(Above) Cloud Gate, a sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor, the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Chicago Loop. Photo by Sawyer Bengtson.
31-May-21 So youre moving to Chicago for a new job? Congratulations! This transition is a big step for your career. Of course, you want this move to be the start of a successful, happy life in a city that you hope to love.
You should consider many things before taking this leap, and it can help to have some knowledge about what life is like in Chicago. That said, here are six things you should expect:
1 High Cost of Living
Living expenses in Chicago are quite a bit higher than those in other cities. Youll have to either make more money, sacrifice commute time, or compromise on dwelling space if you want to keep your expenses low.
According to bestplaces.net, Chicagos living cost index scores 106 percent, making it six percent more expensive than the national average. Surprisingly, the median home price is only $229,100, compared with the United States average of $231,200.
(Left) Sunset over downtown Chicago as seen from Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo by Benjamin Rascoe.
Transportation is the primary culprit that makes living in Chicago expensive. From a statistical perspective, its 38.5 percent more expensive than the average across the state. Other than that, healthcare, utilities, miscellaneous, and groceries are well within the norm. While living costs are higher in Chicago than in other parts of the country, its still much more affordable to live here than in other major metro areas like NYC, San Francisco, or Los Angeles.
2 Rent Prices Are High, But So Are Salaries
If you plan to rent a place in Chicago, be prepared for sticker shock. Even though home prices are well within average, rent is a different story. The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,862 per month.
On the bright side, Chicagos diverse job market offers plenty of high-income opportunities. Some of the most lucrative industries include public administration, finance, mining, quarrying, and oil. Professionals in these departments often earn around $75,000 to $100,000 a year. If these are not your forte, you can still make a decent living in industries like education, professional services, healthcare, and retail. As reported by Data USA, the median household income is $57,238, with a three percent annual growth rate.
3 No Shortage of Things to Do
Luckily for you, Chicago features plenty of places to have fun. Start by taking a stroll through Millennium Park and admire the beauty of the Millennium Monument (right).
Discover Chicagos Little Italy by stopping in at Giordanos Pizza for some authentic Italian food. View Shedd Aquarium, featuring some of the worlds largest saltwater tanks that are home to thousands of aquatic species.
There are also plenty of museums to explore, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, which houses more than 300,000 works, including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Take a trip down Michigan Avenue and check out some stores like Neiman Marcus or even take in a show at Goodman Theatre. Chicago is never short on things to do.
Are you worried about not being able to fit in? No problem! Chicago is a multicultural city with more than 100 languages spoken. Its also ranked as one of the most diverse cities in America by Forbes magazine, so you dont have to worry about finding a place to belong. The population consists of 33% White, 29% Black, 28% Hispanic, and almost 7% Asian. So, whether its at work or in your neighborhood, its easy to make friends here. Be sure to wear a friendly smile, and dont be shy to interact with people. Chicagoans dont bite!
5 Traffic Can Be Terrible, But There Are Ways to Get Around It
Transportation costs in Chicago are on the high end. Plus, the traffic can be unbearable, which is frustrating when youre running late for work. But, if you find yourself in a rush, dont immediately think that youre entirely out of luck. The best ways to avoid gridlocks are leaving for work early and coming home a little late to avoid peak hours. The secret to surviving the everyday hustle is to be patient and smart about when you commute.
If youd rather not sit behind the wheel, Chicago also has plenty of public transit options. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates bus lines and trains throughout the metro area, zipping riders to their destinations across the Windy City.
6 Diverse Neighborhoods
Choosing a neighborhood is also important. Itll define the quality of life your family will have in the long run. Chicago movers have reported that most transplants prefer the suburban areas over the metro. One of these top movers suggests checking out these neighborhoods...
Downtown Chicago. Of course, Downtown has to top this list! Its where all the action is. Living here might allow you to be closer to work. Youll enjoy the sight of towering skyscrapers as they light up at night. On the downside, its the most expensive part of the city.
(Left) Chicagos financial district on LaSalle Street in the Loop. Photo by Chris Dickens.
North Center. If youre not a fan of chaos and bustle, North Center is a quiet neighborhood thatll surely tickle your fancy. Youll find a lot of contemporary homes with lush lawns. While its a bit expensive, the ambiance and peace youll find here are worth it.
West Loop. West Loop is a haven for foodies and shoppers. Its easy to enjoy the areas long rows of restaurants, boutiques, and upscale live music venues. Its also more affordable than other places in the city, making it a popular choice for young professionals.
Logan Square. Are you a fan of classic architecture and historic places? Then Logan Square is the perfect neighborhood for you. There are plenty of traditional buildings made from bricks, well-preserved parks, and busy streets for you to explore.
Moving to Chicago
Moving is a stressful time, but it doesnt have to be. The best way to preserve your sanity is by preparing as much ahead of time and hiring reliable long-distance movers to help smooth out your move.