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…and we mean 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. 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 piece of cake! 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.
With that being said, you might want to ditch the car and grab an Uber or Lyft, a Ventra pass for the buses and CTA, or even a bike!!! 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.
3. 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 45 degrees in the morning and 80 by noon, you’ll always want a sweatshirt on you!
4. Chicago loves sports!!!
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.
Just as every season bring new excitement for Chicago sports fans, you may find yourself invited to one or even several Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, 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.
Speaking of food…..
5. 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. Don’t even get us started on the deep dish pizza, you’ll never go back to your home-town pizza or the frozen pizzas! So, you’ll definitely have to do some exploring on the weekends after you nail that job interview.
6. Explore the neighborhoods!
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.
7. There is always something on each 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.
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.