So, you’re moving to Chicago. Whether it be for work or pleasure, there are many great features this beautiful city has to offer. But keep in mind that like all cities, Chicago is not perfect; it will have its advantages as well as disadvantages. So, it’s important to know what you will be moving into beforehand to avoid unexpected surprises when you get there.
In a nutshell, if you love diversity, exploring different cultures, sports, and art, but don’t mind the cold, this city is the one for you. Here are some more tips on what to know before moving to Chicago.
1. Get used to the Cold
Even if you are from the Midwest, Chicago winters can be more brutal than you expect. They surely don’t call it the Windy City for nothing, so in addition to sub-zero temperatures in January, nothing will scream cold with the burst of wind coming from all directions.
You will also find yourself missing the sun after leaving work, making it feel later earlier in the day. Despite many indoor and winter activities, it’s easy for many residents to feel lonely and even depressed. This is the season of “hibernation” where almost nobody goes out and those who do are scurrying with 5 layers of heavy clothing to get where they need to be.
As horrible as this might seem, most Chicagoans can say that if you can bear through the winters, all other Chicago challenges will be a cake walk. So, pick up some heavy blankets, a humidifier, and a winter jacket after you finish unpacking and you’ll be fine.
2. Get to know the CTA
Advantages: Similar to other cities, there’s not much room for parking, and even if you do manage to find a spot, it will be expensive. So, if you are considering leaving your car behind, the CTA will be your best friend with the opportunity to travel almost anywhere in the city. Be sure to study the map as it will have different colors for each route as well as stops where you can transfer lines. When you feel more confident with the trains, you can then incorporate the bus routes, coordinating pick up and arrival times with the train stops.
Disadvantages: While the CTA offers many options for getting around the city, it’s not known for being on time. So, you will have to allow extra time before arriving to your destination or else you will learn the hard way after being late for a job interview! Lastly, if you are driving in the city, buses may slow you down with frequent stops; it’s recommended to stay in the left lane.
3. Consider ditching the car
Other than road trips and visiting friends and family in the suburbs, there’s really no reason for having a car in the city. With the CTA and biking being cheap and efficient, you can count on them for getting you to your destination in the least amount of time possible.
If you ask any Chicagoan who still drives in the city, they will say it’s the most stressful part of their day. Everything from sitting in traffic, parking tickets, speed cameras, parking fees, door dings, and reckless driving will all scream that it’s not worth it, in addition to shoveling out money for monthly payments and maintenance.
Besides, if for any reason you did need to use a car, for example coming home late from a friend’s house, just call an Uber or Lyft driver. Let them pay the mental and financial price of owning a car in the city while you sit back and relax in the backseat.
4. Grab a bike and go
Even if you prefer walking to biking, you may want to consider making some changes after moving to Chicago. It’s big and parking is expensive. Walking can take a while and driving can even take longer during rush hour.
So, biking is really your best option, and after you try it, you will be surprised at how convenient, fast, and cheap it is. In fact, biking is actually encouraged in this city, providing tons of bike lanes and side streets to take shortcuts that offer the fastest option for getting you to your destination. You can even rent bikes just by picking up in one location and leaving it at another. Just don’t forget to wear a helmet, use hand signals, and bring a change of clothes after coming into work all sweaty.
5. Take advantage of summer events and festivals
Despite it being cold for many months out of the year, Chicago has some amazing features that you won’t want to miss out on during warmer temperatures. Everything from the beach, rooftop bars, parks, to the famous Lollapalooza music festival, you won’t have any trouble finding something to do on the weekends.
Although when you do go to these places, you’ll find that everyone will talk about the weather. How can they not when it’s constantly changing? With temperatures starting at 35 degrees in the morning and 60 by noon, you may find yourself doing the same thing with a stranger on the way to work in the morning!
6. Go to at least one sports game
Everyone knows that the Chicago Bears are one of the worst football teams in the NFL, but the city’s fans still remain loyal, hoping for that one year they will make it to the Superbowl. In the winter everyone flees the cold temperatures and flocks to the sports bars to watch the famous Blackhawks. After winning the Stanley Cup three times in five years, don’t be surprised to hear shouting coming from your local bar during game nights.
Just as every season bring new excitement for Chicago sports fans, you may find yourself invited to one or even several Chicago Cubs or White Sox games in the spring or summer time. Even if the home team doesn’t win, you can expect enough entertainment from the excitement of the fans to make the game worthwhile. You also won’t want to be missing out on the food.
7. Try out the authentic food
You’ll have to say goodbye to putting ketchup on your hotdog, because it’s frowned upon in this city. In Chicago, the toppings on all hotdogs include: mustard, sport peppers, relish, onion, and pickle, all on a poppy seed bun of course. Why? That’s another story.
You will also want to try out the Italian beef, featuring fresh, thinly sliced strips of beef dripping with au jus as well as cheese and peppers on a bed of French bread. Your arteries may not thank you for it but your taste buds surely will.
There are also many other foods to try in this unique city, such as the polish sausage and jibarito. So, you’ll definitely have to do some exploring on the weekends after you nail that job interview.
8. Choose your neighborhood wisely
Chicago may be one city but no two neighborhoods are alike. There are a total of 77 unique neighborhoods with their own rich history, attractions, personality, and culture. So, definitely do your research and choose wisely before signing your lease and getting stuck for a year in a neighborhood that doesn’t match your lifestyle. Here is a little information about each one to get an idea for which you can see yourself living in:
- North side: This area is loaded with things to do. Living here will allow you easy and convenient access to all home Cubs games, boutique shopping in Bucktown, and other local gigs.
- West side: If you’re looking for a cultural experience, this is the best place for you. It’s full of ethnic restaurants, including Little Village with a strong Mexican style as well as unique monuments, murals, and churches.
- Downtown: If you’re looking for a fancy lifestyle and have the financial ability to make it happen, you’ll definitely want to live downtown with all the action. You’ll be in the heart of it all with Millennium Park, numerous bars, Buckingham Fountain, art galleries, and tons of shopping on Michigan Avenue, all within walking distance of your humble abode.
- South side: This side is also rich in diversity and culture. Everything from the food in Chinatown to the monuments in Bronzeville will you see nothing anywhere else but here.
New Resident Tip: As you can recall that free parking is strictly limited, if still existent in Chicago, then you’ll want to get a sticker for your car (if you still have one) right away. Otherwise, making the mistake of leaving your car overnight on a permit-only street can bring the surprise of finding a nice yellow boot on it the next day.
9. There’s something different on every block
Confining yourself within a few mile radius of your new home would be one of the worst mistakes made as a new resident. No matter where you go in the city, you will find something new on every corner. From museums and monuments to beaches and skyscrapers, exploring the city is definitely something to take advantage of.
Even without knowing one other person in this gigantic city, you will be sure to meet at least someone by the end of the week by opening yourself up to something new at these places. You will also find that one place in particular can eat up your whole day, such as going to the Garfield Park Conservatory. With four and a half acres of plants, it’s even likely that you won’t be able to cover the entire area in just one day.
10. Visit the beaches when possible
Unlike NYC and LA, Chicago doesn’t border the ocean, but it still has everything a beach has to offer. Despite only being able to visit during the summer months, Chicago’s beaches are one of the best places for family and friends to hang out, go swimming, play volleyball, and finally having the chance to work on that tan.
Another great advantage about these beaches is that tourists don’t think much of it, allowing you to get to know the locals on the 26 miles of sand it has to offer. Some of the most popular beaches include 31st Street Beach, recommended for parents and kids, Montrose Beach, recommended for residents with dogs, and North Avenue Beach, recommended for the best entertainment. With so much to see and enjoy, there will never be a dull moment at these beaches.
11. Consider renting instead of buying
Chicago is definitely a renter’s city as it’s rare to find real estate with prices that even come close to being reasonable. If you’re considering moving downtown and don’t have a significant other to help cover costs, you’ll definitely want to look into getting a roommate.
The first months of negotiating who will pay which bill and acclimating to each other’s living habits can be stressful, but after saving hundreds and even thousands in rent, more often than not, it will be worth it. But if you’re not able to find a friend to move in with, there are apps and websites that can help you find someone that matches your lifestyle pretty quickly. This is also another great way to make your first friend!
12. Prepare to get competitive at work
While many residents are moving out of the Windy City, there are still plenty that will take your dream job if you aren’t aggressive. If you are moving here for pleasure, you’ll have to do more than just update your resumé. With nearly 400 applicants for one job listing, it will need some work in order for you to stand out and get that call for an interview.
Thankfully, there are free services and blogs that provide tips as well as personal recommendations to make yours stand out. So, you will have to do some work in order to find work in this city.
But resumés aren’t everything in Chicago. With so much competition, it’s really about connections and who you know that will give you a real chance at nailing the job. So, what happens when you don’t know anyone in the city? Don’t be deterred; many applicants are in the same boat. That’s why there a number of career fairs, especially on the weekends, giving you the chance to match numerous faces with different companies. So, going to at least one job fair can significantly improve your chances of having your resumé pulled out of a giant stack to go in for the interview. Good luck!
Get Ready to Move to Chicago
As you can see, moving to Chicago is definitely exciting after learning about its food, events, culture, sports, traditions, and more. And despite the cold, real estate, and traffic problems, it can be easy to fall in love with the Windy city. But just like any city, you don’t want to move in blindly and hope for the best; doing your research ahead of time will help mentally, emotionally, and financially prepare you for what to expect when the big day comes.
In addition to researching the city, finding a moving company that can help you get there is crucial. When searching, research more than just the prices. Find out what services are included, their experience, reviews, and professionalism because you don’t want to run into any complications on the big day.
One company that comes highly recommended that is also located in the Chicagoland area is Mid-West Moving & Storage. From moving individuals out of apartments to moving companies across the country, these professionals are efficient and extremely careful when handling your belongings.
Mid-West Moving & Storage also provides storage and packing services, allowing you to focus on your transition into a new city instead of worrying about which items to pack together and when.
For more information or a free estimate regarding the moving services provided by Mid-West Moving & Storage, give them a call at (888) 722-8863.