Chicago at a Glance
Moving to Chicago
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:
- North Side - Lakefront: Lincoln Park and Lakeview are the neighborhoods preferred by young people moving to Chicago. Both are in walking distance of the lakefront. Lakeview is close to the downtown area and nightlife and shopping are good here. Even closer to downtown, Lincoln Park is a relatively calm and family-friendly neighborhood. Tree-lined streets offering apartments and brownstones are readily available here and residents can enjoy the neighborhood’s namesake park with its 1,208 acres of greenery and zoo.
- North Side: Lincoln Square and Roscoe Village are the preferred living spaces among people moving to Chicago’s North Side. Single-family homes are common here, thus attracting many families with children. The area is both safe and close to downtown, with the added bonus of offering many outdoor activities along the Chicago River.
- Downtown: If you should be moving to Chicago without children and working in the city with a relatively comfortable income, the downtown area is probably your best bet, as you’ll be right in the city’s financial and governmental heart.
- West Side: Logan Square is a good choice for expats moving to Chicago who can’t count on a seven-digit paycheck. The low rents and multitude of parks makes it popular among working-class Chicagoans.
- South Side: Hyde Park pretty much offers anything from small studio apartments to mid-sized mansions to those moving to Chicago. As the home of the University of Chicago, it is popular among students and consequentially, it is probably one of Chicago’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. If you are looking for international flair, you will probably find it here!
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.