Population: 2,746,388

Living in Chicago, Illinois:
Tips for Moving and Visiting

76 local experts
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If you've been wondering what it's like to live in or visit Chicago, the Crowdsourced Explorer community can help. We asked 76 people living in Chicago what someone who is considering moving to or visiting there should know. Here are their pros and cons, tips, and advice:

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76 comments on “Chicago”

The Chicagoland area is known for several food items such as the hot beef sandwich (called Italian Beef), caramel and cheese popcorn (Chicago Mix), and no ketchup on the hotdog with everything (Chicago Style hotdog). The pizza culture in media portrays the deep dish as popular, probably shown from Giordano’s, but the thin crust is the everyday choice. The deep dish pizza is a special occasion pizza reserved for visitors from out of town or for locals in celebration. If there is something else to note, is that if you order a stadium size pizza from Congress Pizzeria for pick up, make sure to close the door on your way out. The employees will appreciate your courtesy in winter temperatures.

Kimberly, says: 2020

Chicago offers cultural spectacles, delicious cuisine, and awe-inspiring architecture; however, one must consider the cost of rent when moving to the Windy City. Quaint neighborhoods, such as Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Lincoln Park, attract people from diverse backgrounds, but the price of engaging with such vibrant communities remains high. With a steady job and the right number of roommates, though, anyone can experience the adventures of the Midwest’s greatest city.

The City of Chicago is the largest city in Illinois and the third-most-populous city in the nation. Chicago has a multitude of museums, including the prestigious Art Institute and the Chicago Historical Society. Families will find plenty to do at Navy Pier and to explore at the Field Museum and the Lincoln Park Zoo. You could spend all day strolling through Hyde Park or shopping along the Magnificent Mile.

Taylor, says: 2020

The first thing someone moving to Chicago should know about this, flat, sprawling city is that the public transit system is excellent. The elevated passenger rail system (known collectively as “the L”) is designed essentially like a wagon wheel. The multiple rail lines (which can be identified by colors; for example, the Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line, etc) encircle the downtown business district in the shape of a loop (hence, the district is “the Loop”), then radiate in from the center to extend to the outskirts of the city. The Red Line is both the longest and busiest of these rail lines, stretching from as far as south as 95th street to terminate at the far north Howard station.

Breanna, says: 2020

Chicago is a very diverse city. We have beautiful downtown and lakefront that offer many attractions. The people are friendly and love to help. While downtown is bustling, the neighborhoods that lie at the edge of the city have a suburban feel to them. The food is out of this world. From upscale fine dining to neighborhood pizza places. There’s something for everyone in Chicago.

Taylor, says: 2020

Chicago gets very cold in winter, but is nice in summer. Another thing someone aware of before they move is the food. There are many great restaurants serving a wide variety of food. These are the two big things that people may not expect, or even if they do expect, underestimate, about Chicago.

Jaclyn, says: 2020

Chicago is a beautiful city that offers a well-rounded life for its residents. The diverse population affords one the opportunity to mix and mingle with a variety of cultures. The restaurants include every ethnic cuisine one can think of. Additionally, there are ample events throughout the year to keep yourself entertained. However, the climate here is not for the faint hearted. Please, make sure you bring a heavy winter coat because you will need it for six months out of the year. Spring is short, summer is hot, and fall is perfect for apple picking.

When moving to Chicago, it’s important to beware of the chilly winters and extremely hot summers. Chicago is a beautiful city in all seasons but residents should ensure they have adequately prepared for a variety of temperatures. Warm coats and insulation are necessary to survive the cold winter and well-managed air conditioning systems are crucial during summer.

Jennaphr, says: 2020

A great thing about Chicago is how easy it is to get around. There is not a need to own a car because of the great public transportation system. It is possible to get to every part of the city, at any time of day. Utilizing Chicago’s public transportation is also very wallet-friendly.

Chicago is a beautiful town with world-class restaurants, top shopping, a great lake with beaches, and warm people. Just beware that winters can quite brutal, with temperatures dropping below zero quite frequently, especially in the early months of the year. But the sights of snow and a white Christmas make up for the chilly weather.

If you are moving to Chicago, it is important to know about the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The CTA is the main public transportation service that can take you around the city and surrounding areas. There is the El train, which is an elevated train and subway system with multiple lines. There are also several buses. Downloading the CTA’s app is the best way to access up to date information about the different routes and times.

Someone who moves to Chicago should certainly consider if long and cold winters are agreeable to them. Chicago is nicknamed ‘the Windy City’ partly because of the record-breaking winters we have; however; if you do find yourself inclined towards chilly weather, this is mosta city for you. Chicago is at its most beautiful when it’s covered in a blanket of snow, I encourage you to take it in from the observatory of the Hancock Tower.

Jewell, says: 2020

Albany Park, located just 20 mins from downtown Chicago, is home of the bean, the Willis tower and also known as the best place to live. Chicago is a bustling urban center home to many. Chicago is clean. Downtown Chicago has an annual Christmas tree and ice skating rink at Millennium Park with the perfect view of the Bean. It has businesses like a whole Nutella cafe and a speciality donut shop. There’s much to do here if you want to hang out at Maggie Daley park, visit the several museums located there, or go visit the gigantic tourist attraction known as the Bean.

Nokware, says: 2020

Chicago is a global city that offers many cultural opportunities without the downsides of other large cities. It is spacious, manageable, and relatively clean. It is also an optimal place in a career, continue one’s education, or have a family. The views of the lake are also magnificent, especially in summer. This city offers something for everyone.

Chicago is a city that never stops. Every decade it climbs to new heights and brakes old barriers. It’s loud and windy and sometimes smelly, but it’s a place to grow and dream and live. The streets are crowded with noise and energy. No nights are spent alone and no days are unexciting.

Melissa, says: 2020

The streets of Chicago are bustling. There is a certain rhythmic heartbeat to the hours spent riding the subway downtown. The atmosphere is ever changing, with the city’s various glitzy high rises to the post-industrial scenes. Each and every Chicago neighborhood has its own distinct culture, history, and experience to soak in. Authentic ramen and mochi available to purchase from Asian marketplaces, traditional meat dishes sold in Greektown.

Someone moving to Chicago should know how expensive it is to live here. If you want to live in an area with a low crime rate, expect to pay upwards of $2000-$3000 a month for just a studio apartment let alone a three or four bedroom. In some cases, even neighborhoods with high crime rates are expensive to live in due to its location in relation to public transportation to downtowns.

Are you moving to Chicago? The first thing to consider is whether you want to rent or buy a property. Chicago and the state of Illinois have some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

Nakira, says: 2020

If moving to Chicago, please first consider the familial neighborhood you will become a part of within the next stage of your life. Chicago has more than nineteen neighborhoods, each of which has an integral historic fabric that speaks to the glories of Chicago’s past and its future! Never hesitate to travel somewhere new within the city and enjoy every moment you have along Lake Michigan!

Ericka, says: 2020

Chicago, known as the windy city, is known for its lively and rich cultural heritage. From fun walks to educative and explorative museums, you can keep yourself busy and have fun in Chicago. Surrounded by a sprawling music scene and theater and dance, you will be culturally satisfied in the city.

Chicago has reliable transit and bike lanes, forests to trail in and botanical gardens to observe. There are alleyways instead of trash on the street. Diverse and well-integrated, the people carry a Southern niceness and pride. They enjoy engaging in pleasantries and do not tolerate false niceties or phony behavior. The city is rich in its knowledge and varying institutes, home to the first ever planetarium and highly esteemed galleries of art (the Art Institute of Chicago being the top-rated museum in the world).

Someone moving to Chicago must know that it is very diverse and filled with abundant opportunities. a person moving to Chicago should enter with an open mind and be accepting of others. they should also be willing to put in the effort to their career path or life goals.

Someone moving to Chicago should be prepared to live in the cleanest city most people have visited. Since trash is relegated to the back alleyways–not the front sidewalks (looking at you, Philly and NYC) –one is never at risk of stepping into stinky, sticky, slimy waste. We midwesterners take pride in taking care of our streets and surroundings.

Anyone who would like to move to Chicago might first consider whether or not they are happy tolerating our brutal winter weather! During January and February, usually the coldest months, I myself would rather be in the warm winds of my Southern hometown. But as for the other ten months of the year, Chicago has everything you need for good living: sunny weather, gorgeous lakefronts, crispy deep dish pizza, and genuinely friendly people.

Braeden, says: 2020

In Chicago, traffic is usually terrible. I strongly advise anyone moving here to take the bus or train, rather than buy a car. A bicycle might also be useful, although it may not be practical, especially in rainy weather or in winter. Additionally, they should consider buying a warm coat for those cold days. The temperature drops in late September and stays low until early May.

Raihana, says: 2020

Being one of the US’s major cities, Chicago has a reputation similar to that of New York City. The downtown, better known as “The Loop” to the locals, is never short on sights and amazing places. Chicago is a city full of many types of cultures as there are its people. It helps to learn more about the city, both it’s good and bad sides. Chicago has a reputation for being both good and bad to others. But how you see the city will depend on your point of view.

Darnelle, says: 2020

There’s always something to do no matter the season. There are many events, festivals, and concerts to go to in Chicago. You won’t be bored, especially with dozens of food choices from soul, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai and so much more.

Chicago is a huge city. If you do not have transportation, there are buses and trains everywhere for your use. You need to learn your way around somewhat quickly, as there are many streets (many one-way) and alleys. It will be troublesome, at first. Treat it like a test, study.

Lanell, says: 2020

The cost of living in Chicago is among the highest in the nation. However, there are many affordable apartments near the south suburbs. The city is also known to have limitless food options. The weather fluctuates often and is extremely unpredictable. We have two seasons in Chicago. They are winter and summer.

Chicago is famous for Chicago-style hot dogs, Chicago-style (deep dish) pizza, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, jazz music, and 1920s gangsters like Al Capone. Chicago is also known for interesting architecture like the Sears Tower, many museums, and many loyal sports fans. While it is widely known as the “Second City”, Chicago dropped to third in the US by population in the 1990 Census. On the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest.

Trinity, says: 2020

Chicago is a very historical and large city with many things to offer. It was the home of the World’s Fair and at one point the hub for Al Capone and his mob. The Windy City as it is often referred to due to its history of political corruption, does however house rich cultural diversity, top notch restaurants, known for deep dish pizza and the Chicago style hot dog. The city is home to some of the country’s largest museums like the Field Museum and Museum of Science and Industry. It is constantly developing and one always can discover something new. Finally, it is a wonderful city to raise a family.

Ressie, says: 2020

I don’t know a lot about Chicago, having recently moved here. But I can tell you that it is a huge place. It is beneficial to have your own vehicle. If you don’t, then there is public transportation everywhere. There are buses and trains that run every few minutes. Chicago is a very beautiful city.

Corinne, says: 2020

Chicago is an incredibly diverse city with many wonderful features. The robust transit system was a big determining factor in my decision to move here and the food is likely what will keep me here. I adore the seasons but would not recommend those that hate the cold to move here. Winters are brutal.

Someone moving to Chicago should know to be prepared for the different weather types. The person should know the temperatures daily because you never know when you might need an extra layer of clothing or you might need to take off an extra layer of clothing. Also, it is important to know the temperature for each season while living in the Windy City.

Chicago is the home of the Blackhawks and the Cubs. Chicago is the third most populous city in the U.S. There is always something to do — The Taste of Chicago where there are tons of vendors serving foods from different cultures, New Year’s Eve at Navy Pier where you can see beautiful fireworks, live comedy shows and musical artists at the House of Blues. You can go to the zoo and conservatory, get lost in downtown or just hang by Buckingham fountain in Millennium Park.

Jermaine, says: 2020

Take some time to self-reflect whether you are someone who loves fast-paced days and lively nights. If you love the idea of meeting new people and enjoying quality time with those around you, Chicago is the place for you as it is a city that is always on the move. As Chicago is the “Windy City”, I would also recommend checking the suitability of your wardrobe to the unexpected weather changes we experience.

Hayley, says: 2020

Chicago is a city of many neighborhoods. It’s right next to Lake Michigan and has the longest stretch of park in the northern hemisphere. It is home to many sports teams. It has many outstanding universities. There are many art and music festivals throughout the year. It is Carl Sandburg’s “city of broad shoulders”. It has wonderful museums and restaurants featuring all types of cuisines.

Lauren, says: 2020

The eclectic food is enough of a reason for any individual to want to reside in Chicago. No matter the dish, you can easily find phenomenal options right outside your door. Depending on the area you live in, the city is conducive to all desired lifestyle. Take Lincoln Square for example. Lincoln Avenue will provide you with food, entertainment, and all sorts of activity just steps away from your home. Meanwhile, just a few blocks over, families are enjoying the feel of the suburbs.

Hunter, says: 2020

Every year there are tons of people from all over the globe who come to see the attractions, check out the local music scene and have some of the amazing food. Another aspect of Chicago that makes it unique are the enclaves. If you want to learn about Latinx history while also having traditional Mexican food, you could take the pink line to Pilsen. If you want to have dim sum and see the amazing architecture of Chinatown, you can take the redline. If you’re looking for great Greek food and Mediterranean culture, head over to Greektown.

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. We house one of the biggest buildings here which is called the Willis Tower, formally known as the Sears Tower. Chicago is also referred to as “The Windy City”. We are on the border of Lake Michigan.

Shantrell, says: 2020

Chicago is incredibly cold during winter, but it is beautiful during summer. The city is broken up into several unique neighborhoods, which each have their own culture and personality. I recommend visiting Chicago before moving here to find out which neighborhood is best for you.

Chicago is at its most seductive in summer. There’s loads to do, from patio dining to lakeside lounging. The whole city comes alive when the sun comes out. Wintertime, however, is another story. To survive almost eight months of extreme cold, chilling precipitation, and malevolent winds, one must have a thick winter coat and even thicker skin.

Katelyn, says: 2020

Traffic in Chicago will be a little bit complex for a newcomer. Although, Public transportation will be very helpful for going any place in Chicago. one of my recommendations for newcomer is get a Ventra card, because it is a pass required to board the Public transportation in Chicago. With an early repair in direction and time travel, you will not have difficult to get on time to work or any other even in Chicago. Every information of bus and train can be tracked by an app or the website of CTA, the Public transportation company in Chicago.

Chicago is extremely cold during winter. Temperatures drop below 30 degrees consistently. It is imperative that you wear a heavy coat, keep your face covered and wear gloves to keep from getting hypothermia. During summer, Chicago can get extremely hot. It is important to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from being burned.

Stephanie, says: 2020

Chicago stand tall with big businesses, diverse communities and brilliant architecture. The blend of culture builds a bustling metropolis calling to fellow urban lovers the energy of New York and Boston. Chicago has distinct over 100 neighborhoods, where each community embodies its own specific identity. Whether one moves to Chicago for a job, a loved one or for a change, there’s something for everyone of you.

Sydney, says: 2020

Chicago has amazing green-space throughout the city. Access to the lakefront for exercise and recreation is a huge draw for many people. There are also numerous Michelin star restaurants to explore in Chicago. While people do raise concerns about the level of violence currently occurring in the city, being aware of their surroundings and making smart choices while out and about allows residents to enjoy all that Chicago has to offer.

Chicago has a unique duality that is not comparable to any major US city. While one may think that being non-coastal is a drawback for the city, Lake Michigan aids in refuting that claim as a moot point. The beaches along Lake Michigan, made accessible by the highly revered Lake Shore Drive (LSD), rival those of Malibu or Long Island. Residents are given the two unparalleled luxuries of being in the heart of the American midwest and feeling a coastal-like beach breeze.

Kenneth, says: 2020

Chicago is a large city that is made up of many small, wonderful, and unique neighborhoods. When you live in or spend a lot of time in a certain neighborhood, it makes the city feel more personal and friendly, which makes you feel at home. Chicago is such a welcoming place and the small neighborhood feel is the main reason for this.

Mariah, says: 2020

It’s a beautiful city where you can explore almost any part of it. The easiest transportation is the CTA. The different trains can take you from the Southside to the Northside in just a few hours. At night is when it is the prettiest from the skyline at night to the late night drives downtown.

Lauren, says: 2020

Chicago is New York City without the rush and impatience, Dallas without the heat and unreliability. The street foods and restaurant scene are world-renowned, serving a diverse array of dishes (generally influenced by Mexican, Italian, and Greek cuisine). The city is unique with its Greystone buildings and uncompromising grid, its walls often layered in graffiti (including a baby carriage mural by Banksy) and chalk.

Brittnee, says: 2020

Someone moving to Chicago should know deep dish pizza is the best kind of pizza. They should also know that the beach is the place on a hot summer day. a new Chicago resident should know parking a car on the street is competitive and hard, and it’s best to rent a private parking spot.

Lauren, says: 2020

If Chicago is one’s city of preference for relocating, there are a few highlights to consider. Some of these highlights include harsh winters, great food, and an abundance of cultural activities. Chicago is a lively city with plenty of things to do on the weekend for those who enjoy a pleasant nightlife.

When many people think of Chicago, they think of a cold, windy city. In reality, Chicago is a great outdoor city where its residents can enjoy many warm-weather activities, such as biking, kayaking, or running. With a location along Lake Michigan, Chicago is also home to many water sports, like surfing and boating.

Heather, says: 2020

Chicago is a beautiful, urban city in Illinois. With some of the highest rated restaurants in the country, beautiful parks, and the riverwalk, it also one of the most densely populated cities in the country. If one moves to Chicago, they must be prepared for an elevated cost of living, including the price of rent.

Those moving to Chicago should first familiarize themselves with Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. I prefer the Near North Side because it’s safe and less chaotic than the Loop, but still offers an abundance of terrific dining and shopping venues. However, if you’re looking for a more traditional housing arrangement within the city limit then take a look at the North and Southwest suburbs.

Dolores, says: 2020

Chicago is a diverse metropolis. There are areas of great wealth, and areas of extreme poverty. There are people of every race, religion, and ethnicity. There are a wide variety of activities in which to participate, for families, couples, or individuals. No matter what your interests are, you can find something to do in Chicago.

Rachel, says: 2020

Someone moving to Chicago should consider a number of factors before settling on a neighborhood. First, they should think about how they will get around the city. Will they take public transportation? If so, they may want to live near a train line. If they prefer to drive, they might want to look for a condo or apartment with ample parking nearby.

Sydney, says: 2020

When moving to Chicago, people should keep in mind how beautiful the city can be, especially at night. Sure, everyone talks about deep-dish pizza and Lake Shore Drive, but our city is so much more. Public transportation makes getting around the city a breeze and there is always something happening around the city. Rent can be a bit pricey, but there is no place like Chicago.

Kristen, says: 2020

Chicago is a glorious metropolis with a wide range of cultural influences, including Blues music, lively Polish, Greek, and Indian communities, and a well-established Midwestern charm. However, the long, cold winters can be harsh. Anyone moving to Chicago should balance their desire for the excitement of big city life with the challenges of snow and ice storms.

Michael, says: 2020

As a person who grew up in a small suburban city down in the South, moving to Chicago provided me with a vastly different experience. I not only needed to learn how to take public transport, but I also had to acclimate to the frigid winters of the Windy City. one should always make sure to grab their public transport card and their jacket before heading out for the day.

Heather, says: 2020

If anyone were moving to Chicago, my first recommendation would be to do your research! Chicago is an amazing city but without mapping out a game plan prior to moving, it can come off as overwhelming. For example, it is highly recommended that you research the different neighborhoods in Chicago to find which would be the best area for you to live in based on your needs. If you are searching for a neighborhood that is very convenient to local shopping, for example, something closer to downtown may be a better for you. If you seek a more quiet, residential area, something closer to the North side of the city may be more appropriate. Research helps with that! I would consider figuring out your top five most important criteria for a neighborhood and then locate an area based on that; chances are, Chicago has an area that can suit you!

Katherine, says: 2020

Living downtown, it is very easy to get around Chicago without a car. The CTA transit system, and the Metra lines, are wonderful alternatives to wasteful cars. Gas is very expensive in Cook County, as well. It is important to research the area or neighborhood in which you would like. Some areas are more dangerous than others.

Taylor, says: 2020

Moving to a new city can be scary, unpredictable, and exhausting. When it comes to moving to Chicago make sure to have patience. The city moves fast but with over a million residents, things can take a while. A lot of businesses are either short-staffed or have employees that are overworked and exhausted.

Chicago is a great city! Summers in Chicago are beautiful and there are many activities. We have great parks and the beautiful Lake Michigan. Chicagoans love to play softball in summer, go to Cubs games, and spend summer evenings having bonfires and grilling with friends!

Chelsea, says: 2020

Chicago winters are often cold and brittle. It is important to remember that in order to survive these tough winters, one should own a large coat and plenty of warm clothing. If one is dependent on public transportation, it is good to know many places such as bus stops or train stations have locations with heat lamps, under which people can stand while they wait for their transport.

Chicago is a bustling hub of famous music, architecture, sports, museums, and mouth-watering food! My beloved Windy City is comprised of magnificent skyscrapers (Willis or Sears Tower, depending on who you ask), a beautiful lake with a neighboring trail, and a transit system that can connect you to all kinds of parts all over the city.

Melissa, says: 2020

Chicago is a diverse city with plenty of good places to explore. Every neighborhood has its own distinct personality and charm. Those who enjoy cuisines from around the globe can visit Pilsen, Chinatown, Little Italy, Little India and Lincoln Square to experience a little bit of everything. Visitors will also love taking a walking tour around the Riverwalk to take in all the architectural sites that line the city’s skyline.

Kalecia, says: 2020

Chicago is a beautiful city with a diverse set of neighborhoods. The winter months can be rather cold, so if you aren’t used to harsh winters be prepared. The summers are absolutely gorgeous, and the lakeshore is delightful. The downtown area provides a big city feel similar to NYC, while the neighborhoods offer a more calm and charming experience.

Parjanya, says: 2020

Anyone who moves to Chicago, Illinois should know that Chicago is a beautiful city! But there are some dangerous parts and you want to make sure to stay clear of those parts to avoid danger. But there are some very nice parts of the city. Including, Lincoln Park, Downtown, And the Northside.

Soumya, says: 2020

If you are planning to move to Chicago, plan to dress warm in the fall and winter. Get comfortable with using public transportation, because driving in this city is a nightmare and parking is close to impossible. However, the museums, restaurants and music scene more than make up for the challenges in Chicago.

Avalon, says: 2020

Chicago is a wonderful city, but the public transit system can be hard to understand at times. Buy a transit map and CTA pass. The best time to visit Chicago is undoubtedly the summer. Lastly, ketchup has no place on a Chicago hot dog.

Daniel, says: 2020

Someone considering moving to Chicago should know the city has high property taxes. Additionally, he or she should determine whether they want to rely on public transportation or drive their own vehicle. If they intend to use public transportation, then it is a good idea to take up residence close to a train line.

Kendra, says: 2020

Chicago is a wonderful city with a diverse population and lots of cultural variety. There is a wonderful public transit system but the city is also very car-friendly and drivable. The weather is temperate and comfortable most of the year, but the winters can be rough, with low temperatures and heavy snow. Chicagoans can be warm and inviting, and are passionate about their city.

Tanatswa, says: 2020

Someone who is moving to Chicago should consider the cost of living in the city; the rent is higher than one would expect. Even small apartments are expensive. Our two bedroom apartment costs $3,000 per month. On top of the rent, one has to pay for parking. A parking spot can potentially cost as much as car payment!

Chicago is a bustling city, full of lively citizens and beautiful scenery. Be sure to check out the local food and drink haunts for a good time. Even better, spend your Sunday mornings strolling along the lakefront. Skateboarders and runners whizzing by. Sit by the shore, sip your Pumpkin Spice Latte, and breathe in the crisp fall air. Life is good in Chi-Town!

Someone considering moving to Chicago should think critically about the weather and its impact on daily life. The weather is harsh and rapidly changing, which can cause significant delays with travel and commuting. Furthermore, given the large number of citizens in Chicago, it is often difficult to make reservations in a timely manner (especially at high-end restaurants).

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