Chicago is one of the most popular tourist destinations across the world, but many people are considering moving to Chicago, as well. If you’ve found yourself thinking about it as well, then you must have a lot of questions before you actually get started.
Among other things, you are wondering about the following: Is relocating to Chicago, Illinois a good idea? How much does it cost to move to Chicagoland? What are the reasons why you should move there? Hopefully, the following guide will be useful in answering these questions for you and helping you get around the Windy City. It is a beautiful place, but even though it has many advantages, it also has a few downsides you should know about. It’s a great home of different cultures, cuisines, music styles, sports teams, as well as excellent schools and rich history.
Learn About the Cost of Living Before Moving to Chicago
Relocating to Chi-Town may be very appealing, but you’ll have to keep the cost of living in Chicago in mind before you make any final decisions. You should know that it can be a costly place to live in, so, to be on the safe side, you should learn a few tips and tricks on how to save up some money before your relocation and avoid making common moving mistakes. There are many taxes you’ll have to keep in mind now, which will be among the things you may not have considered before. From various food and grocery taxes, extra sales tax, including the state tax of Illinois to the average state tax rate of 2.3%, which is the second-highest in the US.
Before you start packing your bags, be sure you calculate your monthly expenses to be sure you can live comfortably when you move.
Explore the Job Market to Find Employment
The Windy City is the third-largest city in the US, with close to three million residents. And do keep in mind that you’re not the only one considering relocating to Chicagoland. So it should’ve already crossed your mind that the job market in the Chi-Town will be as competitive as they get.
Depending on what your preferred industry is, there’s a good chance that there will already be hundreds of applicants before you even send in your application. So be prepared for fierce competition when looking for a new job.
There are also many job fairs which may prove useful. They take place on the weekends so you can plan your visit before you actually move. No matter how far away you might be, visiting job fairs is worth the trouble. Take the opportunity to meet some of the top employers and increase your chances of getting a job before you move it will help you avoid getting relocation depression.
You would be glad to know that this place is home to the headquarters of as many as 34 companies from the prestigious Fortune 500 list, while 11 are based inside the city. Some of them are:
One of the best moving tips you can get when it comes to getting a new job in a new town is to start networking in advance. Nowadays, one of the best ways to look for employment is to browse the Internet. There are many websites online which can prove useful like LinkedIn. You can also find a wide range of options on Indeed and Monster. You can filter your search according to your skills, as well as desires and expectations. There are plenty of employment opportunities in Chicago, so don’t give up until you find your dream job.
Research the local job market in advance to find a well-paid job before you relocate.
Choose a Neighborhood That Fits Your Budget and Preferences
Where should I move to in the Windy City – here’s one of the first questions you’ll have as soon as you decide to relocate there. And the answer will mostly depend on your budget, income, and preferences. The Windy City is a huge place and a melting pot of different cultures. It is home to more than 200 neighborhoods, and each of them has something to offer that makes it better than others. So, you will have to do thorough research before you go house-hunting and decide which of the best places to live in Chicago is the right fit for you. Depending on your particular situation, some areas might seem better than others. Naturally, people moving with kids will have different expectations than those moving to another state alone, or those relocating with dogs, and so on. Regardless of your needs and preferences, you will probably love some of the following best neighborhoods in Chicago.
Move to West Chicago to Immerse Yourself in Culture
West Chicago will be the most suitable option for you if you’re interested in a wonderful cultural experience. It is home to numerous ethnic restaurants and places of cultural interest. The most recommended neighborhood on the Westside would be the West Humboldt Park neighborhood. It is built in a Spanish colonial architectural style as it was originally a Puerto Rican neighborhood. So go and spend the day wandering around and learning all about its history. Real estate may be cheaper than in some other parts of the Windy City, but keep in mind that the rent could be higher.
Relocating to South Chicago Won’t Cost You a Fortune
The south side is also very rich in culture and diversity, with many wonderful places and restaurants. Bridgeport is a wonderful home to many working-class families and boasts a lot of White Sox pride. The neighborhood is mostly Irish with a variety of other cultures mixed in. It’s not exorbitantly expensive and is certainly worth a look. There are many fun things to do on the Southside for people of all interests.
North Chicago Is a Creative Hub
North Side of the Windy City is the perfect mix of different cultures and people of all backgrounds. There are many different things to do, no matter what you may be interested in. It is the largest creative hub of arts, music, restaurants, and coffee shops. You can also go shopping at any time in the Bucktown neighborhood. The only thing that may be a deal-breaker is that the costs of the rent are higher, and if you are planning to live in your own home somewhere on the Northside, you’ll have to pay a small fortune.
Experience the Far East in Chicago’s Chinatown Section
Chinatown is home to more than 65 thousand Chinese citizens and offers all you could ask for from the wonderful Chinese culture. It’s one of the largest Chinatown neighborhoods in the country and has melded well with the surrounding cultures, which together make the metropolis so great. Mesmerizing public art, authentic and tasty restaurants, various shops of all kinds and purposes, shopping in the famous Chinatown Square, all of this is available to you in Chinatown.
Live a Fancy Life Downtown
If you have the means to move to wherever you want and are interested in the fancy lifestyle, then the downtown area will suit your needs the most. Home of the Millennium Park, downtown offers all the shopping you could ask for on Michigan Avenue, as well as various bars and galleries. The central business district, the Loop, is also located here, on the south bank of the Chicago River.
The cost of living is high but worth it. If living in a big, urban jungle full of stunning skyscrapers is what you are interested in and you can afford it, the downtown area of this big city might be a perfect place for you.
Other Neighborhoods of Chi-Town to Consider
In addition to those previously mentioned, you might wish to take a closer look into neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, or Ukrainian Village. They, as well as many others, offer various day-to-day activities and amenities comparable to the best of those in other US cities. The cost of living may be high, but for it, you get all that you may want.
Your choice of the neighborhood will depend on your preferences and your budget, but be sure that there is something for everyone.
Check Rent and Real Estate Costs – It’s a Renter’s City
The decision to move couldn’t have been an easy one to make, but now you will also have to decide where to move to and whether to rent a place or to buy your own property. If you’re on a low moving budget, now might be the time to consider moving to a smaller home, selling or donating unwanted items. And unless you’re ready to pay through the nose for real estate, there’s a good chance that renting will be your only option by default. Real estate prices in Chi-Town will blow you away as soon as you look them up, even if the places where they should be “affordable.”
This is one of the main reasons why Chi-Town is known as renter’s city. In case you didn’t opt for the cheapest way to move out of state and you’ve spent most of your budget on Chicago movers with moving services, professional packing, and their packing materials for moving, you may need to rent from the get-go. So do your research beforehand, both on the rents and real estate prices in the neighborhood which you find the most appealing. Maybe you’ll find a perfect place which suits all of your needs but is just too expensive for you to afford. Perhaps you will have to rent and will have to find a roommate or get in contact with any family or friends who already live there.
Speaking of renting, you should also remember to get renters’ insurance.
Find the Best Renters’ Insurance Before Moving to Chicago
Even though we don’t like to admit it, accidents or bad things do happen sometimes. A fire may break out or your apartment might become the target of burglars or vandals. That’s when renters’ insurance comes in. It is an insurance policy that covers your personal belongings but not for the apartment itself. It is much less expensive than the homeowners’ insurance which covers the building and everything in it. Insuring the dwelling itself still rests on the landlord. Having renters’ insurance is becoming a standard feature of lease contracts nowadays, so make sure you make all the necessary arrangements.
Renting is sure to be a more viable option than buying a home.
Don’t Worry About Safety – Crime Rate Is Falling
It is not uncommon for Chi-Town to come to mind when people think about crime and the mafia, as its history was marked by Al Capone to an extent. And it is unfortunately infamous as the “murder capital” of the US. But the statistics show a 30 percent decrease in crime over the last two years.
Still, you should keep in mind that the crime rate is higher than the nation’s average. So if you’ve decided to live in a specific neighborhood, look up the crime rates, and the local statistics before you reach any final decisions, it will alleviate your moving stress. Don’t be afraid to come in touch with the local police department if you want more detail if you think that will affect your decision.
Even though it's not among the safest cities in the country, Chi-Town is becoming safer.
Brace Yourself for Harsh Winter
No matter where you’re relocating from, there’s a good chance that you haven’t experienced winters like the ones in Illinois, so this might not be the best time of the year to move here. When asked about things that the city is known for, most people would probably think of Al Capone, Michael Jordan, and winter. Winter in Chi-Town can be rather harsh. Add into the equation the wind that earned the place one of its most famous nicknames, and you have a freezing temperature fight with nature itself.
This is one of the reasons why the weather and climate can make residents feel lonely. But do know that there are many outdoor and indoor activities for the wintertime. Despite the cold weather, the metropolis is still attracting countless visitors as well as people who are interested in making this place their home. You won’t be the first or the last person who has to get accustomed to the cold climate. Just be ready to go shopping for warm clothes, jackets, and blankets.
On the other hand, during the warmer part of the year, and especially the summer, there are so many things for you to do and have a great time. That’s the period of the year when the famous Lollapalooza festival takes place when every park in the city comes to life and local rooftop bars become the places to be and enjoy your free time. Pack up your summer clothes, and don’t forget that you can go to the beach as well. Chi-Town is home to some wonderful beaches which are perfect no matter if you’re with your family or want to have a good time with your friends. One of the best parts of it all is that tourists tend to avoid them, so you won’t have to worry about it getting overcrowded.
The weather can be freezing but you’ll get used to it, and you'll forget all about it when the summer comes.
Enjoy International Food
When you are done with unpacking after the move explore Chi-Town because it is a wonderful melting pot of different cultures and thus different cuisines. So if you’re a foodie, then you may find the metropolis irresistible, as it can offer such a wide variety of authentic restaurants and food places. The famous deep-dish pizza is among the first things that come to mind when you mention Chi-Town and food. The Italian beef sandwiches are a close second, followed by Chicago-style hotdogs. If you are moving in together with your partner and looking for a diner to have a date night at, know that there are various Italian, French, Polish, Chinese, and Latin places where you can enjoy these wonderful cuisines. And if you’re someone with a sweet tooth, you’re in luck as The Fudge Pot is the place to visit if you’re interested in anything sweet and want to get the best bang for your buck.
Between work and other things to do, be sure you make time to enjoy Chicago's thriving food scene, as well.
Go Anywhere You Want on Foot or Hop on Your Bike
There’s no better time for a major life change than relocation, especially if you’re relocating for the first time. If you choose to relocate to Chi-Town, you may need to leave your car behind. You won’t find much use for your car unless you plan on going on frequent road trips or family visits out of town. Driving a car can get very stressful, and will seem very pointless when you take into consideration the excellent public transport available.
Another great option is biking, especially during the summer, which can also be very affordable, especially because you can rent a bike if you don’t own one, by using Divvy for example. There are many shortcuts and side streets that are suitable for bikes, and there are many bike lanes too, as the municipality encourages biking. With a bike, you go wherever you wish for free and as a bonus, you can claim it as a workout.
Rely on the Excellent Public Transport System
Not only is it a place where you can walk to most places in your vicinity, but it also has a great public transport system. You will have both rail and bus options and should know that its public transport system is the second biggest in the United States. Even if you end up in need of quick transport from place to place, Uber and Lyft are still very viable and affordable options.
Biking is on the rise and renting a bicycle makes it affordable, and you won’t have to worry about parking, and if you buy it, it’s free.
Welcoming Chi-Town Is Waiting for You
With this guide before you, you have all the information you need for living in one of the neighborhoods of the Windy City. It may just prove to be the best choice you ever made, and you will live and work in one of the best US cities. Chicago and it’s metro area are known as expensive, as are all major cities, but the city is worth all the relocation expenses and more, especially if you can afford to buy a house in one of the better-off neighborhoods. Yet, good things are rarely free, so opt for an area you like that has everything you need no matter if you are relocating for a relationship or in pursuit of education or work.
Don’t let the harsh winter discourage you. Wrap yourself up in a blanket and wait for the arrival of summer. It eventually comes to all cities, and it will come to Chi-Town, too. And when it does, you’ll get the chance to enjoy the area in all its beauty. People are warm and welcoming, so don’t worry about how to make friends in a new state. Before you know it, you’ll meet new people and become friends with the locals who will be more than happy to guide you and help you settle in.
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