an eye on these neighborhoods:

  • Downtown – highly walkable area, safe, and perfect for night owls who won’t skip a Saturday night out.
  • Beverly – a community with a high rate of homeownership, preferred among young families looking for spacious backyards and safe surroundings.
  • North Center – riverside parks, reliable public transportation, peaceful and quiet community with plenty of options for renters and buyers.
  • Bridgeport – affordable for renting or even buying your first apartment, this walkable community with a historic flair offers houses and apartments.
  • Oak Park – a suburb close to the Loop, perfect for architecture aficionados who will appreciate the fact that even 25 Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs can be found in this neighborhood.
What are your main criteria when house-hunting: proximity to a favorite park, work, or school?

What’s It Like to Live in Chicago?

If you’re wondering what’s it like living in Chicago? we feel you. Relocating long distance is never easy, but you shouldn’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from a better tomorrow. To help you prepare, we recommend you take a look at this video and get familiar with some things you should keep in mind before relocating.

5 Essential Things to Know About Living in Chicago

Chicago living can be full of surprises if you come unprepared, which is why we decided to help and introduce you to some things that are typical around here. Perhaps you didn’t expect sunny beaches in a metropolis known for its harsh winters, but that’s Chi-town. There is a pro for every con.

Besides packing all the sweaters and warm clothes, make sure to bring your swimwear.

#1 Chi-town Lifestyle

Although it might seem a bit frenzy sometimes, Chi-town is not just another concrete jungle. Here you’ll find something for everyone, from family-friendly activities to nightclubs. And since it has more than 580 parks, being outdoorsy here is a must. Relax at the beach, or go jogging, hiking, or biking, options are endless.

Best Family-Friendly Activities in Chi-town

If you are relocating while pregnant or you already have children, it is good to keep in mind some of the things to do in Chicago with kids. Here are our favorite spots to visit with children:

  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Millennium Park
  • Navy Pier
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Children’s Museum

Nightlife in the City

Although Chi-town is not a city that never sleeps, those looking to explore its nightlife certainly won’t be disappointed, and here are our top recommendations:

  • Smart Bar
  • Danny’s Tavern
  • PRYSM Nightclub
  • The Underground
  • Spy Bar
Whether you're looking to visit art museums or nightclubs, you'll find plenty of options to choose from.

#2 The Controversy Behind Parking Dibs

The drive or ship dilemma is solved, you found the cheapest way to ship a car, and you are ready to conquer the roads of Chi-town? That’s great, but you’ll have to go the extra mile to conquer a parking spot.

Grab a Shovel and Mark the Territory in Front of Your House

Since there’s not a lot of free parking space, many depend on the street parking and limited driveways. And during the winter, things get a completely different dimension because there’s a lot of snow to shovel. Many believe that shoveling a spot on the curbs gives them the right to make a reservation, and mark their territory. They’ll hold an empty spot by arranging chairs and other items, which often leads to arguments. And that’s definitely not the greatest way to meet neighbors after you move.

Can You Live Without a Car in Chi-Town?

If the cost of car shipping is not something you are willing to pay because you found a home close to your work, you can rely on public transportation  for everything else. CTA is the second largest public transportation system in the country, connecting all parts of Chi-town with buses and trains.

Finding where to park your car is a struggle in every metropolis, but if you use public transportation, you won't have to worry about that.

#3 Food Scene

The food scene in Chi-town is much more than the deep-dish pizza, so if you’re looking for romantic things to do in Chicago, pizza for dinner is not your only option. Here you’ll find more than 8,000 restaurants serving various local and international dishes, so it has never been easier to taste the flavors from all around the globe. Pick any restaurant around the West Loop, and you won’t leave it disappointed or hungry.

Home Specialty: Where to Get The Best Deep Dish Pizza

And now to tackle the main question, where’s the most savory pizza? As a local, you’ll have plenty of time to explore these and many other spots and find that perfect one, but our recommendation is to start with these places:

  • Pizzeria Uno
  • Tano’s Pizzeria
  • Pizano’s Pizza
  • Nino’s Pizza
  • Bartoli’s Pizzeria

Is There Something Else, Besides Pizza?

Pizza might be the most famous, but it is certainly not the only thing worth tasting. Italian beef and hot dogs in the Chi-town style are also considered local specialties. For beef sandwiches, visit Al’s Beef and Portillo’s for hot dogs, but keep in mind that adding ketchup to your hot dog here is considered a sin.

Chi-town is home to numerous pizza spots, and as a local, you'll have enough time to try them all.

#4 Housing Market Comes With a Few Surprises

Not just that, prices are not so hefty like in other large metropolises, but finding the right home is not so hard. The market is big, and there is a vast offer of properties for renting and buying, so it is not so hard to find a good deal.

Architectural History

If you are looking for a non-conventional way to explore Chi-town, try getting to know it through its buildings. Since a great fire burned down the entire Chi-town in 1871, architects got a blank canvas to play with. From skyscrapers to impressive residential homes, some of the most famous architects such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Sullivan left their architectural fingerprints all over Chi-town.

Architecture is on a different level, and you can find many gems if you decide to do a bit of research.

#5 How’s the Weather in the Windy City?

Although it is notoriously known for its cold winters and wind, Chi-town enables you to experience all four seasons distinctively. The average annual snowfall is 36 inches, and when it comes to wind, let’s just say that this is not the windiest place in the country. The average wind speed is also not so high, but in the streets among tall buildings, there is a sort of wind tunnel effect you’ll feel.

Factors to Consider When Moving During the Winter

Moving during the winter can be tricky if you’re doing it all on your own, but not if you find experienced Chicago long-distance movers to handle all moving services. There’s no reason to postpone your relocation and move during the summer when hiring experienced movers near you who know how to cope with bad weather.

Summertime and Beaches

Once the cold months are gone, summer heat will make you forget about winter blues. With sandy beaches around Lake Michigan, you will quickly forget about all your troubles with snow and parking dibs. Montrose beach has a pet-friendly zone so perfect for those who are moving with pets but make sure to visit Oak Street Beach since it’s the closest one to Downtown, as well as North Avenue Beach.

Ice skating is just one way to have fun during the cold months.

A Few Final Tips for Living in Chicago

What’s more essential, finding a good snow shovel or reliable movers? We say both, but for starters, if you are looking for a stress-free moving, make sure to find a trustworthy company and learn how to recognize fake moving reviews. But if you are wondering how to live in Chicago as a newcomer, we say easy, just make sure to pick your future place of residence wisely. Try to enjoy it, even winters, because they can be beautiful too.

Written By: Jane Davis