Tired of paying NYC’s sky-high housing and utility costs? Your wallet is going to love Chicago. Moving to Chicago from NYC doesn’t mean you have to leave behind the cosmopolitan lifestyle you love. Chicago provides it in spades – just without the high price tag. 

Right in the midst of some of the nation’s most beautiful urban architecture, your Chicago lifestyle can be as exciting as you want. And Chicago’s excellent public transit will whisk you off to work faster than the NY subway. However, before you gather moving boxes, check out this guide to learn more about Chicago.

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What to Know About Moving From New York City to Chicago

As you consider relocating from New York City, the following information should give you a good idea of what life is like in Chicago.

Economy and Job Growth

Whether you’re already set up with work or will be looking for a job, you’ll probably want to know what the economic climate looks like in Chicago. According to World Business Chicago, the city has one of the world’s largest and most diversified economies. The city is home to over 400 major corporate headquarters, 36 of which are Fortune 500 companies, representing a variety of business sectors. 

As in NYC, there are plentiful job opportunities in a variety of industries. Chicago’s financial and health sectors are robust. However, the most significant employment gains in 2019 were in education and health services. The unemployment rate (before the pandemic) was 3.6%, in line with the U.S. average rate of 3.3% and lower than NYC’s 4.50%. Future job growth, at 25.7%, is predicted to be somewhat smaller than the U.S. average of 33.5%. Check the Chicago Area Economic Summary for updates on employment, wages, spending, and more.

Housing and Cost of Living

Even though Chicago’s cost of living index is about 18% higher than the national average, your Chicago expenses will be almost 43% less than in NYC. Your most significant savings will be in housing – prices for Chicago housing are 66% lower than what you pay in New York. 

According to bestplaces.net, Chicago’s median home price of $229,100 is right on target with the national average. New York home prices are almost three times the national average at $680,500. If you plan to rent, the average rental rate is $1,617. Moving from NYC to Chicago will provide you with other savings benefits too. Your grocery and food prices will be almost 17% lower than what you pay in New York City. Additional savings will be 38% lower utility bills, 24% lower transportation costs, and 20% lower health costs.

Taxes

Illinois assesses state income tax at a flat 4.95%. Keep an eye on the November 2020 general election when voters will decide whether to ratify an amendment to repeal the flat tax and institute a graduated income tax. 

Chicagoans pay 10.25% in sales tax, one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. You may want to join the many residents who opt to do their major shopping in the suburbs where sales tax rates are lower. 

Your property tax rate in Cook County will run an average of 2.117%. On a home valued at $230,000, your yearly property tax would be $4,869. Manhattan’s property tax rate is slightly lower, at 1.925%. Although the Chicago rate is somewhat higher, your property tax bill will be considerably less because home values are about 66% lower than New York’s. 

Chicago’s population has shrunk from over 3,500,000 in the 1950s to today’s 2,694,236. Many attribute the lower numbers to the high tax rates and the workforce moving out into the popular suburbs. 

Transportation

Just like in NYC, it’s easy to get around Chicago without a car. Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the country’s second-largest public transit system (after NYC), operates eight L train lines via 145 rail stations and 129 bus routes. The high-speed commuter rail train, Metra, connects downtown Chicago with outlying suburbs. Two companies provide water taxi service. The Divvy bike-share program provides 5,800 bikes via 580 stations and provides access to over 200 miles of bike lanes.

Whether you drive your own car or use public transit, your transportation expenses will be about 24% lower in Chicago. The majority of Chicagoans commute by car, while about 28% use public transportation. Your Chicago commute will be a bit shorter than in NY – residents spend an average 69 minutes on their round-trip commute. But New Yorkers’ average round-trip commute is 13 minutes longer at 82 minutes.

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

The third-largest city in the U.S., Chicago has 2.7 million residents that reflect the nation’s rich melting pot. Immigrants from around the world came to Chicago in the 19th and 20th centuries, settling into neighborhoods like Pilsen, Chinatown, Greektown, and Little Italy. Today, these vibrant neighborhoods bustle with restaurants, locally-owned shops, museums, public art, and so much more. 

In 2019, Cook County lost about 21,000 residents. However, New York saw a decline of 60,000 residents the same year. In Chicago, you’ll feel less intense crowding and density than in NYC – while NYC has a population density of 28,498 people per square mile, Chicago has just 11,974 people per square mile.

The ethnic diversity in Chicago is similar to that of New York City. Chicago residents are 33% White, 30% African American, 29% Hispanic, and 6% Asian. The remaining 2% includes Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other races. 

Weather and Climate

You’re already used to NYC’s four distinct seasons with cold winters and hot, humid summers. However, there are some differences between Chicago’s and NYC’s winters that you’ll want to know. The Windy City’s Continental climate means it has harsher weather than New York’s Humid Subtropical/Temperate climate. Chicago winters are colder, especially in terms of the wind chill. The total annual snowfall adds up to 36 inches, and where it’s not plowed, it stays on the ground due to the freezing winter temps. 

You can hold onto the same clothes and winter gear that you wear in NYC, but you’ll probably want to add a few warmer pieces and insulating layers to protect against the freezing winter temps. The average high in January is 31° F and lows average 17° F. In general, every time you go outside in January, the air will be below freezing. With temps like that, you’ll want to prepare thoroughly before you step outside.

The winter wind chill may have you thinking you’ve moved to the Arctic, but when spring peeks out, you’ll toss your heavy parka aside and enjoy some of Chicago’s most beautiful days. Much like NYC, Chicago summers are muggy and hot. Summer highs average 84 degrees, but when occasional three-digit temperatures hit the town, you’ll either be cooling down in Lake Michigan or staying inside. The total annual rainfall is 34” with April through August being the wettest months.

Geography

Magnificent Lake Michigan, one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, forms Chicago’s eastern border. The lake‘s extraordinary natural beauty creates a striking contrast to Chicago’s high rises and urban density. Lakeshore Drive hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline and offers 15 miles of beaches, parkways, and green space. From sailing to swimming, Lake Michigan provides just about any type of water activity you could dream of doing.

Lake Michigan has a significant effect on Chicago’s weather. The lake influences the city’s temperatures, causes lake-effect snows, prompts higher than average winds, and creates more generalized cloudiness. Chicago winters would be even colder if it weren’t for the moderating effects of Lake Michigan, while summers would be hotter without the cooling effect of lake breezes.

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Best Neighborhoods in Chicago

From a condo with extraordinary views of Lake Michigan to a vintage apartment in a trendy neighborhood, you’ll be able to find your home in one of Chicago’s varied communities.

Albany Park

One of the city’s most culturally diverse, Albany Park is probably Chicago’s most respected and loved neighborhood. Located on Chicago’s northwest side, this is a very walkable neighborhood with access to an ‘L’ stop on the CTA line. Find out more details about Albany Park here.

Hyde Park

Located in southside Chicago, Hyde Park is home to the University of Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and the Museum of Science and Industry. A historic community with excellent examples of exquisite Chicago architecture, ethnically diverse Hyde Park remains charming and vibrant. Delve deeper into what Hyde Park offers here.

River West

Exciting housing in warehouse-converted lofts, stylish townhomes, and trendy condos aren’t the only reason new residents are flocking to River West. They love the vivid restaurant and entertainment scene that Chicagoans from all over the city come to enjoy. Home prices are in the $430,000 range. Learn additional information about River West here.

Wicker Park

Gen Xers and Millennials love Wicker Park for its hip nightlife, restaurant, and entertainment scene. In this active and involved community, affordable apartments and expensive homes offer a variety of housing choices conveniently close to Downtown. Ready to know more about Wicker Park?

Lincoln Park

From the famed Lincoln Park Zoo to hip boutiques and great dining, Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods. Pricey historic brownstones plus more affordable vintage apartments provide housing for everyone – from professionals to students. Here’s where you can learn more about Lincoln Park.

South Loop

From 300+ acre Grant Park and Soldier Field to some of Chicago’s finest museums and cultural institutions, South Loop provides a wonderful environment for classic Chicago living. Choose from loft-style condos, vintage apartment buildings, and historic single-family homes in this popular neighborhood of 33,442 residents. Does South Loop sound appealing? Find out more here.

Logan Square

If charming tree-lined streets and old-style bungalows sound enticing, you’ll love Logan Square. Breweries, cool coffee houses, and great restaurants add to the eclectic flavor of the neighborhood. Still home to many working-class residents and families, Logan Square is attracting young, hip professionals. Ready to know more about Logan Square?

Roscoe Village

The “Village With a City” is a family-friendly neighborhood that provides a hometown feel. You can choose from apartments or charming single-family homes and enjoy the independently owned shops and cozy restaurants in this northside Chicago community that has a small-town vibe. Click here for more info about Roscoe Village.


Cost of Moving to Chicago from NYC

On average, it costs about $2,200-$3,900 to move from NYC to Chicago. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 790 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best NYC to Chicago movers now!

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Patricia McBratney

Between working as a clinical educational therapist and flipping houses, Patty’s lifelong love of horses found her riding the remote... Read More