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My Experience - 9/8/2015
I have lived in Chicago for 14 years and Chicago has been good to me, but I am now looking to move. It is a big city so my experience is all I can offer. I am a 34 year old single female who has lived on the north side. Why do I want to move? 1) I will never be able to afford to buy a house here. I have been renting and working hard to pay my rent for years. Buying a home here is very expensive and not an option for me even though I pay $1000/month for a one bedroom apartment. 2) There is hardly any nature or outdoor activities. Yes, there is the lake which is jam packed with people and some forest preserves if you drive a bit, but on a daily basis all I see is concrete. It is the concrete city. Outdoor activities are street festivals. 3) The people are superficially friendly if you are in a setting to talk to them, they are not friendly on the street and from my experience almost everything revolves around alcohol. In 14 years I have managed to make 2 friends who are sincere, authentic people. 4) EVERYTHING is a hassle. I cannot walk down the street without someone approaching me, asking me for something. There are people from organizations asking me to sign up, homeless people (bless them) asking for money, men asking me what time it is just so they can turn the conversation into a come on line. Ladies- the men are aggressive and borderline harassment on the street. And, how much money can I give out on a single day!! I have found that when someone talks to me on the street, they only do so because they want something. It makes it difficult to be nice to anyone, hence people not being nice on the street. You really do have to have a 'tough skin' to live here and if you do not, you will develop one to survive. Going to the store or a friends house is a hassle because of the lines of people and spending time looking for parking. 5) feeling unsafe and always watching my surroundings. Since living here I have been hit by a car and attacked on the street (in a very expensive neighborhood on the north side). I now am very alert while I cross the street and I don't walk alone at night anymore. I also am always aware of who is around me.

How Chicago has been good? I moved here from a very small town when I was 20. 1) There is a lot of opportunity here. I have never had a problem finding a job and it is very easy to network with people. I am in the spa/salon profession and I also do in home caregiving and I have people offering me work, non stop. There are a lot of people spending money in Chicago and they part with their money pretty easily. My biggest challenge is that I work too much and I have to say no to extra work often. If you are reliable, profession and have a trade or skill you can easily have work opportunities and network. However, someone as myself does not have enough income to buy a house here. But there is plenty of work. 2) Cultural diversity. Although Chicago is unfortunately, very segregated within its neighborhoods, experiencing the cultural diversity is a great part of the daily life here.

Most of the cons I mentioned are the cons of city life, as well as the pros. If you are young and want to experience bustles of people, hassle and alcohol, come to the north side of Chicago and enjoy yourself. But if you are more reserved or desire more authenticity in people and your daily life, I would not recommend living here. I I enjoyed living here while younger but now it is time to move on. I wanted to post this because I have been reading comments for other towns as I try to find my next place to live. And I hope my experience in Chicago can help someone make their decision.
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weather - 7/14/2015
Winter is too long and too cold. Not as bad as Wisconsin (Milwaukee is usually about 5 degrees colder) - by a few degrees, or Michigan (Ann Arbor or Dexter) but in the ballpark.
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High Cost of Living - 3/5/2015
I am a 26 year old black male who was born on the south side of Chicago, and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. I went away to school in Michigan for my undergraduate degree, but moved back to Chicago for employment. I currently am studying to obtain my Master's degree, and will be graduating in June of 2016. I have known Chicago my whole life, and it's time for me to make a change. Don't get me wrong, I love Chicago but the time to move is approaching.

Chicago has become too expensive to live in a good neighborhood, and even then there is still too much crime for my liking. I currently live in the South Loop, which many would consider a "good neighborhood." The rent for a 1 bedroom in the South Loop is $1450 or above. That is ridiculous if you ask me. That's not including all of the extra utilities, such as electricity, heat, cable/internet, and parking. Jeez parking is so expensive here. I pay $125 a month just to park my car in a secure lot behind our apartment complex. Gas is very expensive compared to the rest of the country. Parking downtown, if you can find a spot, is ridiculously priced. Both the garages and metered parking is outrageous. The climate here has finally gotten to me. I don't mind the cold but when it keeps being below 0 I can't take it. Snow really bothers me as well. I hate driving in it, and it makes walking down the street difficult, plus you will get salt stains all on your pants lol.

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Chicago - 1/17/2015
I have lived in Chicago for five and a half years. Here's my opinion of Chicago.
It is not the suburbs. It is a completely different place. It is the best of cities and the worse of cities. You can have a great time and have a terrible experience all in the same day or night. Example Have a great time going to a concert @ a small neighborhood bar, take the train home and have a terrible encounter or encounters with homeless trash all in the same night. You don't just live in Chicago, you experience Chicago. Boredom is never a problem here, the problem is There may be too much to do and also being able to afford it. Chicago is not a friendly city most of the time. it is amazing how most people act like stone cold introverts for the most part. It is a lot harder to connect with people in Chicago than it is in the suburbs or other places. To sum it up You have to open minded and a lot of times have an attitude to survive and thrive in Chicago. This city is not for everybody! You need to be strong will and big balls to live here.
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Chicago - 1/10/2015
Cost of living is high, if you're in the city. The suburbs are reasonable, but mostly for families and not well suited for a young urban hipster or single.
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Chicago vs Pittsburgh vs Boston - 8/31/2014
My wife and I are trying to choose the best city to live out of Chicago vs Pittsburgh vs Boston. We like European-style cities and urban life very much. We would love to be able to go about our daily life without needing a car. What can you guys tell us about the following topics:

- Walkability
- Public Transportation
- Crime (for us it’s of upmost importance to find a safe zone free of murders, guns, school shootings and drugs)
- Family friendliness
- Friendliness of its inhabitants
- Educated and cultured people
- Gentrification of the city
- Political moderation (the less polarized the better)
- Good schools
- Diversity (the more diverse the better)
- Cost of living
- Cultural scene (art, jazz music, classical music, pop music, theater, musicals, dance performances, restaurants, stand-up comedy, zoo, children’s museums)
- Parks and green areas
- Possibility of day and/or weekend trips (to other cities, hiking spots, etc)

Can you guys recommend good neighborhoods within those cities? We prefer it to suburban life.

NOTE: We know NYC and D.C. meet all those items, on the most part, but both are far from affordable for an immigrant family ?

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Dangerous City - 7/29/2014
I've lived in Chicago over 25 years and now I can't wait to leave.
Chicago is broke and Mayor Emanuel has cut the police force, particularly in the nicer neighborhoods. The criminals know this and prowl the nicer neighborhoods looking for easy targets. The Mayor says crime is down, but what is actually happening (as reported in Chicago Magazine) is the police under report crime, sometimes just outright to right up reports. Also, the Mayor puts a lot of pressure on the newspapers and TV stations to not report crime that happens here. I live in a doorman building for safety and don't go out past 10pm.

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chicago - 7/23/2014
Chicago was and is a great city, True we have political coruption, we pay high taxes, we pay more then anyone else for gas, oil, electric, and now water, true we have great schools, Art, Theatre, And of course we have dramatic weather changes..but lets be does the Dekotas.... We have great parks, great food, and a sence of community.. But we are plagued by crime and coruption...But if you look at our history we always have been a corupted town.. Our Mayors, Police captains, union officials have always been corupt, at one time it was a joke we all use to laugh at, except has gone to far...Maybe someday the normal working class of this town will wake up, and vote to help the people not the political party that runs this place..maybe someday the people will gather in front of city hall and demand change, maybe someday all races will try and live in peace after we kick out the drug lords, gangbangers, and corrupted city alderman who just want to use our money as there own personal credit card..all we can do is hope that change will come... it did a couple of time in this city..maybe it can happen again
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Crime - 5/6/2014
Open spaces
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My Kind of Town - 4/10/2014
47 years ago, I came to Chicago for the first time to visit my aunt, and I never left! I immediately felt at home and absolutely loved this city! Chicago has a fantastic Planetarium on the Lake Front; the longest stretch of public lake front beach anywhere in the Country, first class museums, incredible cultural activities, first class universities, and in a nutshell, everything New York has to offer, but less expensive.

On the negative side, housing has gotten very expensive for what you get; state taxes have gone from 3% to 5%, and our mayor, Rahm Emanuel, wants to raise property taxes again. Our state is deeply in debt due to a pension crisis, and the winters are incredibly brutal from January through March. When I came here, jobs were extremely easy to get; not so today. Chicago has a heavy unemployment problem, and the jobs that open up are generally minimum wage jobs. So, if you're looking for a job, I would advise you NOT to come to Chicago to compete with all those who are still out-of-work from the Great Recession. The crime has always been bad here in certain parts of the city (e.g., the South and the West sides). Now even the south suburbs are crime-ridden. The North side of the city is the safest but also the most expensive. I am so glad that my working years are almost finished. Because of the horrendous winter weather here, I will be relocating to a better climate upon my retirement since I won't have to worry about finding a job wherever I go to. Chicago has been good to me, but I'm kissing it off now along with so many other baby boomers who have already left or are planning on retiring elsewhere.
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world class city & costs, for the 1% only, expect - 3/23/2014
I've lived in/around Chicago my entire life. At 46, I think I've signed my last lease in this area and I'm looking to leave. The cost of living here is always rising, but wages have not, jobs are scarcer, and the middle class is shrinking because the city is becoming increasingly the realm of the 1% -- us other 99% are screwed. Politics in Chicago has always been corrupt, graft is inherent and ingrained, not just here but the entire state. The Democratic machine has less clout than ever, but don't be fooled -- the so-called "progressives"/"liberals" have a horrible NIMBY attitude which results in every unfavorable plan or idea being pushed on the working class people and neighborhoods, and the Republicans that are around are just as "connected" and just as much part of the machine as the corrupt Dems. (They wouldn't be elected otherwise.)

You can't be in politics here and NOT be corrupt -- it's how things are done, in Chicago and in Illinois. You, the working taxpayer, will be nickeled and dimed out of your hard earned cash to fund everything, and you won't have enough money left over to avail yourself of all that Chicago has to offer. This is why many people come from Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, live here for a few years, and then leave to go back where they came from, or move out to the far suburbs. Chicago has many of the great things a world class city can offer. It also has all of the bad things you'd expect from an old, long urbanized, big city.

Pros: It's a beautiful city with beautiful architecture, fantastic skyline, largest public waterfront in the US with fantastic bike/walking path, logical city plan (once you know the grid system, you can find your way any where), a beautiful parks system (probably half of which are unfortunately in ghetto areas), lots of culture (from rock, blues, jazz, symphony, opera; museums; art galleries/museums; aquarium, planetarium, etc.), very culturally diverse, ethnic cuisines from all over the world (and very authentic), and people from all walks of life, also now a 'gay mecca.' Lots of great hole in the wall joints for ethnic food, music, art, spoken word, etc. and decent clubbing. If you live anywhere in the upper midwest/Great Lakes states, and you can't afford to/don't want to go to NY or LA, Chicago is the big smoke for you (especially if you're gay) -- this is where you come.

Cons: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the public schools are horrible, overcrowded and underfunded (and will continue to get worse as Emanuel pushes for charter schools and closed many schools) and continue to graduate kids who can't read, write or do math -- they're basically unemployable, which is why they turn to crime, because there aren't any jobs anyway, and even if there were, they wouldn't be hired for them.

The cops are less corrupt when I was young, but now many of them aren't even from Chicago now. (This is both good and bad -- good in that it makes them less corruptible because they didn't grow up with/go to school with the criminal element in their neighborhoods; bad because they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground and they do everything by the book, whereas CPD used to have some wisdom and street smarts along with the corrupt FOP good ol' boys). It's a kinder, gentler and much gayer CPD than ever before -- and yet still ineffectual, and only quick to respond in affluent, white areas with vocal complainers. If you live in a transitional or poor neighborhood, don't expect them to respond quickly or at all, not just because they're ineffectual but because they are overwhelmed by criminal activity and stupid/drunken/drugged behavior on a constant and ongoing basis.

The city is increasingly aimed at tourism and transplants to the detriment of the life long city dwellers -- and yet even the tourists and transplants are not safe from flash robs in tourist areas like the Gold Coast and lakefront.

Rental market is very, very tight due to all the foreclosures of not only single family dwellings (homes, condos) but also multi-unit buildings. It is a landlord's market and you will pay very high rents for tiny, crappy apartments. Of course, you can find cheaper apartments, in crappier neighborhoods with higher crime and worse transportation options (whether by car or public transit).

Yes, we have great museums and cultural events -- but who can afford them, besides tourists, transplants who won't be staying, and the 1%?? I haven't gone to Taste of Chicago in years because it's over-crowded, insanely expensive, parking costs an arm and a leg, and gang bangers show up in droves. Don't forget the luxury taxes added by City of Chicago for everything from concert tickets to movie tickets. A movie will cost you $10-12 standard 7-7:30pm start time, and you're paying $10-12 to have ghetto/barrio residents talk and use their cell phones during the movie or dealing with their uncontrolled, unsupervised, thug-in-the-making brats.

The CTA public transit system is f-ed up with the new Ventra cards, the cost to pay is outrageous, and services are always being cut with fewer buses trains or stations closed from midnight to 5am. Traffic is horrible if you drive; ten years ago they were saying we were in the top 3 worst commutes in the US, and it's only gotten worse. Gas prices here are among the highest (often THE highest) in the USA (!), thanks to the extra taxes levied by the City of Chicago and the State of IL.

Sure we've got beautiful public lakefront and lots of it, but beware the muggers and flash robbers who look for joggers/cyclists. Anywhere you want to go, parking will be exorbitant thanks to the horrible deal ex-mayer Daley made with the privatized company that took over all the parking meters, and that contract is good for the next decade, you think the prices will ever go *down*? Hell no.

Yeah, world class sports teams... which you'll watch on your TV or in a sports bar because most tickets are unaffordable to the average guy on the street. A far cry from how it was when I was a kid and my dad could take all 5 of us to a ball game on his paltry teacher's salary.

The crime here is actually better than it was when I was a kid -- the murder rate is half what it was, even though the population is higher, and the property crimes and other violent crimes have decreased. But the crime is more vicious now, and it has spread beyond the bad neighborhoods where it used to be isolated.

True, the majority of shootings (fatal or otherwise) and gang activity are generally in ghetto (and barrio) neighborhoods on the West and South Sides (hello, Englewood). But the crime now travels to you via CTA, and is often committed by multiple assailants or groups (yes, groups of 8-15 kids) instead of a "lone" criminal. The criminals now are often teens because they know they will not be charged as adults.

The other problem is that the gangs are not as consolidated as they were in the 80s. The major leadership has been jailed or killed, resulting in many much smaller gang factions constantly fighting over turf and "distribution rights" for the drug traffic, and the constant spill-over of their wars into areas where kids and families are trying to scrape out a living.

Also -- shooting is not the only type of violent crime that happens here. We have had the dubious national and international notoriety of having an Irish native clubbed into permanent brain damage in a 'nice neighborhood' on the north side by Hispanic drug addicts, the youngest accused murderers ever charged in the US (wow, fantastic police work, CPD!), and flash robs in both retail and outdoor public places that start when the weather gets warm and continue until it gets cold. Basically the minute it starts to get warm, the shootings and homicides rise at a rapid rate.

Expect to sit in horrible traffic between 7am-9:30am and 2:30pm-6pm. Commutes are horrible, the CTA is expensive and overcrowded and poorly policed except in 'nice' areas.

The weather -- yeah, it's harsh. It's been unseasonably cold and we've had near record breaking amounts of snow this winter (2013-2014 winter). That being said... it USED TO BE LIKE THIS when I was a kid, so the amount of complaining is from people who are (a) not originally from here and got used to the mild winters we've had the last 15-20 years, and (b) from here but who got used to the mild winters and consider it the 'new normal.'

Chicago was ALWAYS bitter cold in the winter when I was a kid, and with lots of snow. I've lived through 3 of the 4 snowiest winters and Chicago is back up and running in less than a day, or a day or two at the most. Summers are often hot and humid thanks to Lake Michigan, but it is always cooler at the lake in summer, and warmer at the lakefront in winter. Spring is short. Probably the best months are September to November. Indian summers here are beautiful.

The Chicago public parks were conceived in the 19th century and there were supposed to be more... but let's just be thankful for what we've got, because they're pretty big and nice for the most part. And, other than the lakefront, the public parks are all the nature you're going to get. The population density here is about 12,000 people per square mile, so when you're trying to get away from people at a public park, there's a ton of people around you trying to do the same thing. Same thing at the lakefront. Be aware parks are overloaded with families and groups barbecuing and drinking and having large, loud gatherings in the summer. The amount of trash and filth is incredible in the evenings, and feeds a huge and growing population of rats (endemic since the 1800s), raccoons, and coyotes. People often don't clean up after their dogs (yuppies as well as ghetto clowns), and many just open their doors and let them run around with no leash.

Yeah, we've got universities, all with tuition that has gone up 400% more than earnings, so good luck paying for your education these days. Jobs are scarcer, and many businesses have left the state due to increased costs (also labor costs due to unions). Many that are still here employee barely literate overwhelmingly minority civil servants (um, the County buildings, many city buildings, many public institutions, schools, etc.) who are rude, entitled, lazy and incompetent. If you aren't a racist when you come here, you will become one by the time you leave.

It's weird to be nostalgic about the old Chicago, when it was more dangerous, crime-ridden and dicier. And yet everything that was great about it, was better then, and was more affordable to the average Joe, from the free days at the museums and zoo/aquarium/planetarium, to the affordability of the ball games.

What's great about Chicago now has been priced out of affordability for the average person, and that (especially) includes the hard working, blue collar, working class people/minorities who increasingly struggle to get by. They know better than anyone else that Chicago has become a city only for rich white people. If you're white, you may be fooled into thinking you can make it here, when you get here. But unless you're the 1% white, you'll know by the time you leave Chicago that all it has to offer isn't intended for you. At all.

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Corruption and Crime (the co-joined twins) - 3/18/2014
Do not consider moving to the Chicago area. Just visit to experience the multitude of activities that are here. Then leave.

High property and sales taxes, incessant crime and a culture of corruption made possible by decades of entrenched Democratic Party zombies make this a poor choice for a homeowner and someone seeking a good quality of life. The high taxes (state income tax doubled under the Democrats two years ago) have driven businesses and jobs away from Illinois in droves (good for the businesses...they voted with their feet).

People bitch about the cold winters here, yet they believe in the global warming hype. Go figure. (Al Gore has not been seen here lately).
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moving out of chicago a.s.a.p!!!! - 3/9/2014
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Never move here - 3/9/2014
I wholeheartedly agree w/ Terrance's viewpoint(1/9/14). Chicago is a miserable place to live-I lived there for 3 1/2 years,met a few great people, but for the most part it is not a friendly town. The temperature extremes from winter to summer will leave you gasping for air. Chicago is rated 8th in the nation for obesity. If you love to shop and eat,and battle horrendous traffic, then this may be the place for you. If you like to lead a more interesting, and varied life, with some semblance of nature, and nice people around you-go elsewhere!!! Even my best friend turned rude and arrogant and nasty once moving here. It's not a nice city-go have been warned!
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Good for some, bad for many, worse for many more. - 2/27/2014
I was born and raised in Chicago, and at this point I am all too eager to get up out of this stinking cesspool.
The politicians are very greedy and self serving, the prices on essentials and amenities, the crime, the taxes? They rise steadily every year.
The quality for neighborhoods, the amount of decent jobs, the safety factor? Diminishing like clockwork.

One thing I've noticed about life is that it is what you make it. Plenty of people in this city thoroughly enjoy their lives. They make enough money to live in the prestigious neighborhoods, they can go to the supermarkets/co-op marketplaces and buy the freshest foods. Blah blah blah you get where I'm going. These people were either very very lucky, very determined, or both. Almost everyone else has to deal with hoodlums, low paying jobs, high prices on subpar goods and services, high taxes of which the funds are regularly mismanaged, politicians who serve themselves and their buddies first and the list goes on ad infinitum.

There are so many problems which could be fixed, but our ruling class would rather this city become detroit 2.0 so I would rather move to where such things are virtually impossible.
One place I have my eyes set on is Fargo, North Dakota.
It's amazing to say the least.

Major cities are not supposed to be like this. Needing special talents and skills to enjoy your life. Being connected just to enjoy not getting beaten and shot to death by people who couldn't manage their money or had no parents. Massive tax rates on everything, and jobs which are being snatched up by immigrants. Politicians who not only steal your money or purposely waste it, but advocate for the destruction of your personal rights.

Move to Seattle. Move to Indianapolis. Move to Portland. Move to Fargo (I'll see you there) or even move to a suburb if you still can't get enough of the abuse that Illinois as a whole inflicts upon it's citizens. My recommendation? Just move.
Move. Those of you who can, must get up out of this festering pile of feces known of as the city of Shitcago.
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