Moving to Chicago
Welcome to our comprehensive relocation guide with its spotlight on the vibrant, culturally-rich city that is Chicago, IL. Moving is indeed a grand adventure, and deciding to settle in Chicago - a bustling metropolis affectionately dubbed 'The Windy City' - with its diverse neighborhoods, world-class cuisine, leading universities, and enthralling history adds more enchantment to this journey. Our guide will serve you every step of the way, whether you're wide-eyed and curious about your soon-to-be new home or a seasoned traveler looking for that inside scoop.
What to Know Before Moving to Chicago
1. Chicago, the City of Beautiful Skyscrapers
Chicago boasts some of the world's finest architecture, including a vista teeming with skyscrapers that beautifully light up the night sky. You must need to know that it is home to the iconic Willis Tower, once recognized as the tallest building in the world. However, it's more than just a city of vertical marvels. You'll also catch sight of brilliant works by famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, and Louis Sullivan. Get the best view of these towering beauties on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise.
2. Sports Lover's Paradise
Whether you are a baseball, basketball, football, or hockey fan, Chicago has you covered. The city is home to five professional sports teams: The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox (MLB), the Chicago Bulls (NBA), the Chicago Bears (NFL), and the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL). So, gear up and get ready to join the passionate local fans; after all, bonding over sports is a must-do activity in this city.
3. Chicago's Deep-Dish Pizza is Worth the Calories
Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, a delightful culinary beast of its own. Unlike your typical pizza, the deep dish has a thicker, crispy crust and an abundance of ooey-gooey cheese, followed by a hearty layer of chunky tomato sauce. It's a must-try for any pizza aficionado. But remember, it's not the only delicious food Chicago is known for. Don't miss the Chicago style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches!
4. OMG, It's Cold! - Be Ready for Winters
If you're considering a move to Chicago, you should know: winters here aren't for the faint-hearted. With temperatures routinely plunging below freezing and snowstorms that can drop a bunch of snow overnight, you'll want to invest in some seriously warm clothing. But don't worry, despite the harsh weather, Chicagoans know how to make the best of it with activities like ice-skating, winter brew festivals, and even polar bear dips in Lake Michigan!
5. Alleyways: A Secret Chicago Charm
This might be something you probably didn't know - Chicago is widely known as the "alley capital of America". Why? Because it has over 1,900 miles of alleyways! These alleys are not just utilitarian; they're charmingly beautiful and home to hidden urban art and graffiti. You'll find local boutiques, unique murals, and even the occasional house. Nothing screams exploring Chicago like stumbling across a hidden gem in one of its many alleyways.
6. The City that Works
In line with its official motto 'Urbs in Horto', meaning 'City in a Garden', Chicago is renowned for its dedication to green, open spaces. Complete with over 570 parks, numerous nature reserves, and of course, the magnificent Chicago Botanic Garden, this city offers a lot more than just an urban concrete jungle. Plus, it's a city that sails! Chicagoans love their lake and river and offer lots of opportunities to get out on the water, including sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Moving to Chicago means embracing the city's rich culture, ever-growing culinary scene, passionate sports culture, and dazzling assortment of architecture. From indulging in deep-dish pizzas, taking in illuminating skyline views, to living through biting winters, life in Chicago is a vibrant and colorful canvas that paints an urban life par excellence. So, pack your bags, gear up for sporting and foodie adventures, and prepare for your Chicagoan life that awaits!
Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago
Pros of Living in Chicago
Robust Public Transportation
The Chicago Transit Authority provides expansive service to the city, making it easy for residents and tourists alike to get around. This can save you a considerable amount of money on car-related expenses and provide a convenient alternative to driving.
Rich Cultural Scene
Chicago is home to numerous museums, art galleries, theaters, and music venues. From the renowned Art Institute of Chicago to the popular Broadway in Chicago performances, there are constant opportunities for cultural enrichment.
Vibrant Food Scene
With a wide array of cuisine from all over the world as well as famous dishes like Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs, the city always has something to offer food lovers, from hole-in-the-wall diners to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Beautiful Lakefront & Parks
Chicago is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and enjoys stunning beaches and a beautiful lakefront. The city's many parks, including the expansive Lincoln Park and Grant Park, provide residents with plenty of green spaces to enjoy.
From trendy Wicker Park to family-friendly Lincoln Park, Chicago boasts a wide range of distinct neighborhoods. Each offers its own unique character, from varying architectural styles to local shops and eateries, providing abundant options for residents to find their perfect fit.
Cons of Living in Chicago
High Cost of Living
Living in Chicago can be expensive, particularly in some neighborhoods. Various everyday expenses including groceries, health care, and utilities can be pricier compared to other cities.
Winters Can be Harsh
The wind from Lake Michigan can make winters in Chicago exceptionally cold, and the city frequently experiences heavy snowfall. The severity of winters may prove difficult for those unaccustomed to such weather.
Despite having a robust public transportation system, traffic is often congested in and around the city. This could lengthen your commute time if you rely on a car to get around.
Parking in Chicago, especially in downtown and popular neighborhoods, can not only be difficult to find but also expensive. This is something to consider if you have or plan to have a vehicle.
While certain neighborhoods in Chicago are very safe, the city as a whole struggles with a higher crime rate in comparison to numerous other U.S. cities. It's important for potential residents to research neighborhoods thoroughly when considering a move.
Is Chicago a Good Place to Live?
Chicago, IL is a great place to live because it boasts a vibrant arts scene, culinary diversity, and a rich history embodied in its architecture. The city is also known for its numerous sports teams for every season, which truly makes it a sports enthusiast's paradise. Plus, with lakefront beaches and various public parks scattered across the city, there's always a place to relax and enjoy some greenery within the urban landscape.
What Is Chicago Famous For?
The Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile, or simply the Mag Mile, is one of Chicago's most iconic and bustling shopping districts. Stretching down @Michigan Avenue, it's lined with haute fashion boutiques, luxury car dealerships, towering high-rise hotels, and enough food and drink to satisfy even the hungriest shopaholic.
Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza
A thick, hearty pizza with a unique upside-down layering of ingredients, Chicago-style deep dish is a culinary delight like no other. Imagine a flaky, almost pie-like crust filled with copious amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce; eating a slice from places like Lou Malnati's or Giordano's is an experience you won't forget!
The Chicago Bulls
Recognized worldwide, the Chicago Bulls basketball team is an iconic symbol of true grit and determination. Home to legendary athletes like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, their dynamic plays and unyielding spirit have earned them a place in sports history.
The Art Institute of Chicago
From Monet to Warhol, the Art Institute of Chicago is a treasure trove of classic and modern art. Its impressive collections and beautiful architecture have given this museum recognition as one of the best in the world, making it a must-visit for anyone with a passion for art.
Overview of Tax Rates
In Chicago, IL, the property tax rate is around 2.16% in 2023, depending on the specific location of the property within the city. This rate is considerably higher than the national average property tax rate of about 1.07%.
As of 2023, the total sales tax rate in Chicago is 10.25%, which combines both the state and local sales tax rates. This is one of the highest overall sales tax rates in the United States.
In Illinois, the income tax is currently a flat rate of 4.95% for all earners as of 2023. This flat rate is lower than many progressive tax states, but can be potentially higher for low-income earners compared to states with progressive tax structures.
The Chicago, IL housing market presents a dynamic blend of opportunities for both buyers and renters. With a median home value of approximately $288,200, Chicago homes are typically more affordable compared to the overall median US home value of $346,800. Similarly, rental rates in Chicago tend to be lower than the national average, making it an attractive place for renters. However, potential buyers should note that property tax rates in Chicago are among the highest in the country. Understanding these factors can help buyers and renters make informed decisions while navigating the Chicago housing market.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Chicago, IL is relatively high compared to other cities in the United States. Things such as housing, transportation, groceries, and health care are all considerably more expensive. Although it is cheaper than cities like New York City or San Francisco, it is more expensive than the national average. However, salaries tend to be higher to offset these costs and the city offers a high quality of life with its vibrant cultural scene, diverse culinary offerings, and extensive public transportation system.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Chicago, Illinois, located on the southwestern edge of Lake Michigan, experiences a climate that ranges from humid continental to humid subtropical. The city grapples with significant seasonal variation characterized by hot and humid summers with temperatures often soaring into the 80sdegF, while winters can be exceptionally cold, dipping below freezing. Snowfall is frequent and sometimes heavy during winter months. The transitional springs and autumans are unpredictable, with temperatures varying from warm to chilly. Chicago often witnesses extreme weather conditions, including thunderstorms, hail, and occasionally, tornadoes. Its vulnerable location on the lake also exposes it to high winds, aptly earning its nickname, "The Windy City". In addition, blizzards and intense heatwaves are a part of the city's historical extremities. Despite these adversities, Chicago's resilient infrastructure and efficient disaster management systems ensure the city is well-prepared for such natural calamities.
Economy & Job Market```
* Financial and Business Services
Jumping back in time, Chicago's economy was robustly supported by industries like manufacturing, meatpacking, and shipping. But waltz into present time and it swings to an entirely different beat. Now the city is a cosmopolitan powerhouse, breaking the charts in a smorgasbord of modern industries. Business and financial services like accounting, marketing, and law are the lifeblood of the economy, filing in storied skyscrapers under luminous skies. Trade, transportation, and utilities fly high, owing to Chicago's strategic location as a national (and international) hub. The education and health services industry sector is a reliable pillar as well, thanks to an array of prestigious universities and hospitals. Manufacturing still strikes a strong chord, albeit its tune is somewhat subdued compared to its glory days. Lastly, information technology is building up tempo with a vibrant start-up scene popular for its advanced digital services.
Looking to sashay into the job market of the Windy City? Well, prep up to be blown away! Fact is, the employment rate in Chicago is looking rosy, with progressing declines in unemployment rates over recent years. Rest assured, there are plenty of job opportunities across a spectrum of industries. Embrace your expertise or go boulevard-ing into new domains, the choice is yours! Remember though, the Financial and Business services sector rules the roost, closely followed by Trade, Transportation and Utilities. The thriving Healthcare and Educational services sector also comes with an avalanche of opportunities. In terms of location, downtown Chicago heaves with titanic corporations, while the West Loop is renowned for its lively start-up scene. From corporate wonderlands to the dynamic chaos of start-ups, Chicago is a Jazz tune that anybody can dance to!```
Traffic and Transportation
Ever wondered how we Windy City dwellers get about town? You're in luck - we're about to embark on a fun-filled journey exploring traffic, transportation, and air travel in Chicago! Buckle up; we handle an average commute time of around 34 minutes. That's not half bad considering the vast expanse of our city! Chicago's public transportation is superbly efficient. We have the 'L' (short for Elvated), our famed above-ground subway system, a myriad of buses, and Metra trains that traverse the city and suburbs. Commuters can zip from place to place in no time. And let's not forget about the bustling airports, O'Hare and Midway! Whether you're jetting off on a business trip or welcoming out-of-town visitors, they provide gateways to and from the world. Transportation in Chicago? It's as diverse and dynamic as the city itself!
Best Neighborhoods in Chicago
1. Lincoln Park
If you're looking for a neighborhood that perfectly combines city life with a taste of the great outdoors, look no further than Lincoln Park. Named after the massive park (over 1200 acres!) that lies at its heart, this neighborhood is all about active, urban living. Love the beach? You're in luck - Lincoln Park boasts not one, but two sandy spots. Not to mention, it's home to popular attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago History Museum. As for dining, the place is teeming with trendy bars and eateries, not to mention some of the best deep-dish pizza spots in the city!
2. Wicker Park
Artsy souls racing towards the Windy City, your stop is Wicker Park. This hip, vibrant neighborhood is the city's beating creative heart, teeming with indie boutiques, lively music venues, and some truly stunning wall murals. Plus, you won't struggle to find a good cup of coffee around here - Wicker Park has a cafe culture that rivals most European cities. And let's not forget the food scene; from craft cocktails to innovative global cuisine, this area is every foodie's dream come true.
3. Hyde Park
Just south of downtown Chicago, you'll discover the tranquil neighborhood of Hyde Park. Rich with history and intellectual ambiance (thanks to the University of Chicago), Hyde Park is the perfect place for anyone seeking a quieter pace of life without leaving the city. This community is full of gorgeous architecture, including sites like the Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Plus, if you're a fan of President Obama, here is a link to a tour that passes his old home!
4. River North
Want to live in the heart of it all? River North, or RiNo for short, might just be your dream neighborhood. This area is alive with energy, boasting Chicago's finest art galleries, the city's most upscale restaurants, and a bustling nightlife scene. With the beautiful Chicago River as your backdrop, you'll find the city's most upscale lofts and condos (celebrities included). And, for shopping enthusiasts, the Magnificent Mile is just a few steps away.
Last, but certainly not least, is Andersonville. If you're yearning for something a bit more relaxed, with a neighborhood feel, this Northside enclave checks all the boxes. Andersonville is known for its charming, walkable main street dotted with one-of-a-kind boutiques, incredible Swedish bakeries (the neighborhood has Swedish roots), and cozy pubs. Plus, it's one of the most inclusive neighborhoods in town, known for its welcoming LGBTQ+ community. Find out more about its LGBTQ+ history and culture here.
So whether you're itching for vibrant city living or a quiet, community feel, Chicago's many neighborhoods have something truly special to offer. From the busy streets of River North to the quiet charm of Hyde Park, the choice is yours. Welcome to the Windy City, future Chicagoan! Here's the city's official website for more information.
Things to DoThe city known for its skyscrapers, wonderful museums, such as the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and delectable foods like deep-dish pizza- Chicago offers something for all types of travelers. If you love nature and want to live close to one of the largest parks in the city, Lincoln Park area is worth checking out. It is not too far from downtown and has its own zoo, conservatory, and multiple sports facilities. Before finalizing the area, you may want to know about Chicago's pollution problem. It may not be as bad as in some cities, but certain neighborhoods do suffer more than others.When moving, be sure to check City of Chicago's official website to understand the process and regulations related to obtaining permit for a moving van or truck. Reviewing these resources would give a better understanding of what to expect.Lastly, Chicago is known for its unpredictable weather. So, be prepared for windy days, snowy winters, and hot summers.
Find Movers for Your Chicago Relocation
As we've learned, moving to Chicago offers a wealth of exciting opportunities: mesmerizing skyline views, diverse neighborhoods, and a vibrant, vivacious culture. You're now one step closer to making this magnificent city your new home. Nonetheless, we understand that moving can be quite daunting. That's where Great Guys Moving comes into play. Streamlining the process significantly, we connect you to top-notch, affordable movers within our network. Simply provide us with your moving details and relax as you receive free quotes from licensed and insured companies tailored for you. Why wait? Let Great Guys Moving help pave your path to Chicago today.
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