7 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Chicago

So, you’re thinking about moving to the Windy City? Congratulations! As the third most populous city in the United States, Chicago is home to plenty of urban attractions and culinary hot spots. On the other hand, the city’s midwestern roots are apparent in its historic landmarks and verdant parks. Chicago is divided into 77 distinct districts. Each one has its own distinct appearance, history, and culture, so it’s important to do your homework before you make the move.

1. Chicago has 77 distinct districts

Chicago’s major districts include the North, South, and West Sides, as well as the business district–a.k.a. the Loop. The North Side is primarily residential and runs along the banks of Lake Michigan. It’s also home to the Chicago Cubs and Lincoln Park. The South Side is the largest district in the city. It’s encompasses more than 50% of the city’s land mass and houses the University of Chicago and the Chicago White Sox. Chicago’s West Side is known for high levels of crime. However, many of the neighborhoods near downtown Chicago are currently undergoing gentrification. Last, but not least, the Loop earned its name from an elevated railway that circles the business district. This area includes City Hall and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

2. It’s one of the most affordable big cities

Chicago is one of the most affordable big cities in the United States. The median value of a single-family home is approximately $222,000. Compare that to New York ($672,400) and Los Angeles ($629,900). Renters can also expect to see lower price tags on apartments and rental home. In Chicago, one-bedroom flats run between $1,450 and $1,950, while New York and Los Angeles offer prices of $2,000 and up. With regards to the city’s four districts, the North side tends to be more expensive, while the south side is generally more affordable.

3. It’s also one of the worst cities for commuters

Chicago’s size and population make it one of the worst cities for commuters. Within city limits, Chicago’s average commute time is approximately 33.4 minutes, eight minutes longer than the national average. To make matters worse, morning and evening rush hours last for nearly four hours apiece. On the other hand, Chicago offers more than 200 miles of protected, on-street, and shared bike lanes. Chicago also has a rapid-transit system known as “the L.” With train rides for $2.25 and busses for $2.00, this option is usually the fastest and cheapest.

4. The job market isn’t very competitive

Chicago’s job marketing is growing, but it’s not quite as robust those in other major US cities. During 2016, Chicago’s unemployment rate fell from 5.4 percent to 4.1. However, the job market also shrunk by nearly 70,000 positions. So while the unemployment rate fell, it was likely due to retirement or relocation, not the creation of new jobs. These statistics have led to some publications to call Chicago’s job market “the least competitive in the United States.” Nevertheless, Chicago’s is home to 30 plus Fortune 500 companies. Some of the largest employers in the city include Boeing, Walgreens, Sears, Hyatt Hotels, and Discover Financial Services.

5. Chicago has its own cuisine

Economic concerns aside, Chicago is filled with decadent restaurants and eclectic watering holes. River North, located in the Near North district, is home to some of the finest dining establishments in the city. For authentic deep dish pizza, make a reservation at Lou Malnati’s. For a savory steak, stop by Chicago Cut or TPM Steak. You can also quench your thirst at a rooftop bar like the Vertigo Sky Lounge or ZED451. Other notable restaurants include Schaller’s Pump, Hot Doug’s, and The Billy Goat Tavern.

6. There is no shortage of green space

From the banks of Lake Michigan to the top of the Sears Tower, Chicago is filled with bike paths, jogging trails, and public parks. Lincoln Park, the largest of Chicago’s recreational areas, includes a bird sanctuary, paddleboat lagoon, and even a zoo. Other notable parks include Grant Park and Millennium Park. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also drive outside the city to raft along the Vermillion River or hike through Starved Rock State Park. If you end up deciding to relocate to an elegant, recreational area of Chicago, there are plenty of ways to keep your home fresh with modern design.

7. You can always find something to do

As the largest city in the midwest, Chicago really does have attractions for everyone. Lifelong learners can explore the Field Museum of Natural History or the Museum of Science and Industry, while art buffs can experience the Museum of Contemporary Art or the DePaul Art Museum. For family-friendly activities, stop by the the Legoland Discovery Center, the Chicago Children’s Museum, or the Shedd Aquarium. Last, but not least, Chicago is also home the one and only Lollapalooza.