Moving to Chicago
Chicago is called “The Windy City,” “City of Big Shoulders” and even “The Third Coast” since it rivals the east and west coasts as a great place to live.
Don’t forget restaurants to tempt the most discriminating foodies and professional sports. With pro baseball teams the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the Chicago Bulls basketball team, the Chicago Bears football team and Blackhawks hockey team, you will find some of the most fervent sports fans in the world!
The third largest city in the United States, Chicago has everything you’d want from a vibrant, constantly-evolving big city. Offering incredible diversity, the famed Lake Michigan waterfront, architecture and a skyline to die for, world-class arts and cultural venues, Chicago is the Midwest’s perfect gem.
When moving to Chicago, keep the following points in mind, as they may impact the logistics of your move.
- Weather: Depending on when you move in the year, weather will be a big issue. The winters can be brutal at times and the often-heavy snowfalls can make a winter move a real challenge. Summer heat and humidity can be a bear, too. Spring and fall are great times for moving to Chicago. Just watch out for pop-up, severe thunderstorms, and keep in mind that tornados are possible.
- Moving Permits: No permits are required for moving in Chicago. But do plan ahead and request your residential parking permit if you’ll be living in the city. Also look into acquiring a new driver’s license and updating any vehicle registration documents.
- Traffic: If possible, plan to avoid high-traffic times during your move, especially Chicago’s big mega-rush hours, Mondays and Fridays in particular.
- Update Your Address: If you’re moving to Chicago, make sure to go online and fill out a change of address form with USPS. This way, you’ll sure your mail arrives at your new home when you do!
Check out our downloadable planners and checklists.
It would be hard to find another large city and metro area that rivals Chicago in diversity of neighborhoods. “Chicagoland” is often used to describe the city, and it’s comprised of 77 distinct neighborhoods and areas. Rich in history, Chicago’s North, West and South Sides have great stories to tell. When relocating to Chicago, allow yourself some time to get to know this “city of neighborhoods.”
Whether you want lakefront access to over 80 miles of public shoreline, a quaint, historic area or an up-and-coming evolving neighborhood, Chicago has what you’re looking for. Here are some popular Chicago neighborhoods to consider:
- Lakefront and Upscale Neighborhoods: South Loop and the Gold Coast offer incredible lake views, shopping and an unrivaled cultural and arts sector.
- Urban and Historic Neighborhoods: If a true city urban experience is more your style, Humboldt Park or Roscoe Village could be your new home.
- Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods: Ukrainian Village and East Village have begun, and continue to be, developing into an interesting mix of old styles, charm and revitalization.
Are you moving to Chicago? Here’s a rundown of all of the local news outlets (including print publications and TV stations) that you’ll need in order to stay up to date with happenings in and around the Chicago metro area.
The Chicago Sun-Times
With a history dating back to 1844, the Chicago Sun-Times (originally called the Chicago Evening Journal) holds the title for the longest-running news publication in the city.
With an impressive eight Pulitzer Prizes under its belt, the Chicago Sun-Times reaches an enormous weekday audience of approximately 422,000, with Sundays reaching an even higher readership of close to 435,000. The paper covers local, state, national and international news as well as sports and entertainment. It’s also widely regarded for having little journalistic bias.
The Chicago Tribune
The chief competition of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune has been around almost as long—founded in 1847—and achieves an even wider readership. Daily circulation is estimated to be over 425,000, and its popular Sunday edition almost doubles that take with a readership of more than 780,000. The Tribune, which is considered to be slightly right-leaning politically, has also achieved great success with respect to awards, racking up 25 Pulitzer Prizes over the years. The newspaper regularly features local and international news, sports, business, entertainment, and listings of local cultural events throughout Chicago.
Covering local news and various cultural events for Spanish-speaking readers in and around the Chicago metro area, La Raza has a respectable circulation of over 175,000 readers. The free newspaper is published once weekly, on Sundays.
Founded in 2002, RedEye is a Monday-through-Friday publication aimed at the 18-to-34 crowd. With its emphasis on reporting local news, sports and entertainment in more engaging, sometimes light tone, it’s managed to appeal to a large segment of the younger Chicago population. Circulation is over 250,000 and the paper is distributed free of charge throughout various newsstands in the city.
One of the pioneers of free newspaper circulation, the Chicago Reader has been in existence since 1971, churching out weekly articles that offer insight into the best (and worst) restaurants, bars, art galleries, live music performances and theater experiences the Windy City has to offer. With a circulation close to 90,000 per issue, the Chicago Reader has become one of the most frequently referred to alternative sources of news in all of Chicago.
Local TV News Channels
To get your dose of news and keep up with local events in Chicago, aim your remote control to:
- WBBM TV 2 (CBS affiliate)
- WFLD TV 32 (Fox affiliate)
- WLS TV 7 (ABC affiliate)
- WMAQ TV 5 (NBC affiliate)
- WTTW TV 11 (PBS affiliate)
- WGBO TV 66 (Univision Spanish language).
Chicago is a challenging city for work commuters with some aggravatingly long rush hours. But it’s equipped with efficient commuter train, bus and taxi transportation systems. Remember, too, that Chicago is a city you can navigate very easily by just putting on your walking shoes.
Airports: Fortunately for fliers, Chicago has two international airports, O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. Although both are busy, large city airports, their size and services offer many advantages for travel. O’Hare is the US’s only dual-hub airport, anchored by United and American Airlines.
Commuter Trains and Buses: Metra commuter ‘L’ trains and a thriving bus service (Pace) make getting around the city and out to the suburbs easy. You can even traverse the Chicago River on a water taxi service!
Expressways: Chicago is serviced by several main highways and routes like I-90 and 94 (Don Ryan Expressway/Kennedy Expressway). Commuters know to expect long delays during rush hours; the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) offers drivers real-time traffic updates online.
Historic Route 66: If you’re adventurous, check out the famed Route 66 that starts in Chicago and bisects the state of Illinois for over 400 miles.
Chicago’s weather is fairly typical of the Midwest with four distinct seasons. Average temperatures for January are 30 degrees and for August, 79 degrees. Snow accumulation varies, but can often be heavy and unpredictable. You need to factor in the “lake effect” (Chicago’s proximity to Lake Michigan). Although the winds off the lake don’t result in as much snow as other lakefront cities like Grand Rapids, Michigan, the wind can make the temperature seem much colder. You’ll welcome those breezes in the heat of summer!
Because of the lake effect, Chicago’s growing season is Hardiness Zone 5b, and just a few miles outside the city, it varies from Zone 5a to 6a. To be inspired to become a great gardener, visit Chicago Botanic Garden and the city’s beautiful parks.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest public school system in the United States with a total of 675 schools, including 87 charter school campuses. The CPS educates 404,151 students. Various programs and initiatives, like the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program, target students needing additional academic support to succeed. The CPS is also very active in recruiting and encouraging parental involvement in their children’s education.
Like any large city school system, Chicago’s public schools have a wide range of academic rankings, and the quality of education provided varies in neighborhoods and parts of the city.
In a SchoolDigger.com ranking of the top ten elementary schools in Illinois, these Chicago schools had top spots:
- Decatur Classical Elementary School
- Edison Elementary Regional Gifted Center
- Keller Elementary Gifted Magnet School
- Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center
High school rankings showed CPS schools with five of the six top spots in Illinois:
- Northside College Preparatory High School
- Young Magnet High School
- Payton College Preparatory High School
- Jones College Prep High School
- Lane Technical High School
If you want to research schools in the CPS, this Find a School tool is helpful. For specific neighborhood and area searches, more academic data and rankings, use the interactive tools on SchoolDigger.com.
The best resource for Chicago’s government-related information, such as city services, getting parking permits, voter registration, etc., is the City of Chicago’s official site. You’ll find city programs and initiatives, facts about Chicago, interactive neighborhood maps and convenient forms to fill out, including paying your bills and property taxes online. One very useful online tool is Chicago’s “311” City Call Center. If you aren’t sure what city government agency to call for assistance, you dial 311 (or 312-744-5000) and you’ll be connected to the proper office.
Below are links to city and state services you’re likely to use after moving to Chicago:
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