Living in Chicago Illinois


Chicago is a vibrant city known for its rich culture, world-class music and theaters, and excellent amenities. We’ve gathered insights from locals to help you understand what it’s like to live in the Windy City, from the cost of living and neighborhoods to schools, transportation, and cultural experiences.

Living in Chicago Illinois

Life in Chicago Illinois is like having a multitude of cities within one. The experience you’ll have depends largely on your choice of neighborhood, with each of the city’s 77 official community areas offering a unique personality. Whether it’s the summer festivals, beach days, and fireworks or the winter ice skating and holiday cheer, Chicago caters to all seasons. The expansive Museum Campus is a cultural gem, watching the Cubs play is a beloved local pastime, and festivals seem never-ending. Residents tend to be friendly, especially in warm weather, but the bitter cold of winter can bring out a different side.

The Cost of Living in Chicago

Moving to Chicago Illinois can be expensive. The city imposes a 10.25 percent combined state and local sales tax, a 2.25 percent sales tax on groceries, a .25 percent restaurant tax, and one of the nation’s highest property taxes. For a clearer picture of Chicago’s cost of living, you can use various online calculators. The city does offer substantial job opportunities in industries like finance, publishing, manufacturing, and food processing. Resources like Fortune magazine’s list of the best companies to work for, Built in Chicago (tech startups),, and The Muse also offer valuable information about job opportunities.

Getting Around Chicago

Chicago’s public transportation is a significant asset. Due to the challenges of parking and traffic, many residents forgo car ownership. The Chicago Transit Authority’s L trains and buses provide extensive coverage, while the Metra train system connects the city with its suburbs. Taxis and ride-sharing services are popular, and cycling is made easy with bike lanes on most streets and Divvy rental stations. Chicago boasts two major airports, O’Hare International and Midway, offering excellent connectivity, although severe winter weather can cause delays. Additionally, Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus, and other coach services provide ground transportation options.

Crime in Chicago

Chicago’s history includes notorious figures like Al Capone, but in recent years, the city has been combating its reputation as the “murder capital.” Efforts have led to a significant decrease in violent crime and shootings, with a 30% reduction in shooting victims over the past two years.

Chicago’s Best Neighborhoods

Having more than 200 neighborhoods to choose from can be overwhelming. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the most sought-after areas:

  • Chinatown: Explore the Chinese culture, eat at authentic Chinese restaurants, visit specialty shops, and enjoy proximity to the largest Chinese mall in the Midwest, Chinatown Square.
  • Wicker Park/Bucktown (North Chicago): These creative hubs offer live music, art galleries, restaurants, and shopping. The 606, a former railroad track turned into a 2.7-mile path, adds to the charm.
  • Humboldt Park (West Chicago): Boasting Spanish-Colonial architecture and vibrant Puerto Rican culture, this neighborhood features the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture.
  • Bridgeport (South Chicago): A working-class neighborhood with a blend of politics and art, known for its White Sox pride.

Educational Opportunities in Chicago

Chicago is home to a large number of schools, including 1,958 educational institutions. Chicago Public Schools, the largest district, serves more than 341,000 students. While there are excellent public and private schools in the city and its suburbs, academic performance varies across districts.

  • Public Schools: Many public schools in Chicago are above average, but there is room for growth in academic performance. Graduation rates are competitive but vary across districts.
  • Private Schools: Chicago offers several renowned private schools, providing alternative education options.
  • Suburban Schools: Suburbs near Chicago have excellent public schools, although diversity levels can differ. Extensive research will help you find the right fit for your family.

Top School Districts: Notable school districts in Chicago include New Trier Township High School District No. 203, Glenbrook High Schools District 225, and Adlai E. Stevenson High School District No. 125.

Culture and Nightlife

Garfield Park Conservatory: The local go-to spot for residents during the harsh winters, this enormous conservatory boasts thousands of plant species and various community events.

Shopping Local: Explore unique finds at the Randolph Street Market for antiques and the Logan Square Farmers Market for fresh produce and locally made goods.

Art, Jazz, and Pizza: Visit the Art Institute of Chicago to admire world-famous pieces. Jazz enthusiasts will enjoy the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. And don’t miss trying Chicago’s renowned deep-dish pizza at places like Pequod’s Pizza.

While the cost of living and the choice of the right neighborhood are important considerations, the city’s numerous amenities and opportunities make it a compelling destination to call home. It’s no wonder this city remains a top destination to visit and live in the United States.

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Q : Is Chicago a good place to live?

A : Chicago can be an excellent place to live, but it’s important to consider your priorities and preferences. The city offers a rich cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, and numerous job opportunities. However, the cost of living, weather, and some issues with crime can be factors to weigh in your decision

Q : What are the pros and cons of living in Chicago?

A : Pros: Vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, job opportunities; Cons: High cost of living, variable weather, some safety concerns.

Q : What is the average living wage Chicago?

A : The average living wage in Chicago varies but is generally estimated to be around $15 to $20 per hour.

Q : What’s it like to live in Chicago?

A : What is it like to live in Chicago? Well, living in Chicago offers a vibrant urban experience with rich cultural offerings, diverse neighborhoods, and excellent amenities. However, it also comes with a higher cost of living and occasionally challenging weather.

Q : What is a living wage in Illinois?

A : In Illinois, a living wage varies by location but is generally estimated to be around $13 to $16 per hour to cover basic expenses like housing, food, and transportation.

Q : What is the quality of life in Chicago?

A : Chicago offers a good quality of life with its cultural richness, job opportunities, and amenities, but it can be affected by factors like cost of living and weather.

Q : What are the reasons to move to Chicago?

A : People move to Chicago for its vibrant culture, diverse neighborhoods, job opportunities, excellent educational institutions, and an array of cultural and entertainment options. The city’s rich history and world-class amenities also makes it an attractive place to live.

Chris is a Midwest Transplant that has lived in South Florida since 1999. While he likes to remain active and is an avid sports enthusiast, he's become our go-to provider of reviews of any establishment serving food and booze!