If you’re looking to relocate, Chicago is a great place to consider. It’s a bustling metropolitan city that’s filled with great food, diversity, and unbeatable entertainment. Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest and has one of the best public transportation systems in the country. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the second largest public transportation system in the U.S. While Chicago isn’t near the ocean, Lake Michigan is filled with fresh-water beaches, boating enthusiasts, and plenty of ways to stay active. All of these things, and more, make moving to Chicago a great option, but it’s important that you know exactly what you’re getting into. There are a lot of misconceptions about the city, so taking time to do your research is crucial to making sure that it’s the right fit. To help, here’s what you need to know about moving to Chicago.
Moving to Chicago isn’t as straightforward as it seems. There are 77 distinct neighborhoods throughout the city, each with a unique personality. Begin your search by deciding if you want to live North, South, East, or West.
The Northern neighborhoods of Chicago are where many younger people decide to live. Wrigleyville is in close proximity, Boys Town offers excellent nightlife, and Bucktown has plenty of trendy, shopping opportunities. Some of the most popular Northern neighborhoods include:
- Lake Forest
- Highland Park
- River North
The Southern neighborhoods are extremely cultural, and communities are tight knit. Chicago’s famous Museum Campus is in the Southern neighborhoods, which is home to the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry. Some of the most popular Southern neighborhoods include:
- South Loop
- South Shore
To the east is Downtown Chicago. Downtown is filled with all of the popular tourist attractions and is constantly brimming with people. It’s a good location if you want access to the waterfront, eclectic cocktail lounges, and plenty of history. Gold Coast is one of Chicago’s most sought-after downtown locations.
The Western neighborhoods of Chicago offer plenty of culture, beautiful murals, and is home to the infamous Wicker Park. There’s always something to do and it’s easy to use the CTA to explore nearby areas or head Downtown. Some of the most popular Western neighborhoods include:
- West Loop
- Humboldt Park
Finding a Home Isn’t Difficult
Once you determine which neighborhood best fits your lifestyle, you’ll need to make a decision between renting and buying a home. If you’re not sure that Chicago will be your permanent home, try renting for a year to see how you like it. If you do decide to buy, take some time to get to know the areas and find something that suits you. Then, when you’re ready, jump into the housing market. In comparison to other major cities like New York and Los Angeles, finding a home that you love in Chicago isn’t too difficult.
You’ll Rely on Public Transportation
If you have a car and you’re planning to move to Chicago, you should consider the reality of your mode of transportation. The population density alone can cause commuters to experience unbelievably long traffic jams and if there’s an accident you could be stuck for hours. Plus, with limited parking, you’ll need to be prepared to park far and walk or pay high parking rates. Ask yourself if you really need your car. If not, there are hundreds of public transportation options that can help you get from point A to point B without incessant traffic or wasted gas. You can use the CTA, walk on the Pedway, ride your bike, use Lyft or Uber, or even revert back to traditional taxi cabs.
Parking Can be Competitive
Another reason to ditch the car and use public transportation is parking. As we mentioned, there’s limited parking for many residents and visitors alike. The population density of Chicago makes it difficult for homes to have their own garage or driveway, which means you’ll need to test your luck with street parking. If you know that parking is going to be a deal breaker for you, look for neighborhoods that have permits. You might also want to prepare yourself with the odd act of people claiming a parking spot with debris, lawn chairs, and other assorted items.
Chicago is Family Friendly
One of the best things about Chicago is the sheer number of things to do as a family. While there are a lot of very popular nightlife options, there’s also plenty of activities to fill your days. You can head down to Navy Pier spend the day exploring the Willis Tower (or Sears Tower for true Chicagoans), walk around the Lincoln Park Zoo, marvel at the Bean in Millennium Park, head to one of the many museums, test your fear of heights at 360 Chicago, and more. Your weekends will never be boring if you move to Chicago.
Chicago Winters are Harsh
The extreme disparity of temperatures that occur in Chicago seem to surprise people. Be warned, winters are harsh, temperatures often drop below zero, and the wind sends a bone-chilling feeling down your spine. Make sure that you know how to survive the winters in Chicago before making the move and if you’re not a fan of snow, you might want to explore some other options.
Chicago Summers are Exciting
With that being said, Chicago summers are wonderful. As the temperatures rise, the number of activities and festivals make you forget you just came out of hibernation. Chicago has between 100 and 200 events every year ranging from food festivals, cultural events, music concerts, and more. Taste of Chicago is a resident favorite and Lollapalooza is attended by all ages.
You’ll Have Access to Beaches
Even though you’re not on a coast, you’ll still have access to beaches. There are miles of beaches along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and plenty of options for watersports. Some of the most popular beaches include North Avenue Beach, Montrose Beach, and 31st Street Beach. For more quieter, less crowded beaches, check out 12th Street Beach, Osterman Beach, or 63rd Street Beach.
The Food Scene is Divine
If you have an affinity for delicious food, upscale restaurants, or the best hole-in-the-wall food spots, Chicago is perfect for you. The three primary foods that you’ll want to try immediately are deep dish pizza, Chicago hot dogs, and Italian beef. These are the cornerstones to all Chicagoan diets. Portillo’s, Lou Malnati’s, and Al’s Beef are some local favorites.
There are also plenty of diverse, ethnic restaurants. Chicago has some of the best restaurants in the country and there’s never a shortage of new dishes to try. If you’re looking for an upscale, Michelin restaurant, try Alinea—one of the highest rated restaurants in the world.
Sports are a Part of Life
Finally, if you’re moving to Chicago, you’re going to have to pick a side: Cubs or White Sox. There’s a distinct divide between the city’s two baseball teams and you’re going to be immersed in the rivalry whether you like it or not. The Crosstown Classic, a game between the two teams, is a Chicago tradition. Regardless of which team you enjoy, Wrigleyville is always a fun venture and has historical roots.
If you’re not a fan of baseball, familiarize yourself with hockey. Everyone in Chicago is a fan of the Blackhawks and for good reason. They’ve been consistently strong and have continued to come out on top with three Stanley Cup wins in recent years. Going to a Blackhawks game is a rite of passage when moving to Chicago and the energy is contagious.
While football loyalty tends to remain regardless of where you live, the Chicago Bears have a strong fanbase. Even if you’re not a Bears fan, attend a game at Soldier Field and witness firsthand the intense rivalry with the Packers.
While there are a few downfalls to moving to Chicago (i.e., winter), there are far more positive things to consider. However, if you’re coming from the suburbs or another state, you may find that Chicago homes and apartments are a little smaller than what you’re used to. To make sure that you have enough livable space, and to keep precious mementos safe outside your home, opt for a self-storage unit at The Lock Up Self Storage. With locations scattered throughout Chicago, we provide convenience and top-of-the line security features for all of our clients. As an added bonus, all of our units are temperature controlled so you never have to worry about Chicago winters wreaking havoc on your things. To learn more, or to find a list of our Chicago locations, contact us today at 1-866-327-LOCK.