Moving to Chicago: Everything You Need to Know

Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world – just ask anyone who lives there. Chicagoans love their city. If you are thinking of joining their ranks, you’ll want to get to know the city. Here are six things you should know if you’re moving to Chicago. 

Yes, Winters can be Pretty Brutal

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One of the first things people will ask Chicagoans is how they survive the winters. Veterans of the cold season will usually scoff, but if you’re new to the Midwestern winter, it can be a bit of shock. Yes, we get dumped on by snow, spend days without sunshine, and slog through sub-zero temperatures, but, don’t let that scare you away. Chicago is still a wonderful city in the winter. 

Spend your days indoors at a festival, escape to indoor greenery, or even brave the deep chill for time outdoors. Plus, Chicago summers make it all worth it.

Chicagoans Take Their Sports Teams Seriously

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A lot of Chicago’s hometown pride is rooted in its sports teams. We have the Cubs, and White Sox (you’ll have to choose one or the other), the Bears, Blackhawks, and Fire. “Are you a Cubs or Sox fan?” practically replaces “Nice to meet you” during the baseball season. People live for the Crosstown Series games that pit the North Side Cubs against the South Side White Sox. Hockey fans will sing “Chelsea Dagger” until they’ve lost their voices during Blackhawk games. Fans continue to turn out in droves to Bears games at Soldier Field, despite the somewhat disheartening record in recent seasons. Soccer fans trek out to Bridgeview to cheer on the Fire at Toyota Park. You get the picture. 

Use Nicknames Sparingly


The best way to spot the newcomer in town is by tallying up how often they throw around nicknames. Chicago’s most prominent monikers are Chi-Town, the Second City, and the Windy City. 

Chi-Town is obviously a shortened version of the full city name, and something you’re more likely to hear a tourist than a Chicagoan say. (Side note, the TV show “The Chi” does a great job of capturing what it is like to live in Chicago.) The nickname The Second City – also the name of the city’s famous comedy club – is sometimes thought to be a nod to New York’s derision for Chicago, but it really refers to Chicago’s rebirth after the destruction of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, according to the Huffington Post. People usually think the Windy City refers to the near-constant gust coming from Lake Michigan, but it’s also considered a jab at the city’s politicians full of “ hot air.” 

Interesting history lesson aside, it’s a safe bet that most Chicagoans stick with calling home just plain Chicago.  

People Have Some Serious Neighborhood Pride

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Chicago has 77 different neighborhoods, and each one has a pretty distinct personality. You’ll find Chicagoans identify with their neighborhoods, their side of the city (North, South, West, Near West, etc.), and even their ‘L’ line (die-hard Blue Liners aren’t likely to be moving near the Red Line anytime soon). 

If you decide to move here, take your time finding the neighborhood that has the right vibe for you. Whether you are a music lover, dog person, bookworm, coffee drinker, or foodie,  you can find just the right neighborhood to call home.

There is an Unspoken Code for Public Transit Riders 

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Chicago is pretty famous for its ‘L’ system. The CTA makes it easy to get around the city without a car. Of course, the buses and trains get crowded like they do in any other city, particularly around the morning and evening rush hours. When it comes to train and bus etiquette, a lot of it is universal common sense. Don’t push. Wait your turn. Have your Ventra card ready to swipe so you don’t hold up the line of in-a-hurry commuters. Don’t try to engage the person reading a book and wearing headphones in small talk. 

A biggie to be aware of: doorway blocking. It probably seems easy to hop on the ‘L’ and stand right by the doors waiting for your stop. Even some regular CTA riders are guilty of this. Don’t be that person. You’ve been given fair warning. Do not be surprised if you get called out for poor public transit etiquette. Chicagoans are generally not afraid to speak their minds.

The Food and Beer is not Overrated

Lastly, but possibly most importantly, Chicago loves to boast about its food and its beer. We have very specific hot dog rules, strong feelings about deep dish pizza (mostly that it’s for tourists), 25 restaurants with Michelin stars this year, a delicious yearly Restaurant Week, and a thriving craft beer scene. Trust us — there’s plenty of truth to the hype.


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