Top 8 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Chicago
Considering moving to Chicago? Chicago is one of the most frequented tourist destinations and one of the top Midwest cities that people are moving to.
Chicago is a phenomenal city that has an amazing history and is known for its architecture, schools and food!
Because Chicago is such a vast city, we created a definitive guide for moving to Chicago. From local tips to cutting edge trends, we covered everything you need to understand what life is like in Chicago.
1. Salaries and Population
Chicago is full of diverse people from all across the country.
The average salary is $63,497 according to payscale.com.
Chicago remains the 3rd largest city in the U.S. with a population of 2,679,044, according to worldpopulationreview.com.
While the population leveled off over the last decade, Chicago remains a top-tier destination for both the Midwest and the United States.
2. Where People Are Moving From
As the 3rd biggest city in the US, we have noticed that people are moving from these cities to Chicago:
3. Best Neighborhoods In Chicago
Depending on who you ask, everyone has their own opinion of the “best” Chicago neighborhoods. Considering that there are over 200 neighborhoods in Chicago, it can be intimidating to choose your first one to live in.
In most cities, deciding your neighborhood can often end up defining how you live your day to day life. It’s important to take into consideration price, commute time, taxes, safety and schooling. We’ve taken the time to highlight some of the best neighborhoods for you to consider.
Wicker Park is not just an up and coming neighborhood, it’s already established as one of the best ‘overall’ neighborhoods for young adults. A trendy neighborhood that is becoming known as a ‘hipster mecca’ around Chicago.
Wicker Park has a lots of flavor as it’s home to some of the hottest restaurants, plenty of grocery stores and easy transportation. It’s easy to get a sense of community and take advantage of what the neighborhood offers. It’s unique flair combines the older areas with lots of new buildings and new blood has given it more of a “Brooklyn” feel.
When it comes to being ‘safest bet’, Lincoln Park his all marks when it comes to most individuals needs in this neighborhood. Because it’s such a safe bet, you’ll likely get a lot of Chicago newcomers here as Lincoln Park is also known as Chicago’s “first neighborhood to move to”.
Lincoln Park is a great first place for newcomers as you have plenty of things to do; plenty of sports bars, easy transportation, free zoo open to the public, and near Lake Michigan. Because this neighborhood is in high demand, living here isn’t going to be cheap. Rent and apartments do run higher compared to other places in Chicago.
Gold Coast / Old Town
Since Gold Coast blends into Old Town we are including both of them as they are very popular.
The biggest reason why Gold Coast is such an appealing place is ideal location. Gold Coast is near downtown and close to the lake, on top of that there are plenty of nifty restaurants and shops nearby. It scores bonus points for having easy public transportation and close access to the freeway.
The neighborhood itself is breathtaking, you’ll see plenty of high-rises to get that big city feel. It’s the best way to be close to downtown without the downtown hassle.
4. Finding an Apartment or House in Chicago
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for an apartment or a house, it is the ideal time to move to Chicago.
Whether you’re looking for a temporary apartment or moving your family into a new home, now is a good time to rent and buy. According to Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of University of Illinois’ Real Economics Applications Laboratory in an article published by the Chicago Tribune:
“Compared to the East Coast and the West Coast, Chicago’s housing market is probably the best bargain in North America,”
Especially if you want to move to the outskirts of Chicago, you can get affordable housing just about anywhere. While your commute might be longer, buying a house is nowhere near as costly compared to Los Angeles or New York City.
If you are looking for an apartment, the prices will vary depending on the neighborhood. There are several websites that provide great visual maps of expected rents, depending on your location. These are amazing resources that help you plan your budget accordingly.
5. Chicago Taxes
No matter where you live in Illinois, you will likely pay state and federal taxes, including sales taxes on most goods and services. To learn more about the different taxes in the States and City, go to the Illinois Revenue’s website.
If you own your home, you’ll likely have to pay property taxes.Learn more about property tax in Chicago from the city’s Department of Finance. Make sure you consider taxes in when considering the affordability of your housing options. We are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.
6. Day To Day Commuting
Should you keep your car? Do you even need a car? What about public transit? We’ll answer all of those questions and then some!
Do You Need To Own A Car in Chicago?
You definitely don’t need to own a car in Chicago for your day to day life. There are several public transit options you have available at your disposal. Here are some of the options you have available to get around the city.
Take the L –
If you aren’t familiar with “The CTA”, you will be very soon. The CTA is also known as the Chicago Transit Authority and known as “The L” for the Chicago locals (short for ‘elevated’). It’s a transit system focused around buses and elevated trains.
You usually pay a couple dollar per ride, but if you are using their transit system consistently we recommend getting a fare card where you can simply tap your card on the turnstile at the entrance. Chicago has a very underrated transit system that gets high ratings from locals.
Trains are $2.25 per ride and buses are $2.00. You can also get pre-tax pricing to save money.
Live Downtown? Take the Pedway –
The Pedway is an amazing system that has underground tunnels and overhead bridges that connects more than 40+ blocks in the downtown area. The biggest plus is that if you take the underground tunnel, you don’t have to deal with the winters. Sure you have to walk, but it’s free and convenient.
Uber / Lyft –
Skip dealing with parking fees, or even finding a parking spot. Work your way around town with Uber or Lyft and avoid paying high fees compared to a taxi.
Bike Sharing –
Bike sharing has been increasing in popularity over the last few years. Not only does biking much faster than walking, you get a great workout in as well. You can rent your bike from one of Chicago’s awesome bike sharing programs and travel across the city.
Chicago traffic can be difficult to manage. If you plan on commuting with your personal vehicle, expect long rush hours (6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.). There are lots of great online resources that discuss all things related to traffic.
Being the 3rd biggest city in the US, it should be expected that traffic will be something you have to work around. Use the resources provided to make sure your plans will work.
As mentioned before, 2.5+ million people live in the city. Finding a parking spot is going to be quite hard. So when using your car expect to spend time and money on parking.
7. How About the Chicago Weather?
Chicago Summers: Pretty Amazing
When you think of summer, Chicago is one of the best places to be especially if you like being outside. Great summer weather has people flocking to take part in various activities around the city and you can’t beat going to the beach!
Chicago has over 20+ miles of beachfront for you to visit and explore. The weather isn’t too hot so you won’t be forced to stay indoors.
Chicago Winters: Pretty Harsh
If you are moving from another Midwest city to Chicago, you won’t need to adjust much to the winters. Chicago winters can be quite cold and windy.
If you aren’t from the Midwest or Canada, don’t take Chicago’s winters lightly. With strong winds and sub-zero temperatures, you are going to need to be prepared. Don’t think that a light-coat and gloves will be enough. You will need to have layered clothing ready during the Chicago winters.
Winters in Chicago don’t just last 3 months, expect the potential for them to last much longer. With high amounts of snow that lead to school closures, car accidents, and limited visibility while driving. Expect longer commutes and a lot of people yelling, “GOSH IT’S COLD!”.
8. Take Advantage of What Chicago Has To Offer
Chicago is known for its premier architecture and phenomenal food. There are also tons of places to visit, museums to check out and tours to take. There is always something to do in Chicago no matter your interests.
Best Chicago Museums
Chicago has their fair share of museums that will illuminate the mind and pique just about anybody’s interest. You can view all sorts of art from top science museums to the most inspiring art & history museums, Chicago has it all. Below is our top list of best museums that are worth checking out with good variety for varied interests.
The Art Institute of Chicago® –
Located in Grant Park, this museum is one of our favorite places to check out since you can spend countless hours exploring a wide variety of art. There are over 300,000 pieces and artifacts gathered from across the globe from various timespans. When we say it’s big, it’s BIG! As a matter of fact, it’s the 2nd largest art museum in the United States.
Current and upcoming exhibitions include Charles White: A Retrospective, Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium, John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age, The Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor. Keep up to date on the latest exhibitions on the official website.
Museum of Science and Industry –
This museum is flat out ‘cool’. This museum is located in Hyde Park and has over 400,000 square feet of space for you to explore. The museum offers enthralling exhibits such as the super popular mirror maze and the “Numbers in Nature” exhibit.
You can also check out the “Science Storms” exhibit where you can experience several different weather phenomena such as tornadoes, avalanches, fires, and lightning! These are just a couple of the many exhibits available.
The Field Museum –
Located in the Museum Campus, the Field Museum has 300,000 square feet that are chock-full of exhibitions. Created in the 1800’s, this museum is home to many famous exhibitions such as “SUE” the T-Rex.
Other popular exhibits include Waking the T-Rex, The Story of Sue 3D Movie, Evolving Planet, Inside Ancient Egypt, The Crown Family Play Lab and the Grainger Hall of Gems.
Museum of Contemporary Art –
This museum is home to one of the largest collections of modern art in the United States. They often have huge touring exhibits on current artists from Chicago and across the globe. While it’s one of the newer museums (created in the 1960’s), they have built up a reputation of having some of the best contemporary artwork.
Things To Do With Your Family In Chicago
Chicago is an amazing place for just about anyone. There are tons of family-friendly activities to explore in the city. It doesn’t matter if you are visiting a beach or diving into a famous Giordanos deep-dish pizza, your family will always have something to do!
Spend the day on Lake Michigan –
The amazing thing about Chicago is that you are next to one of the most beautiful lake’s in the United States. There is plenty to do on Lake Michigan from hanging out at the beach to playing volleyball.
Check out the Kohl’s Children’s Museum –
With over 15 permanent exhibits available, your child’s imagination will flourish. This is a great day-long activity that both children and parents can enjoy.
Stroll the 606 Trail –
This is one of the most unique and fun parks to open in Chicago over the last several years. The 606 trail was created by converting an abandoned rail line into a public park space. This is now a popular walking & cycling path. They also have plenty of outdoor events for you and your family to take apart in.
Check Out The Willis Tower Skydeck –
The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is the largest building in the United States. The Skydeck is an amazing spot to check out nearby states and is something that is on most people’s bucket list for Chicago.
Experience the Navy Pier –
Strolling the Navy Pier is something that we recommend everyone checking out. They have numerous attractions such as the Centennial Wheel, water flicks, visiting the Children’s Museum or crystal gardens, the list goes on and on. There is something for everyone and with new attractions coming regularly, you’re likely become a Navy Pier regular!
Be Ready For The Big Move
Moving to Chicago can be a big event for most people, especially if you come from a smaller town. Once you have decided that Chicago is going to be your new hometown, the moving journey is just beginning.
For all of your long-distance moving needs, be sure to keep United Van Lines movers in mind as our movers have handled moves for millions of customers across the country. Keep your mind at ease and go with United Van Lines to move you to Chicago.