Our Guide for Moving From New York City to Chicago

Do you believe that all big cities are the same? If you’re moving from NYC to Chicago, are you going to have the same experience no matter what? That couldn’t be further from the truth – especially when it comes to what you expect here.

Moving from the Big Apple to the Windy City is very different than moving from Brooklyn to Boston or Manhattan to Philadelphia. Yes, relocating to the Midwest from the East Coast will make a difference, but there’s more to it than that.

In this guide, we will explore what is different between living in New York and living in Chicago, Illinois, and why those differences matter.

What’s Different Between New York City and Chicago?

Quieter City

The first thing that you’ll notice about Chicago (in comparison to New York City) is that it is a lot quieter. Sure, there is great nightlife, but once the work week hits, you’ll notice that things get much quieter.

Even during the weekend, you’re not going to have as much crazy partying as you would see in NYC. New Yorkers really get into the partying spirit, and the bars and pubs are hopping 24-7. Most of Chicago’s nightlife options close around 2 AM, with very few staying open till 4 AM like NYC.

Friendlier People

Chicagoans are some of the friendliest people that you’ll meet in a large city. While they won’t necessarily strike up a conversation with a stranger, which many people expect when they go to small Southern cities, they will say hello, and they’re always willing to give new residents a hand when they need it.

This is because many of the people who live in Chicago started off living in smaller Midwestern cities; Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, etc. The entire Midwest is known for being friendly and helpful, and they bring that little bit of charm with them when they move to the big city for good.

Beautiful Views Everywhere

Chicago is a very pretty city, period. You’re not going to find excessive amounts of trash and litter (except in the alleyways, which is where it should be).

Throughout the city are all sorts of beautiful, picturesque spots – from the beautiful Chicago skyline to the beach and lakefront of Lake Michigan, and some of the older style architecture that has been kept in place.

Easier to Get Around

New York City is complicated. Downtown areas in NYC are grid-like, but when you get further out, you end up getting confused. The subway is intricate. You may feel like you have to have a degree in mapmaking to figure some of it out.

Thankfully, Chicago isn’t as intricate. It’s simple to get from place to place, and everything makes sense. There are a lot of landmarks, and you can pretty much figure out where you’re headed in minutes. Public transit is quite affordable, as well.

Lower Cost of Living

Whether you’re concerned about the cost of entertainment (which is quite affordable) or your week-to-week utilities and food costs, Chicago’s got you covered. The cost of living is about 20% less than in New York City and the job market is better, too.

You’re not going to be paying an arm and a leg for housing, even if you decide to move into the best apartment buildings in Chicago. Rent is relatively affordable, even for luxury apartments.

How Do You Find a Good Apartment in Chicago?

In general, Chicago apartments are more spacious than those found in Manhattan, and your dollar certainly goes further. Upscale buildings with luxury amenities that may be out of reach in New York can be affordable in Chicago.

So, how do you go about finding a Chicago apartment that works well for you?

Connect With a Luxury Real Estate Professional

It’s easier to know what you want if you connect with a real estate pro that understands the luxury rental market. They can help you to learn about the options in Chicago (even if you’re living in NYC at the time) and work out what you need to know to find an apartment.

Know What Neighborhood(s) You Might Want To Live In

Research the different neighborhoods throughout the city. Many people go for locations like the South Loop neighborhood, areas near Navy Pier, and other neighborhoods that allow for easy access to downtown Chicago.

Understand the Transportation System

Learning how the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) system works can be really helpful as you try to learn your way around Chicago. You also want to take note of things like sidewalks and bike trails.

In many instances, knowing the CTA is going to make it a lot easier for you to figure out whether you should live in a townhouse near Lincoln Park or a Lakeview high-rise apartment near Lake Michigan.

Write Down a List of Amenities You Need and/or Want

Before you pick an apartment, you need to be sure that you put together a full list of what you need from an apartment. Do you want 1 or 2 bedrooms? Do you need a pet-friendly apartment? Putting together this list can help you to make a choice more quickly.

It will take some effort on your part to find a luxury apartment, but there are a lot of options available for you to choose from. More often than not, you’ll end up with a few choices to pick between, which will allow you a lot more flexibility when it comes time to sign the contract and get the apartment of your dreams.

Getting Ready for Your Move

Now that you’ve found an apartment, it’s time for you to get ready for moving day. How can you be sure that you do things right and that you aren’t going to be too stressed out during the process?

Properly undertaking your move takes a lot of time and preparation. Here are some tips that can make moving from NYC to Chicago not quite as frustrating as it would be otherwise.

Put Together a Moving Budget First

The first thing that you need to do is put together a budget. Knowing how much you have to spend on the moving process will make it a lot easier for you to figure out what is essential in the long run.

Hire a Professional Moving Company

New York to Chicago is a long-distance move, and it’s going to need some specialized work to ensure that it’s done correctly. Take the time to look at options for high-quality, professional moving services that offer the services you want and have experience working in both cities.

If You Go With a Truck Rental, Tow Your Vehicle

Sometimes, it’s cheaper to go with a moving truck – it depends on your situation. If you go this route, get a trailer so that you can tow your vehicle behind it. You’ll end up saving a lot of mileage and gas.

Start Packing Early and Take the Time To Downsize

Too many people wait to the last minute to start packing which makes moving day a bigger issue than it needs to be. If you are packing on your own, then you want to start packing as soon as possible. Take the time to throw away or give away items that you don’t need, as well.

Are Packing Services Necessary?

If you’re worried about time, hire packing services if they fit in your budget. Some full-service moving companies will offer this as an additional service for a low fee. Just be sure that you schedule it with them on the day you’re going to complete your long-distance move.

Figure Out the Closest Grocery Store and Takeout Options

When you arrive at your new apartment, you’re going to be exhausted and ready to take a break. Research grocery store options ahead of time so you know that you can grab a salad or other enticing prepared meal for lunch or dinner.

A better option might be to get your first taste of Chicago cuisine from a takeout or delivery place. You’ll likely have tons of options, like deep-dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs, and Italian beef. Then, someone else can do the cooking, and you can make sure that you get your unpacking done quickly and with as little stress as possible.

Moving to Chicago

In short, Chicago is not like living in other major cities. Luxury living is more accessible than ever, and the people in Chicago are going to make you feel like you’re at home. If you’re relocating from New York City, most people adjust to the differences quickly and enjoy what they get in return.

On top of that, every Chicagoan loves their sports teams, and their schedules revolve around them. It’s almost definite that you’re going to run into someone with an article of clothing or tattoo that reps one of the city’s professional sports teams: Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox, or Bulls.