From humble beginnings to now flourishing as the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago definitely isn’t short of things to offer and amaze us.
Expect everything from skyscrapers to lively residential areas around the city, from Lake Michigan to the east, along with fairly affordable living costs and a comprehensive and reliable public transport system. If you possess an appreciation for architecture, Chicago will inspire you. If you love nature, you will feel right at home with gems like the 18.5-mile-long lakefront trail and the 600 parks that Chicago has. But the cons of the city include intense segregation, one of the highest tax rates in the country, and concentrated areas of gun violence.
Here are some of our must-knows for anyone that’s contemplating, or actually moving to Chicago!
Travel anywhere in the city — on time — for $3!
Unlike New York and LA, Chicago has no nightmarish commutes on its trains and busses. The subway here is called the L, a name humbly given to describe the elevated tracks Chicago’s trains run on. All L trains can be found stopping downtown in the Loop, where a major chunk of the population works.
The Chicago Transit Authority, or the CTA, has a total of eight train lines and 140 bus routes that run often on a schedule. It’s pretty affordable, too; a single pass will cost you $2.50, and a transfer to another train line or bus is just a quarter more.
Don’t be surprised if you ever find yourself wishing for a delay, with about 70% of train stations having significant architecture and art installations. And, the ride is just as nice – some might say even better! Running above ground, the trains will take you on backyard visits of chicken coops and juxtapose it with views of the LaSalle Street Bridge as you find yourself crossing the Chicago River.
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Long story short, the transit is quite reliable. However, if you’re traveling from one end of the city to another, we wouldn’t recommend traveling on the L every day, as there aren’t enough lines running from the east of the city to the west. This is also a complaint most Chicagoans have, considering the several changes required to travel between the east and the west parts of the city. Another downer is that the Red Line ends at the 95th street, meaning it fails to reach neighborhoods on the Far South Side.
The Midwest niceness will surpise you
Remember those clubs in school that wouldn’t just send out flyers, but personally insist you join them? That’s somewhat similar to what moving to the Midwest is like. If you find yourself lost and Google Maps just won’t come through, don’t be shy to ask for directions — be assured you will be given a thorough answer without ever being made to feel like you have annoyed the person you asked. You will never find any pushing and shoving in crowded areas.
And if circumstances allow you to take the L in the morning for long enough, chances are you will run into the morning conductor that doesn’t just announce the day’s forecast but also sings his good morning! The camaraderie in Chicago is just as real Midwest niceness, and they successfully add to those things that make your day better, even if you’re not actively searching for them.
The diversity in Chicago is truly charming
If you’re still surprised to learn that Chicago is about as diverse as a city can get, you’re probably just hearing of the city. Chicago’s communities and neighborhoods are tightly knit together in their representation of the city. They have, by default, built what Chicago is — and this is a treat, for anyone who is newly moving to Chicago and fears not feeling at home.
There are Pilsen’s Mexican restaurants and the murals, there are multiple art programs at the Indian American Center, some breathtaking Polish-style cathedrals, the Stony Island Arts Bank’s archive of black history and culture and records in South Shore, Vietnamese noodle shops on Argyle Street, and Indian and Pakistani restaurants on Devon Avenue!
Moving to Chicago can also come with a free history lesson or two if you’re interested! There are 40 cultural heritage museums, and there are plenty of city organizations that host regular film screenings, art shows, and historical exhibitions about the city, as well as the multiple cultures that built it.
If you like walking, you will love Chicago!
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t mind a few walks in the day and the kind that would prefer walking over most mediums of travel whenever possible, you will most definitely love Chicago. It really is a walker’s paradise! Moving to Chicago does come with several perks, and its flat terrain and pristine sidewalks are by far some of our highlights of the area. But a close second is the easy to navigate street grid that makes exploring Chicago quite simple.
WALKER'S PRO TIP: The intersection of Madison Street and State Street is called "zero, zero" and everything else is calculated based on that. All addresses towards the east or west of the State are named accordingly, and similarly, all addressed to the north or south of Maddison are labeled if they fall south or north. The numbers increase depending on their distance from "zero, zero" — and are about 8 blocks to a mile — which means, something in the 800 block is likely to be a mile way!
We definitely recommend being prepared for the initial overwhelm of moving to a new city, if you’re just moving to Chicago. It’s a big city, with a lot to offer and it’ll most definitely take you by surprise — when you least expect it!
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