Moving to Chicago: What you need to know

chicago skyline

Moving to Chicago is a great idea for millennial’s who want to pursue quality jobs and for people of any age who want to enjoy Midwestern hospitality, gorgeous landscapes, and almost endless recreational opportunities. Chicago’s walkable and bike-friendly infrastructure, will not just save you cash on our daily commute, but also appeals to those who wish to make less of a footprint on the environment. Oh, and not to mention home prices are fairly low in the city.

City Overview

Did you know Chicago is one of the 10 most walkable large cities in the U.S.? After moving here, you’ll likely run most errands by foot, which helps you save money on gas. Downtown is one of the most walkable areas in the city, but there are also several transportation options to move from one neighborhood to another.

If moving around the city by bike appeals to you, there are over 200 miles of bike trails and an efficient bike-sharing system, Divvy. Just buy a pass from a Divvy kiosk or the company’s app, and unlock the bike of your choice by scanning a QR code or with your key pass. After you’re done with your ride, leave the bike at any Divvy station in the city. The app allows you to find bike stations in a convenient way while on the go.

chicago L train
Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay

Chicago Transport Authority (CTA) ensures a wide choice of efficient transportation options in the city. It’s the second-largest public transportation system in the U.S., and it offers eight train lines and 129 bus routes. All vehicles and train cars are accessible to disabled people, and if you have a child, you’re welcome to bring a stroller on board. The CTA Bus Tracker and Train Tracker systems allow you to easily access information about arrivals, right from your smartphone, or via text.

Want to make your commute even greener? You can bring your bike on board for free. If you really need to use your car, there are low-cost parking lots near the train stations. Most amenities, including beaches, parks, and malls, have bus or train stations nearby. Alternatively, why not try the Chicago Water Taxi? It’s a fun way to get around the city and discover its many entertainment options.

After moving to Chicago, you’ll have to learn the different nicknames of the city so you can talk like a local. The infamous “Windy City refers to the breeze coming off the shores of Lake Michigan, some might say it’s due to residents being particularly braggadocious, but you can’ argue with the beautiful shoreline. You’ll hear people call Chicago “Chi-Town,” “Chicagoland,” or “The Big Onion”. Other nicknames express the pride of Chicago’s residents, who firmly believe that their city is better than its more famous counterparts. For example, think of the nickname “New York Done Right” or “Paris on the Prairie”. Some proud citizens also call Chicago “The City That Works.”

Other popular nicknames are “The White City,” “City of the Big Shoulders,” “Illville,” “Heart of America,” and “Sweet Home.”

Real Estate Outlook

You may think that buying a home in Chicago would be very costly, but that isn’t necessarily true. The city has not yet fully recovered from the housing market crash, which happened in 2007, so you can definitely find some interesting real estate deals there. The average price for a home in Chicago is $288,000, less than in other major U.S. cities.

In addition, mortgage rates are at historic lows right now. Buying a home in Chicago could end up being a smart investment if you’re in a position to do so, as the City of Big Shoulders keeps attracting more and more millennials.

The average rent price in the city is $1,943. If you want to save some money, look for the most affordable neighborhoods, such as Austin, The Island, Cottage Grove Heights, and Fernwood, where the average rent price is below $700. The average apartment size is 749 sq. ft.

Chicago Communities

When moving to Chicago, you’ll have to choose the right neighborhood for your needs. No worries: The city has plenty of friendly communities to join!


Chinatown is definitely one of the most charming neighborhoods, and the second-largest Chinatown nationwide. You’ll never run out of things to do there, from the giant mall Chinatown Square to the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago.

South Chicago

Located 10 miles away from downtown and near Lake Michigan,
South Chicago’s friendly community makes for an ideal neighborhood to raise a family.


If you’d prefer to live on the west side of the city, check out the neighborhood of Austin, which features beautiful historic buildings and green areas. It was a Cicero township before becoming part of Chicago, and it’s definitely rich in history. Lastly, West Ridge is another great neighborhood with a diverse and multi-ethnic community. It includes a fascinating area, Little India, with many Indian restaurants and shops.

Whether you need temporary storage during your move, or more long-term storage to house your precious items, our local facilities have the space and amenities you need. Give us a call and let us help you find the best solution for your needs.

Things to do

Chicago’s green areas let you spend time outdoors with your friends and family. With its 24.5 acres, Millennium Park is one of the top attractions in the Midwest, and it hosts many concerts and events. Lincoln Park has one of the oldest zoos in America and a cultural center, while Garfield Park offers the opportunity to play many sports, including baseball, basketball, tennis, and boxing.

If you have kids, don’t forget to bring them to the Chicago Children’s Museum, which has three floors with fun attractions, and the American Girl Place Chicago, a specialty doll shop that hosts “doll hair salon” events. Grown-ups can visit the Smart Museum of Art, located on the campus of the University of Chicago, and the American Writers Museum.

In Chicago, you’ll find a vibrant nightlife. Among the neighborhoods with the most lively night scenes, there are Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, and Boystown. Latin music lovers should head to Latin Bliss Nightclub, where you can also enjoy interesting cocktails. Go to Sound-Bar if you prefer to listen to hip-hop and techno music.

The City That Works is a fantastic place to enjoy typical Midwestern dishes, like deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style BBQ meat. Try these dishes at Eleven City Diner on the Wabash Ave. Loop, where you’ll find a casual and welcoming atmosphere. Eat at the Girl & the Goat, which offers vegan and gluten-free options.

Chicago offers many ethnic restaurants, so you can enjoy dishes from Italy, Mexico, France, and Asia without leaving your neighborhood. There’s a vast choice of local coffee shops, which offer delicious lattes and pancakes, as well as healthy options like juices and smoothies. If you don’t feel like cooking after a long day at work, you’ll find takeout options in any neighborhood, regardless of the type of cuisine you prefer.

Reasons to move there

The major reason why many young people are starting to move to Chicago is the abundance and quality of job opportunities. The unemployment rate in the city has fallen to less than 6 percent, and there are several Fortune 50 companies for job seekers to choose in industries like finance, manufacturing, and publishing.

In addition, the White City has excellent public schools. The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district is the third-largest nationwide, and it serves an impressive number of 361,000 children. The ASPIRA Business and Finance High School prepares students for success in college, while the Early College High School has a dual enrollment program that allows the students to attend Wilbur Wright College and Northeastern Illinois University while still in high school.

Midwestern people are notoriously nice and welcoming, and you’ll quickly meet new friends and feel like a local in Chicago. With the city’s straightforward street grid, it’s very difficult to get lost, but in case you do, people are glad to give you directions. The winters in the city are cold but beautiful; the first snowstorm typically happens in November, and there are about 36 inches of snow a year.

chicago shoreline
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Summers are pleasantly warm, so you can enjoy the gorgeous beaches on Lake Michigan — and most of them are free! Despite being next to a lake rather than the sea, they actually look like “real” beaches, with sand and beachfront bars. In Chicago, there’s always something interesting to do for free, and many museums offer free admission for Illinois residents on certain days.

When moving to Chicago, the only issue you might encounter is being unable to store all your stuff in your new apartment. No worries: Our self-storage facilities have got you covered. CubeSmart has self-storage options in different neighborhoods, so you’ll certainly find the most convenient solution for you. We have a variety of storage sizes for you to choose from. Whatever the facility of your choice, you’ll always find a friendly team and a clean environment.

Need a place to park your car, boat, or motorcycle? Some of our conveniently located facilities offer vehicle storage. Feel free to ask the staff anything about the storage supplies that you may need, and they’ll be able to provide you with handcarts, dollies, and packing supplies. Don’t forget that gate hours are flexible at most of our locations, so you can access your unit anytime you need to.

About the author

Editor @CubeSmart

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