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How to Find a Month to Month Apartment in Chicago, IL

May 9, 2022

Chicago is the largest Midwest city, making it no surprise it’s such a popular and welcoming place for newcomers. The city is an ideal place to move, offering residents a robust public transportation system, lakefront living, diverse neighborhoods, and a stable job market. As a result, all different types of folks can find what they’re looking for in this incredible city and at lower prices than other major cities like Los Angeles, Boston, or New York.

Finding a place to live in Chicago is where the challenge begins, with so many different great neighborhoods to choose from. You might even have a more challenging time finding exactly what you're looking for if you’re looking for a month-to-month lease, as they tend to be more limited.

If you’re wondering how to find a month-to-month apartment in Chicago, look no further. We did all the homework, so you don’t have to. Keep reading to learn all you’ll need to know about finding monthly apartments in the Windy City.

Urban Autumn Autumn on a residential street in the city of Chicago.

How to Find the Best Chicago Neighborhood

You need to get your priorities straight and pick a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle before you even start asking yourself how to find an apartment in Chicago.

Residents enjoy the numerous perks of the city, including its fascinating past fueled by the misdeeds of Al Capone, competitive sports teams, and lakefront views while living in Chicago. And, you can’t go without mentioning the city’s countless delicious food options with everything from Michelin star dining options, namesake hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, and sausage.

You’ll have no shortage of fabulous neighborhoods and cultural diversity if you’re ready to move to the Windy City. Here’s where to get started!

1. Edgewater

Take advantage of sweeping views of Lake Michigan and its shoreline if you live in Chicago, but keep in mind that waterfront prices often come at a premium. Thankfully, some areas lean on the more reasonable side, including Edgewater. Here, you can settle in for a quiet picnic with locals while avoiding the crowds of tourists at nearby beaches.

New businesses are cropping up along the bustling Edgewater corridor, as the neighborhood is currently undergoing a “Broadway Renaissance.” You have your pick of mid-and high-rise apartment complexes throughout this neighborhood, offering unbeatable views of Lake Michigan for renters.

Edgewater’s location also provides access to the Northern Chicago suburbs or the Loop by bus or L Red Line. Families also enjoy the area because of its safety and reputable schools.

2. Edison Park

In Edison Park, you don’t have to leave the city to capture that suburban feel. Here, the local theater is funded solely by donations, the Work-In-Progress (WIP) Theater. After catching a showing, sample some of the countless ethnic cuisines the neighborhood offers. If that’s not enticing enough for the foodies, you can also experience more great eats, cold beer, carnival rides, and live entertainment at the annual Edison Park Fest.

Many working-class people call this family-friendly neighborhood home, including young professionals, police officers, and families taking advantage of the well-regarded local schools. Thanks to the excellent public transportation system through Edison Park, all you need to get downtown is a quick ride on the Blue Line.

3. Gold Coast / River North

Chicago’s Gold Coast and River North neighborhoods might be ideal if you like hitting up the latest late-night spots, shopping, and fine dining. Enjoy your pick of name-brand department and luxury retail stores along the coveted street of N Michigan Ave, also known as Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

Soak in the sun and cityscape views by heading to Oak Street Bench next to beautiful Lake Michigan. Once the sun sets, you can enjoy the nightlife, bar, and restaurant options.

The Gold Coast and River North neighborhoods of Chicago offer high-rise buildings with the amenities to match. Keep in mind that real estate is in high demand compared to other areas, and rent prices come at a premium. Thankfully, your daily commute is likely only a few L Red Line stops or scenic riverwalk away, with such proximity to Downtown Chicago.

4. Hyde Park

Dog lovers, families, young professionals, and University of Chicago students who crave time outdoors flock to Hyde Park. Here, the neighborhood safety is reasonable and improving, and schools are well-regarded.

With an east-side shoreline, residents of Hyde Park take their pick of apartment complexes or single-family homes. However, compared to other lakefront communities and northern neighborhoods in Chicago, rent prices are still relatively reasonable. Also, getting Downtown from Hyde Park is still simple, thanks to the bus or L Green Line.

5. Lakeview

Lakeview is well-regarded for its scenic views. Given its namesake, it’s no surprise.

6. Lincoln Park

From historic homes to luxury condos, you’ll quickly find that Lincoln Park properties come with lakefront views. Just south of Lakeview, Lincoln Park is located within miles of Downtown Chicago and is one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods.

In addition to being home to its namesake, Lincoln Park, this neighborhood also includes the Nature Museum, Chicago History Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, and much more.

Schools are well-regarded, and safety is the norm, making it the perfect place for families, established professionals, young professionals, and university students. An easy daily commute simply requires your choice of the L Red or Brown line and buses.

7. Logan Square

Logan Square is known for being the millennial paradise, where you can be the first to try the latest trendy bar or restaurant. You can find macro, micro, and artisanal in Logan Square’s hip music and restaurant venues. Logan Square has that “anything can happen” feel.

Young professionals, boho-chic hipsters, and university students are the self-proclaimed “Logan Locals.” Compared to its Red Line neighbors in Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, the neighborhood remains relatively affordable even despite the neighborhood's continued growth in popularity.

Of course, you’ll need to exercise caution when walking to your bungalow or high-rise apartment complex, as with any area known for thriving nightlife. Also, O’Hare International Airport and Downtown Chicago are conveniently located on the L Blue Line.

8. West Loop

Some of the best restaurants in Chicago call West Loop home. Foodies rejoice in this industrial neighborhood as they eat their way through the esteemed eateries of Restaurant Row on Randolph Street. The Randolph Street Market is a place to browse vintage wares. Otherwise, you can head out to music venues, bars, and pubs.

Dog-friendly developments, new apartments, and residential lofts are snatched up by die-hard foodies, urban lovers, and young professionals, as these spots are highly walkable to nightlife and amenities. However, it does require a proactive approach to safety.

To get around the Greater Chicago area, hop on the bus or take the Blue, Pink, or Green Line.

9. Wicker Park / Bucktown

For a laid-back vibe with several restaurants and bars, young professionals flock to Wicker Park / Bucktown. Families are still welcome in the neighborhood, despite its hipster draw, since there is a wealth of quality schools to choose from in the area.

Biking, whirly ball, and live music are popular in this booming neighborhood. The elevated Bloomington Trail is near the 606 and just a quick bike ride away.

Newer apartment complexes and historic brick and stone homes can be found in Wicker Park / Bucktown. Take the Kennedy Expressway, bus, or L Blue Line for your transportation needs.

How Much Are Month-To-Month Apartments in Chicago

The type of apartment and the number of bedrooms you are looking to rent will significantly impact your monthly lease costs. Also, remember that the more desirable neighborhoods of Chicago will cost you more. If you’re looking to save, consider some of the less popular areas of the city instead.

Wherever you live in Chicago, you can anticipate paying more for a month-to-month lease than a traditional 12-month lease. But, first, learn more about the average rent prices for standard 12-month leases in Chicago if you consider month-to-month lease terms.

Entrepreneur young woman talking using laptop in home office

How to Find Cheap Month-To-Month Apartments in Chicago

Finding cheap month-to-month apartments in Chicago is possible, despite rising costs. Before you begin apartment hunting in the city, make it your goal to stick to your budget.

When touring month-to-month apartments, look for outdated amenities or appliances to see if you can lower your monthly rent. You can also ask about less desirable floors or units without popular views to help reduce some of your rent costs. Or, try looking away from commercial strips or on the outskirts of your favorite neighborhoods.

It is possible to find an apartment you can afford, though it might take more work. Find cheap month-to-month apartments in Chicago by looking for move-in specials, such as a free month of rent or no application fee.

It's essential to budget for your apartment, whether you haven’t moved in a while or are a first-time renter. For more help, check our apartment budget checklist. Since winters in Chicago may lead to costly gas or electricity bills, you might also consider looking for a month-to-month apartment that includes utilities in the monthly rent.

Coming prepared to sign a month-to-month lease on your new Chicago apartment on the spot may help you beat out your competition on the best deals. Bring all your documentation and references with you anytime you tour a month-to-month apartment, just in case.

When is the Best Time to Move to an Apartment in Chicago?

Seasonality in apartment rentals drastically affects prices, whether you’re looking to live in Chicago or across the country in San Diego. For example, December through February is the best time to rent an apartment in the winter season. Since fewer people are looking to move during winter, rent prices are more likely to be at their lowest.

The summer season, July through September, is the peak rental season across the country.

Anyone looking for a month-to-month apartment in Chicago will find higher rates in the summer. But, you might find more options on the market during this season as more people are moving in the summer.

6 Reasons Why Renters Consider a Month-To-Month Apartments

Looking for month to month apartments for renters is a result of several different reasons, some of the most popular being:

  • You prefer some flexibility in your living situation while you get settled since you are new to a city and unsure of where you want to live yet
  • Your work may unexpectedly ask you to move to a new city
  • You plan to live with a roommate who is unable to commit to a 12-month lease
  • You’re a student and will only live in the area during the school year (Use our college apartment checklist when moving)
  • You’re expecting a significant life change in the next few months, like marriage, a new child, or a career move
  • You want to purchase a home soon

If you frequently relocate for work or are new to a city, it’s good to look for a month-to-month rental apartment. While canceling your lease will cost you more, you’ll have more flexibility, usually a 30-days notice.

family budget, finances and people concept - couple with papers and calculator counting money at home

How to Find a Month-To-Month Apartment in Chicago

Ready to find a month-to-month apartment in Chicago? Here's the step-by-step process to finding the right neighborhood.

1. Determine Your Budget

Consider your budget by following the 30% rule before finding an apartment in Chicago. According to this rule, your rent should make up 30% or less of your pre-taxed monthly take-home pay or gross income. To calculate this figure based on your annual salary, take your gross yearly salary and divide by 40 to get the same number.

You’ve found a one-bedroom month-to-month apartment in Chicago for $2,200. Using the 30% rule, your gross income should be at least $7,334 a month or $88,008 per year.

2. Understand the True Cost of Renting

The 30% rule can keep your apartment hunting budget in check if your finances are in order. However, there's more to determining how much apartment you can afford if you have other financial obligations, such as student loan debt.

While searching for an apartment, you’ll also need to budget for apartment expenses that often go unnoticed, including:

Analyze your bank statements and credit card bills after using the 30% rule as a baseline. Financial obligations that could require adjustments to your apartment hunting budget include student loan payments, medical expenses, or credit card debt.

We’ve made figuring out all the moving pieces of your finances while apartment hunting easy since we know it can get tricky to balance. To help you determine how much rent you can afford and find your dream apartment in Chicago, use our Rent Calculator.

3. Know What You Want

Outline what you are looking for in your ideal rental situation before starting your search, and answer the following questions:

It's imperative to know what you want in an apartment to strike fast! Help keep your budget in check by constantly checking for apartment move-in specials.

4. Browse Apartment Lease Options

Always check apartment websites first since most apartments have lease options on their websites. Even if monthly leases aren’t available, most large multifamily properties have alternatives for short-term options such as 3 or 6-month leases.

To make their lives easier, landlords tend to place a much higher priority on longer leases. To see if an apartment offer aligns with your goals, you can check the website ahead of time.

5. Call the Leasing Office

Call different leasing offices to see what type of short-term rental options are available. Don’t be afraid to check for month-to-month leases. You’ll move on to the next if the worst possible scenario happens and they say no. Plus, even if they don’t have anything to offer, they may be able to provide you with local options.

6. Look for Sublets

Subletting or subleasing is another option for those looking for month-to-month apartments. Another non-lease tenant covers monthly rent charges in a subletting situation.

Some circumstances won’t allow tenants to live in the apartment, such as leaving the city for work for a couple of months, which will cause renters to sublet their apartments short term. They will likely be open to considering month-to-month rental apartments since they are probably doing this for a short time.

7. Explain Your Situation to Your Current Landlord

Explain why you need a month-to-month lease to your landlord. You can prove you are a good tenant and create trust between you and your landlord by explaining your situation upfront. If you are completely honest about your situation, you may be able to negotiate a month-to-month rental apartment.

8. Applying for Your Chicago Apartment

It’s finally time to sign a month-to-month lease on your Chicago apartment! Bringing your ID, documentation, and plenty of references will ensure you come as prepared as possible.

For first-time renters, a lack of rental history isn’t something worth stressing over. A lease guarantor or personal references may work fine if you check with your landlord. Familiarize yourself with the apartment application process ahead of time if you're new to renting.

Come ready to sign the lease on the spot before someone else beats you to it. Also, for your application fees and potential background checks, don’t forget to find out which form of payment they accept.

9. Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

Your apartment tour experience runs the threat of being soured by rental fraud and scams. U.S. renters lose $5.2 million every year on some of the most common rental scams involving bait-and-switch listings and apartments that don't even exist. In addition, security deposits on fraudulent listings have cost 30% of renters over $1,000.

Trusting your gut is the best way to combat rental scams. Deals that sound too good to be true are likely going to be just that. Work with reputable landlords or property managers or ask for recommendations from friends to help keep yourself protected.

Ready to Rent?

Congratulations on your upcoming move into your month-to-month apartment in Chicago! Chicago is an urban epicenter offering residents access to some of the nation’s best dining, unbeatable shorelines, and booming economy.

Ready to make your move to Chicago? Apartment List is here to help you find your dream home.

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Emily Kho
Emily is a professionally trained writer who covers a wide range of topics associated with the rental market and real estate industry. With over a decade of professional writing experience, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a Bachelor of Science from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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