Are you interested in how people live in Chicago, Illinois? Well, you are in the right place!
In 1837, Chicago, commonly known as “the Windy City,” was incorporated as a municipality in Illinois. The name Chicago is derived from the Algonquian word “Chigagou,” which means onion field, and appeared in 1688.
Chicago, on Lake Michigan, is undoubtedly a beautiful place to live. With an estimated 2.7 million population, it is the third-largest city in the United States after New York and Los Angeles.
However, like anywhere else, living here also has some cons. For a detailed view, we will discover Chicago’s good and bad sides to determine whether it is an excellent place to live.
List of Contents
Is Chicago a Good Place To Live In? – Small Town Vibes in a Big City
The Good Side
Chicago Is a Treasure Trove of History and Architecture
As one of the United States’ oldest significant cities, Chicago has more history than most.
Since its foundation in 1837, the city has been a commerce center. Chicago’s history is genuinely rich in that it has always contributed to the culture, economy, and politics of the United States.
Its architectural history is arguably the most fascinating in the entire country. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is responsible for its status as a city with fantastic architecture. After the fire, new buildings remade the town.
Aside from that, Chicago is renowned for having the world’s first skyscraper (despite its destruction in 1931), beautiful Polish cathedrals, and for its public sculptures, such as the Chicago Bean.
In addition, the city is the birthplace of Chicago blues and jazz, as well as Abraham Lincoln.
The city is also a “laboratory” for architectural innovation and experimentation. Therefore, living here, you will likely find a unique blend of historic and contemporary architecture.
Chicago Has the Second-Largest Transportation System in America
Chicago’s second-largest public transportation system combines buses and light rail (The Chicago L).
This public transit system moves approximately 1.6 million passengers daily, with buses carrying the bulk and the Chicago L having over 750,000.
In addition to being the railroad capital of the United States, Chicago is also well-known for its convenient way of life. The lifestyle in the city feels like a small town as each community has everything necessary inside its borders.
The city’s residents walk for most errands and sometimes bike as the city has 200 miles of bike lanes. Living here, owning a vehicle is undoubtedly optional.
Chicago boasts many convenient airports as one of the world’s major cities. If you enjoy traveling, living in Chicago makes a lot of sense. With access to O’Hare International Airport, you can travel nonstop to almost any destination you want to visit.
Chicago Offers 24/7 Service
One thing that is lacking in the majority of cities is 24/7 stores!
In Chicago, however, this is not an issue because service is available 24 hours a day, which is one of the city’s most significant advantages.
If you want to run out for groceries at 4:00 AM or grab takeout from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant at 6:00 AM, you are free to do so.
You no longer have to settle for quick food businesses because numerous restaurants are open day and night.
Nevertheless, not only food and grocery stores remain open. Other venues include open mic nights and comedy clubs. You can therefore engage in dancing, athletics, singing, and grocery shopping at any time of the day.
Chicago Is Home to Sports Culture
If you are an avid sports lover, Chicago is the ideal location!
Chicago has been recognized three times as one of the most acceptable sports cities in the United States.
It has a major league franchise in every major American sport, and several sports bars broadcast local major league games and multiple stadiums.
Are you an NBA fan?
You can have the opportunity to meet your favorite Chicago Bulls players while living in the city!
If you also enjoy football, ice hockey, or soccer aside from basketball, get ready for the never-ending pleasure!
The Bad Side
Chicago Has Terrible Traffic
The issue of traffic scenes in major cities is not new, and Chicago is no exception. Chicago’s status as one of the world’s most crowded cities is unsurprising.
A 2019 report states that Chicago’s traffic is the second-worst country. In the same year, Chicago commuters waste an average of 145 hours sitting in traffic while drivers lose an average of 138 hours of productive time.
There are seven primary routes and four secondary highways running through the city. Driving on the Dan Ryan or the Kennedy during rush hour can cause you to spend much time at a standstill.
If you live here, you need an extra hour (or two) to get to a particular place in the city because it can take time to get through the side streets when the highways are busy.
Thousands of Chicagoans are adversely affected by heavy traffic, so if you live here, prepare for all the hustle.
Chicago Has Worst Crime Rates
Al Capone, John Dillinger, and the notorious Baby Face Nelson have left an indelible mark on Chicago’s history, and crime is often the first thing that comes to mind when one considers the city.
In recent years, Chicago has struggled with a reputation as the nation’s “murder capital.” Chicago Tribune indicates that they are taking significant steps to lessen violent crime and the number of shooting victims.
In the past two years, the number of people shot in Chicago has decreased by about 30%.
While the crime rate has decreased, it remains above the national average. In 2018, around 550 homicides occurred. Moreover, more than sixty street gangs have thousands of active members.
This information is essential to consider before living in Chicago, as the gangs are unlikely ever to be eradicated.
Chicago Has Harsh Weather
The nickname “Windy City” was given to Chicago because of its location in the middle of the United States. The wind in this city can be harsh depending on how Lake Michigan’s pressure systems shift.
Storms, thunderstorms, and even heavy snowfall can impede your mobility if you live in this city. Winter is the longest of the four seasons, so don’t be startled if frigid winds blow past your head.
Living here will also expose you to the regular Midwestern seasons, with summers being hot and humid and winters cold and snowy.
It is typical for temperatures to drop below zero during December and January. In the summer, it is not uncommon for temperatures to surpass 100° F.
What Is the Cost of Living in Chicago? – A Big City With the Best Big-city Deals
The Good Side
Chicago Offers Decent House Pricing
In most big cities, you have to pay for the privilege of living there, but this is not the case in Chicago.
When considered a separate category, Chicago is the second-largest market in the United States for entry-level housing supply.
Even though the median price of these houses is $295,000 and the average property value is $222,000, living in this city is still cheaper than in other big cities.
Even renting is less expensive in the city!
Other large cities all have enormously inflated rental costs. In Chicago, however, a studio apartment can be rented for $550, compared to $1,500 in New York City.
I won’t call Chicago a “cheap city,” but its housing costs are lower than other big cities and slightly more than national averages.
Therefore, if you are seeking a “big city lifestyle,” Chicago will provide the most city for your money.
Chicago Is a Cheaper Alternative To Other Big Cities
While Chicago has a high cost of living, it is far less expensive than other major US cities.
Chicago, the second-largest city in the eastern part of the United States, is frequently seen as a less expensive alternative to significantly more expensive cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, DC.
It is evident from the facts that this is indeed the case.
The Bad Side
Chicago Has Inflated Cost of Living
I’ve mentioned earlier that one of the benefits of living in Chicago is that housing costs are lower than in other major cities.
There are, in fact, 12 major cities in the United States that are more expensive than Chicago, making it an outstanding value compared to New York City, Washington, D.C., and much of California.
However, Chicago is more expensive than 74% of American cities. Chicago costs almost 20% more than the national average compared to the rest of the country.
So if you are not coming from the big cities mentioned above, you can find Chicago an expensive place to live.
Chicago Has a High Tax
Chicago has some of the highest taxes in the United States, contributing to its expensive cost of living. The 10.25% total sales tax rate is the highest in the nation.
It is one of the few U.S. cities to tax groceries at 2.25%. You’ll also have to pay a 0.25% restaurant tax if you buy something ready-to-eat and another 10.25% sales tax for local and state taxes.
This place has also been “creative” in introducing almost twenty-five specialty taxes and fees, including taxes on parking, gas, alcohol, soda, and bottled water, among many others.
The city has taxes that do not exist elsewhere in the United States, such as a tax on streaming media (e.g., Netflix).
Before deciding to move to the city, you must analyze these tax effects to determine if you can afford them.
Why Work in Chicago? – A Hothouse of Creativity and Innovation
The Good Side
Chicago’s Job Market Is Competitive and Diverse
Positively, Chicago offers several employment prospects in fields such as finance, publishing, manufacturing, and food preparation.
Chicago has a solid economic foundation due to its central U.S. position and closeness to major institutions and corporations.
The city is a “hothouse of creativity and innovation” with a highly educated population, over 400 extensive corporate facilities (36 Fortune 500 companies), and a gross regional product of over $698 billion annually.
It has more than 3.4 million employees and remains one of the most significant economic contributors nationally and internationally.
Boeing Corporation, United Continental Holdings, McDonald’s, Archer Daniel Midlands, Exelon, and Conagra Brands are among the largest Chicago-based firms.
So if you want to live in Chicago, there will be no shortage of job opportunities for you!
Chicago Is a Comfortable City To Work
Numerous career options exist in Chicago, and the salary is also excellent, which is one of the best aspects of working in this city.
However, even if you work for top organizations and are a vital part of the corporate world, you will never feel trapped in a brick and concrete world and need to escape.
There is abundant nature around the city and magnificent beaches where one can relax.
Chicago Has a Good Work Ethic
Chicago’s work culture is typically perceived to be less intense than that of other big U.S. cities.
Working in this city, you should be aware of the highly influential Midwest work culture, in which people give their all during work hours but also know when to leave for the day.
The Bad Side
Chicago Has a Competitive Job Market
It should come as no surprise that there is a lot of rivalry for jobs in this city, given that it is the home of over 2.7 million people and ranks as the third-largest city and metropolitan region in the United States in terms of population.
When you live in this city, you should know that there is a lot of competition for jobs, and the workforce represents an extraordinary diversity in terms of the industries and functions it performs.
It can be challenging to obtain a job here, particularly if you have just recently graduated from school or for those people who have been unemployed for an extended period.
Chicago has a lot to offer!
It has a rich history, efficient transit, a thriving sports culture, and many job prospects. Unlike other major cities, Chicago offers comparable property prices to the national average.
As with any major city, there are pros and cons to living in Chicago, but if you evaluate the city’s strengths and can afford the experience, you will discover that Chicago is a unique place to live.
Do you know the other good and bad sides of living in Los Angeles? If so, please leave a remark below!