The Windy City, with its deep-dish pizza, unique skyline, and bustling streets, has become a home to those seeking a vibrant urban lifestyle.

As the city with the first skyscraper, it left an indelible mark on global architecture; however, like other major metropolises, the area also offers plenty of natural beauty.

So, is Chicago a good place to live? With a stunning 18.5-mile lakefront trail and an impressive 600 parks, Chicago is a prime destination for outdoor adventurers and urban explorers to go for long distance moving.

Needless to say, there are many reasons to move to Chicago - trust us. In fact, throughout the years, Alliance Moving & Storage has helped many happy clients relocate to this wonderful city.

Here's our guide to moving to Chicago.

#1. The Chicago Lifestyle

is chicago a good place to live

Firstly, what is Chicago like? The city boasts a population of almost three million, making it the third-largest city in the United States. Chicago residents have the unique opportunity to experience the best of both worlds – the hustle and bustle of urban life and the small-town charm of the Midwest region.

Whether your interests draw you to international cultures and cuisines or outdoor activities and parks, you will find something to love in Chicago. If you're new to the city, it can feel intimidating to meet new people. However, there are many social events to help you find like-minded people.

From joining fitness classes to volunteering, and bar crawls to professional sports and leagues, you'll have loads of opportunities to introduce yourself and start making friends. Living in Chicago is a journey of exploration - all you have to do is take the first step.

#2. Chicago's Climate and Weather

People who enjoy cold winters and hot summers typically enjoy Chicago's varied climate, ranging from humid continental weather in the summer to cold and snowy winters. The reason Chicago was dubbed the “Windy City" is due to its somewhat unpredictable, windy weather:

  • Summers are warm and humid, with July and August typically reaching highs of around 82°F and lows of 62°F. These temperatures can often rise to the mid-90s or even 100°F during hot spells;
  • Harsh Chicago winters are cold and windy, with January and February temperatures usually ranging from anywhere between 12°F to 31°F;
  • The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn typically experience temperatures ranging from 40°F to 60°F.

While most days have a refreshing breeze (between 10-12 mph), the wind can make the temperatures feel colder or hotter than they are.

Chicago experiences around 36 inches of rainfall and 21 inches of snowfall yearly, with the heaviest precipitation generally in June and July.

#3. The Cost of Living in Chicago

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The cost of living in Chicago is a major factor to consider when relocating to Chicago. From the cost of buying to renting to the price of groceries and everything in between, there are numerous factors to remember when deciding to move to Windy City.


According to local housing data, as of February 22, 2023, the average price per square foot for Chicago homes is $190.28 - although this varies between neighborhoods. In the last year, the average home sold in Chicago was 50 years old and measured 1,476 square feet.

The higher cost of housing in Chicago can be attributed to various factors. Chief amongst them is the limited housing supply, creating competition between buyers who increase prices. 

Moreover, the city's alluring amenities, such as its strong economy, desirable location, and cultural attractions, have spurred demand for housing. 

Low-interest rates and other economic factors have also made it easier for buyers to acquire homes, despite high housing costs.


One of the most appealing aspects of Chicago taxes for those moving to the city is that there are no state income taxes. This means more of your income stays in your pocket rather than going to the government.

Additionally, while there are still property taxes, they are lower than in many other major cities, making them more affordable for homeowners. Finally, the city also offers a variety of tax credits and exemptions, such as the Homeowners' Exemption for owner-occupied residences, which decreases one's overall tax burden.

Living Wage 

At $63,251 per year, the average cost of living in Chicago is more than 23% higher than the national average. Several influencing factors account for this, including the salary offered by employers, the career path chosen, and the cost of purchasing or renting a home or apartment.

However, the Chicago lifestyle is still cheaper than living in New York or LA. With an average annual salary of $73,800, it’s more than possible to maintain a high standard of living. 

#4. Exploring Chicago Neighborhoods

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In 1830, a surveyor, James Thompson, drew the first plat of Chicago, dividing it into three distinct sections based on the Chicago River's natural junctions - the North Side, West Side, and South Side.

Since it first became a city in 1837, Chicago has expanded in all directions, incorporating neighboring counties and eventually stretching to the shore of Lake Michigan.

The Loop

The Loop is the central business district of Chicago and one of its 77 official community areas. This commercial and cultural center is bounded by the Chicago River to the west and north, Lake Michigan to the east, and Roosevelt Road to the south.

It is home to the city's City Hall and many attractions, including museums, parks, theaters, and shopping districts. A vibrant Chicago landmark, The Loop also boasts many tertiary institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and Columbia College Chicago.

The North Side

Chicago's North Side features an eclectic mix of residential, cultural, commercial, and entertainment destinations and a bevy of affluent neighborhoods, including Wicker Park, Lakeview, and Lincoln Park.

This city area is known for its diverse dining options, boutiques, and teeming nightlife. Some of Chicago's most recognizable attractions, like Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Magnificent Mile, are located here.

As Chicago moved away from having industrial factories and embraced technology-based companies, the North Side has become a thriving hotspot of "new economy" activity. Moreover, it is where the iconic Chicago Cubs baseball team plays its games at the storied Wrigley Field in Lakeview.

The West Side

The West Side of Chicago is often called the city's melting pot because of its mixture of cultures. The Garfield Park Conservatory is found here, the historic Garfield Park Lagos and the Museum Campus West. This cultural hub showcases the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Adler Planetarium.

Aside from the museums, the West Side provides plenty of entertainment. Wicker Park offers many bars and restaurants for an evening of fun, and East Garfield Park is a popular destination for its jazz venues.

Sports and entertainment fans will enjoy the games and events at the United Center Arena. Nature lovers can also explore the area's outdoor activities with the Chicago River, Douglas Park, and Wilson Park's sledding hill in the summer and winter.

The South Side

From the bustling shopping and dining of Hyde Park to the vibrant nightlife of Bronzeville, the city vibe in Chicago’s South Side offers something for everyone.

There are numerous public parks, gardens, museums, the Museum of Science and Industry and the DuSable Museum of African American History, and historic landmarks, including the Pullman Historic District and the Frederick C. Robie House. Shopping is abundant along State Street and at the Chicago Ridge Mall.

For music and entertainment, visitors can check out the clubs and bars on the South Side or take in a show at the Riviera Theatre. Dining options abound, from the classic Italian of Little Italy to world-class Asian cuisine in Chinatown. 

The South Side also offers an array of unique neighborhoods, each with its character – from the quiet residential streets of Beverly to the busyness of Woodlawn.

#5. Navigating Public Transportation

chicago lifestyle

Chicago’s public transportation system consists of buses and trains belonging to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra commuter rail, and Pace suburban buses.

  • The CTA' L' trains: the busiest public transit system in the Midwest, providing 1.7 million rides daily across the region. It`s the backbone of the transit system, connecting commuters and tourists alike to downtown sites, popular neighborhoods, and the city's furthest north, south, east, and west boundaries;
  • The Metra commuter rail system: it`s extensive and has eight lines linking Chicago with its suburbs. Pace suburban buses cover an even wider geographic area, connecting more than 700 communities in six counties throughout northern Illinois;
  • Bicycle riders: The Divvy bike-sharing service is a network of 5,800 bikes and 580 rental stations across the city. The bike-sharing service also integrates with CTA routes, so you can easily connect your bicycle ride to a bus ride. There is an abundance of bike paths for recreational and commuter cyclists, offering easy access to recreational locations, parks, and workplaces.

#6. Chicago's Job Market Opportunities

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We Will Chicago reports that Chicago has the country's most diverse economy, with no industry making up more than 14% of its economy. 

With the second highest number of Fortune 500 companies, there are plenty of reasons why Chicago is a great business city. 

A few of these are highlighted here:

  • Chicago has become the home to more Transportation, Distribution & Logistics (TDL) businesses than any other city in the United States. Since 2010, over 200 TDL start-ups have been established. This TDL industry covers not only traditional methods such as trucking and rail freight but also grants for research and development of high-tech autonomous vehicles;
  • Chicago is ranked amongst the top ten US cities for its Life Sciences and Healthcare sector, boasting a myriad of renowned scientists and biologists. Moreover, over the past three years, the city has experienced the highest surge in venture capital funding for life sciences;
  • Due to its broad range of economic resources, the Chicago tech sector is booming. It provides services to TDL and Fortune 500 companies. With over 12,300 firms that employ more than 344,000 individuals, its popularity is further demonstrated by the fact that it produces the second most computer science degrees in America.

#7. Chicago’s Crime Rates

life in chicago

When looking at crime rates, it's important to remember that these numbers don't tell the full story. Although Chicago's crime figures may appear alarming, the city is safer than 9% of US cities.

It was not included in Neighborhood Scout's 2022 Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities report. It's only ranked seventh in the nation when looking at murder rates, behind cities like St. Louis, New Orleans, and Baltimore. So, is Chicago a dangerous place?

One of the things to know about Chicago's high crime rate is that violent offenses, such as homicide, rape, and robberies, make up much of the city's overall criminal activity than property crimes, such as burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft.

Yet like any metropolis, the crime risk depends on personal circumstances and neighborhood. Based on the statistics, the odds of being a victim of a violent crime in your neighborhood are 1 in 103.

#8. Retirement in Chicago 

Chicago's Area Agency on Aging has prioritized ensuring exceptional quality of life for seniors. Benefits are available to eligible seniors through more than 70 programs, and they can engage in free activities at the city's dedicated senior centers.

Additionally, seniors can utilize the city's many senior living options, including luxurious independent and assisted living communities. Chicago also has world-class hospitals such as Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Chicago Medical Center, and Lurie Children's Hospital, providing retirees with access to the highest caliber of medical care.

#9. Quality Education in Chicago

moving to chicago alone

Whether you're looking for public or private education options, K-12 or higher ed, the city of Chicago is a great place to pursue a quality education.

Chicago Public Schools 

Chicago is best known for its world-class educational system. Public education has been a priority for Chicago for more than a century.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system is the nation's third-largest school district, serving over 400,000 students in 612 schools. CPS has a culture of excellence that emphasizes the success of every student and the commitment to preparing each student for college and career readiness.

The district's comprehensive curriculum supports a well-rounded education in the arts, language arts, science, math, social studies, and physical education. 63% of Chicago's public school students enroll in tertiary education.

Chicago Private Schools

Private schools in Chicago come in many forms, from religious-based schools to general education facilities. Parochial schools like Latin School, Francis W. Parker School, and DePaul College Prep are the most popular.

These schools are widely known for providing quality education with rigorous academic standards. There are also numerous charter schools in the Chicago area, providing personalized education and unique ways of learning.

Whatever type of private school you seek, there's something for everyone in Chicago.

Chicago Colleges and Universities

Chicago is home to many nationally-recognized universities and colleges that provide students with access to plenty of academic resources and opportunities. Each school offers various undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree options and Ph.D. programs.

Notable universities and colleges include the University of Chicago, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, and Loyola University Chicago.

The area also has smaller colleges, such as the City Colleges of Chicago, which offer associate degree, certificate, and transfer programs.

#10. Chicago's Culinary Scene

city vibe chicago

Chicago is a celebrated culinary destination known for iconic dishes like the Chicago-style hot dog served without ketchup. The city has 24 restaurants that have won the prestigious Michelin star; nine are located in the West Loop and Fulton Market areas.

Notable Michelin-star restaurants include:

  • Goosefoot: Chris and Nina Nugent, the chef-owners of the renowned BYO restaurant in Lincoln Square, were awarded one star. For a more affordable experience, Goosefoot Food and Wine, the Nugents' market situated close by, serves a five-course French- and Italian-inspired tasting menu;
  • Oriole: Located in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, Oriole is helmed by Executive Chef Noah Sandoval and Pastry Chef Genie Kwon. Led by celebrated wine director Alisha Elenz, it offers an ever-evolving, tasting-menu-only experience that is one part thoughtful hospitality and one part culinary exploration;
  • EL Ideas: Those looking to experience his Michelin-starred Douglas Park dining room will savor experimental tasting menus, now featuring the popular french fries and ice cream dish. For takeout fans, Foss' offshoot Boxcar BBQ still serves succulent chicken and ribs.

To get familiar with the local food scene, consider consulting Eater's Guide for the best eating spots in town. Craft beer lovers should explore the 20 top taprooms in the city. Throughout the year, Chicago celebrates its love for food with a series of events.

The gigantic Taste of Chicago is the world's largest food festival, while Craft Beer Week takes place in May and the Lincoln Park Wine Fest in October.

#11. Parks & Recreation in Chicago

living in downtown chicago

Chicago has many beautiful and popular parks, offering residents a place to relax and explore the outdoors.

Millenium Park

Millennium Park has been around since 2004. Located in the city center, it features acres of beautiful green space, gardens, art installations, an outdoor concert stage, and numerous activities, from ice skating to farmer's markets, and more, for everyone to enjoy.

Wicker Park

The centerpiece of Wicker Park is the Wicker Park Field House, built in the 1930s, which provides fitness facilities, recreational programming, and meeting space. The park is also home to some of Chicago's most iconic murals, including the Milky Way Mural and the Meguro Mural.

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park features a variety of sports fields, tennis courts, jogging paths, playgrounds, picnic areas, access to Lake Michigan, an outdoor theater, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. The park also hosts numerous art installations, monuments, and gardens.

#12. Activities and Things to Do in Chicago

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Whether looking for outdoor activities, entertainment, or cultural experiences, you'll find plenty of things to do in Chicago.

Theater & Events

Popular live shows in the city include the famous Second City improv troupe and the famous Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Other popular music theater attractions include Broadway-style productions at the Goodman Theatre and the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Art Galleries

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the city's oldest, most revered, and most comprehensive art galleries. It holds centuries' worth of art, with its masterpieces spanning the globe. Several other small, independent galleries spread across the city, covering a range of genres, such as street art, sculpture, fashion, and photography.

Music Festivals

Chicago hosts vibrant festivals celebrating culture, diversity, and history. Year-round activities are held at the Chicago Cultural Center Art Festival. At the same time, larger festivals occur in the summer months, including the Chicago Blues Festival, featuring traditional and modern blues performers, and Lollapalooza, an international multi-day music event. Chicago also hosts the World Music Festival and the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Museums & Attractions

The Shedd Aquarium has been a favorite among visitors for years, offering a wide selection of aquatic creatures from around the globe. Other popular museums include The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, and the Chicago History Museum.

Shopping Destinations

The Magnificent Mile on North Michigan Avenue is an immensely popular shopping destination, boasting an abundance of stores and restaurants to choose from. State Street is likewise a major shopping strip with the historic Marshall Field department store. Other favorites are Water Tower Place, Navy Pier, and the stores at North Bridge.

#13. Chicago Sports Teams

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Whether you're watching the game at an arena or catching the action at one of Chicago's sports bars, cheering on Chicago's teams with friends or family is an enjoyable and competitive experience.

  • The Chicago Cubs are known for being one of the oldest and most storied franchises in Major League Baseball; 
  • The Chicago White Sox, meanwhile, are known as the rough-and-tumble team with die-hard fans and one of the best parks. Football fans keep the spirit of former head coach Mike Ditka alive as they root for the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field - especially against rivals like the Green Bay Packers;
  • Hockey fans have come to expect greatness from the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cups in recent years with their loud and boisterous fan base;
  • Chicagoans have fond memories of the dominating '90s Bulls and know that the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman era can only mean good things are yet to come.

A Chicago-Moving Checklist

A good moving checklist can help you stay organized and on top of all the tasks you must tackle to make the transition smoother. Here are some tips for moving to Chicago:

Pros and Cons of Moving to Chicago

For those who ask, “Should I move to Chicago?”. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons.


things to know before moving to chicago
  • Great job opportunities: With its thriving economy and various job opportunities, Chicago is a great city for newcomers looking to build successful careers;
  • Cultural diversity: Chicago offers various cultural experiences, from world-class museums and art galleries to many festivals;
  • Unique cuisine: Italian beef sandwiches, Garrett's popcorn, and more - no one will go hungry in Chicago;
  • Great music scene: Chicago is home to many world-renowned jazz and blues venues and attracts many famous performers;
  • Beautiful architecture: Take a walk down Michigan Avenue, and you'll be amazed by the city’s architecture.


guide to moving to chicago
  • Cost of living: Chicago is one of the more expensive cities in the US, with some of the highest rent prices in the country;
  • Cold winters: Temperatures in the Windy City can get pretty chilly, and the snow can be quite intense;
  • Traffic congestion: With its busy streets and highways, commuters should expect delays when traveling through Chicago;
  • Unpredictable weather: Chicago is known for its unpredictable weather, so be prepared for anything.

Get Ready to Relocate to Chicago

From excellent public transportation to great attractions, Chicago has much to offer to those who call it home. Moving to a new city like Chicago can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be if you’re prepared. 

With the right preparation and mindset, you can make the most out of your new hometown in the Windy City and enjoy its incredible experiences. 

Wondering how to move to Chicago? If you need help packing up and transporting your home, call us. Alliance Moving & Storage offers comprehensive moving services to make your life easier.