How Much Money Do I Need to Move to Chicago?
July 2, 2004 6:06 PM   Subscribe

How much money do I need to move to Chicago?

...on the cheap, as I'm poor and bad at saving. Apartment prices seem to vary wildly and it's hard to get a sense of these things online. This is assuming I have a job lined up beforehand.

Because the sheriff in the next county just forced the resignation of a 911 dispatcher for cohabiting with her boyfriend of 12 years, which is illegal here, apparently, and which I am taking as a giant blinking neon sign that I need to get the motherfucking hell out of the south before I lose my goddamned mind.
posted by IshmaelGraves to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
Do you know anyone? If not you are looking at $500 minimum (and I mean *minimum*) for a shit hole apartment with nothing going for it in the city. The suburbs can be cheaper, but you are better off staying in the dirty south (move to memphis, its crazy here, but getting better). If you live in Pilsen or back of yards you can find a place for a decent price. You will have to deal with thugs and bangers, but they can be dealt with. A job may be difficult right now, but no worse than other places. And be warned, it is cold in the winter - damn cold. The wind alone has sent many people home by the middle of january.
posted by jmgorman at 6:23 PM on July 2, 2004

Check out the Chicago Reader for apartment listings.

If you're willing to consider a professional apartment-finding service, Apartment People seem to be practically everywhere. you have any idea what neighborhoods you're looking at? That makes a huge difference in rents...
posted by aramaic at 6:27 PM on July 2, 2004

in terms of large, major cities, Chicago is really cheap. i used to live there, and i can help you with neighborhoods too. i would also recommend craigslist, too.
posted by jare2003 at 6:46 PM on July 2, 2004

I moved here in 2001, right after graduating from college, with about $2500 of "seed money". I probably could have made do with $1500, but my circumstances were probably different from yours in that (a) I was moving into a furnished apartment, and could fit all my wordly possessions into a car; (b) my apartment was not in the best location in an out-of-the-way neighbourhood (Hyde Park, or, technically, Woodlawn), and (c) I had a guaranteed source of income (graduate student stipend) waiting for me. However, I'm also including in that figure stuff I spent on essentials like kitchenware, linens, & other housewares that I didn't already own.

You might do well to look in the want ads in the Chicago Tribune to get an idea of what the situation is like in your field.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:50 PM on July 2, 2004

I should also add that since I was renting directly from the University, they didn't require first & last month's rent up front. My sense is that this would probably not be the case for most landlords.

This map and list of rent ranges might prove useful.

Oh, and contrary to what the map might imply, the city does not end at 1200 South — the northsiders just think it does.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:59 PM on July 2, 2004

Ok -- craigslist is totally your friend. Rents vary wildly, but as long as you are close to the train you will be fine. When my now-husband was looking for a one-bedroom for us, the rents varied from $550 to $800 a month, all in the general Lincoln Square/Albany Park area. Living in Rogers Park might be cheaper. Somewhere like Lakeview or Wicker Park will be more expensive.

What do you want out of your neighborhood? I love Lincoln Square because it is not hipster-fied yet, the rents are still decent, and there's interesting stuff nearby without being completely overrun with people.

I was lucky because Moz lived here already but a co-worker of mine moved here to go to Second City, pretty much sight unseen as I understand it.
posted by sugarfish at 8:44 PM on July 2, 2004

As sugarfish says, Rogers Park is going to be a little cheaper, and so would Jefferson Park - my wife and I nearly got a place there for $475 that was quite nice and loads cheaper than what we were paying.

Cost of living in Chicago is probably going to be a little more in general than the south, too. But it's totally worth it.
posted by hijinx at 6:11 AM on July 3, 2004

Thanks, everyone. This is helpful, and rents sound encouraging -- not much too worse than here, actually, where things are dreadfully overpriced for a third-rate southern city. And I get along happily in tiny studios so it sounds like I should be able to do OK.

Sugarfish, you make Lincoln Square sound appealing -- I'd like to live somewhere that feels like "the city" but isn't full of trust-fund artist types, whom I can't abide.

And be warned, it is cold in the winter - damn cold. The wind alone has sent many people home by the middle of january.

I'm looking forward to the cold — having grown up in Connecticut and upstate NY I'm ready to live somewhere that the city doesn't shut down when there's a half-inch of snow.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:58 AM on July 3, 2004

Interesting...I've been thinking very seriously about moving back to Chicago (from L.A.) lately, so this has been helpful for me, too!

I concur on rent prices -- Chicago can be a pretty affordable big city if you're happy to live in a kind of regular, "just folks" neighborhood walking (preferably walking distance from the el). It absolutely does not have to be a rough area, though parts of it may border rough areas.

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of Pilsen, Logan Square, Lincoln Square (as opposed to Lincoln Park, which is entirely different; like Sugarfish, I lived in Lincoln Square for several years too, and really liked it), Ukrainian Village, Rogers Park, and possibly Ravenswood (though I believe R'wood was just starting to get hipsterized right around the time I left) as being areas you could get a perfectly serviceable 1BR in the 600-750 range, and a studio for less. (Except for Pilsen, these are all fairly northside-centric 'hoods.) In my experience, most security deposits are simply the cost of last month's rent.

Another short-term solution -- especially if you don't wind up having a job lined up before you go -- is to move into a short-term roommate or sublet situation, which gives you the benefit of saving some money initially and giving you the time to get to know for yourself which neighborhoods really strike your fancy. The ever-wonderful Chicago Reader also has roommate/sublet listings, some of which are often just for the last few months of a lease.

A general (and potentially huge) expense you'll have to think about that's got nothing to do with Chicago in particular is health insurance -- if you want to extend your insurance from your current job through COBRA (assuming you have health insurance and want to keep it), find out from your HR whether or not you'll be able to maintain it when you move out-of-state, and how much it will cost.

If you can't take it with you (as it were) either due to restrictions in your plan or because it's too expensive, you may have to consider buying individual health care (there are short-term plans available from some insurers, I believe, designed specifically for people between jobs). That can also be expensive and challenging, however, esp. if you have any pre-exisiting conditions. (If not, you'll have an easier time of it.) This is not to be the voice of doom or anything -- just to remind you to factor in a potentially large expense that's easy to overlook in planning the logistics of the move itself.
posted by scody at 12:18 PM on July 3, 2004

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