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Moving to Chicago?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Moving to Chicago with relevant information for expats.

Friedrich Schloßberg

Living in USA, from Germany

"At first, I tried to google all information on Chicago. Then I found InterNations and some of its local scouts gave me a personal tour."

Kristina Serou

Living in USA, from Sweden

"It is great to live in the Windy City and to enjoy the American way of life. However, I am also glad to attend InterNations events to meet other expats."

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Chicago at a Glance

Moving to Chicago

If you’re planning on moving to Chicago, you may enjoy this tidbit of information about its name: Derived from the Native American “shikaakwa”, it means smelly onion. If this does not convince you to move to Chicago, read the InterNations guide for info on neighborhoods, health, visas, and transportation!

A Brief History

Chicago was founded in 1833. Historically, the city was a transportation hub between the eastern and western United States as well as between the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Due to its geographic location, Chicago was used both for shipping and rail transport. While the Illinois International Port district in Chicago may have faced monetary losses in the last decade due to ongoing management problems, it nevertheless continues to be the largest American inland general cargo port. Moving more than 19 million tons of cargo per year, it ranks among the country’s top 36 ports.

After the Great Chicago Fire back in 1871, where the city’s entire Central Business District burned to cinders, the rebuilding of the city, as you will see it when you move to Chicago, began. One of the only buildings that survived the fire was the Water Tower Building, which still stands proud today. When you move to Chicago, the first thing you will notice is how tall the skyline is. No wonder, Chicago built the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, in 1885!

The architecture is one of the best parts of the city and expats that move to Chicago mention the infrastructure as another favorite aspect of the city. Furthermore, after moving to Chicago, you will note that the city is diverse, entertaining and can quickly feel like home!

Chicago is one of the most notable cities in the entire country - but the US has a lot more to offer! After exploring your new hometown, you should definitely take the time and experience the many other legendary cities which make the US so attractive to tourists and expats alike.

Where to Live

Due to its size, Chicago has neighborhoods for most tastes and budgets. Factors such as whether or not you plan on moving to Chicago with a family, prefer living in an apartment or a house, proximity to your work or a school, and, of course, the price you are willing to pay, will play a role in choosing the right neighborhood for you.

Before you start moving to Chicago, it is a good idea to pay the city a visit and simply walk around the different neighborhoods in order to get a feeling for them. Most apartments/houses have “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in their windows with a private telephone number for contact purposes.


As there are 77 official community areas with well over a hundred neighborhoods in Chicago, we will list only those which were recommended for and are well-liked by residents so that expats moving to Chicago will not panic at the prospect of finding a place. The city can be divided into five general areas, for each of which we will quickly point out one or two neighborhoods:

The good news about all these neighborhoods (and the many more not listed above!), is that most of them contain some form of park, be it Grant Park in the Loop area, Lincoln Park etc. Despite moving to Chicago, the third largest city in the US, you still have the option of taking a leisurely stroll through a lush green area in the vicinity.

Before moving into your new home in Chicago, get informed about your rights and duties as a tenant in our guide to renting accommodation in the US.

InterNations Expat Magazine