Chicago, Illinois, is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, and it's a vibrant city that offers a lot of exciting opportunities. The bold city has numerous prominent businesses, universal love of sports, and some of the most incredible architecture around.
Known as the Windy City, it is a city that demands attention, which is why so many people are moving to Chicago. If you're considering relocating to Chicago, here are 15 things you need to know before moving there.
The Cost of Living in Chicago
Chicago is not the most affordable city in the US, but it isn't the most expensive, either. Chicago's cost of living is around 23% higher than the national average, and homes for sale in Chicago are around 56% higher than the national average. If you have a salary that allows you to afford to live in the city, the offered lifestyle might be worth the trade-off for you.
The website Payscale suggests that the average energy bill will cost you around $150, a loaf of bread is around $3.60, and a gallon of gas is around $3.30. A doctor's visit will run you around $113.
Rental prices in Chicago are around $1,130 for a one-bedroom apartment or condo and $1,250 for a two-bedroom apartment or condo. To live comfortably as a single renter in the city, you should make between $34,000 per year and $38,000, at a minimum. The median income is currently around $60,000 annually.
Homes for sale in Chicago range in price from $30,000 to $32,000,000. Condos for sale in Chicago range in price from $15,000 to $19,000,000. Regardless of your budget, income, and lifestyle, there is a home in a great neighborhood that's perfect for you. With over 17,000 current active listings, there are plenty of options for interested buyers moving to Chicago.
The Chicago Job Market
While Chicago's economy suffered during the effects of the pandemic, like almost every other major city, the economy is slowly returning to its former glory. Chicago boasts a diverse job market and is home to major corporations, locally-owned businesses, and plenty of job opportunities for those looking. The typical Gross Regional Product is almost $700 billion.
The top industries in the city are health services, information technology, manufacturing, transportation, and more. Some of the biggest employers include Boeing, Ford Motors, United Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, and Deloitte. If you're someone who wants to embark on an entrepreneurial journey, Chicago is the place to do it.
What's it like to live in Chicago?
When moving to Chicago, it's essential to know what life is like on a daily basis. Chicago is one of the most populated cities in the Midwest and one of the largest cities in the country. 2.71 million people call the Windy City home, and it's full of diversity. Many people are relocating to Chicago from all over the world due to the lifestyle and being lakeside.
The city is known as an exciting hub in the Midwest with plenty of job opportunities, growing industries, post-secondary education options, and beautiful beaches. Young professionals love Chicago as a stable and fun place to settle down.
Chicago has a rich history and longstanding reputation as a booming business epicenter as far back as the early 1800s. In 1837, it began to emerge as a transportation hub, but in 1871 a fire destroyed many of the businesses in the area. It came back stronger than ever and dominated as the place to be for business, music, culture, and sports.
Some fun facts about Chicago include that it boasts some of the bluest waters beyond the Caribbean. It also has 37 movable bridges along the Chicago River. In the 1900s, a sewage issue threatened the health of the city, so engineers reversed the water into the Mississippi River and has been flowing in reverse ever since.
Chicago isn't known as the Windy City for no reason. While it's thought to have been a much windier place in the past, the proximity of the great lake provides breezy summers and fierce winds in the winter months. Winters are quite cold in Chicago, and January is the coldest month with a 0℉ average. July is typically the hottest month, with an average temperature of 80℉. With a wide range of temperatures, moving to Chicago means having a complete wardrobe for any kind of weather condition.
Who lives in Chicago?
The city attracts a lot of attention for those who are considering moving to Chicago. The city is known for its diversity, so you're in good company if you're relocating to Chicago. Those who are moving to Chicago tend to be from Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. Residents who choose to leave the city are typically swapping the harsh winters for summer all year long in areas like Pheonix, LA, and Miami.
Transportation in Chicago
Due to the city's large size and significant population, commuters will likely be frustrated with rush hour traffic, especially those that work a traditional schedule in an office. With the pandemic, many companies have moved to entirely remote working or offering employees a hybrid option of a mix of home and office days. This can help alleviate some of the stress around getting to and from work each day.
Rush hour in Chicago typically lasts from 6:30 am to 10:30 am and 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Some vehicle-owners still opt for some of the public transit options available to avoid being on the road.
The Chicago Transit Authority operates the L trains. It costs riders $2.50 per ride, or $105 per month, and is convenient and easy to use. You can virtually go anywhere in the city between the L train and busses, including the surrounding suburbs.
If you live near Michigan Avenue, Ogilvie, Chinatown, or the Chicago Riverwalk near the waterfront, you can take a water taxi.
Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are available, taxi services, or if you live a reasonable distance from your work, you could ride a bike or walk for some extra exercise, especially during the warmer months.
Chicago has a downtown Pedway or pedestrian walkway. It's an underground tunnel and overhead bridge system that spans 40 blocks around the downtown core. It welcomes thousands of pedestrians each day and is perfect for the cold winter months.
Chicago is more expensive when it comes to transportation. As a single adult, you can expect to spend about $5,200 per year on transit, and a family of three should expect to spend nearly $12,000 per year.
As a homeowner in Chicago, you're looking to spend 1.55% as an average property tax rate.
Illinois' current tax rate is 4.95%. Sales tax in Chicago is 10.25%, which includes the state, city, and county tax rates.
Best neighborhoods in Chicago
Chicago has 77 neighborhoods among nine districts, and each one has a distinct atmosphere. Every single one has a unique culture, history, amenities, and vibe. There's something for everyone in Chicago's communities. Each quadrant of the city has a distinct personality.
Chicago's northern communities are among the most desirable, and they are home to a youthful crowd. There's plenty to see and do, including sports events, shopping, and live music. Catch a Cubs game, watch a concert, and grab some street food on your way around the area.
The Westside is well-known for being the best place for foodies. There's plenty of cultures to explore and admire. The area has an eclectic vibe and is home to some incredible culinary adventures. The West loop is made up of Randolph Street and Fulton Market, and just beyond it, you can visit Wicker Park and check out some fantastic murals.
The Loop is home to the "Bean" art installation at Millenium Park. You'll also find the Historic Theatre District, lounges, galleries, Buckingham Fountain, and everything that Michigan Avenue has to offer.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Southside. Diversity in the Southside runs deep, and there's plenty to enjoy in the area. From social events to the Museum Campus, the South Loop takes resident's right to Chinatown.
Regardless of the quadrant that you like the best, and each one has some incredible communities. Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Chicago.
River North. River North is one of the newer communities in the city, as it's recently been revamped and revitalized. With brand new offerings in amenities, plenty of art and culture to enjoy, and some of the best food, the Near North Side District is a great place to call home. Whether you're renting or looking to buy, you can find some excellent properties with a variety of looks. If you're a social person who loves a good coffee shop, pub, or gallery, River North is for you.
Hyde Park. A historic community, Hyde Park has been home to plenty of famous American's, like Chaka Khan and Amelia Earhart. Perfect for students, the community has the University of Chicago in its boundaries and the Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is located inside the same building as the 1893 Chicago World Fair.
Bucktown. If you have a social lifestyle where you love the exciting nightlife, living close to public transportation, or the art scene, Bucktown is ideal for you. Right in the heart of the city, there's so much to see and do. For outdoor lovers, it offers close access to trails and is close to the water.
Wicker Park. Located in the heart of the city, Wicker Park is comparable to the Flatiron Building in New York City. With incredible views and a great location, it's ideal for many young professionals and art lovers.
Lincoln Park. While Lincoln Park residents have to be okay with tourism, it's considered a true jewel in the city. It's home to the oldest zoo in the country, the Lincoln Park Zoo. There's also plenty of trails nearby to explore, making it the ideal spot for outdoor lovers.
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Best recreation in Chicago
While Chicago may have the reputation of being all work and no play based on the number of big businesses there are, it's actually home to plenty of recreational activities. Chicago is home to over 550 parks, green spaces, and trails around the downtown core. Residents love to take a walk or bike ride around the waterfront to admire the beautiful views. Some parks are home to some great activities and sights, like the DuSable Museum, Washington Park, lagoons, and a bird and butterfly sanctuary. Chicago parks are perfect for a day out with the daily.
Outdoor enthusiasts love the city surrounded by greenery, and it's known as the city in a garden. You can enter the beach without leaving the downtown area. With access from Montrose Avenue beach, North Avenue beach, and 12th Street beach, the water is never too far away. There are dozens of trails to get to the lake as well, so Chicago has a unique landscape that is unlike most major metropolitan areas. The North Avenue beach boasts 22,000 square feet of sandy beaches with decks and portholes.
Food enthusiasts rejoice. Chicago is known for some incredible eats. To some, it's even considered among the top food cities, beating out New York City. From great mom-and-pop shops to prestigious award-winning spots, there are so many unique places to try. Making a list before moving to Chicago might be a necessary endeavor.
James Beard Award-winning restaurants include Parachute, Lettuce Entertain You, Arun's, and Sun Wah BBQ.
Becoming a fan of the classic Chicago deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hotdogs is a must when living in the city. The quintessential hot dog toppings include yellow mustard, green sweet pickle relish, white onions, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, and a dill pickle spear with a dash of celery salt.
A booming scene that might surprise you is the curated cocktails scene. Plenty of locally-loved spots create their signature cocktails and tiki-inspired beverages.
Each year, Chicago hosts the Tastes of Chicago festival in Grant Park, where you can eat some of the best dishes that the city has to offer, all in one place. It's known as one of the best festivals in the world.
Things to do in Chicago
Chicago has so much to offer residents. Regardless of your hobbies and interests, you can find something to do and enjoy anytime. Year-round, there are plenty of things to do and see. There is really an endless list of things to do from the endless sports events, parks, beaches, and history.
For history lovers, there's plenty of architecture across the city to admire and enjoy. The city has numerous museums to visit and learn about the rich culture in the area. With incredible art installations, like Cloud Gate and the Bean, public art is alive and well.
Chicago welcomes so many tourists each year, and the excellent amenities reflect that. Residents get to reap the benefits of having trendy businesses, incredible food, and fabulous attractions. Moving to Chicago might be a big decision, but it's the right one for most people.
If post-secondary education is on your radar when relocating to Chicago, you'll have plenty of options. It's an ideal place for those looking to obtain their undergrad or graduate degrees, as it's home to plenty of esteemed institutions.
The University of Chicago is in the Near West neighborhood, close to the Chicago Loop. If you're looking to study public policy or law, this is the best institution to do so. President Obama was a former professor at the Law School there.
DePaul University is the most significant Catholic University in the country and is known for its marketing, journalism, business, management, art, and science programs.
Loyola University is another Catholic University that is located close to great beaches. The school is known for psychology, marketing, nursing, biology, science, and finance programs.
Northeastern Illinois University is a Hispanic Serving Institution that serves 8,000 students. It's known for its degrees in psychology, engineering, health, and speech.
If you're an avid sports fanatic, moving to Chicago will be a dream come true. The city is serious about its sports teams. Catch a hockey game and watch the Blackhawks play. Visit Soldier Field and watch the Chicago Bears take on their latest opponent. Check out the Bulls, White Sox, Sky, and Fire FC as well. Chicago will always be loyal to the legendary Michael Jordan, who helped the Bulls win six NBA championships. Even if you're not a basketball fan, the love is palpable.
Wrigley Field has hosted the Chicago Cubs for over a hundred years, and even if you're not a baseball lover, attending a game is an experience all on its own. There's plenty of history in that building to learn about, and you can take a tour to learn all about it if you like.
Chicago is home to plenty of events and traditions that make the city that much more special.
Each year on St. Patrick's Day, the Chicago River is flooded with spectators as it's turned into an emerald green hue. Since 1962, the city had dyed the color of the river green when Mayor Richard J. Daley and his childhood friend Stephen M. Bailey started the tradition. It's a significant tradition that residents love.
The Chicago Air and Water Show has been around since 1959 and is the most extensive free air and water exhibition in the city. Each year, residents and spectators can admire the military and pilots doing incredible stunts over Lake Michigan.
The Chicago Marathon is held by the Bank of America and is considered one of the six World Marathon Majors. It's held every October, and the race spans 29 neighborhoods in the city and over 26 miles.
Chicago has a rich music scene, history, and dance music scene. Chicago was the birthplace of the annual Lollapalooza festival that was also held in Grant Park. It has since found its way across the country, hosting some of the most popular musical guests each year. Each summer, the festival lasts four days, and thousands of people attend.
Beyond pop and punk music, Chicago has a rich jazz scene and hosts the annual Chicago Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend each year. The event helps to prompt jazz musicians and the appreciation of the craft. The free event welcomes both up-and-coming jazz musicians and seasoned pros. The Blues Festival is a nod to the rich Blues history in the city as well. The city is equipped with some fantastic venues for live blues and jazz music, the Aragon Ballroom, and the Vic Theater.
The cultural landmarks that call Chicago home include the Ravinia, Civic Opera House, and the Symphony Center. There's a great mix of indoor and outdoor venues for incredible artists to show off their talent all year round.
Expanding on the incredible music culture, it's no surprise that Chicago is home to the most dance music festivals in the country. House music originated in the city decades ago, and it's continued to flourish.
Suppose you have eclectic tastes in music and love to see local artists perform during the summer months. In that case, you're bound to find plenty of concerts and performances you love. Regardless of your music tastes, there's an event or concert for all music lovers.
Finding your Chicago Home
Cobblestone Realty Group is your best choice for finding your new Chicago home. Relocating to Chicago is a big move, so take the stress out of finding your dream home and trust the team at Cobblestone. We have access to the most up-to-date homes for sale in Chicago in the best communities. Whether you’re looking for a single-family home or condos for sale in Chicago, our team of experts can help you find everything you’re looking for.