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Cost of Living in Chicago, IL 2023

November 14, 2022
Considering a move to the Windy City? Before moving, learn about the cost of living in Chicago to make sure you have your budget mapped out properly!

As the largest city in the Midwest, Chicago is constantly welcoming newcomers. It boasts a relatively stable job market, a diverse mix of neighborhoods including; lakefront living, and robust public transportation. Chicago isn't exactly known for being cheap compared to its fellow midwestern cities, but it's a bargain compared to cities like New York, Boston, or Los Angeles.

There's a Chicago neighborhood for everyone, whether you're looking for nightlife or a quiet green space and a reprieve from the city bustle. Read on to learn more about the cost of living in Chicago and how to plan your budget accordingly.

What Is the Cost of Living in Chicago?

Chicago is a major metropolitan area in the midwest, which makes it fitting to know the cost of living can be a bit higher. Still, the average cost of living in Chicago is only 7% higher than the national average.

Cost of LivingChicagoIllinoisU.S.
Overall10793.7100
Grocery9794100
Health8896.9100
Housing99.880.2100
Median Home Cost$291,200$234,000$291,700
Utilities92.897.7100
Transportation138.5106.2100
Miscellaneous139.8107.8100

Be sure to remember these figures provide an average across the city. After all, the cost of living can vary drastically depending on where you choose to live in Chicago.

Highest Cost of Living in Chicago

The area in Chicago with the highest cost of living in Winnetka, a small village just north of downtown. The average cost of living in Winnetka is 115.2% higher than the national average.

Cost of LivingWinnetkaIllinoisU.S.
Overall215.293.7100
Grocery110.294100
Health8896.9100
Housing443.480.2100
Median Home Cost$1,293,300$234,000$291,700
Utilities9597.7100
Transportation140.5106.2100
Miscellaneous139.7107.8100

Lowest Cost of Living in Chicago

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Riverdale, a small official community area. The average cost of living in Riverdale is 15.1% lower than the national average.

Cost of LivingRiverdaleIllinoisU.S.
Overall84.993.7100
Grocery91.694100
Health8896.9100
Housing19.680.2100
Median Home Cost$57,300$234,000$291,700
Utilities94.497.7100
Transportation150.2106.2100
Miscellaneous140.3107.8100

Chicago Housing Costs

Based on data pulled from our rent report, a 1 bedroom apartment in Chicago costs $1,308. A 2 bedroom apartment in Chicago costs $1,420. Depending on where you'd be moving from, these are affordable prices compared to many other US metro areas.

Aspiring homeowners can expect to pay a median sales price of $291,200. Of course, it all depends on where you want to buy. Buying in downtown Chicago will be much more expensive than in the city's suburbs.

Chicago Transportation

Expect to spend approximately $5,305 per year on transportation as a single adult. If you have a family of three (two working adults and a child), your transportation cost will increase to $7,809 per year.

Gas will also add to your overall costs at $4.13 per gallon in Chicago. Or, you can ditch the car altogether and hop on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) public transit system.

Expect to pay $75 a month for a local monthly pass or $2.50 for a single one-way trip on the L. You can also grab the L train to O'Hare and get out of town, with a $5 full fare.

For those living in the suburbs, the Metra Rail connects northeast Illinois to Chicago and beyond. Depending on your daily route, expect to pay between $116 to $239 for an unlimited monthly pass.

Chicago Food Costs

The MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates that a single full-time working adult who cooks their meals and snacks spends around $3,423 per year on food.

Food prices are also higher in Chicago than in other midwestern cities, with a gallon of milk costing $2.34. A loaf of bread runs $3.74 and a dozen eggs $2.35.

If you want to enjoy the city's incredible food, Chicago-style pizza, Maxwell Street polish sausage, and its fine dining, plan at least $20 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. A meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost around $80.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare is an essential part of your budget to stay healthy and get the medical care you need. MIT pulled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to estimate typical health expenditure for Chicago residents. The estimates for healthcare will cost $2,715 per year for a single full-time working adult and $7,778 per year for a family of three.

Utilities

You've got rent figured out, but how much do utilities cost? A basic utility bill that includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for an apartment averages around $238.69 per month in Chicago. They call Chicago the Windy City for a reason. You'll likely spend more during the winter months and snowstorms.

Additionally, a standard Internet package will increase the total monthly cost of utilities by approximately $59.54, totaling $228.44 per month.

Fitness and Entertainment

Fitness enthusiasts need extra room in their budget when living in Chicago. If you’re a gym-goer, prepare to shell out another $52.33 on monthly membership fees.

Theater, comedy, nightclubs, and live music keep Chicago's neighborhoods lively year-round. But if your preferred type of entertainment is going to the movies, that’ll cost you about $14 per ticket. That excludes money you spend at the concession stand for snacks and drinks.

Free Things to Do Around Chicago

Despite the relatively high cost of living in Chicago, there are still plenty of ways to reduce your budget by enjoying some of the free attractions and activities around the metro area. Culture lovers head to the historic Chicago Cultural Center for year-round free programs.

During temperate months, enjoy jogging or biking on the Lakefront Trail for sights of Lake Michigan. You can even take a picnic to the Chicago Riverwalk to soak in the world-famous architecture along the Chicago River.

Whether you're a kid or kid at heart, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the few free zoos in the country. Take a stroll to see over 230 species of animals situated against the landscape of Lincoln Park.

Illinois State Taxes

Some other expenses might surprise you when living in Chicago. Currently, the minimum combined sales tax rate for Chicago is 10.25%. Unfortunately, locals pay the highest combined tax rate in the country since a sales tax hike in 2016.

Other Expenses to Consider in Chicago

Chicago also ranks in the top 10 for most expensive parking among cities in the United States. Expect to pay a median hourly park rate of $17. However, you might be able to find some metered parking for $2.50 to $6.50 an hour if you're lucky.

If you plan to keep a car in the Windy City, look for an apartment complex that offers garage parking. That’ll reduce expenses and the hassle of digging out your car during the winter.

Speaking of winter, you'll need to plan on buying a whole new wardrobe if you're moving from a warmer climate. Rain, snow, and wind are the norm around Chicago. The city requires heavy jackets, layers, boots, and umbrellas to reduce your exposure to harsh weather.

And if you do need to park your car on the street, you could deal with wear and tear from severe weather and chemicals used to melt snow along the roads.

What Salary Do I Need to Live in Chicago?

Not sure how much you need to earn to live comfortably in Chicago? The recommended household income for a one-bedroom in Chicago is about $52,480 a year, or $25.23 an hour.

However, the "living wage" is defined as the minimum amount of money needed to live above the poverty threshold. For Chicago, the living wage is around $16.08 an hour for a full-time employed single individual. It excludes expenses for restaurants, entertainment, and vacations. It also doesn't allow for savings.

If you're not sure how much you need to be comfortable living in Chicago, consider your salary compared to the median rent prices to find a place to live that fits your budget. For example, if your one-bedroom Chicago apartment rents for $1,312, your monthly wages should add up to at least $3,936 a month or $47,232 a year.

Roommates are also popular in Chicago to reduce costs and create more financial cushion for an affordable lifestyle.

Chicago's Job Market

The job market attracts newcomers looking for new opportunities and industries. Major companies like McDonald's, Boeing, United Continental, Mondelez International, and Conagra Brands all have headquarters in Chicago. The city is also home to manufacturing, transportation, information technology, and health services jobs.

Final Thoughts

Chicago offers something for everyone, from career climbers to college students. Ready to pack up and move to the Windy City or a city nearby Chicago? Find your next Chicago apartment on Apartment List. Just get started with our quiz!

If Chicago doesn't seem like the city for you, check out the best places to live in Illinois!

FAQs: Cost of Living in Chicago in 2023

How expensive is an apartment in Chicago?

A 1 bedroom apartment in Chicago costs $1,308. A 2 bedroom apartment in Chicago costs $1,420.

What is the cheapest rent in Chicago?

A 1 bedroom apartment is the cheapest rent you can get in Chicago, with the median rent sitting at $1,308. The average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in Chicago is higher at $1,420.

How expensive is it to live in Chicago?

Living in Chicago is relatively expensive. In Chicago, rent averages $1,308 for a 1 bedroom apartment. Transportation costs in Chicago amount to $5,305 a year. Food costs $3,423 a year on average for a single resident of Chicago.

How far is Milwaukee from Chicago?

Chicago is 92 miles away from Milwaukee. It takes 1 hour and 26 minutes to get to Milwaukee from Chicago by car, 8 hours by bike, and 28 hours by foot.

How far is Chicago from Detroit?

Chicago is 281 miles away from Detroit. It takes 4 hours and 27 minutes to get to Detroit from Chicago by car, 24 hours by bike, and 89 hours by foot.

How far is Chicago from New York?

Chicago is 789 miles away from Milwaukee. It takes 12 hours and 27 minutes to get to New York from Chicago by car, 81 hours by bike, and 270 hours by foot.

How far is St. Louis from Chicago?

Chicago is 296 miles away from St. Louis. It takes 4 hours and 35 minutes to get to St. Louis from Chicago by car, 25 hours by bike, and 94 hours by foot.

What is the population of Chicago?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Chicago is 2,696,555. It is the most populated city in the state of Illinois and the third most populated city in the country.

Is Chicago cheaper than New York?

Chicago is significantly cheaper than New York. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in New York sits at $2,224, while the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago sits at $1,420.

What is a good salary in Chicago?

The recommended salary in Chicago is $4,374 per month or $52,488 annually. This total reflects a salary that would allow a renter to live comfortably and afford to cover the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment which sits at $1,308.

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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