15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (2023)

15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (1)

Thinking of living in Chicago? You are in good hands.

With a population of 2.7 million, there's no denying that living in Chicago has its perks, but does it live up to the hype?

I've lived in Chicago for 8 years and was asked to share my experience. So today I'm going to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of everyday life in Chicago based on my own experience.

As you read through this list, keep in mind that this is my personal list of the pros and cons of living in Chicago. Not everyone will feel the same.

In any case, I hope you find it useful. Let's do it!

Use:This post is part ofLocal Life Series, where locals share honest thoughts about living in a particular city through comprehensive lists of pros and cons. If you'd like to reach out to the author directly with any questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure you reach the right person.

First, the perks of living in Chicago

#1. People

First, let me start with what I like best about living in Chicago: the people. I don't know what it is, but I swear the people who live in Chicago are some of the nicest I've ever met.

I feel like Chicagoans are really friendly and down to earth, which isn't common in big cities.

When I first moved to Chicago I was constantly lost (surprise, surprise) and I can't remember a single situation where I wasn't approached by someone who was helpful and willing to offer help.

I've lost count of how many helpful interactions I've personally experienced while living in Chicago!

Note!If you are millennial, you will find many like-minded people to befriend while living in Chicago as Chicago is considered one of the best cities in the country.for millennialslive.

#2. cost of living

As in most major cities, the cost of living in Chicago is above the national average. But compared to other major cities, it is by far the cheapest option.

I mean, Chicago rarely appears on lists that rank the most expensive cities in the country for a reason. In fact, you can enjoy living here because it's not prohibitively expensive.

For example, there are many comparisons between Chicago and New York (both cities with skyscrapers), but the difference in the cost of living couldn't be more different.

Sea CNNcost of livingCalculator, a salary of $100,000 in Chicago is equivalent to $199,000 in New York City (that's double!).

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Accommodation alone is 238% more expensive in New York than in Chicago, but you have access to the same amenities as long as you live in Chicago.

I've been playing with the calculator for a while and the theme is the same, Chicago is much cheaper than other major cities in the United States.

I think the harsh winters (we'll cover them in a moment) have something to do with the reasonable cost of living in Chicago. Whatever the reason, you won't find me complaining, that's for sure.

15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (2)

#3. cultural activities

One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is having access to a plethora of cultural activities every day of the week. In fact, Chicago ranks asone of the bestCultural Cities of America.

You'll have access to world-class museums like the Field Museum of Natural History (which rivals New York) and the Art Institute of Chicago.

When you're in the mood for a great performance, there are three epic theaters to choose from: Chicago Theatre, Goodman Theater and Steppenwolf Theater (currently undergoing a $54 million expansion).

Oh, and don't forget, Chicago is known for having one of the best music scenes in the country.

Lollapalooza is a must-visit for music fans, the Chicago Blues Festival is a crowd pleaser, and the myriad jazz festivals will keep you entertained any time of the year, especially in the summer.

15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (3)

#4. the food scene

If you're planning to move to Chicago, one thing is certain: you'll never go hungry.

When most people think of food cities, Chicago doesn't spring to mind, which is a shame considering it's currently considered the citythird best gastronomic cityin the country. you read well

I can tell you firsthand that it lives up to the hype. You will have access to SO many interesting restaurants and cuisines while living in Chicago, I hardly know where to begin.

The diverse food scene is impressive, especially when it comes to ethnic restaurants. Oh, and you'll be remiss to overlook Chicago's famous deep-dish pizzas and loaded hot dogs that were perfected in this city.

Whichever way you look at it, you'll be exposed to an amazing food scene while living in Chicago.

#5. Chicago is a diverse city

Chicago is considered one of the mostracially diversebig cities of America. Approximately 52% of the population identify as white and 29% as black.

I love living in a diverse city because I'm exposed to customs and cultures I didn't grow up with. I've found it fairly easy to make friends with both Chicago natives and recent transplant recipients.

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My circle of friends has gone from being fairly homogenous to a more diverse and interesting circle, a major perk of living in Chicago if you ask me.

15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (4)

#6. The airport is great

As an avid traveler, proximity to a good airport was a major factor in my decision to move to Chicago.

And I don't seem to be alone in this. Considering the amount of business that takes place in the city, tons of people fly to and from Chicago every day, so having an effective airport is non-negotiable.

There are a handful of airports serving Chicago, but the largest one stands out: O'Hare International Airport.

With more than 220 non-stop flights, O'Hare International Airport is thethird largestin the country and served 83 million passengers in 2018 alone.

The efficiency of the Chicago airport is a major benefit of living in Chicago, especially if you fly frequently.

#7. Public transportation

It's hard to find an American city that feels livable without a car, but Chicago is a rare exception. In fact, Chicago's public transit system qualifies as that6th best in the country.

As you know, most people love to hate public transit, but nearly 91% of Chicagoans agree with the public sweat offering, myself included.

Thanks to the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), you'll always get to your destination without fuss or delay.

When I moved to Chicago, I brought my car with me because my job was downtown but I lived in the suburbs. A year after that deal, I decided to move downtown and get rid of the car entirely because parking was becoming an issue and I was happy with the CTA.

It is also worth noting that the metro system is very effective in connecting the suburbs with the city center. So if you're moving to a suburb of Chicago, I recommend trying public transportation for a year before deciding if you want to keep your car.

Based on personal experience, life in Chicago without a car is very easy.

#8th. living costs

Considering the size of Chicago, housing is surprisingly affordable by metropolitan standards. As of 2021, the median cost of a home in Chicago registers a340.000 $.

Let me tell you, coming from New York, that price seems surreal.

But wait, it gets better. Chicago has the fourth highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the US (36 companies total). Generally, these jobs pay higher salaries, which is the average salary in Chicago72.000 $.

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Between reasonable house prices and a decent annual salary, it's actually possible to own a home in Chicago, an achievement most city dwellers can't even dream of.

#9. Sports Culture

Ready for the understatement of the century? If you're a big sports fan, you'll love living in Chicago.

Home to five sports teams (Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks) and 27 championships, living in Chicago is a great option for those who enjoy showing off winning sports teams.

#10. The architecture of the city is world class.

Another unexpected perk of living in Chicago is constant exposure to world-class architecture. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about architecture but still appreciate an aesthetically beautiful building.

Luckily, there's a lot to see in Chicago.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 spawned a revolutionary idea that officially resulted in the modern skyscrapers we see today: buildings made of steel instead of wood, imagine!

These buildings form Chicago's epic skyline, considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

Tip: One of the best ways to enjoy Chicago's grand skyline is by boat, an experience I cannot recommend highly enough.

15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (5)

Disadvantages of moving to Chicago

#1. Winters in Chicago are brutal

Let's address the elephant in the room, shall we?

Winters in Chicago are brutal and I guarantee you'll hate living in Chicago once temperatures drop below freezing, it snows and Lake Michigan freezes over.

The perk of winter in Chicago? I swear that's the only reason real estate prices are reasonable since most people can't commit to spending the winter in Chicago. So I guess it's not all bad?

I'll also add that it gets easier to deal with winter after you've lived one or two. You learn to deal with it, whether it's expensive jackets or impromptu weekend trips to the palm trees and paradise.

One thing I cannot recommend highly enough for people moving to Chicago isPick one of these bad boys. My therapist recommended it a long time ago to help prevent winter depression, and I can't imagine living in Chicago without it (especially in the winter).

15 Honest Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago, Illinois (6)

#2. Traffic is a nightmare.

Make no mistake, traffic becomes part of your daily routine when you live in Chicago.

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In fact, Chicago's notorious traffic is among thosethird worst in the countryDrivers spend an average of 138 hours a year in traffic jams.

You can expect journeys to take 2-3 times as long during rush hour, which really affects your quality of life, believe me (that's why I left my car and moved downtown).

Although Chicago has excellent public transportation, some people cannot imagine getting rid of their car. If you find yourself in this camp, you will spend a lot of time in traffic.

#3. Restricted access to nature.

Before the hate mail is sealed, please remember that I am sharing my personal list of the downsides of living in Chicago. Chicago doesn't offer much in the way of outdoor recreation.

I said it there.

I mean, sure, we're on Lake Michigan, which is nice, but lounging on the beach gets boring after a while. Not to mention that you can only do this for a small part of the year before the cold weather sets in.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the beaches of Lake Michigan, North Avenue, and Oak as much as anyone, but I need more variety.

There are a handful of hiking options, but all require a drive and seldom stand up to the exertion required. In my opinion, one of the biggest downsides of living in Chicago is limited access to nature.

However, I have to admit that Millennium Park is one of the best urban parks I've seen.

#4. High crime rate

Chicago's crime rate is a contentious issue. Half of the residents will tell you it's not as bad as the media makes it out to be, and the other half will tell you it's still too high to be comfortable with.

So let's focus on the facts and statistics. But fair warning: these statistics are grey.

It was 2018561 registered homicidesin Chicago almost twice as high as in New York City, which has three times the population.

That doesn't mean the whole city is unsafe, but that there are certain places to avoid. You must conduct a thorough investigation before moving to Chicago as crime is a factor.

It's worth noting that I've lived in Chicago for over 8 years and haven't had any creepy encounters, but I'm also very alert and rarely stay downtown after midnight, especially alone.

#5. the flat landscape

Growing up between mountains and forests, I didn't realize how much I would miss a diverse landscape until I moved to Chicago.

If you are a nature lover, you have to drive a considerable distance (more than 2 days) to penetrate the mountainous area. For me, the flat landscape gets boring over time and I scratch the wall several times a year in a desperate search for varied terrain and serious nature.

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Moving to Chicago (Post Summary)

In short, these are the honest ins and outs of living in Chicago, Illinois..

  1. people are friendly
  2. cost of living
  3. cultural activities
  4. the food scene
  5. Chicago is diverse
  6. The airport
  7. Public transportation
  8. living costs
  9. Sports Culture
  10. Chicago architecture
  11. winters are hard
  12. Traffic is a nightmare.
  13. Restricted access to nature.
  14. High crime rate
  15. The landscape is flat

And there you have it, my friends: a quick recap of the ins and outs of living in Chicago. Feel free to reach out to other readers with helpful questions or comments.

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