Things You Should Know Before Moving to Chicago, IL -
Home > Moving Guides > Moving to City Guides and Tips > Illinois > Things You Should Know Before Moving to Chicago, IL

Things You Should Know Before Moving to Chicago, IL

  3.6/5 based on 10 visitor(s)
views  2,369 Views

Chicago is a big bustling metropolis that has been flourishing with the diversity and harmony of its many neighborhoods. The city reflects the values of integrity, hard work, and community. With attractions that cater to a wide range of interests like baseball, ballet, political satire or classical music, Chicago has something to offer for everyone. The city has been known by many interesting nicknames like "Hog Butcher for the World", "City of Big Shoulders", "Windy City", and "Chi-town".

There can be numerous reasons to move to Chicago, like its competitive school system, great career opportunities, beautiful skylines in the country, or the pursuit of higher education.

Here is the guide that will help you relocate smoothly to the Second City.

Chicago Climate

Cold winters and warm summers characterize the humid continental climate of Chicago. Minor fluctuations in temperature, humidity, cloudiness, and wind direction are observed habitually. The spring and fall seasons feature comfortably warm sunny days and a crisp breeze, and are considered a pleasant time to visit Chicago. The weather in the city is highly influenced by Lake Michigan which moderates the temperature and boosts the snowfall for the city significantly during the winter months.

Chicago Neighborhoods

Topographically, Chicago is divided into five regions which accommodate approximately well over 200 neighborhoods. The five regions that the city is comprised of are the north side, downtown, northwest side, west side, and south side.

Situated on the northeastern side of the Chicago River is the north side, which is a symbol of opulence. Some notable places in this region include the Magnificent Mile, the Gold Coast, and Navy Pier. The Downtown region is the city's financial and government headquarters. Considered as a popular destination for families with children, the northwest side is known for its safe and family-oriented outdoor activities along the river.

Located adjacent to the central business district and west of the Chicago River, the west side offers a plethora of opportunities for working class Chicagoans. Harboring the University of Chicago, the south side offers a wide range of housing options from studio apartments to mid-sized mansions and is popular with students.

Living Costs in the City

Living costs and rent vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Places closer to downtown are safer but much more expensive. Many ethnic neighborhoods offer a variety of restaurants and cultural attractions. The cost of living in the Windy City is higher than the national average. Chicago, with its 9.5% sales tax, is among the top three cities in the United States in that category, so Chicagoans mostly prefer to visit surrounding suburbs or go online to make big purchases.

Registering Your Car

Upon your arrival in Illinois after moving to the state permanently, you have a total of 30 days to update your registration and have your vehicle registered in the state before you may be required to pay a penalty.

An Illinois Driver's License can be obtained at any Illinois DMV location. The state requires new Illinois residents to update their license from their previous state to an Illinois driver's license within 90 days of moving. If you fail to update your driver's license within this 90-day window, you may have to pay a fine. Also, there is a $10 fee to update your driver's license.

Chicago Schools

Chicago Public Schools is the system that governs the hundreds of public schools located throughout the city of Chicago. To be exact, there are a total of 675 public schools in the city, along with 394 private schools and 83 colleges. The high school district currently ranks as the third largest in the United States. As far as higher education goes, there are many well-known and prestigious colleges and universities located in the city, including the University of Chicago, which is one of the best universities in the nation. Chicago is a world center of higher education and has been for almost 200 years, with institutions like Northwestern University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago and Robert Morris University.

Chicago Employment

Chicago is the home of the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States, behind only Los Angeles and New York City. In addition, it is the home of the second largest business and financial district in the nation, rivaling only Wall Street and the New York City business and financial district. Headquartered in this bustling business district are the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Chicago Stock Exchange, as well as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

Located in Chicago are the headquarters of several major international corporations, as well as several Fortune Global 500 companies including Boeing, Kraft Foods, McDonald's, Sears, Motorola, Walgreen's, OfficeMax, and Abbott Laboratories.

Chicago Moving Resources

There are hundreds of reputable and reliable moving companies in the city of Chicago to help you with your move and get you unloaded and unpacked in your new home. Whether you're moving from within the state of Illinois, or whether you're moving from the East or even the West coast, you'll find moving companies that can help you get settled in Chicago. Here are just a few of the movers you can find to handle your relocation to Chicago:

  • Liberty Moving and Storage, Inc.
  • All My Sons Moving and Storage Chicago
  • Crescent Movers
  • New City Movers
  • Trade Movers
  • Allied Van Lines

In addition, there are also many storage companies located within the city in case you need a place to store some of your belongings, whether it's for a short amount of time until you get settled in your new home, or for more long-term storage. You can find yourself a Chicago storage company to help fulfill your storage needs.

Public Transportation

Two major airports, Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport, and a freight rail hub are present in this city, which is considered by many to be a major transportation hub. Mass transit is handled by the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) that consists of elevated train lines which are popularly called the "L" by Chicagoans. There are also numerous bus lines that traverse the metropolitan area. Cards and travel passes that save you money are also available.

Culture and Contemporary Life

Chicago, with its international flair, waterfront allure, and vibrant night life, beckons citizens and tourists alike. Modern improvisational comedy has taken off and evolved in this city. Some of the most notable theater companies in Chicago are the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater and Gateway Theatre. The music industry is widespread and eclectic with blues, jazz, soul, and gospel music being the flavor of this second city. The cuisine of the city has incorporated various tastes from different cultures. Chicago-style deep dish pizza is the go-to trademark food of the city, while hot dogs, Bratwurst and the Italian beef sandwich are some of the city's other signature foods. Every year a 10-day food and music festival takes place in July, known as the "The Taste". In addition, the Lollapalooza music festival is also held in Chicago every August in Grant Park, located in the Loop area of Downtown Chicago, right on Lakeshore Drive and overlooking Lake Michigan. When it comes to sports, the city has two baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs, who play in historic Wrigley Field, and the Chicago White Sox. The Chicago Bears are the city's football team, and the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks represent the city in basketball and hockey, respectively.

Moving to Chicago

Whether you are a student in pursuit of higher education or migrating with family to Chi-town, this place has something to offer for everyone. The city is strict in enforcing various rules and regulations regarding moving services. You need to know certain things before you move to this city. It is mandatory on the part of the moving company to present a certificate of liability insurance to the building management. In case of any property damage, the building management has to be sure that the moving company has the necessary coverage. This certificate can be obtained free of charge from the moving company.
If you are moving to an apartment, you need to book the elevator in advance. If you are moving into the downtown area, then parking permits are compulsory. You need to get these permits well in advance for the moving truck. For determining the approximate cost of moving to Chicago, you can find out by filling out a moving quote of a reputable company.

Chicago Relocation Tips

  • Chicago's "L", or the public rail system, provides an effective mode of transportation. Always choose a place to live which is within a one-mile radius to a train stop. This way you can walk to the stop in 10-15 minutes.


  • Chicago's neighborhoods are diverse ethnically, culturally and in commercial establishments like restaurants, movie theaters, and grocery stores. It is better to do some research before zeroing in on the neighborhood where you wish to stay.


  • If you are migrating from a warmer climate, then Chicago's winters can be notoriously cold. It is better to pack all of your warm clothes.


  • Even though the city is expensive, there are certain free activities that you can utilize. Free movies in the park during the summer season are offered by the Chicago Park District. Street festivals offering live music for free are a common sight throughout summer as well.


  • Reading a newspaper to know what is happening around you may sound outdated but it is considered a good practice. Even though this is the age of cyborgs, the "Chicago Reader" will acquaint you with the best of arts, restaurants, politics, and others with a humane touch.


  • It is advisable to get a Chicago Transit Authority map that details the locations of the city's buses and trains and their respective stops. This will help you in navigating the city without any incidents.


  • The best way to explore this city is to wander around the Loop. You can walk aimlessly and end up finding something utterly interesting.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on January 15, 2013

Rate this guide Things You Should Know Before Moving to Chicago, IL