Moving to Chicago


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4 out of 5

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  • Property affordability 5 out of 5

  • Climate 4 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Move to Chicago and you’ll automatically see that there’s always something happening in this vibrant city. It is packed with world class art museums, huge parks, sandy beaches and impressive architecture to enjoy.

Chicago is a bustling midwest metropolis: the third largest city in the USA behind New York and Los Angeles. With a population of nearly three million at last census, its iconic skyline stretches across the shore of Lake Michigan.

Chicago has a collection of cultural institutions and galleries that are among the best in the world, including Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. It’s also known as the birthplace of the skyscraper and has a wealth of important architecture, including important works by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

One of the most diverse cities in the USA, Chicago and it is made up of many ethnic neighbourhoods that embody the essence of cultures from around the world, from Chinatown to Little Italy to Greentown to the Polish Village. Moving to Chicago means that you will have an endless smorgasbord of art, theatre, historic attractions, music, nightlife, cuisine and other entertainment to feast on.

Job market

The job market in Chicago is strong compared to the rest of the US and in the past year unemployment has been falling and hiring has been accelerating. The economy in the city in 2015 has been looking it’s best since the recession.

Some sectors in Chicago are recovering faster than others, such as:


The healthcare industry is one of the sectors that is expected to see the most growth in the coming decade, especially in professions such as personal care aides and in home care. As baby boomers age there is also a demand for physical therapists.

Restaurant and hospitality

There is a lot of demand in Chicago for chefs and sous chefs in the high end dining industry, as there are a number of top notch restaurants that have opened up recently in the city. Also, there are plenty of opportunities for mixologists, as there are many swanky cocktail bars where high priced drinks are in demand.

Software development

Technology is an area of rapid job growth in Chicago and there is a lot of demand for app developers and web developers. Chicago is the top US city for growth stage technology companies, according to data from the Illinois Technology Association.

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Living costs

The cost of living in Chicago will depend on which area of the city you live in, the city offers a range of neighbourhoods that will suit any price point.


There is a wide selection of food in Chicago, so it’s easy to find something that suits your budget and tastes. A lunchtime menu in the business district will usually cost around $13 and a fancier three course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will usually cost around $70. A beer at a bar will cost around $5-$6 – and don’t forget that tipping your server and bartender is expected in the USA.

As in most places in the USA, it’s almost always cheaper to shop at the grocery store than to dine in a restaurant. In a typical grocery store a liter of milk will cost around 90 cents, a loaf of bread will cost about $2.75 and 12 eggs will cost around $3.25.


The cost of an average one bedroom apartment in the city centre will be around $1,500 and outside of the city centre would be $1,000. For example, a 1,000 square foot one bedroom apartment in the Gold Coast area might cost around $2100 while an apartment of the same size in Lincoln Park might cost $1,250.

Utilities such as heating, electricity and gas for two people will usually be around $200 per month and internet will cost around $55 monthly.

Property information

According to data from the National Housing Trend Report, the median list price in Chicago was $189,000 in 2014, which was up 11.8% from 2013. This means that Chicago is close to the national median list price of $195,000.

Chicago is grouped into four sides, West Side, Central, North Side and South Side, and home prices vary greatly depending on location. For example, according to data from Trulia the real estate aggregator, the average listing price in Lincoln Park (a community north of downtown) was $1.04 million and in nearby North Park the average price was $244,977.

In the Central region you could get a one bedroom and one bathroom condo or loft for around $200,000, which would include a fitness room, extra storage, roof decks, heated parking and 24 hour security. If you are looking for properties on the South Side, you will find older homes from the early 1900s with three bedrooms for around the $200,000 range. On the West Side the same price will get you condos with one or two bedrooms.


Chicago has many distinctive neighbourhoods, so take to time to learn more about them so that you can choose the right one for your preferences and lifestyle.

Family Friendly: Lincoln Square is a neighbourhood with a German flavour and it is home to thousands of young parents with kids. Along with a traditional German Christmas market, an Oktoberfest and many German restaurant, it also boasts many safe and welcoming parks and lots of properties with large yards. At the Old Town School of Folk Music there are plenty of activities for tots including guitar lessons to monthly jam sessions.Andersonville is also popular with families, as it offers great restaurants, easy access to public transportation and lots of fun activities within walking distance. Other kid-friendly areas of the city include West Ridge, Beverly, and Rogers Park.

Upmarket: The most well known neighbourhoods in Chicago for luxury properties are the Gold Coast and Streeterville. These communities on the lakefront feature tree-lined streets with gorgeous historic architecture and they are close to some of Chicago’s best attractions including the Navy Pier, the John Hancock Center and the Magnificent Mile.The Loop, the business center of Chicago, offers a mix of luxury condos, penthouses and lofts located right in the main hub of the city. Or, if you are seeking a bit of peace and quiet just outside of the city the small village of Bannockburn features beautiful newly built mansions on grass covered estates surrounded by a pleasant wooded landscape.

Hip and Trendy: Where do the hipsters of Chicago hang out? Wicker Park has been well known as a haven of hipsterdom since the late 1980s and it is bursting with boutiques, galleries, music venues and ethnic food options. Logan Square and Bucktown is also a very trendy area and features plenty of great rock music venues and dive bars.

Up & Coming: Avondale is located just north of Logan Square and it boasts some of the hottest restaurants in the city, so it’s a great place to get a property before it’s hot.Edgewater is also a great up and coming option, only a stone’s throw away from the pricier Ravenswood, Uptown, and Andersonville neighbourhoods, yet still offering great public transportation, plenty of options for apartments and excellent Thai, Cantonese and Ethiopian cuisine.Humboldt Park also offers low price points, budget friendly dining and lots of coffee houses, making it popular with young professionals.

Cost of moving to Chicago

When moving to Chicago there are a few things to consider, chiefly how you will transport all of your worldly belongings to your new city. Take a look at this chart for an idea of the estimated costs for moving to Chicago, based on the cost of a one bedroom flat:

Hong Kong£3,000

School and education

There are many excellent private, public and charter schools in Chicago and the surrounding area. The public schools are free, publicly funded and adhere to a standard curriculum. There are also private schools that charge a fee for attendance and usually have a more specialised curriculum.

Public schools are zoned so they are obliged to accept all children within the school zone in which you live. Private schools will typically have entrance requirements and waiting lists, so you will need to request entry for your child as early as possible.

Make sure that you research schools and homes at the same time, as one might affect the other. Selecting a school will depend on the neighbourhood where you choose to live, as the boundaries of the neighbourhood will determine which school your child attends.

Universities in Chicago

Chicago has been one of the most distinguished centres of higher education in America for many years. Northwest University, the University of Chicago and other academic institutions in the city have been acclaimed throughout the world.

Creative minded students can study at the Illinois Institute of Art or the American Academy of Art and those who dream of a career in business will be right at home at the Chicago Booth School of Business.

There are also plenty of trade schools in Chicago such as Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, DeVry University (technology) and the ITT Technical Institute.

Ranking against the world

Chicago is a thriving city and an international financial hub. It serves as the region’s gateway to the globe and attracts investment from all over the world. The strong business community here is fueled by the best top shelf universities, such as the Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Another third place for Chicago is its status as home to the third most prolific movie industry in the USA, after Los Angeles and New York. There have been many films made here including Adventures in Babysitting, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Blues Brothers, High Fidelity and Batman Begins.

Chicago’s climate through the seasons

SpringMarch to May3 to 15°C1.4 to 3.4 inches
SummerJune to August20 to 30°C2 to 4 inches
AutumnSeptember to NovemberDecreasing from 18 to 4°C3 to 4 inches
WinterDecember to FebruaryDecreasing -3 to -6°C1.5 to 2.7 inches

A day in the life

A typical day of a Chicago resident will depend on what you like to do – there is a lot of diversity in the city and you are sure to find the niche that suits you best.

This is a great city for culture lovers, as there is a fantastic theatre scene, plenty of live music events, lots of high quality galleries and beautiful architecture.

If you love the great outdoors you won’t be far away from Lake Michigan where you can enjoy hiking, windsurfing, paddle boarding and boating.

Moving to Chicago ensures that you will live in a city that is a lot of fun, very affordable and there are many choices for things to do every day and night in the city. No matter what you’re into, be it sports, food, or working, you’ll find yourself at home in Chicago.

Chicago’s events calendar

EventMonthWhy you should go
Underground Film FestivalAprilHeld at Gene Siskel Film Centre, anyone can submit a film: feature, documentary or experimental films are all welcome
Chicago Blues FestivalMayLargest free Blues Festival, a 4 day event that’s been going since 1984
Pride ParadeJuneLGBT parade that starts on the corner of Halstead and Belmont, and heads to Lincoln Park
Pitchfork Music FestivalJuly3 day event showcasing over 40 bands across 3 stages, designed to promote independent music
Taste of ChicagoJulyWorld’s largest food festival, also held in Grant Park in the last week of June and the first of July
Air and Water ShowAugustThe largest spectator event in the USA. Every year, over 2 million people gather along North Avenue Beach to watch plane and boat –based spectacles
Chicago Jazz FestivalAugustA free two-day event held before Labour Day in Grant Park
LollapaloozaAugustBiggest annual music event in Chicago happens in Grant Place over 3 days and 3 nights
Magnificent Mile Lights FestivalNovemberWith a tap of his cane, Mickey Mouse lights 1,000,000 lights along the 200 trees lining Magnificent Mile