"Maybe we can show government how to operate better as a result of better architecture. Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world." (Frank Lloyd Wright) Read Guide >
Everyone knows you don’t put ketchup on a Chicago-style hot dog, and everyone knows that trying to travel through Wrigleyville during a Cubs game will be a mob scene. Here are a few other bits of city-specific advice for fledgling Chicagoans. Though renting stand-alone houses is definitely not unheard of here, the most common living arrangements are apartments and condominiums, the latter of which are sometimes rented out privately by their owners. The range of styles, ages and quality amongst them, however, varies depending on where you’re looking and how much you’re willing to spend. Knowing this, how on earth do you even get started?
It’s always best to know what you want in an apartment first. What’s important to you? What’s your price range? Are you willing to sacrifice size for location? Do you want a vintage flat, a hole-in-the-wall studio, or an updated 40th floor pad with a panoramic view of Lake Michigan? One great thing about apartment hunting in Chicago is that there are multiple services that will take down all your criteria, and then drive you around the city to see multiple options, free of charge. Of course, there are always Internet listings, newspaper ads, and for many areas, a simple walk through the neighborhood to glimpse “for rent” signs will suffice.
Chicago really has no defined “rental season”. Apartments are available year-round, though if anything, there are more options and they tend to go quicker and rent higher in the spring and fall. During these seasons, you’re more likely to lose a good dwelling to another contender if you don’t act fast. Renting a place out in the middle of January may give you a price or time advantage, but moving a couch up to the fourth floor of a walk-up building when the back staircase is covered in ice may also cause you to think twice.
Quality and Style: As previously stated, Chicago has every type of dwelling imaginable, though different neighborhoods and price ranges will yield different results. Multi-unit high-rise buildings usually have amenities included, such as a concierge/doorman, a communal rooftop deck, a pool, or a fitness center. These types of buildings will also have more restrictions or fees for moving in and out. Older buildings with radiator heat will often have gas and heat included in the rent, which is a huge advantage in the winter months when heating prices can break $150 - $200 or more a month. Also, you’d be hard-pressed to find an apartment in the city of Chicago that requires you to pay your own water bill.
Common Logistics: A 12-month lease is standard, though occasionally a larger company will throw in financial perks for signing a longer lease. Short-term or month-to-month leases are hard to come by unless you’re subletting or renting from a private landlord. As far as security deposits go, the standard is equivalent to one month’s rent. More and more often, though, management companies are requiring a non-refundable move-in fee (usually between $150 - $300 per person) instead of a security deposit. For pets, cats are welcome in most buildings, sometimes with a refundable or non-refundable pet deposit. Chicago is generally a dog-friendly city, but not all apartments allow dogs, and some have weight or size restrictions, so always make sure to ask about a building’s pet policy.
Your Renting Arsenal: Here is a list of common things that will be required for a rental application:
Within the city of Chicago, there are over 200 unique neighborhoods that are fluid and socially constructed, each with their own quirks and day-to-day life. On a much larger (and more general) scale, the city can be broken up into four massive sections. Consider this a “jumping off” point in finding your ‘hood. Once you decide which side of the city is best for you, look into doing some research on that area’s neighborhoods to find the best fit. Looking up crime statistics for any place you’re interested in is always a must. A semi-official map of Chicago’s neighborhoods can be found here.
The Loop: The central hub of Chicago, dubbed “the loop” due to the circular path that the elevated trains take around it, is mainly considered a commercial area. It boasts the quintessential Chicago landmarks, including skyscrapers, museums, Grant and Millennium Parks, a theatre district, and a large shopping district. Since it’s mostly business-oriented, housing in the loop tends to be sparser and located more toward the perimeter. This area is bustling during the day, but many things close early, and there isn’t much of a “community” feel. Living spaces are compact high-rise condominium and apartment buildings, and rent is some of the highest in the city. Generally, the further your living proximity from the loop, the cheaper, more spacious, and more “residential” your apartment will tend to be.
North side: Closer to the loop and Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district, rent can get exorbitant and apartments luxurious. There are many fancy town houses around these neighborhoods, too. As you continue north, rent drops a little and the streets become tree-lined, yet population rises considerably. The north side, as a whole, is the most densely populated section of the city, especially along the lakefront. This area has a lot of neighborhood amenities, parks, and nightlife. It boasts a pretty even number of two and three-flat buildings, vintage courtyard buildings, and high-rises of all different types, with pockets of single-family homes woven in.
South side: While not always true, the common stereotype is that the south and southwest sides are the most dangerous areas of Chicago. Speaking statistically, the south side does have a higher rate of crime and poverty. Some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods are here, but it also covers a much larger land area, and contains a wider socioeconomic spectrum. Some parts of the south side are quaint, residential communities, some are rather affluent, many old and historic, but in a few blocks they can go downhill pretty quickly. The neighborhoods here have more single-family homes and smaller buildings, and rent can get considerably cheaper for a nicer place due to location. The south side can sometimes be more volatile as far as safety goes, but millions of Chicagoans still call it home.
West side: The west side is one of the most diverse areas of Chicago, with many well-known immigrant neighborhoods. Its demographics and crime rates vary a lot from area to area. Just west of the loop has historically been an industrial zone; the famous Chicago Union Stockyards were once located here. Closer to downtown, you’ll find loft-style condominiums and old warehouses converted into restaurants and galleries, as well as one of the largest medical districts in the United States. The northwest and southwest are a gentrifying blend of working class Hispanic communities, hipsters and artist’s lofts. Further out, more stand-alone houses, town homes and bungalows appear, but farther out on the west side it can get very unsafe, so proceed with caution.
If this city had a heartbeat, its veins would be rich with commuters. The question is really not whether you’ll be able to get around the city, but how you will get around the city. As with any metropolis, Chicago is easily walk-able, but some distances are just too far for tootsies.
Public Transit: Chicago has the second largest public transportation system in the United States. Eight train lines (both elevated and underground) and over 140 bus routes operate daily all over the city; some run 24/7, others only at peak hours. For commuting further from the city limits, the regional transit authority operates 11 Metra rail lines and suburban buses that service over 200 stations in cities ranging as far as southern Wisconsin and northern Indiana.
Biking: Chicago is a big city for biking (surprisingly) year-round. Bike lanes can be spotted along many major streets, with vivacious velos darting in and out of gridlocked rush hour traffic. Bike paths also run along large portions of the lakefront for a more leisurely commute. Cyclists beware, though; investing in a heavy-duty lock may save you from a heartbreaking bout of bike theft or decapitation.
Driving: Generally one of the least desirable forms of transportation in Chicago, yet a lot of people still do it. Finding an apartment with a designated parking spot can be difficult and pricey in many areas of the city (think an extra $150 - $200 a month for a spot in a parking garage or outdoor lot), and street parking is a cutthroat battle. Don’t even get me started on driving through the city at rush hour. If you need to have a car in Chicago, be forewarned that it will probably become very expensive and frustrating very quickly.
Chicago is truly a melting pot for the masses. It’s rich in history and culture, while still being a progressive and modern city. With this much variety, you’ll be able to find the right place for your lifestyle or budget, all within an exciting urban setting. Hopefully this guide has given you a more concrete idea of what to expect and how to get started on your search. Happy hunting!
Known as the Windy City and the City of Broad Shoulders, Chicago, Illinois holds all the excitement of big city living coupled with small town hospitality. Home to countless sports teams, parks and shopping venues, Chicago is also centerstage for a vast and diverse collection of apartment homes to fit your precise needs.
Chicago holds over 181 neighborhoods full of apartment choices that will fit your exact tastes! Chicago apartment living is woven around all the attractions that make Chicago an international hang-out spot! For Chicago Cub lovers, the Wrigleyville neighborhood has an apartment selection allowing you to be in hands reach of Wrigley Field for home games. Choose a cozy apartment from an array of pocket neighborhoods located within the arms of Lincoln Park. Bucktown and Wicker Park nuzzle their apartment dwellers within a haven for the arts. Relish the vintage lighting of Logan Square that holds the historic viniculture of Chicago past. Enjoy apartment living steps away from Lake Michigan in Gold Coast or relax in the suburban amenities of Edgewater. From the large parks of Lincoln Square to the cosmopolitan digs of Streeterville, Chicago apartment living has much to offer in comfort that caters in individual style.
Experiencing all four season with extremely heated summers and painstaking winters, Chicago is a much sought after place to live and play. From Hyde Park to Roscoe Village, there is a Chicago apartment waiting with your name on it!
Pros •Family friendly for single and working professionals •Excellent private schools throughout the city •Very culturally diverse with different languages and backgrounds •Nice eclectic mix of people! Never a dull moment in the city! •Chicago is one of the Greenest cities in America!
Cons •Segregated nature of people still present from generations past.
The People - Who Lives Here?
Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, with a population of nearly three million people. Its scenic lakeside location, world-class cultural offerings and unique architecture are just some of the reasons why Chicago is a great place to live and visit.
The Value - Rental prices vs. quality of living
Renting is quite the arduous task. First, be prepared to fork over some major dough if you plan to live in the main neighborhoods. Apartments in the loop can cost you from $2.15/sf a month to over $2.85/sf (for 1,000 sf that comes out to $2150 to $2850). Also, be prepared to pay extra for parking (anywhere from $75 for a non-covered spot to $250 per month for a garage space). Should you want to live outside of the loop, you can find bargains, but be ready to settle for less than great if you are looking for a deal. Vintage-rehab is a term used quite often in classifieds and can mean quite a number of things (I've seen vintage re-hab meaning an entire gut rehab that comes out exquisite to changing door knobs in a home that needs to be demolished). Also, be prepared to pay extra for proximity to transportation. Some may not mind this, but if you haven't lived in the city during a winter, you will thank you stars if you selected the condo a block from the "EL" versus the one four blocks away.
At these rates, you owe it to yourself to look at new construction home sales in the city. A 30-year fixed rate as of 12/29/08 was a very low 5.14% making a $300,000 is roughly $1627/month. Talking to a loan officer is critical to learn your buying power and well worth checking.
Rental Advice & Tips
First, renting is very different than buying. You aren't putting equity into your apartment, therefore ask for the best deal. Second, make sure to visit your tour on a Sunday. Typically, most apartment communities review their weekly goals on Monday, and are pushing to report the most rentals in a week. Don't be ashamed to ask for no deposit/ no admin fee/ free rent/ free movers/ free upgrades to make this apartment feel like home. Third, review peer reviews--and be wary of the ultra good ones that keep coming after the bad ones. These tend to be mgt trying to boost scores up. Finally, be mindful of scents, space, lighting, security, transportation, etc that will make a difference once you get settled into your apartment. A lot of this information can be found on www.movingtochicago.org.
Chicago real estate continues to be a safe and stable market compared to other major markets as reported by the Case-Shilling index (September 2008 report) that measures the fluctuations in home sales prices year over year. For those looking to buy in Chicago, your best options are to look for the most reputable builders and developers in the city; to avoid developments that are offering incentives to purchase (i.e. $10,000 off the home price) as this creates a depreciation in home value, and to find the neighborhood that makes the most sense to the type of quality of life being sought. Areas that continue to draw in strong buyer traffic include the city's West Loop (renters, entry level buyer, relocated buyer, second home in-town buyer), Lincoln Park (townhome buyer; expanding family buyer; single family home buyer); UIC/ University Village area (entry level buyer, value conscious buyer; townhome buyer); and Streeterville (high-end buyer; in-town buyer). Remember the importance of builders. Too often I have heard from friends about recent purchases from builders who are nowhere to be found. Best to stick to the Chicago names: Belgravia Group, Ltd. comes to mind. With over 60 years in business, this developer is highly regarded by its buyers, the media, and its vendors.
Just the Facts...
•237 square miles of land •An estimated 2,896,016 residents •Dozens of cultural institutions, historical sites and museums •More than 200 theaters •Nearly 200 art galleries •More than 7,300 restaurants •77 community areas containing more than 100 neighborhoods •26 miles of lakefront •15 miles of bathing beaches •36 annual parades •19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths •552 parks •United States President Barack Obama
Choosing the right neighborhood
It's not surprising that so many people are moving to the windy city these days. The job market is proving to be significantly better than most other parts of the country and there are plenty of great opportunities opening up. With over 77 different communities in the Chi-Town area, the hardest part about moving to the city is finding the best Chicago Neighborhoods. Some of the popular neighborhoods amongst the younger crowd are Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville.
I would definetly recommend to people to visit Chicago if they want the World's Fair with great food and music all wrapped together. The living is wonderful especially for singles and working professionals since Chicago is one of the cleanest and most accessible cities in the world. You can live anywhere in the city, but many working professionals especially the high end ones like to live close to downtown where all the action is. Most singles stay close to the city since they're wanting to be near all the bars and restaurants and social activities. -Queenbee75
Great city with lots to do -Crystal S
70th Street Apartment 1718-32 East 70th Street Chicago, IL 60649 -Woxfored