Thinking about moving to Chicago?
Well, we can’t blame you. The nation’s third-largest city boasts some of the nation’s finest museums, theater, restaurants, bars and so much more. Nestled along the shores of the stunning Lake Michigan and home to iconic architecture, Chicago serves as a picturesque backdrop for life in the city.
The Windy City is also a city made up of many distinct neighborhoods and enclaves, each of them home to a slightly different flavor of Chicago life. Whether it’s the taquerias and art galleries of Pilsen or the sports bars and boutiques of Lakeview, the city has a little something for everyone. Our guide to Chicago’s top neighborhoods will help you find the right match for you, and our list of Chicago’s best realtors will help you find the home of your dreams.
Like any large city, traffic can occasionally be a frustrating part of life in Chicago, though nowhere near as bad as the sort of commutes synonymous with cities like LA and San Francisco. U.S. News and World Report ranked Chicago eighth in its latest list of the nation’s worst traffic cities, reporting that Chicago commuters spent an average of 60 hours in traffic in 2015. That’s compared to 81 in LA.
To avoid rush hour traffic, many Chicagoans rely on public transit to get to work, particularly if they work in the Loop or within city limits. The Chicago Transit Authority operates eight rail lines and 140 bus routes to get you around town, while the Metra offers 11 lines that connect the Chicago suburbs to the city. Other Chicagoans use the city’s bike lanes — and 19 miles of lakefront bike paths — to get to work.
If you’re moving to Chicago, you should be prepared for the city’s weather. As you’ve probably heard, winters in the Windy City can occasionally get very cold, though probably not as brutal as you might think. The city averages seven days a year where the temperature doesn’t climb above zero degrees. As for the white stuff, Chicago typically records its first snowfall of at least an inch in early December and the average annual snowfall clocks in at just under 40 inches.
On the flip side, summers in the city can get very humid, particularly in July and August. But toward the early and latter parts of the season, Chicago’s weather is tough to beat. Those are the days you’ll want to be sure to spend as much time outdoors as you can get away with.
Summer average (June — Aug): 82 ℉ high, 62 ℉ low
Winter average (Dec — Feb): 38 ℉ high, 22 ℉ low
Chicago’s economy has seen better days, though there are some signs of optimism.
In recent years, employment figures in the Loop, the city’s central business district, have been improving significantly — to the extent that Crain’s called it the nation’s “hottest urban center.” A number of major Chicago-area employers including Motorola Solutions, Kraft Heinz and ConAgra have been relocating their businesses from the suburbs to downtown. In 2016, McDonald’s announced they would be following that trend.
Other major employers in Chicago include Fortune 500 headquarters like United, Walgreen, Boeing, Archer Daniels Midland, Exelon, Abbott Laboratories and Allstate.
Unemployment rate: 6.9% (as of April 2016)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,267 (fourth quarter 2015)