One of the greatest metropolises in the world, New York City, is an exciting & dynamic city, unlike any other. Sure, Chicago is great in its own right, but there’s something about the Big Apple – incredible cultural diversity (residents speak 800+ languages), around-the-clock entertainment (it’s called the City that Nevers Sleeps for a reason), and that quintessential NYC spirit, to name a few. Whether you’re moving from Chicago to New York City for a change of pace, career opportunity, or to simply take in everything that this fabled city has to offer, here’s your guide to making your relocation a successful one!

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What to Know About Moving from Chicago to New York City

Are you excited about moving to New York City from Chicago? Before you start packing up everything in Illinois, take the time to consider the following points. Good luck with your relocation to NYC!

Taxes

It’s no secret – New York City has some of the highest taxes in the nation. Currently, the Big Apple commands the following rates: state sales tax 4%, local sales tax (4.875%), total sales tax (8.875%), and total top income tax (12.7%). Chicago, on the other hand, has a higher total sales tax (10.25%, with 6.25% state and 4% local) and lower total top income tax (4.95%, with 4.95% state and 0% local). Of course, you’re paying higher rates to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet. Overall, NYC has a lower average property tax rate (1.925%) than Chicago does (2.117%). Still, with much higher real estate prices, you can anticipate a higher annual property tax bill in the Big Apple.

Economy and Job Growth

Known as the Capital of the World, NYC is legendary for its economic and career opportunities. As for unemployment, New York City had a rate of 4.1% at the beginning of 2020. Chicago had a higher rate of unemployment at 4.4%. Models predict future job growth in the Big Apple to be nearly 31%, while the rate in Chi-Town is expected to be only 25.7% over the next ten years.

Weather and Climate

If you’re looking for more sunshine, New York City offers an average of 35 more sunny days than the Windy City (224 vs. 189). NYC has a humid subtropical climate (with a winter low of 26°F and summer high of 84°F), while Chicago has a hot-summer humid continental climate (winter low of 19°F and summer high of 84°F). Both cities offer four distinct seasons. Along with more sun, NYC also offers more rain (47 inches vs. 38 inches) and less snowfall (25 inches vs. 35 inches) than its midwestern counterpart.

Geography

Sitting on about 304 square miles of land, New York City is the most densely populated metropolis in America. It lies along the New York State coastline in the northeastern region of the US, in a sheltered harbor where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. New York sits on three main island sections – Manhattan, Staten Island, and the western portion of Long Island – and is separated into five boroughs (The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island). For comparison, the City of Chicago is found in the Midwest along the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan in the northern part of Illinois. It sits on a relatively flat plain.

Housing and Cost of Living

Okay, so NYC is an incredible place to live, but how much does it cost? If you’re coming from Chicago, you might want to brace yourself. New York City has a cost of living index of 187.2. For comparison, the US index is 100, and the index in Chicago is 106.9. You can anticipate paying more in NYC than you did in Chicago across every major cost of living category – from utilities and healthcare to food and groceries. As for housing prices, it’s more of the same. NYC currently has a median list price of $760,000 (with a median rent price of $2,900), while the Windy City has a median list price of only $329,000 (with a median rent price of $1,685).

Things to Do

Whether you’re into sports, intellectual pursuits, outdoor adventures, trendy restaurants, arts, or family fun, there’s something fun to do for everyone in NYC! Of course, it’s impossible to pack all the great attractions & destinations of the Big Apple in one paragraph, so we’ll highlight the top picks. Sports: Yankees and Mets (MLB), Knicks and Nets (NBA), Jets (NFL), Rangers (NHL), and New York City FC (MLS). Arts, culture & museums: MoMA, Carnegie Hall, Broadway, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Guggenheim Museum. Food & Drink: Katz’s Delicatessen, Anchor Wine Bar, and Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour. Family fun: Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Central Park, and New York Aquarium.

Educational Opportunities

So, where do New York City and Chicago rank among the most educated cities in the United States? NYC currently ranks #26 (along with #30 in educational attainment and #19 in quality of education & attainment gap). The Chicago metro area isn’t too far behind at #30. Interested in the top colleges & universities in the NYC metro area? They include Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art, Yeshiva College, CUNY Baruch College, Fordham University, and The New School, among other notable institutions.

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

When looking at the most culturally diverse cities in America, New York City takes the #6 spot (compared to Chicago at #40). The Big Apple also comes in 5th and 6th place, respectively, in ethnoracial diversity and linguistic diversity with 800+ languages! Next, let’s look at race & ethnicity demographics. NYC is 47.5% White, 22.4% Hispanic & Latino, 17.1% Black, 10.6% Asian, and 2.4% mixed & other. Chicago, by comparison, is 32.3% White, 30.9% Black, 28.7% Hispanic & Latino, 6.1% Asian, and 1.9% mixed & other.

Transportation and Traffic

According to WalletHub, New York City takes the #7 spot in cities with the best public transportation. As for Chicago, it comes in at #22. NYC also ranks #5 in terms of accessibility & convenience. Of course, there are downsides to getting around NYC, particularly when it comes to commute time. The city claims the top spot for slowest commuting, with an average time of 41.2 minutes. Chicago isn’t too far behind at #4, with an average commute time of 35 minutes.

Crime Rates

Are you considering the public safety of New York City and Chicago? When looking at the crime rates of NYC, the city has a violent crime index of 28.2 (compared to the US average of 22.7) and a property crime index of only 24.9 (compared to the US average of 35.4). Chicago currently has a violent crime rate of 49.9 and a property crime rate of 46.3, much higher than those in the Big Apple. If you’re looking for the safest area of the city to call home, be sure to check out the neighborhoods of Gramercy, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Heights, and Greenwich Village.

Food

Chicago, home of deep-dish pizzas, Chicago style hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches, has a long history of delicious and accessible food. But as far as endless options and a melting pot of myriad cultures, NYC wins the food battle hands down. This city has anything you can think of – Cronuts, bagel & lox, porterhouse steak, Cantonese pineapple buns, arepa de chocolo, flavored ghee, Arroz Caldo, kielbasa, lasagna Alla Bolognese, brick toast, chicken & waffles, bubble tea, Japanese souffle pancakes, and even vegan raindrop cake. Simply put, if you’re a foodie, it’s nearly impossible to beat NYC!

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Best Neighborhoods in New York City

Here are some of the best neighborhoods to call home in the Big Apple.

Brooklyn – Carroll Gardens

Home to gorgeous streets (with a mix of nineteenth-century charm and Italian flare), Carroll Gardens offers a charming NYC experience. Less than two miles from Downtown Brooklyn, the neighborhood has a close-knit community. Discover more about this classic neighborhood here.

Brooklyn – Downtown

Home to approximately 22,000 residents, Downtown Brooklyn, offers a host of shops, cafes, bars, and parks within convenient walking distance. One thing to keep in mind is that housing isn’t exactly cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for here. Find out more here.

The Bronx – Kingsbridge

Are you looking for a highly diverse corner of the Bronx? You just found it in Kingsbridge. Commanding some of the most affordable rental prices in the city, this neighborhood attracts people from all around the globe. It’s also part of a business improvement district. Learn more about Kingsbridge here.

The Bronx – Riverdale

With a population of 47,850, Riverdale is just minutes north of Manhattan. The neighborhood is home to mansions (and affordable apartments), gorgeous parks, stellar schools, tree-lined streets, and sprawling hills. Simply put, it’s historic, luxurious, and beautiful. Get more info here.

Manhattan – East Village

In search of that Bohemian vibe? East Village is iconic for its community of artists, creatives, and students! Along with housing that ranges from co-ops to low-rise apartments, the neighborhood has quirky & delightful shops and coffee houses. Here’s more on East Village.

Manhattan – Upper West Side

From immaculate brownstones with tree-lined streets to luxury high-rises with courteous doormen, this upscale neighborhood offers a pleasant break from the hustle & bustle of the rest of the city. There are simply too many amazing things to list in this small space. Find out more here.

Queens – Astoria

If you work in Manhattan, Astoria is a great pick. Home to diverse residents – about 96,000 of them – this neighborhood across the East River offers an attractive list of amenities, restaurants, beer gardens, and access to acclaimed Astoria Park. Discover more about Astoria here.

Queens – Sunnyside

Not feeling the denser neighborhoods? Want quieter surroundings? Sunnyside shines bright in this regard! Along with more affordable housing options, this Queens neighborhood offers a delightful historic district. Here’s more information on Sunnyside

Staten Island – Great Kills 

Offering a fantastic blend of suburban and urban, Great Kills is equally perfect for young families and professionals. The neighborhood sits on the South Shore and is known for enjoying a high rate of homeownership as well as its many parks, shops, and restaurants. Find out more about Great Kills here.

Staten Island – Huguenot

Looking for a smaller, cozier neighborhood, especially compared to the other picks on this list? Huguenot is an excellent choice for families. Safe and family-centric, with a ton of parks and housing options, this Staten Island neighborhood ideal for rearing kids removed from the congestion of Manhattan. Learn more here.


Cost of Moving from Chicago to NYC

On average, it costs about $2,200-$3,900 to move from Chicago to New York City. 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 Chicago to NYC movers now!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More