Moving To Chicago: The Ultimate Relocation Guide

Moving To Chicago: Chicago Relocation Guide

Relocating to a new city has its challenges and can be a daunting task, even for someone who is organized and well-prepared. As the third largest city in America, Chicago certainly has a lot to offer newbies to the area, from Michelin Star restaurants and impressive cultural attractions to stunning architecture and one of the most iconic skylines in the world. But unlike many other major metropolitan areas in the U.S. that sit along the east or west coast, Chicago is a city that uniquely blends Midwestern values with the flair and energy of an authentic world-class city. 

Chicago Stats & Info 

Situated on the scenic shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is famous for being the birthplace of the skyscraper, and consequently its iconic skyline along the lakefront. Chicago is also the county seat of Cook County, and also an international hub for finance, culture, technology, and transportation

  • Population: 2.697 million (2021) 
  • Nickname(s): Windy City; Second City 
  • Demonym: Chicagoan
  • City Website:
  • Primary Airport: O’Hare International Airport
  • Area Codes: 312, 773

Chicago Economy 

Employment in Chicago jumped 1.45% from 2020 to 2021 to 1.38 million employees. The most common job groups in Chicago are Management Occupations (156,505 people), Office & Administrative Support Occupations (140,262 people), and Sales & Related Occupations (125,799 people). 

According to Reboot Illinois, the largest employers in the city of Chicago are the following: 

  • U.S. Government: 49,400 employees
  • Chicago Public Schools: 39,094 employees
  • City of Chicago: 30,340 employees
  • Cook County, Illinois: 21,482 employees 
  • Advocate Health System: 18,512 employees 
  • JPMorgan Chase: 16,045 employees
  • University of Chicago 15,525 employees 
  • State of Illinois: 14,731 employees 
  • United Continental Holdings: 14,000 employees
  • AT&T Illinois: 14,000 employees 
  • Walgreens: 13,657 employees 
  • Presence Health: 11,959 employees 
  • Chicago Transit Authority: 11,100 employees 
  • University of Illinois at Chicago: 9,900 employees

Chicago Schools & Education 

The primary school district serving Chicago is Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which contains over 600 public elementary and high schools citywide. Included in the CPS school system are 11 selective enrollment high schools that are equipped to meet the needs of the city’s most academically advanced students. Each of these schools offer a carefully planned curriculum with mostly horse and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Listed below are Chicago’s top elementary schools, high schools,  and private schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

Top Chicago Elementary Schools 

  1. Skinner North Elementary School (#1 Illinois Elementary School)
  2. Decatur Classical Elementary School (#20 Illinois Elementary School)
  3. Skinner Elementary School (#32 Illinois Elementary School)

Top Chicago High Schools 

  1. Payton College Preparatory High School (#1 Illinois High School) 
  2. Northside College Preparatory High School (#2 Illinois High School) 
  3. Jones College Preparatory High School (#3 Illinois High School) 

Top Chicago Private Schools

  1. Francis W. Parker School 
  2. Latin School of Chicago 
  3. University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Chicago Housing & Real Estate 

The 2021 median property value in Chicago was $277,600 in 2021, or 1.13 times higher than the national average of $244,900. In that same year, 45.6% of the housing units in Chicago were occupied by their owner, which was up from 45.3% in the previous year. 

  • Median Sale Price: $330,000 (November 2023) 
  • Median Condo Sale Price: $340,000 (November 2023) 
  • Median Single-Family Sale Price: $300,000 (November 2023)
  • Median Townhome Sale Price: $368,000 (November 2023)
  • Median Days on Market: 58 (November 2023)

Ready to find you dream home in Chicago? Get started now and break down your search by property-type, home style, or home feature using the guides below.

Chicago Neighborhoods

Chicago is a city that is largely defined by its unique and individual neighborhoods. In all, there are 77 distinct communities in the city that each have their own culture and vibe, and within those 77 communities are also countless sub-communities and neighborhoods that are equally unique in their own way. 

The Loop acts as Chicago’s primary downtown and financial district, and surrounding the Loop are a number of distinct downtown neighborhoods that include the South Loop, West Loop, River North, Streeterville, the New Eastside, and the Gold Coast. Just beyond downtown is where you’ll find Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Roscoe Village—several of the north side’s most sought-after places to call home. In recent years, west side neighborhoods like Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park have exploded in popularity, and many now consider these parts of Chicago to be the hippest places to live thanks to an influx of new restaurants, cocktail bars, breweries, and boutiques that have completely transformed each neighborhood's landscape. 

Chicago Weather & Climate

Chicago has a humid continental climate, which has four distinct seasons with large seasonal temperature differences. Summers are warm to hot, and also relatively humid, while winters are cold and often snowy. In a normal summer, temperatures reach at least 90 °F for 17 days while the normal winter high from December to March is around 36 °F. 

July is the hottest month of the year in Chicago, which has an average daily temperature of 75.4 °F, an average high temperature of 84.5 °F, and an average low temperate of 68 °F. January and February are Chicago’s coldest months with January having an average high temperature of 32 °F and an average low temperature of 18 °F.

Public Transit & Getting Around 

Chicago has the country’s second largest public transportation system, the CTA, which operates the city’s eight “L” train lines and 129 bus routes. For suburban commuters, the Metra Rail is a high-speed train system that connects many Chicago suburbs to the city’s bustling downtown. 

CTA: The CTA “L” train has 145 stations all over town and two of the eight “L” lines run 24/7: The Red Line, which primarily runs along the lakefront; and the Blue Line, which connects downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport. 

Meta: The Metra is a commuter rail system that serves the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs via the Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway, and other railroads. The Metra operates 242 stations on 11 rail lines. In 2022, Metra has a ridership of 23,726,400, or roughly 154,200 per weekday. 

Chicago Relocation Guide

Chicago Parks & Outdoor Recreation 

The city of Chicago certainly lives up to its self-given motto of Urbs in Horto, which is a Latin phrase that means "City in a Garden”. In all you’ll find 570 parks with over 8,000 acres of parkland in Chicago, as well as 31 sand beaches, countless museums, two world-class conservatories, and 50 nature areas. Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s largest public green spaces that encompasses 1,200 acres and attracts 20 million visitors each year, making it the third most-visited park in the U.S. behind Central Park in New York City and the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington D.C. Chicago's Lakefront Trail also features an 18-mile bike trail and a separate18.5 mile pedestrian trail, and many Chicago neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Portage Park, Wicker Park, and Humboldt Park feature sprawling namesake parks that are among the city's largest green spaces. 

Lakefront Trail 

As alluded to above, Chicago's Lakefront Trail is truly one of the city's crown jewels when it comes to green spaces and outdoor recreation. Parks, beaches, sport courts, and even golf courses are accessible from the Lakefront Trail, and if you're someone who enjoys epic scenery when getting in your daily exercise, there's nothing quite like running or biking along the shores of Lake Michigan with Chicago's broad skyline as a backdrop. 

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Oak Street Beach 

Oak Street Beach is Chicago’s summertime hotspot, no pun intended. Located on North Lake Shore Drive, Oak Street Beach is literally situated in the heart of downtown Chicago, making it one of the more unique beach settings in the world. Beach hours are from 6 am to 11 pm, but swimming is only permitted during beach season. 

Oak Street Beach: Moving to Chicago

606 Trail 

What was once an abandoned rail line is now one of Chicago’s best recreational trails. All 2.7 miles of the 606 Trail is elevated and when it was first constructed, it was the longest greenway project of a former elevated rail line in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, Chicago’s 606 Trail now runs through several of Chicago’s hippest neighborhoods to call home, including Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park. 

606 Trail Chicago: Enjoying Chicago's Best Outdoor Recreational Amenities

Lincoln Park 

As mentioned above, Lincoln Park is Chicago's largest park, and truly a nature lovers dream. Walking paths, gardens, a hidden lily pond, and a historic botanical garden is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Lincoln Park has to offer, which is why it remains one of the city’s best summertime destinations for visitors and locals alike. Oh, and did we also mention it’s home to the nation’s oldest free zoo as well? 

Lincoln Park Chicago

Grant Park 

Dubbed “Chicago’s Front Yard,” Grant Park is a 312-acre park positioned just beyond the city’s central business district. In the summertime, Grant Park plays host to a wide-range of events and festivals, and it’s also home to the iconic Buckingham Fountain, which was built back in 1927 to provide a monumental focal point while protecting the park’s breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. 

Grant Park in Chicago IL

Suburban Living in Chicago 

If you're planning a move to Chicago and city living isn't the lifestyle you prefer, countless Chicagoland suburbs offer a more relaxed setting that feels worlds away from the hustle-and-bustle of the big city. If you talk to most locals, you'll find Chicago's suburbs are mainly divided into 4 categories: The North Shore suburbs, the Northwest Suburbs, the Western Suburbs, and the South Suburbs. 

Chicago's North Shore is where you'll find many of the area's most expensive homes and estates, so not surprisginly, it's also where many CEOs, athletes, and the rest of Chicago's elite have called home over the years. Some of these properties sit directly on the lakefont, and most North Shore suburbs feature excellent schools, charming downtowns, and easy access to the city via the Metra or I-94. 

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