What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Chicago?

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

Most people cannot pronounce Illinois correctly; however, they are remarkably familiar with Chicago. People move to Chicago for all sorts of reasons, including work, cheap real estate, and of course, pizza. Yes, people have moved to Chicago for pizza. But before you do the same, it is essential to understand the pros and cons of living in Chicago.

In Chicago, you can buy a house for less than $225,000, you do not have to drive as everything is accessible by public transportation, and not to mention, the food is fantastic! To live in the city, you pay less than half of what others pay to live somewhere like NYC or LA. However, you have to deal with the crime, the lost war on drugs, inflated cost of living, and horrible traffic.

If you are looking at moving to Chicago, it is vital that you first do your research before making the ultimate move. In this article, we provide you with what you need to know so you can make an educated decision on whether or not Chicago is right for you.

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Benefits To Living In Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city with lots to offer. From its 24/7 bustle and business opportunities to its famous deep-dish pizza, we will point out several reasons people love living there.

1. Best Pizza Ever And Other Foods Too

There has been an ongoing war between Chicago and New York City for having the best pizza; Is thin crust the best? Or do you prefer the 4-inch-thick pizza pie from Giordano’s? Most people tend to flock toward the deep-dish style, and with good reason! It is savory, gooey, filling, and it is Chicago’s pride and joy.

Of course, there is more to eat there if you are not a pizza-fanatic like some of us are. There are also the world-famous Chicago hot dogs, gyros, and other Greek foods, Jibarito, and many diverse dining options scattered around the city. You will never have to settle for anything less than what you are craving with so many options right around the block.

2. Business Opportunities

Now, if you are looking to move to Chicago to start a business, you might want to rethink this plan as Chicago ranked as one of the worst cities to start a business in. However, the Windy City has so many resources! If you already have your business up and going, then Chicago can help get it booming.

Chicago takes the lead when it comes to business growth, which does not exclude the minor work from home businesses. Also, Chicago businesspeople love their takeout, so you could even become an independent contractor for food delivery and make great money as well.

3. Cheaper Housing

To enjoy life in the big city, you typically have to pay for that lifestyle as well, but not in Chicago. Other landmark cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas all have a highly inflated cost when it comes to renting. But, in Chicago, you can rent a studio apartment for $550, compared to $1,500 for a studio in New York City.

Below, we have devised a chart so you can compare Chicago rent to a few other landmark cities to see how it stacks up.

Apartment Size


Los Angeles

New York City





1 Bed




2 Bed




3 Bed




4. Community Events

Remember back in the day when communities used to get together for parades, traditions, and holidays? Well, in Chicago, that is not a thing of the past, as they still do that to this very day. For example, most of their traditions take place on St. Patrick’s Day every year. You will see the Chicago river run green from the dye that they add to it. They have been dying the river green since 1962, and now more than 400,000 people come to watch or kayak and experience it up close and personal.

Additionally, Chicago is known for its music festivals. If you are into techno, you may be familiar with a genre called ‘House.’ This genre was born in Chicago decades before it ever became popular. Not to mention, you will have access to the outdoor music festivals and the blues festival for free too! Depending on where you live, you may be able to enjoy it all from the comfort of your own home.

5. Stores Are Always Open

One thing that is missing in most cities is stores staying open! But, in Chicago, that is not an issue. If you decide you want to run out for groceries at 4:00 AM or grab some takeout from the local Chinese restaurant at 6:00 in the morning, you can do that. You no longer have to settle for McDonald’s as you will find a wide range of restaurants that stay open throughout the night as well as the day.

However, it is not only food and grocery stores that stay open. If you want to attend an open mic night or participate in a comedy club group, these places usually stay open throughout the night and into the morning. So, whether it is dancing, sports, singing, or grocery shopping, you can do all of that no matter the time of day.

The Cons Of Living In Chicago

Now, of course, where there are benefits, there are also disadvantages. Therefore, we thought it only fair to share with you the cons of living in Chicago. Many of these cons are considered significant dealbreakers depending on who you are, so be sure to read the list thoroughly.

1. Inflated Cost Of Living

While rent is on the cheaper side in Chicago, the cost of living is still highly inflated. In total, it is about 20% more expensive than the national average. The food and grocery bills are mostly the culprits in this case since most of the goods are transported from other areas of the state, as well as the country.

The transportation costs are also high, and so is healthcare. Chicago is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. So, while your rent is cheaper, the other bills are higher than average, which sort of levels everything else out.

2. The Worst For Crime

It is likely that you have heard of John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, or even Al Capone. These are some of the most famous criminals to have created Chicago’s history. Chicago used to be one of the most dangerous places in America; however, it has been cleaning up in recent years.

While the crime rates have improved, it is still higher than the national average. In 2018 there were over 550 homicides in just that year alone! Moreover, there are over 60 street gangs that have thousands of active affiliated members. This is something to be aware of before moving to Chicago, as it is unlikely that the gangs will ever be cleaned out.





Reported Incidents

Statistics are per 100k people

Property Crime 2,983 1,847 2,110 80,742
Theft 2,293 1,426 1,549 6,208
Vehicle Theft 335 148 219 9,080
Violent Crime 940 407 379 25,532
Rape 65 48 42 1,761
Assault 565 254 250 7,985
Murder 18 6 5 495
Total Crime 3,926 2,253 2,489 106,274

3. Traffic Is Terrible

Although not as bad as New York City, Chicago traffic is still pretty intense. Since it is one of the most congested cities in the world, there is no surprise that the traffic is a bit backed up. In fact, it comes in at the third-worst traffic situation in the country.

If you live within walking distance to work, then this may not be an issue. Also, if you take the Blue Line instead of drive, this will most likely not affect you.

4. You Are Automatically Defined By Your Neighborhood

Now, the positive side of having so many diverse neighborhoods is the different set of cultures that you get to immerse yourself in. You can dive into some Mexican cultural traditions in the West, while the north side of Chicago is all about baseball. It is fun to have all of these different activities close to each other. However, there is a dark side.

Due to the gang activity in Chicago, gangs usually affiliate themselves with different neighborhoods. You would have to be mindful of the colors that you wear. There have been some instances where a resident has been killed due to the neighborhood that they are from. So, that is something to keep in mind as well.

However, having said all that, this is not the typical Chicago way of life anymore. While it does still happen, it is not nearly as bad as it once was. Do not wear all of one color, and keep your nose clean. Even though Al Capone is one side of Chicago, Frank Sinatra is the other.

5. The Weather Can Be Problematic

Typically, there are four seasons in a year. In Chicago, though, it is either sweltering and sticky during the summer, or it is freezing cold with ice and windstorms that bring tons of snow in the winter. There is no in-between, and winter seems to be longer than summer.

Chicago also experiences frequent wind due to it sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan. Usually, this does not cause much of a problem, although it was nicknamed The Windy City due to the frequency. While the wind feels terrific in the summertime, it can make or break the Chicago area during winter.

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Related Questions

What is a good salary to live in Chicago?

If you are looking to live comfortably in Chicago, then it is ideal your salary is around $95,000 a year if you are looking to rent and $85,000 if you are looking to buy. However, you can get by $35,000 if need be. It all depends on the area you live in and the resources available to you.

Where is the ghetto in Chicago?

The west side of Chicago is considered ‘the ghetto’; however, there are some worse areas. Just outside of Chicago on the south side resides some of the worst places in the country. If you are looking to move to Chicago or even visit, steer clear of the south side’s outskirts.

Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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