Moving To Chicago, IL - Relocation Guide

Relocating To the Windy City?

Choosing to uproot your family and move to another city, state or country, can be a daunting task. When it comes to moving to Chicago, IL, there is no doubt you are going to need some relocating tips, advice & a guide. Not to worry, we have all the information you need to make this transition. So, as you do your research for the perfect home and neighborhood, please consider the advice and facts we will provide for you here.

As you know, Chicago is a city located in Illinois and the third largest city by population in the United States. It offers those who call it home a good deal of local amenities. In fact, these amenities are probably the number one reason that people move to Chicago. Of course, there is also the marvelous warmth found in its summer weather. Certainly, packing up the family and relocating to Chicago will depend on a number of your personal desires and requirements.

Chicago has a population of nearly 3 million people. Its population status makes it just short of a quarter of the size of Illinois. Unfortunately, employment options have been depleted due to the economy. Additionally, the housing prices and options are only average.

But, as we have said, there are plenty of fun things to do in the city. This is especially true for those in their early thirties as they comprise the majority of the population. And there are a lot of people in Chicago, nearly half of which are married.

Where Should I Live?

There are 80 or so designated neighborhoods within the Chicago city limits. Some of the neighborhoods in Chicago are impressive places to settle down. These areas of the city boast large family homes, apartments, and other real estate options.

Determining which neighborhood and housing arrangement is best for you and your family might be a little challenging, if you are not from the area. It is helpful to know that the average home is priced at $225,000. But, if you are looking to rent, you can expect a median of about $960 per month. Fifty-five percent of people living in Chicago rent their residences.

Lake View

Located in the city’s North Side, Lake View offers exactly what its name implies - Lake views. When it comes to considering the best location for your future home, Lake View is one of the most highly rated neighborhoods within Chicago. There is a stable housing market within it and lots of local amenities. Additionally, the people who reside in that area have higher income per capita and higher graduation rates. This is certainly one of the best neighborhoods to choose.

Austin

Austin is another neighborhood within the confines of Chicago, located in the west side of the city. It is the largest neighborhood by both land size and population and considered an up and coming neighborhood. There is a lower cost of housing and plenty of things to do within this very large neighborhood. Specifically, you can enjoy Chicago’s Cultural Center, Wrigley Field, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. That makes Austin a desirable locale for new residents.

Logan Square

Logan Square is on the list of the best neighborhoods in the entire state of Illinois and is located in the northwest part of the city. Like Lake View, it supplies residents with lots of amenities, high graduation rates, and a stable housing market. Logan Square provides you with easy access to the Art Institute of Chicago, the John Hancock Observatory, and Willis Tower. Appreciably, crime is considerably lower in that area as well. And, the median income is better than many other areas in Chicago.

How Do I Get Around?

Getting around in Chicago includes the usage of public transportation, cars and a lot of walking or bike riding. In fact, it is highly possible to live there without a car since so many people use bikes for their daily commutes. And that might be a good idea because it is quite expensive to have to pay for parking.

Biking

Now it’s time to give you some idea of the ability to travel around Chicago without a car. You can get from the Art Institute of Chicago, which is on the east side, to Little Italy on the west side, in 16 mins on a bike. It’s only 2.6 miles. Driving a car back and forth would cost you $89 a month, and an SUV would run you $108 monthly.

If you are needing to travel from the north side to the south side, from Ontario St. to Roosevelt Rd for instance, you’ll be spending more time on the bike. That will be nearly 35 minutes as it’s a 5.5 mile ride. But, there’s no doubt you will be saving money traveling via this method versus paying gas and insurance on a private car.

Walking

When you first arrive in Chicago, you might want to take advantage of the Walk Chicago Tours. That will help you get a feel for the city and how much walking you think you might be able to do once you live there. You can also explore via the Segway Experience of Chicago or Steve’s Segway Tours.

Obviously, walking is going to take you a little more time to travel the city. But, it is apparent that a good number of people use this method. If you intend to go from the east side to the west side, near the Art Institute to Little Italy, for example, be prepared to travel 2.6 miles over the course of just under an hour. Likewise, a venture from Ontario St. to Roosevelt Rd. will take you nearly two hours to traverse the 5.3 mile distance.

Public Transportation

Many people enjoy the convenience of public transportation. This means they don’t have to pay for gasoline or car insurance. It also means that they won’t arrive at work or school sweaty. The public transportation system in Chicago is quite useful and will probably save you time and money if you choose to employ its ability. It is also very affordable at just over $2 per ride or about $100 for a 30 day pass.

What is the Cost to live in the City?

Based on the cost of living index, Chicago’s cost of living is just 11% higher than the national average. This is very reasonable, considering the size of the city. Housing and transportation make up the majority of that increase. Though groceries, goods and services, as well as the price of utilities, contribute to that number as well.

Housing

The median income for those who own their own homes is about $73,000 a year. Compared to the median income of renters, which is around $32,000, there’s a significant gap and that explains why most people in Chicago are renters. But, living in Chicago doesn’t mean that everything is more expensive.

If you choose to buy a home when you move to Chicago we recommend that you budget at least somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 a month. However, if you are thinking you would rather rent like the majority of people within the city limits, you can choose to set aside $750 to $1,000 each month.

Goods & Services

When you take popular items into consideration, it is easy to see that expenditures are somewhat comparable to your current residence. It will cost you slightly more than average to visit the beauty salon, but you’ll save money on a tube of toothpaste. Things like shampoo will be cheaper, but movies will cost you a few dollars more than the average rate. Overall, acquiring goods and services in Chicago will run about 6% more than the national standard.

Groceries

Of course, living in the city also means you will have to do your grocery shopping there. Shopping for your family will cost you about 8% more in Chicago. However, there are some things that will be cheaper, like milk. And others, like beer, that will cost a good deal more.

Health Care

Health care is another concern when you move to a new area. It is cheaper to visit the doctor or the optometrist in Chicago than it is nationally. However, the dentist will cost about 13% more. On the bright side, ibuprofen and Lipitor are both cheaper. Healthcare in general is about equal to the national average.

Housing

For a large city like Chicago, housing prices are actually somewhat affordable compared to the national average. Coming in at 21% higher than average, this is a fairly nominal upcharge for being in what of the largest cities in the country.

Transportation

We already know that public transportation in Chicago is very affordable. However, if you do own a car, you will be responsible for the maintenance of your vehicle. Those costs are approximately 12% higher in Chicago than the national average.

Utilities

We already know that housing is more expensive, as is transportation. Unfortunately, that trend continues with utilities. Utilities are 4% more than the national average, though the electric bill is only 2% higher.

Crime in the City

When doing your due diligence in searching for a new home for your family, it is definitely important to determine what the crime is like in the city you have chosen. Chicago has a rate of daily crime that exceeds the national average by 1.35 times. The violent crime in Chicago is 143% higher than the rest of the nation.

Chicago is only safer than 3% of the cities within the state of Illinois and safer than 6% of the cities within the US. Therefore, if you choose to move to Chicago, you will have a 1 in 26 chance of being a victim of some type of crime. That is why it is a good idea to choose some of the better neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include: North Center, Lincoln Park, Edison Park, Lake View, Forest Glen, Loop, Near North Side, Beverly, Lincoln Square, and West Town.

When you review the annual prevalence of varying crimes you find that there are nearly 500 murders and close to 1500 rapes each year. You will also discover that a little more than 13,000 people are assaulted and 57,000 are targets of theft. These numbers do vary year by year, but can help you make an informed decision about your move.

On the bright side, and based on the research, it would appear that property crimes and crime in general have decreased in the last few years. Unfortunately, violent crime specifically, has increased. Thankfully, Chicago is home to a large number of law enforcement employees. They are dedicated to keeping your family and belongings safe.

How to Find the Perfect Home/Apartment

Moving to Chicago means getting all your ducks in a row. When it comes to choosing the right home, apartment, or other residence, you will need to take some time to do your research. Don’t hesitate to visit all the neighborhoods that you find the most desirable. And, if you are planning on buying, be sure to hire a knowledgeable and honest realtor.

Make Some Decisions

First, determine what it is you feel you and your family must have. That means determining the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, perhaps even the square footage. Also, you will need to decide whether a yard or garage is important to you. These decisions will help narrow down your search efforts.

Create Budget

Understanding your budget will also make this endeavor a good deal easier. Be certain you know your rate of pay and the cost of living in Chicago. This will help you determine the amount of money you will have available for rent or a mortgage. Budgeting carefully is always advisable no matter where you choose to reside.

Manage Your Time

Once you know what you are looking for, create a time line. Decide how much time you have between leaving your current abode and moving to Chicago. Based on the distance you will need to travel to make the move, you will also have to consider moving and unpacking times. And, don’t forget to take into account the day you are supposed to start your new job, if indeed you have one.

Prepare the Finances

Get all your financing prearranged if you are going to purchase a home so that you will be ready to act fast in the event you find the ideal residence as quickly as you anticipate. Whether you are going to rent or buy a house in Chicago, it is important to know that you have all the necessary funding in order prior to beginning the search. That will enable you to move quickly on a location you find desirable.

Buying a house is a great way to secure your position in a desirable locale. However, that will also mean a considerably higher monthly budget and probably a good deal more money up front. Renting appears to be quite popular in Chicago and choosing to do so will enable you to sample an area before making a more permanent decision. Of course, the choice is up to you.

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