CHICAGO MOVING GUIDE
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What to Know Before Moving to Chicago:
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Great Places to Live in Chicago:
It is often said in the greater Chicago community that your neighborhood will define you. As with many other metropolitan cities, each section of the city has its defining characteristics and trademarks. Chicago’s northern neighborhoods are youthful and coveted. Residents here can catch a Cubs game in Wrigleyville, enjoy boutique shopping in Bucktown, or listen to live jazz in Uptown. Head over to the West Side and enjoy an artsy and eclectic atmosphere. Ethnic eateries and mesmerizing murals line the streets providing extravagant and exciting experiences for residents of all ages. Downtown Chicago houses not only thousands of residents, but also many top Chicago tourist attractions. Tourists and locals alike come here for Michigan Avenue shopping, sightseeing in the Historic Theatre District, strolling around Buckingham Fountain. Living in the South side of the city offers many cultural experiences, including Chinatown and Museum Campus.
It is from these four sections of Chicago that seventy-seven defined neighborhoods emerge, each community individual in its culture, personality, allure.
Bridgeport, with a population of 31,941, offers affordable housing to both renters and buyers in the Southwest Side of Chicago. Many of the established homes were built before 1940. Housing styles include simple brick two-flats, row houses, and cottages. The median home sale price is around $312,900 with the average rent being $1,200. The median household income for this area is slightly below the national average at $50,637. Top public schools serving the area include Walter Payton College Prep, Northside College Preparatory High School, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Jones College Prep High School, and Lane Tech College Prep High School. Many residents enjoy cheering on the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field or taking classes at the Bridgeport Arts Center. The Paseo Trail, much like the 606, runs north of the neighborhood, and provides new housing resources and creative ways to increase sustainable jobs. McKinley Park, Avondale, Portage Park, and Proviso Township all provide similar statistics and cultural options.
Coming in at the top of the “best places to live in Chicago” list, Clarendon Hills is a costly but cute place to live. The walkable neighborhood is filled with restaurants, coffee shops, and quaint shopping storefronts. There are roughly 8,711 people that live in Clarendon Hills, with eighty-four percent of them owning their home. The quiet and safe community has a median household income of $126,500, a median home value of $561,700, and a median rent of $985. Top public schools serving the community include Hinsdale Central High School, Monroe Elementary School, Prospect Elementary School, Clarendon Hills Middle School, and Walker School. Crime rates here are far below the national average.
River North and Lakeview
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Career Opportunities & Industries in Chicago:
Chicago’s manufacturing base is represented by companies that sell their goods outside of the region. It is the exportation of these manufactured goods that brings revenue into the city. New dollars into the local economy results in additional benefits for not only the company, but also for the employees of that company. Based on studies and analyses done by economists, Chicago is known for at least 15 sub-sectors that have a high or growing production of their product. Chicago’s Sustainable Industries include apparel, beverage and tobacco, electrical equipment and appliances, and fabricated metals. Apparel manufacturers cut and sew existing fabrics to create products for retail and wholesale distribution, while beverage and tobacco companies make three types of beverages: nonalcoholic beverages, fermented alcoholic beverages, and distilled alcoholic beverages. Because of its similar production process, ice is included with nonalcoholic manufacturing. The electrical equipment and appliances sub-sector manufactures products that generate, distribute, and use electrical power. The fabricated metals manufacturers transform metal into metal furniture or other machinery, computers, and electronics. Special processes in this industry sector include welding, stamping, bending, forming and machining to shapes and join the individual pieces of metal.
Chicago, with its central location and its convenient access to all modes of transportation, has an enormous market for the transportation industry. Waterways are the key to the history of Chicago transportation. The Chicago Watershed Portage, the Chicago River, the Des Plaines River, and its path to the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the North Atlantic are all components of Robert de la Salle’s brilliant plan to dig a small canal to link the massive bodies of water. As he analyzed the site of the soon to be city, he said: “This will be the gate of empire, this the seat of commerce.” Today, the Port of Chicago is one of the largest inland sea ports in the world. Cargo Freighters and “salties” from the ocean frequent the port to bring grain, iron, and much more to the world markets.
Along with its mighty waterways, Chicago also has an incomparable rail system. Union Station, built in 1925, was the only one of Chicago’s many major stations to survive demolition. It is still the 3rd busiest rail station in the nation. Refrigerated rail cars made Chicago the national leader in meat production. This character trait gave the city and Union Stock Yards the nickname “hog butcher to the nation.”
The O’Hare International Airport opened its doors for operation in 1963. Building off of Chicago’s existing role as a transportation hub, it soon became a hub for the world’s two largest airlines: United and American. By the end of the sixties, this merger would offer more than 30 million yearly passengers aerial transportation through O’Hare. Today, O’Hare is the 4th busiest airport in the world, accommodating nearly 80 million passengers a year, as well as shipping over 1.4 million tons of cargo annually.
As many companies manufacture their goods, they rely on the transportation crews to get them into circulation. The supply chain depends on transportation and freight to move merchandise. Tax Air Freight and Saia LTL Freight are becoming popular companies in the Chicago area, with warehouses in several locations, and many trucks hauling goods in and out of the city.
Another main Chicago industry is information technology. Both awareness of the technology and the number of people working in the industry have increased greatly with the surge of mobile devices and high-speed internet. Many technology firms are located in Chicago, with the city having its own hub for digital startups. 1871 is the hub incubator and has been ranked by UBI Global as the best in the world. Hosting more than 1,000 events, and partnering with eight universities, 1871, has trained hundreds of students in IT language and capabilities. Opportunities are available for those looking to own an IT business or for those looking just to work in the field.
It is only natural that Chicago, with all of its access to manufacturing, technology, and modes of transportation, would have a large imprint on the health services and technology industry. The city is booming with insurance carriers, nursing care facilities, general hospitals, and med tech companies. A few of the 40+ national medical and health associations headquartered in Chicago include the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Hospital Association. The MedTech sector is rapidly growing, gaining many medical and engineering students from colleges and universities, and medical and biomedical facilities. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 medical and engineering students graduate annually. This wealthy and valuable talent pool gives Chicago a dominant advantage for innovation in healthcare facilities, healthcare systems, and healthcare provisions.
Chicago is as diversified in its people as it is in its economy. Along with manufacturing, information technology, healthcare services and information, and transportation, Chicago also is a powerhouse in printing and publishing, finance and insurance, and food processing. Chicago is still often referred to as the nation’s “candy capital.” Much of the diversified economy’s success is due to its location and its major inland port. Chicago ranks second only to New York in the publishing industry as it distributes magazines, newspapers, catalogs, education materials, encyclopedias, and specialized publications nationally. The Federal Reserve Bank, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange all reside within the city and give it a substantial base for the finance and trade industry.
Along with established foundations, businesses, and franchises, Chicago seeks continuous growth through local programs. The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development actively promotes the growth and development in many diverse neighborhoods.
Job Market in Chicago
According to chicagobusiness.com, some popular places to work in the area are Geneca, Balasa Dinverno Foltz, Clune Construction, Bold Insight, 10th Magnitude, Salem Group, Juno Logistics, and Radio Flyer.A leading proprietary trading firm that specializes in equity index and commodity derivatives, Belvedere Trading employs 290 local employees. Saggezza, an information technology partner delivers personalized, high-value solutions to accelerate business growth. Their company, founded in 2006, currently employs 78 people. Braviant Holdings, a digital platform combining breakthrough technology and cutting edge machinery, empowers consumers with better credit solutions. This local company was founded in 2014 and employs 55 employees. Bringing the school community together on a common technology platform, Otus, seeks to aid educators by reducing the number of disconnected solutions educators use while providing relatable and valuable insight to school leaders. Other notable local businesses more recently founded include DFIN, Integral Ad Science, Wolverine Trading, Zoro, Active Campaign, Opploans, Infutor Data Solutions, and Relativity.
A younger, more modern population logically brings many modern advancements and ways of thinking. Start-up companies and tech companies are hiring daily. Here are a couple of companies to consider: NowPow, Cohesion, Returnly, Enodo, Otus, and OneSpan.
As in many other cities and markets, salaries range based on trade, tenure, and technicality. Average salaries for engineers is approximately $123,672, while a designer’s starting salary is $96,329. Product engineers have an average salary of $124,914, and marketing managers often earn an average of $96,375. The finance profession is among the top earners in employment, making an average of $111,499 annually.
Things to do in Chicago:
Spend the day admiring the towering skyscrapers and beautiful architecture, eat your way through delectable eateries and food trucks, or enjoy the beautiful green spaces and park areas. Whatever your preference, whatever your age, you will have plenty to do and to see in the Windy City.
One of the most popular sights in Chicago is the Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean.” Located in the city’s downtown park, Millennium Park, this massive stainless steel monument reflects the city’s iconic skyline and surrounding green space.
Should the rain keep you from outdoor events, or if you just love the arts and learning about the arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago History Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium are perfect places to explore and investigate. Children will love the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo, or the Brookfield Zoo. The Lincoln Park zoo offers free admission year round for everyone!
Paying tribute to the men and women who died in World War I, Soldier Field is known as the home of the Chicago Bears. The stadium, built in 1924, has become iconic for both sports and military history. Rosehill Cemetery and Civil War museum contain the graces of fourteen Union generals, six drummer boys, and hundred of Civil War soldiers. Several other places of historical and military importance include the Battle of Midway Memorial, the Eternal Flame in Daley Plaza, the Manuel Perez Memorial Plaza, and Victory monument.
When it comes to eating in the city, be sure to try the Chicago style hot dog, complete with mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, peppers, and a pickle! Snack on sweet and savory Garrett Mix Popcorn, or be comforted with the best chicken pot pie at The Walnut Room. Of course, no trip to Chicago is complete without a slice of deep dish pizza. Popular restaurants include Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, Gino’s East, or Uno Pizzeria & Grill. The deep cultural roots established in this city are seen and tasted in every meal. Sweeten the end of your busy day with a piece of Eli’s cheesecake, Swedish cinnamon rolls, or shaved ice from Mario’s Italian Lemonade.
Chicago has luxurious waterfronts and spacious parks that draw many locals and tourists, and that supports its nickname of “the city in a garden.” Visit the beaches, gardens, parks, and attractions in Lincoln Park, Washington Park, Humboldt Park, Jackson Park, Grant Park, and North Avenue Beach. Each park offers its own unique features and fascinating historical facts. Spend the day soaking up the sun on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, the 12th Street Beach, or Montrose Avenue Beach.
Enjoy a night of music or theatre in one of the Tony Award-winning theatres. Performances and shows frequent the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Theater on the Lake. Broadway in Chicago offers tickets to many musicals and shows, while the Blue Man Group is sure to keep your attention as you sit in the “Splash Zone” for one of their inspiring and amazing percussion shows.
Challenge your fear of heights as your stand outside one of the world’s tallest buildings. An all-glass balcony at Willis Tower’s Skydeck is sure to give you a perspective you will never forget. Ride the 196 foot Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, or take an architecture boat cruise on the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise. Lurie Gardens provides breathtaking views of the city skyline and the boardwalk around South Pond is sure to leave you appreciating nature and all of its beauty.
Sports in Chicago:
Whether it be a tailgating party for the Chicago Bears, a celebratory anthem sing-along with the Chicago Blackhawks, or an All- American hot dog at Wrigley stadium, the sights, sounds, and scrumptious treats of Chicago sports are all around.
The spring and summer months are filled with months of exciting baseball from both the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. Lakeview neighborhood houses the second oldest ballpark in America–Wrigley Field. It is here where the Chicago Cubs celebrated Wrigley’s 100th birthday, and where they won the World Series in 2016. On the south side of the city, the Chicago White Sox give fans at Guaranteed Rate Field a reason to cheer. Be sure to grab your “best sandwich in the world” from Ricobene’s.
Chicago Fire FC, named for the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, has stormed the professional soccer stage. They are known for their great skill and their wildly enthusiastic fans. Their historic first season began at Soldier Field in 2020.
Fall and winter sports cater to the hockey and basketball fans. The Chicago Blackhawks are six-time NHL Stanley Cup Champions, and show plenty of power and finesse on the ice at United Center. The famous Chicago Bulls also call the United Center “home” as they draw thousands of fans to the West Side location of the downtown area. Be sure to snap a selfie with the statues of famous athletes Bobby Hull, Stan Mitka, and, of course, Michael Jordan. The WNBA team, Chicago Sky, play in the Wintrust Arena, and give fans a run at counting their winning streak!
Chicago football with the Chicago Bears is as legendary as it gets. Fans fill the seats at Soldier Field and prepare to cheer their boys on in the NFL.
Getting Around Town – Transportation in Chicago:
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the nation’s second largest public transportation system, operating eight “L” trains and 129 bus routes. These trains and routes connect the city via above-ground, street level, and underground, as they serve 145 rail stations across the town. Purchasing a Ventra Transit Card or an Unlimited Ride Pass for the “L” train and the bus, will allow you to pay for your travel. Use the Ventra App for payment, fares, card retailers, maps, schedules, and train trackers. CTA bus routes travel throughout the city, with stops every couple of city blocks. There are extended hours of service for those needing transportation in the middle of the night. Several other transportation options include the Metra Rail, (a high-speed Metra commuter rail train that connects outlying suburbs to the downtown area), taxis, Ridesharing, Watertaxis, Shuttles and Limo services, biking, and driving. Depending on where you live, your transportation options will likely not include a personal car! For those choosing to drive in the city, be sure to check out some of these useful apps or resources: iParkit, ParkChicago, SpotHero, ParkWhiz, ABM Parking, and Millennium garages.
The water taxis provided by Wendella Boats and Shoreline Water Taxi are sure to give you an unforgettable experience. Explore Chinatown, Museum Campus, Willis Tower, Michigan Avenue, Union Station, and Navy Pier all from the water.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport provides domestic and international flights, and is just sixteen miles from downtown Chicago. Chicago Midway International Airport is the nation’s premier point-to-point airport. Located only 11 miles from downtown, it offers both leisure and business travel options to over 60 destinations.
Crime in Chicago:
Unfortunately Chicago is often associated with horrible crimes, both property crimes and violent crimes. Recent research shows that Chicago is safer than only 7% of cities in America. Annually, there are 27,400 violent crimes and nearly 88,000 property crimes. This ratio breaks down to 10.12 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, and 32,48 property crimes per 1,000 residents. According to a land mass ratio, there are 499 crimes per square mile in Chicago alone. The national median for crimes per square mile is 31.1.
The safest places to live in the Chicago area include these neighborhoods: Sauganash, S. Western Ave/W 99th St, W Devon Ave/N Central Ave, N Caldwell Ave/N Lehigh Ave, and W Foster Ave/N Lamon Ave.
Education in Chicago:
Several colleges in the Chicago area have definitely marked their spot on the map. Northwestern University, with 8,161 full time undergrad students, costs $27,540 a year, and offers training to students in all academic fields. The most popular majors here are Economics, Psychology, and Journalism. The University of Chicago is a four year degree program that costs approximately $33,003 a year, and has a student body of 6,600. Their most popular majors are Economics, Mathematics, and Biology. Other notable colleges in the Chicago area, both public and private, include DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University of Chicago, Lake Forest College, and Valparaiso University.