The Windy City is calling! It may be for your job or because you are interested in living in a big city. Other reasons people are moving to the Chicago is because of the sports, it is a shocker, but they are moving there due to being a sports fan.
Chicago is a large city; it is the third-largest city in the U.S. by population. This can take more time to adjust, not everyone adjusts quickly to their new surroundings. Be prepared to endure harsh winters, which can bring temperatures below zero. Also, the cost of living is high compared to the rest of the Midwest, but there is plenty of attractions and entertainment.
Should You Move to Chicago?
The city of Chicago is well known for its job market. You can find employment in finance, manufacturing to shipping. They even have a high job market for arts and retail. Chicago is also known for some of the best restaurants and culinary jobs. In an age in which many companies offer work-from-home options, your choice of living in Chicago should be a factor in everything else the metro area has to offer.
Even though it is considered a high cost of living for the Midwest, it is relatively affordable for being a major city. If your choice is between Chicago and cities like New York, San Francisco or Seattle, homeownership in the Windy City is likely to be the fastest attainable.
"Couples that are just starting out... have the possibility to buy and still may be paying less than if they were renting," says Kimberly L., a real estate agent of atProperties.
Chicago is the place to be if you like four seasons, you can handle the cold and you are hoping to take advantage of world-class attractions that attract tourists from far and wide, but do not necessarily get as crowded as spots in New York City or Washington, D.C.
How to Move to Chicago
You can make a more informed decision about the ideal home for you and exactly where you want to live if you could visit Chicago before you sign a lease or make an offer on the home. If you are unable to visit, you can work with a local real estate agent who has previously assisted with relocating people to the area.
A move to the Windy City is possible on any timeframe, but in a situation where you do not have a deadline, take your time, says Maurice Hampton, chairman of the Chicago Realtors Association and owner and managing broker of Centered International Realty Corp. in Chicago.
"If you want to test the Chicago market, I strongly suggest renting. Our rental market is very robust right now it can give you the opportunity to explore and get a feel for where you really want to live," says Hampton.
Some things you need to know before moving to Chicago:
- Summer is short, hot, and humid.
- Winter is cold, extremely cold.
- There is a neighborhood for everyone.
- Safety is not a problem.
- Take public transportation instead of a car.
Summer is Short and the Winter is Brutal
The summer in Chicago is known to be warm and sunny without that many hot days. With the city's location being on Lake Michigan, it means that there are plenty of waterfront attractions such as Navy Pier, Grant Park, and the sporting events. The beaches tend to get crowded in the summer months, so make sure to arrive early to get a great spot.
After enjoying the average 100 days of summer every year, you must prepare for the winter months. January and February are the coldest months out to the year in Chicago, where the highs are just around 30 degrees. The average lows are in the teens with the occasional days below zero. Chicago can be very windy in the winter months, which is one of the reasons you may see negative temperatures.
Winter is cold in Chicago, and wind coming off Lake Michigan can make it feel colder but investing in a warm coat will help make it more comfortable to spend any time outside. Kimberly L. says there are some people who may decide that because of the cold winters, Chicago is not the right fit, but it is not hard to get around and enjoy the more temperate weather throughout the year.
Cost of Living is All Based on Perspective
How you view living and house prices around Chicago depends on where you move from and where you want to live. If you are moving from a major city like Miami or New York, at a discount, Chicago will feel like you get the benefits of a major urban center.
Moving to Chicago may bring a sticker shock to people coming from smaller towns and looking for a place in the heart of downtown. The average square footage apartment is 750, and you will be looking to spend on average about $2,000 according to RentCafe.com. The median home price in the metro area is about $250,000.
Homeownership is still reasonable and achievable for residents in a variety of price ranges. You will not have to be making a six-figure income to be able to afford a home. Look to the outskirts of the city and the suburbs. With the mass public transportation, it will be easy to get to work if it is located downtown and it is affordable.
A Neighborhood for Everyone
Just like many other large metropolitan cities, you will have your choice of being in the thick of downtown or seek out the suburbs. Chicago offers plenty of options in different neighborhoods that have many single-family homes as well as the feeling of living in an urban setting. When looking for a place make sure to check out the local restaurants, businesses, and other attractions to see which one will be better for you call home.
Chicago can still work for you, even if you prefer a more rural setting. More rural cities in the suburbs make for small commute times. You can live in towns to the southwest such as Frankfort or Mokena, which is only about a 40-minute drive time to the city.
Safety is Not a Problem
The only time they can hear about it on the news for people who do not live in Chicago or know a lot of people who live there is after a violent crime has occurred. Chicago is no more dangerous than other major cities and there is no reason for you in Chicago to have a high level of concern about crime than you would anywhere else.
Take Public Transportation Instead of Keeping a Car
Chicago has a robust system of bus and train public transit operated by the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA. Characteristic trains of Chicago are referred to as the "L," an abbreviation which refers to the elevated platforms of the railway above ground.
Even if you decide to live outside of the city, you will be happy to know there is still a great amount of transportation back into the city. The L reaches out to some of the suburbs, and if you do not have access to that train system, you can always hop on the Metra. They must major hubs in the city. The Metra train system branches out to the North, West, South suburbs and offer monthly passes. Owning a car in the suburbs is not as much as a hassle either. No need to pay for parking or other city fees.
In the pandemic, employers in Chicago are also making it easier for employees to work remotely. Now you have no traffic to contend with.