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Start Your Review of Chicago, IL

Calm down - take a chill pill
Chicago is a world class city with economic and political challenges like nearly every other part of the United States. If you can get your mind to accept that reality, then maybe you can move on to embracing the cultural and historical impact this city has had and continues to have on the world. Universities with Nobel prizes, architechectural leadership, ethnic diversity, musical and theatrical excellence, numerous athletic accomplishments, world class cuisine, and many other things to get excited about. All of this wrapped in a neighbor friendly, humble, midwestern environment.

Some other comments.

Weather: The legend of the Chicago winter is far worse than the reality. Yes the entirety of the Midwest has some tough winter days, but Chicago is far from being America’s Siberia. The sun shines 54% of the time in Chicago, which is consistent with most major cities (typical range is bewtween 50-60% for cities outside of the Southwestern US). The average January low in Chicago is 19, the US average is 23. I’m going to be wearing winter clothes for either those temps. Wind - maybe the greatest Chicago Urban Myth. Chicago is the 75th windiest city in the US, the Chicago average wind speed is slightly above the US average. In fact, in many years the most uncomfortable days in Chicago are hot, humid days in July and August. On the other side of the coin, late summer and early autumn is typically spectacular in Chicago.

Crime: One of the most consistently stated pieces of disinformation in the US is the perceived upward trend of violent crime, at the national level violent crime has been steadily dropping for 3 to 4 decades. Having said this, murder rates in many major cities continue to be disturbingly high, including Chicago. However, while the gross numbers for Chicago are high (Chicago is a highly populated city), on a per capita basis Chicago is not even in the top ten for murder rate in the US. Much of the violent crime is concentrated in a few neighborhoods and every Chicago area person knows where they are.

Hypothesis: When the national media is reporting on crime, nasty weather, etc. they often in Chicago. When people are traveling, attending conferences, etc they are often going through O’Hare or in Chicago. The effect is to anchor a bias in people about Chicago, and then when you experience that one cold blustery day in Chicago or hear that one upsetting crime story, your biases are now artificially confirmed.

Is Chicago perfect? Certainly not, but when I think about Chicago in comparison to some of the other cities I have read referrals to on this review page, Milwaukee, Detroit/Ann Arbor, Clearwater, I’m happy to continue to say Chicago is doing fine.



Hidden Gems of Bronzeville
I'm from Chicago and I love Chicago. We have our hiccups in the road, yes its a lot of division here, but there is a huge amount Chicagoans who support one another. In some way shape or form. The Absolutely Anything Essential Gift shop is a retail incubator of artists from across Chicago. We welcome those with Positive Vibes Only. 3521 S. King Drive.



Urban and culturally rich, not for everyone
Move to Chi if you want:

* A walkable, urban environment with distinctly city-like streetscapes
* Coffee houses, jazz joints, blues bars, comedy pubs, greasy spoons and similar that are open till 4AM
* Bookstores and so on that are open till midnight or thereabouts
* Other stores open till ten or thereabouts
* Great symphony, opera, ballet, galleries, museums and theaters all concentrated near each other, or located in convenient, walkable parts of town
* Grand and beautiful architecture
* Metro transit running twenty four hours (busiest two lines) or twenty hours (the other lines)
* A decent, second-tier concentration of creative culture
* Decent professional-class opportunities
* A city with immense civic pride, fascinating history and a strong, unique, cohesive sense of place. There's no mistaking you're in Chicago -- this ain't Anyplace, USA.

If you're seeking these things, move into a loop-adjacent neighborhood, or one on the north-side near a stop on the Red, Blue or Brown lines. You'll need to be ready to pay at least $1000 a month for a one bedroom, much more close to the loop. Make sure your job, if you have one, is in the loop or on the same train line as you.

Stay away if you:

* Are conservative, culturally or financially. Chicago is high-tax and highly redistributive. Aside from some outlying, suburban neighborhoods, this is an extremely liberal city. Low-income women get their abortions paid for by the government. Plus, the city is in terrible, terrible financial shape and taxes will be stiff to climb out of it. I can't emphasize this enough. If you hate taxes and have no interest in putting serious skin into Chicago's long climb back to solvency, stay away. You will hate it progressively more until you leave in a screaming rage.

* Are uncomfortable with being vigilant about crime. The city's violent crime rate is below the likes of Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Philly, Charlotte, DC and even Minneapolis, though you wouldn't know it listening to the national media. That said, robberies and murders happen. Some city neighborhoods in the south and west are incredibly dangerous. Occasionally, innocent people are caught in the crossfire of stupid young men trying to kill each other. Be ready for that.

* Need the cultural vibrancy, density and all-round excellence of New York City. NYC soundly beats Chicago on every single urban metric. It's more sophisticated, more pedestrian-oriented and its amenities and businesses are uniformly, measurably superior. Its creative environment and opportunities for creative-class professionals leave Chicago in the dust. If you're looking for NY, stop reading now and move there. Chicago is its own thing, and that ain't going to be enough for you. Just swallow the extra expense and go to NY.

* Need to be somewhere that's growing and relevant. LA, SF, Seattle, Boston, DC, and of course, NYC are better choices if this is important. Chicago is a giant, slow-burning star, and it's getting relatively less relevant by the day. You need to be comfortable with that.

* Can't deal with the city's legacy of corruption and mismanagement. It's getting better, but the problem is large and there's still a long way to go.

* Can't deal with locals, both newcomers and old-timers, moaning and griping and proclaiming the city's doom. Even the city's newspapers do it. It's a favorite local pastime. According to these folks, Chicago has been lurching to its demise since the turn of last century. It really starts to wear, and you need to switch off to it, while not blinding yourself to the city's challenges.

If that hasn't driven you into NYC's loving arms, then... welcome to the suck, friend.



Best City
Awesome city w/ the most friendly people



Stay away from this school
Stay away from this school. It is run by a bunch of people whose main goal is to make money. My son is currently in 8th grade and for high school, he will be going to Walter Payton. The British school made us sign a contract 3 weeks before the results of the magnet school comes up, to secure your place at the school. Now that my son is not going to the British school, not only do they keep your downpayment ($2k), we now have to pay for the full fall semester which is $10k.
I understand this was stated in the contract but the British school purposefully made us sign the contract before the magent school results because they know some students will leave. Now that I am doing my research, I found out that this has been going on for years now and a lot of parents have tried suing them but they all failed because of the contract. And if you don’t sign the contract, you lose your spot so we had to and we were ready to lose the 2k but to pay for the full fall semester is just so unethical.
Last year, my ex wife mistakenly paid the invoice twice and they refused to give her the refund, stating that those funds can be used this year. She literally had to get an attorney to send them a letter before they refunded her the payment
The school itself is not that great for the price. The standard of Math is very disappointing and he teachers really don’t do a good job at paying attention and giving your child the attention he/she deserves.
Stay away from this school…they are scammers.



Fun city. High crime rate and cold winter
I've lived in Chicago for about 3 years.
It wasn't bad at all. The city as pros and cons.

Good public transportation. You basically can survive without a car.
A lot of opportunities for professional growth.
A lot of fun places to visit.
Beautiful downtown, Lake Shore, Boystown.
Gorgeous Fall.

High crime rate and a lot of shootings.
Cold, long, gloomy winter with a lot of snow.
Parking during the winter almost doesn't exist.
The city is pretty expensive.
Lack of nature.

After living there for 3 years I can't say that it's quite my place to live. I had a lot of fun there, yes but the lack of sunshine and the nature affects you in a negative way.

The city left a negative impact on my personal life but it really no the city's fault.

You can save a lot of money on not having a car and using public transportation.



A city bent on destroying itself
I am a 52-year-old professional. I was born and raised in Chicago, have lived and worked here my entire life, opened a business here 30 years ago, and have operated that business ever since. I also have many clients who are city business owners.

Chicago was always 'rough', a vestige of its frontier origins. But it was, traditionally, also an excellent place to do business. The one-time 'City of Big Shoulders' had a wide and diverse economic base, a multitude of cultural accouterments, and was generally well-managed.

No more. The last 30 years, and particularly the last 15, have been disastrous for Chicago. During the dot-com 1990s and the early-2000s real estate boom, the City was awash in tax revenue. The city squandered all of this revenue on sweetheart deals with well-connected political cronies, and vastly expanded public commitments. No debt was retired - much more was, in fact, taken on. And no funds were retained for a rainy day. Politicos running the city plantation behaved as though the good times would never end.

But they did. Particularly dependent on tax revenue from real estate sales and purchases, the city saw these revenues dry up during the 2008 melt-down. Business taxes, too, plummeted as all businesses saw vastly reduced revenues, and many simply ceased to exist.

The city responded to these events by declaring economic war on its remaining taxpayers. Property taxes skyrocketed. In many working-class neighborhoods where homes had been held by the same family for generations, owners were forced to sell because they were unable to pay these new taxes. Tax rates on businesses, too, were increased dramatically. And the city's army of worker bees (which was not reduced, but increased) was dispatched to find revenue under every rock and log: parking tickets were issued for violations which did not occur; businesses with signs out front for decades were suddenly enjoying $500.00 tickets for lacking the requisite 'permits'; and building violations swelled to control such serious public safety threats as fences exceeding six feet in height and unpainted stairwells. The city also sold prize assets, such as the Chicago Skyway and city parking meters, to private companies just to pay ongoing operating expenses.

Opening a business in the city today is effectively impossible. Endless requirements for licenses, fees, 'polices', wages, health care and payroll have removed any prospect of profitability before the doors ever open. The States of Wisconsin and Indiana, recognizing this foolishness, have dramatically lowered taxes, reduced regulation and adopted business-friendly measures, all of which have served to "vacuum" city businesses into those more accommodating venues, never to return.

Nor has actual public safety been spared. Over the past several years, Chicago police officers have been rewarded with administrative suspension and even imprisonment for the difficult assignment of controlling the city's vast criminal population. The Police Department responded to these actions by effectively abandoning enforcement in the city's worst neighborhoods, a decision which led directly to Chicago achieving the dubious public distinction of "Murder Capitol of the World".

There have been bright spots. For example, the city somehow found millions for mission-critical services such as the creation of bicycle lanes and traffic signals (even though cyclists uniformly menace the population with their aggressive weaving between motorized vehicles during the height of rush-hour, riding in the the opposite direction of travel on three-lane one-way streets, and deliberately 'brushing' pedestrians in an apparent effort to demonstrate their immunity from city traffic ordinances).

Public sexuality, too, has blossomed. In endless displays of 'pride', the city's sexually perverse community routinely sports scant clothing (and less) to children on Saturday afternoons while the commercial sector sits idle to accommodate these critical public service events.

In short, the City of Chicago is broke, mismanaged, crime-ridden and unsuitable for children. Perhaps most distressingly, there exists no prospect for improvement. The city's uniform response to its ever-deepening economic and social morass is to increase further the taxes and regulations inflicted on remaining taxpayers; to strangle further the ability of entrepreneurs to start new businesses; and to liberate further the criminals and miscreants who already run roughshod over the urban landscape.

Chicago has no future. You should not even consider locating here.



Lakeshore East - A Gem to Consider
There's a lot to say about the general quality of life in Chicago, but after living here 11+ years, I think the secret to the best possible quality of life is to live somewhere with a south-facing exposure, with a view of the lake and Grant Park/Millennium Park—preferably a higher floor.

To those moving to Chicago or even neighborhoods within Chicago, I'd take a serious look at the Lakeshore East neighborhood just north of Millennium Park—a truly hidden gem. A bit "sterile," yes, but also beautiful and quiet, and oh-so-close to the Loop. I think your quality of life in Chicago is very much impacted by your access to the Loop/downtown. LSE is pricey but I think living in a smaller place is worth it in this case. Where else in the city can you walk through a gorgeous park on the way to the grocery story every day (the Mariano's in LSE is amazing!)?

I've had a terrible experience living in the middle of the Loop. The noise is incredible and nonstop, and there is a serious homeless problem. I hated living in Lincoln Park because of the inconvenience of coming downtown, and the "fratty" element. Please do consider these things as you look for a place to live. Also consider the fact that it's convenient to be near transit, yes, but transit stops also attract an unsavory element.

To repeat, your quality of life in Chicago will be directly impacted by your view, the amount of sunlight in your place, your access to green space, and your access to the Loop/downtown.



Chicago - Don't Move Here if You Like Nature and A
After living in Chicago for 11 years, in a variety of neighborhoods—Gold Coast, Roscoe Village, Lincoln Park, South Loop, and the Loop—I can definitely say I have a pretty good grasp on the city. I'm a thirtysomething business owner.

Speaking for myself, I find Chicago a very difficult place to be happy in, so hard, in fact, that it's had a negative impact on my health and actually triggered real depression!

This message is mainly for sensitive people who might be affected by climate and the lack of access to nature. I find that there aren't too many of "us" in Chicago, that those who are here moan about it but they're just the type who aren't "affected" by these things as much. I get that.

For the rest of us, consider the fact that there are whole months where the sun sets before 4:30 p.m. Speaking for myself personally, as soon as daylight savings time kicks in, something goes haywire in the brain and my sleep starts getting affected. Ordinarily I could fight this with going outside and "resetting" myself with some greenery and bright sunlight but that's not an option here when it gets cold and cloudy. So you are really in a bind. For me it's meant being absolutely miserable from November until March - or later.

You'll find a lot of people who work out here, but there's really not a "healthy" lifestyle to speak of. You kind of have to patchwork it with trips to Whole Foods, an occasional 5k, etc., if you can be bothered. If you don't drink (I don't), you'll find yourself an outcast at like 95% of things.

Nature—pretty much nonexistent, except for the parks by the lake and Northerly Island. (All of which are far less accessible in winter). Yes, there are folks who go hiking in nearby forest preserves, and love it, but do you really want to go through all the trouble of driving at least an hour through ugly areas and possibly traffic? And what if you don't have a car? And yes, you can bike in the winter, but are you kidding?

If you're really creative the train can take you to some nice places - the Dunes, Hyde Park, Geneva - but that's a hassle and again, summer activities.

Overall, I find the city to be just ugly—the buildings, the streets. Nothing charming about it, except maybe places like Old Town. The skyline is pretty from afar but get up close and I find the buildings don't really "mix" well.

If you're reasonably friendly, and join organizations, it's easy to meet people, but like anywhere, true friends are trickier to find. In the business world there's an overt "I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine" mentality.

If you must live here, I would urge you to try to live near Grant Park in a building with a view of the park and the lake—I've been much happier when I've lived in places with this view (and will make this sort of place the last place I live here). I realize that's expensive, but it's the only way I've found to make living here tolerable. Try to avoid living in and around "concrete canyons," for reasons of mental health. Also beware that living downtown means lots of NOISE so try living on a floor above 15. Live near within walking distance of a grocery store. I had good luck with a building called 1130 S. Michigan.

Crime—I've been lucky to not be a victim all these years, but I had a friend get his head bashed in leaving a Streeterville gym at 7:00 p.m.

Chicago is a good place for business activities, cultural options (rich theater scene, etc.), and can be paradise for those from Midwest schools looking to drink and socialize. And socializing in general. The lakefront trail, particularly the southern portion, is a delight in the summer. But that's just not enough to keep me here.

Oh - a couple more things. The isolation - Chicago is 700 miles away from anything interesting (The Smokies, etc.) and to get there you'll likely have to go through dreaded O'Hare, possibly the most depressing airport on earth. Flying south during the winter is a good idea, but the last time I did it, I was delayed 3 days in South Carolina because of snow in Chicago. So "getting out" during winter can REALLY be a hassle.

The el is functional but crumbling. You'll have to cope with an hour+ ride to O'Hare from the Loop; is this acceptable for a world-class city?

I'm presently looking to relocate to either Charleston, SC or San Luis Obispo, CA. I know every place has issues but there's got to be somewhere that's better to live than here.



My Experience
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.



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.



High Cost of Living
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.



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.



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.



Chicago vs Pittsburgh vs Boston
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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