The Big Apple is “where dreams are made of”. The city offers so many opportunities to residents, students, and visitors alike. Even though the traffic of NYC will probably never change, the high standard of living, job opportunities, and quality of life in NYC are what make the city stand out.
But, the city of Chicago has also been getting a lot of attention in recent years. Most New Yorkers have been moving to Windy City as they get ample job opportunities alongside a low cost of living, wider spaces, and affordable real estate.
If you’ve been thinking of ditching New York City for the Windy City, we’ve got you covered. We have listed down a brief guide that will help you make a wise decision about moving from NYC to Chicago.
The change in weather is probably one of the major distinctions you will notice when you move from NYC to Chicago. You will experience all seasons when living in Chicago and the winters are very cold.
The winters in Chicago and NYC are harsh with pretty much the same temperatures and winds. You will experience 37 inches of snowfall in Chicago while in NYC it’s about 70 inches. The storms in NYC will not be missed in Chicago, however, leaving your house without a jacket is not a good idea. The average winter temperature in Chicago is 26°F, and November to January are the coldest months where the temperatures sometimes drop even lower at night.
Chicago is called the ‘Windy City’ for a reason. In the summers, you will experience a lot of wind with high temperatures here. July is the hottest month of the year; the average temperature in Chicago during this time is anywhere between 72°F to 88°F. The average summer temperature in NYC is 85°F.
When it comes down to the natural disaster in Chicago, it is a relatively safer city. Other than occasionally occurring tornadoes, the city experiences no threats. NYC is prone to blizzards and thunderstorms during the winters. But, the cold winter wind can also be a challenging experience of living in Chicago.
Cost Of Living
The cost of living in both cities is higher than the national average. The cost of living in Chicago is 23% higher, while that of NYC is 129% higher according to Payscale. This is exactly where you will observe a vast difference in the housing market, real estate market, taxes, and your monthly expenses. Let us have a look at the breakdown of each of these expenses when living in Chicago and NYC.
Buying A House
When buying a house in both cities, you may notice that the prices of houses in Chicago are lower than the national average and that of NYC are higher. The real estate market in Chicago is thriving and currently, the houses are much more affordable than several other large cities. You can find ample homes in most neighborhoods of the city as per your liking. The following is a table that gives you a glimpse at the average home prices in Chicago and NYC with data from Zillow.
Median Home Value
Renting A House
When it comes to the rental market in the cities, both are highly competitive. But finding a good rental apartment in Chicago is going to be a much easier job compared to in NYC. Chicago has some great rentals in its suburbs and downtown region. Plus, you will find all kinds of apartments, family homes, condos, and luxury homes on rent here.
The following is a table with data from Bestplaces.net that will help you get a better look at what renting in Chicago and NYC is like.
If you look at the taxes in Chicago, they are higher than that of NYC. The standard of living in Chicago is higher and that comes with an obvious price tag. The tax rates in Chicago amount to a large amount and contribute to making Chicago the city with the highest taxes in the state of Illinois.
The sales tax in Chicago is 10.3% and in NYC is 8.75%. The sales tax in Chicago is 3% higher than the national average and higher than most cities in the country. The property tax in Chicago is 2.9% which is again higher than both the national average and NYC’s property tax rate of 0.88%.
The income tax in Chicago is 5% across the city while in NYC it could be 3.078%, 3.762%, 3.819%, or 3.876% depending on your income. This tax is lower than Chicago and the national average.
According to Payscale, your monthly expenses in Chicago and NYC are higher than the national average. Even then, the expenses in Chicago are considered to be comparatively lower and more affordable than that of NYC.
Your utilities in Chicago are 10% lower than the national average while those in NYC are 25% higher. Your utility bill in Chicago is $162 and in NYC is $165 on a monthly basis according to Numbeo. This makes a fractional difference in your overall expenses and cost of living.
In Chicago, the food and groceries are 8% higher while in NYC they are 28% higher than the national average. A loaf of bread in Chicago is $3.50 and NYC is $4.30, while a gallon of milk in Chicago is $2.11 and in NYC is $2.50. You can shop for your groceries and food items in a local market or your usual groceries store.
Last but not least, the healthcare bills also add to your cost of living expenses. According to Payscale, the healthcare services in Chicago are 1% more expensive while in NYC they are 15% more expensive than the national average. A one-time visit to the doctor will cost you $113 in Chicago and $128 in NYC. Likewise, a one-time visit for your pet at the vet will cost you $60 in Chicago and $77 in NYC.
The crime rates in a city you want to live in play a determining role in your decision-making process. Both Chicago and NYC have a higher crime rate compared to the national average according to Neighborhoodscout. Where Chicago is safer than 9% of the cities in the country, NYC is safer than 17% of the same cities. This determines that NYC is a safer city to live in with a comparatively lower crime rate.
The violent crime rate in Chicago is 9.69 per thousand residents and in NYC is 5.8 per thousand residents, both of which are higher than the national average rate of 4. Living in Chicago you have a 1 in 103 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.
Talking about property crime rates in the cities, both cities have a higher property crime rate compared to the national average of 19. In Chicago, the property crime rate is 24.49 and in NYC it is 20. You have a 1 in 39 chance of being a victim of property crime in Chicago.
On the plus side, the crime in Chicago is highly localized and you will come across plenty of safe neighborhoods across the city for you to live in. Some of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago are West Garfield Park, West Englewood, Washington Park, and Riverdale.
Economy And Employment Opportunities
The economy of NYC as you may know is blooming and Chicago is not far behind. Both the cities have developing economies and employment opportunities alike.
The GDP of Chicago in 2020 was $692,988.237 million according to fred.stlouisfed.org. This is nowhere close to the $1.5 trillion GDP of NYC but, given the economic development of Chicago in the past decade, there’s no denying that the city has made huge progress. Many up-and-coming companies are established here along with some multi-billion dollar companies that provide employment opportunities.
Some major industries that have consistently contributed to the growing economy of Chicago are leisure, finance, information technology, automotive, education, healthcare services, hospitality, manufacturing, and transportation. They have also led to an increase in employment opportunities in the city.
Average Income Per Year
The unemployment rate in Chicago has diminished in the past decade. The pandemic has put a strain on the job market in the city, but it has recovered gracefully. The unemployment rate in Chicago is 4.3% and in NYC is 6.2% as of December 2021.
Some of the prominent employers in Chicago are Deloitte, Mars Inc., Jones Lang LaSalle, Veolia Environmental Services, Evraz Oregon Steel Mills, Boeing, J. P. Morgan Chase, Abbot, Helman’s, Accenture, The University Of Chicago, Hyatt Hotel, United Airlines, Ferrara Candy, and Ford Motors. These companies have immensely contributed to both, the economic development and growth in job opportunities in the city of Chicago.
When it comes to education both the cities are strong contenders. Both NYC and Chicago have some of the best schools and top-rated universities of their respective states. Students seeking higher education head to universities in both cities as they offer plenty of post-graduation courses to students from across the country.
Chicago is home to a vast number of Catholic institutions. The catholic schools and universities in Chicago are a popular choice of educational institutions among the residents of the city. Let us have a look at some of the highly-lauded schools in Chicago according to Greatschools.
When you move from NYC to Chicago, you’ll see a huge difference in the traffic as, unlike NYC, traffic in Chicago is negligible. But when it comes to the transportation system, it is top-notch in both cities. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the transportation system of Chicago that has worked its magic and been efficiently working in the past few years.
They operate the L trains and buses across the city. The L here stands for elevated and there’s no denying that both the buses and L trains have been delivering top-notch services to locals and tourists alike. The CTA covers 8 lines for L trains and over 100 routes for the buses. These routes are further divided into sections for operational purposes and have made traveling in and around Chicago convenient for all.
The Metra Rail in Chicago is another system that is known to be the fastest way to get around. They run all day long and have affordable ticket prices. Chicago also has water taxis that connect the city’s local and famous tourist attractions.
When you move from NYC to Chicago, you will come across empty streets and no traffic even during peak hours in most areas in Chicago. Additionally, the transportation department of the city is extremely efficient and affordable. Overall, the transportation system in Chicago is one of the best in the country.
Best Places To Live In Chicago
Albany Park is Chicago’s and even the country’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood. The diversity in this neighborhood is celebrated through its lively and dynamic food scene. You will come across a variety of restaurants and cafés that have some of the best food options for you. The locals here are proud to showcase their heritage and culture, and live in harmony. Small businesses in this part of the city are blooming and are mostly family-owned. Albany is an easy-to-get-around neighborhood that you can call home.
Median Home Value: $324,910
Annual Median Household Income: $61,952
Monthly Median Rent: $1,234
Wicker Park is a famous neighborhood in Chicago known for its vibrant nightlife, restaurants, cafés, shopping centers, and entertainment centers as well. Because of its dynamism, this neighborhood is a big attraction among the youth. You will also come across plenty of colleges and universities that are in close proximity to this neighborhood.
Wicker Park is one of the safer neighborhoods to reside in and has ample opportunities for college and school-going students. It is a walkable neighborhood with most places in close proximity.
Roscoe Village is one of the family-friendly neighborhoods in the city. It is a very laid-back community that is warm and welcoming towards new families. It’s an interesting neighborhood as it gives you city vibes with a small-town feel, that you can see in the local shops and cafés around the corner. There are ample schools and a few higher education institutions in Roscoe Village. The family homes in this neighborhood are spacious and come with a price tag.
Median Home Value: $440,100
Annual Median Household Income: $92,137
Monthly Median Rent: $1,768
Logan Square is one of the more naturally aesthetic neighborhoods in Chicago. The streets are covered with tall trees on both ends and flora and fauna are in abundance here. This neighborhood has ample job opportunities that attract a majority of the working-class population. The gray-stoned traditional Chicago Bungalows are a common housing option in Logan Square. You will also find a bunch of apartments, condos, and other houses that you can opt to live in.
Median Home Value: $514,100
Annual Median Household Income: $72,429
Monthly Median Rent: $1,997
Cost Of Moving From NYC To Chicago
Moving from NYC to Chicago is a long-distance move that involves crossing state borders. It will take you approximately almost an entire day or more or less 13 hours to travel from NYC to Chicago by road. The average cost of moving from NYC to Chicago amounts to anywhere between $2,200 and $7,100. This price may change depending on the distance, size of the move, and the services you decide on availing from a moving company.
Moving from NYC to Chicago will be a big decision for you. Both cities are very unique to themselves and offer you plenty of opportunities to learn and grow your professional careers as well as your family. While the real estate market in NYC is comparatively a lot higher than that in Chicago, the tax rates in Chicago are much higher than in NYC. Both cities have their own drawbacks and their pros that add to their charm.
The education system of Chicago, along with the low cost of living, and good quality of life, seem like a fair trade-off for the job opportunities, low crime rates, and low tax rates in NYC. If these things appeal to you, moving to Chicago will be a good decision that you won’t regret.
Chicago is a city with a reputation for being clean. Unlike NYC, you will not see trash cans lying on the footpaths or trash on the curbs. The city is clean and you will not spot any trash lying around anywhere in Chicago.
Is Chicago Or New York Safer?
The crime rates in both cities are higher than the national average. But when you compare NYC and Chicago, Chicago has a higher crime rate. Chicago is safer than 9% of cities in the country while NYC is safer than 17% of cities in the country. So, this means that NYC is a safer city to live in.
Is Chicago Or New York More Expensive?
The cost of living in both Chicago and NYC is higher than the national average. But, Chicago is still much more affordable compared to NYC. The real estate market, expenses, utilities, food, and groceries are all less expensive in Chicago. This makes NYC the more expensive city to live in of the two.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.