So you’ve decided you want to move to Chicago, but you’re not sure where to begin. For starters, you may want to consult an immigration lawyer in order to make your transition more smooth. Other than that, you’re in luck; Chicago is a fairly easy city to start a new life in. However, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to make sure you’re on the path to success. Use this ultimate guide to moving to Chicago as a starting point.
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to find a job. Most companies post their open positions on job sites such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn. You can also try reaching out proactively to companies you think you’d like to work for. With such a large pool of candidates in the city, it can be hard to get noticed by hiring managers, so sending a personalized message is a great way to get your foot in the door. There’s also the option to pursue remote work while moving to the city. Chicago is very friendly for independent workers, with plenty of coworking spaces available at reasonable prices. Since the cost of living is lower than in New York or San Francisco, you’ll be able to live a bit more comfortably on the same kind of salary.
Your neighborhood in Chicago will determine a lot about your daily life in the city, so choose wisely. It’s best to pick an area within a reasonable commute to your place of work. You should also consider price, proximity to public transportation and highways, and the general vibe of the neighborhood. Do plenty of research and talk to locals about their experiences before making a decision.
The perfect Chicago neighborhood is in the eye of the resident. Dreamy Lincoln Park is ideal for a dual-income household while River North may interest a downtown office worker with a penchant for partying.
Once you’ve chosen which neighborhood is right for you, the next step in moving to Chicago is to find an apartment. There are several apartment search websites available where you can look for an apartment alone or with roommates: Domu, PadMapper, and even Craigslist are all great options.
There’s also Blueground, which offers premium furnished rentals that are ideal for professionals. These apartments are conveniently located near public transportation and central to most areas in the city. Better yet, for new arrivals, all apartments are outfitted by a dedicated interior design team and are stocked with linens, tableware, and home entertainment. Meaning, you’ll having the luxury of moving without a moving company or truck. Apartments come paired to a Guest App that includes a curated list of nearby grocery stores, gyms, and pharmacies in addition to scheduling cleaning and maintenance. There’s no better Chicago assistant than one that can travel with you in the palm of your hand!
As soon as you know your move-in date, call the appropriate utility companies to make sure everything will be up and running ahead of your arrival. You may also want to schedule an appointment to install internet and cable. The two main providers in Chicago are Comcast and RCN, although there are a few smaller companies as well. Check with your landlord or building manager to see what’s available to you.
When you’re all moved into your new home, you’ll need to make the trip to the DMV to change over your out-of-state license. Legally, you only have 30 days after establishing residency to apply for a driver’s license with your new address. This is an essential step in moving to Chicago.
If you own a car, you’ll also have to register it. Unfortunately, this also means purchasing a city sticker, Chicago’s tax on vehicle ownership. Skipping this could lead to expensive tickets down the road if parking enforcement officers notice that your vehicle is missing the sticker, so make sure to get it taken care of within 30 days.
While you’re at the DMV, you can also take advantage of the opportunity to register to vote. In Illinois, you must register at least 27 days prior to the election you wish to vote in. Thankfully, this is an easy step that you can take care of quickly and painlessly while applying for your driver’s license.
If you’re planning to explore your new city via public transportation, you’ll need a Ventra card. These can be purchased at ticket machines or on the Ventra smartphone app.
Store a credit card in the app and set up Autoload to automatically add transit value when your balance is low. Alternatively, you can purchase monthly passes if you know you’ll be taking public transportation on a daily basis.
Once you’ve checked off all items from your moving checklist, all that’s left for you to do will be to explore your new city. You’ll need to get to know your neighborhood and figure out the go-to spots. For example, you might buy groceries from Mariano’s or Jewel-Osco. Each area will have its own local coffee joints, although Peet’s and Intelligentsia are both popular options. Don’t forget to check out the famous donuts from Do-Rite and Stan’s, two popular competing chains.
Moving to Chicago takes a bit of maneuvering, but the hard work will soon pay off when you’re enjoying life in one of America’s greatest cities. Between exploring new neighborhoods and soaking up all the culture, you won’t even have time to be homesick. Whether you’re a recently arrived expat or a lifelong Illinoisan, Chicago is a pretty cool place to call home.