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All About

Living In Chicago, IL

Getting to Know Chicago, IL

Chicago is more than just a windy city - it's diverse metropolis with something for everyone. There's a lot to do here, from professional theater to world-class dining, and it's easy to get from place to place with Chicago Transit Authority's public transportation. You can find the apartment that's just right for you because there's so much in the city. 

Areas of Chicago

To experience the city at its finest, you have to live there. The only question now is: In which part of Chicago? That depends on your interests. Here are some neighborhoods that stand out for some reason or another: 

  • Andersonville: Andersonville may as well be its own quirky, small town, rather than part of the North Side of the city. With a number of unusual local businesses and big, impressive-looking homes, it's not like the rest of the city. A large value is placed on community here, with some even putting the start of the "shop local" movement in Chicago in this neighborhood. 
  • Hyde Park: Living in Hyde Park is living in history. Here's where the Chicago World's Fair took place, where you can visit the Museum of Science and Industry and where Barack Obama lived. Since it's home to the University of Chicago, there's also a strong college-town feeling to the neighborhood. 
  • Lincoln Park: Are you looking for great restaurants, theaters, and high-end retailers and boutiques? You can live right in the middle of that in Lincoln Park. Of course, don't forget the namesake park, which is 1200+ acres of outdoors open year-round. 
  • Logan Square: Is Logan Square the home for hipsters in Chicago? Maybe, but many great things come with that. The streets are bike-friendly, there are many good but inexpensive restaurants, and everything is local. It's one of the more sought-after neighborhoods, and for good reason. If that's what you're looking for, there's nowhere better in the city. 
  • Oak Park: While not technically part of Chicago, Oak Park is right next to the West Side of the city. It's a much more affordable area to live in, great for families with high-quality public schools and family friendly neighborhoods. 

Did You Know?

Chicago is divided into three main sections, the South Side, North Side and West Side. Make sure you use the correct names if you want to sound like a local or just find your way around the city. If you're looking to make new friends in the area, sign up for an improv class at The Second City, the nation's most influential improv theater and a launching pad for comedy's most familiar faces.

Seasonal Activities

Chicago has all four seasons, one of the great things about living here. You can ice skate and watch the snow fall in the summer, or go out to the lakefront in the summer - you have more than 20 miles of lakefront and 15 miles of beaches to take advantage of. The spring also brings flowers and the leaves change in the winter, giving you the full experience of all the seasons. 

Landmark Cultural Attractions in Chicago

Chicago is known for its breathtaking architecture and public art, including world-famous landmarks like Willis Tower (better known by its old name, Sears Tower), Cloud Gate (often known as "The Bean"), and John Hancock Center. You can also explore some of the most-visited museums in the country, such as Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Children's Museum. At Chicago's lakefront Museum Campus, you'll find The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, and Shedd Aquarium.

The performing arts give you some of everything, so take a visit to the Downtown Theatre District. The theaters range from large to small and host touring Broadway shows or edgy independent plays and everything in between. To start with, look at Cadillac Palace Theatre and the Tony-award-winning Goodman Theatre.

Public Transportation and Commuting in Chicago

You can easily explore with Chicago's many forms of public transit. If your destination isn't within walking distance of your new apartment, you can hop on a bus or board the above-ground subway, part of the L system that loops around the city. It's easy to find a cab, or even take a water taxi along the lakeshore or Chicago River - weather permitting, of course. Chicago also features two international airports, O'Hare and Midway, which together offer service to more than 245 cities.

Top 5 Festivals and Seasonal Events in Chicago

Chicago offers an abundance of festivals and holiday celebrations throughout the year. Here are a few of the many exciting events the city offers:

  • St. Patrick's Day Parade: Every spring, the city dyes the Chicago River green just before floats, Irish dancers and marching bands take part in one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country.
  • Chicago Pride Parade: Counted among the most well-known Pride events in the U.S., this four-mile parade through Boystown features more than 200 floats and is bookended by dozens of parties at local bars, restaurants and clubs.
  • Lollapalooza: This legendary music festival welcomes indie favorites like Arcade Fire, hip-hop icons like Chance the Rapper and new, up-and-coming bands to Grant Park every summer.
  • ZooLights: View more than 100 light displays, pay a visit to Santa Claus and watch live ice carving at the Lincoln Park Zoo's winter holiday celebration.
  • Christkindlmarket: One of Chicago's most distinctive holiday traditions, Christkindlmarket was inspired by the traditional Christmas celebration held in Nuremberg. Sample authentic German food while browsing hundreds of booths selling gifts and crafts.

Free Things to Do in Chicago

Chicago offers museums, theaters and restaurants, but you can also enjoy the city's many free activities, such as seeing Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, strolling through Chicago Botanic Garden, and exploring the Lincoln Park Conservatory

Sports & Recreation

During the summer, visit historic Wrigley Field to enjoy a box of Cracker Jacks and cheer for the Cubs. or watch the White Sox play at Guaranteed Rate Field in the South Side. In the fall and winter, the Bears play at Soldier Field, and the United Center hosts Blackhawks hockey and Bulls basketball. If you prefer soccer, SeatGeek Stadium provides a home for the Chicago Fire. If all those options aren't enough for you, Chicago also hosts minor league and college teams, so you'll never run out of sports to watch.

Chicago Families with Kids

Plan a full day of family fun at the free Lincoln Park Zoo, a 35-acre home to animals ranging from penguins to lions. You can also let your kids explore the interactive activities at Chicago Children's Museum or introduce them to Sue the T. Rex at The Field Museum. Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the nation, uses its size as an advantage by offering a wide array of magnet and specially focused schools.

Outdoor Living in Chicago

Chicago's motto, Urbs in Horto, means "City in a Garden," and Chicago lives up to its name with more than 8,000 acres of public parks. Visit the innovative Pritzker Pavilion and Crown Fountain at Millennium Park, stand in the spot where President Barack Obama celebrated his 2008 election victory in Grant Park and visit the zoo and conservatory inside Lincoln Park. If that's not enough, there are many bike paths and beaches along the lake to keep you in nature. 

Dining in Chicago

Chicago has more than 7,300 restaurants, ranging from fine dining establishments to eclectic neighborhood joints. Attend foodie festivals, shop at local markets selling ingredients from around the world, and enjoy the city's iconic specialties like deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Just don't ask for ketchup on the hot dogs. 

Nightlife in Chicago

Whether you like opera, live local music or improvisational comedy, you won't have to travel far from your new Chicago apartment for fun after dark. If you're looking to relax in a comfortable lounge or dance with friends or strangers, Chicago has plenty of exciting venues that make it easy to make friends in your new home.

Shopping in Chicago

Indulge in a shopping spree on the city's Magnificent Mile, which runs along Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street. This retail haven provides an array of upscale and discount stores to meet any taste orbudget. Pick out furnishings for your new apartment, choose local souvenirs to send to your family and friends, or anything else you might want or need to find.

Oak Street is home to Chicago's chic Gold Coast neighborhood, which offers those interested in fashion abundant opportunities to find the latest trends from across the globe. On Division Street and along the Southport Corridor, you'll find specialty shops selling the work of local designers. 

Getaways from Chicago

Chicago is 1.5 hours from Milwaukee, WI, where you'll find craft breweries and one-of-a-kind local restaurants. South Bend, IN, home to the University of Notre Dame, is also less than a two hour-drive.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago

What is Chicago most known for?

As the biggest city in the Midwest, Chicago is known for a wide range of unique traits, including its many famous nicknames (the Windy City, Chi-Town, City by the Lake, Second City, among others). It's also known for the food, with the most prominent being Chicago deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Chicago has one of America's most interesting architecture scenes, which is highlighted in multiple tours around the city as well as an iconic skyline. There's also the history of 1920s gangsters like Al Capone and the rise of jazz music around the same time. Chicago is a well-known hub for passionate sports fans, notably followers of the Chicago Cubs, who went 108 years without a World Series championship and still held a loyal fanbase.

Is Chicago a growing city?

As the third-largest city in the U.S., the population of Chicago is relatively stable. According to 2018 U.S. Census data, its population fell by about 22,000 between 2017 and 2018, a 0.2 percent decline.

Why is Chicago called the Windy City?

Is Chicago a safe city to live in?

Chicago has a bit of a reputation for having some rough spots on the south side, and the city comes in 133 out of 182 cities in WalletHub's Safest Cities in America report. It's safe with regards to natural disasters being relatively rare but according to the study, home and community safety and financial safety are below the national average.

What are the best jobs in Chicago?

According to Crain's Chicago Business , the technology, healthcare and finance industries are the hottest sectors in Chicago, with an especially strong need for talented web developers.

Does Chicago have good schools?

Chicago's public school system ranks a bit below those of other large cities in the country on the U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools rankings . If you're good about getting into the right schools, however, it has a number of great ones, with 72 high schools being considered among the best in the country, and eight universities on the U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges ranking .

What is Chicago like for families?

Chicago is a pretty good city for families, according to Niche's ranking of Best Cities to Raise a Family in the U.S. It's especially strong in family fun, education and child care, while not so great in the affordability department.

How expensive is it in Chicago?

Chicago is an expensive city, with the cost of living being 23 percent above the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost of Living Index .

What is the average cost of rent in Chicago?

The average rent for a studio apartment is $1,426 a month, up 3.2 percent from 2018. For a one-bedroom, it's $1,918 a month, up 3.1 percent from 2018, and a two-bedroom is $2,795 a month, up 56 percent from 2018.

How much do utilities cost in Chicago?

The average energy cost in Chicago, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research , is around $132 a month. Since the winters are cold, this may vary a lot by season, especially if your heating is electric.

What are the most affordable neighborhoods in Chicago?

If you're concerned about the cost of rent, Rogers Park , West Ridge , Albany Park and Edison Park are the neighborhoods with some of the lowest rents in the city.

Where are the best places to live in Chicago?

If you're looking for nightlife, arts and entertainment, you'll want to check out Lincoln Park . Hyde Park is a cultural hub, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city and famous as the home of University of Chicago and former President Barack Obama. Lakeview is a lively neighborhood with a great commercial district and the home of Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs. West Loop is an industrial-looking neighborhood now known for "Restaurant Row," home to a wide variety of restaurants and boutiques. Finally, if you can't really decide, Downtown has a little bit of everything, but it will cost you a lot to live there.

What do I need to know about moving to Chicago?

Chicago is big, bustling and in some places very expensive. But it's also one of the country's cultural gems, offering all the amenities of a modern, world-class metropolis. Winter is going to be cold and windy so even if you're from further north, you'll want to make sure you're prepared for just how cold it is. Similar to New York City, a car may be more of a hindrance than a help if you live in the city, and there's enough public transit and bike lanes to make it easy to get by without your own wheels. Finally, make sure to explore. There's enough diversity of places, sights, sounds and the like that you'll always be finding something new, so don't fall into the bad habit of never going out to explore the city beyond the immediate area where you live.

Do I need a car to live in Chicago?

No, you don't. The city is dense enough that you can walk to take care of most errands, and there's enough public transportation and bike-friendliness that you can easily make up for where you can't walk.

What's the weather like in Chicago?

Chicago has all four seasons. Summer is humid without getting too hot, rarely going into the 90s. Fall is generally pretty mild, though sometimes the summer heat sticks around a little longer. Winter is cold with highly variable snowfall, though much less than cities on the other side of Lake Michigan. Spring is the most unpredictable with warm and cold air clashing over Lake Michigan causing the weather to be all over the place, from summer-like high temperatures to occasional snowfall, all potentially happening in March.

Popular Chicago Areas

Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago

What is the average rent in Chicago?

The average rent of a studio apartment in Chicago is $1,205 per month. For a one-bedroom apartment it's $1,757 per month. For a two-bedroom apartment the average rent is $2,336 per month.

What is the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom in Chicago?

The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago is $1,757

Are there any cheap apartments for rent in Chicago?

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Information is copyrighted and school data provided by GreatSchools.org. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Schools listed above are based on distance from the selected location and are just a sampling of the schools in the area. To find a particular school district, and how it relates to a specific apartment, please contact the apartment manager.

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