Cost of Living Across Chicago

Chicago is awesome for many reasons, but one of the biggest is our wide variety of neighborhoods. Each and every one has unique charm and, as we learned, require very different budgets. Finding the right one can make or break a Chicago living experience.

In our experience, most responses to the question "Where do you live in Chicago?" are answered proudly with "River North", "Old Town", "Hyde Park", "Bronzeville". Neighborhoods become part of our identity just as much as "Chicago" itself.

For a local Chicagoan, a $1,500 1 bed in the Loop and Lincoln Park are two very different things, but when I sat down to move here from Champaign, they were all just pins on a map. The only advice I received was

Gold Coast is a great neighborhood, but it’s expensive.”

No explanation of why it was expensive or how it compared to other neighborhoods. After living in Gold Coast for a year, "why" Gold Coast was expensive started to make sense (convenience, shorter commute to the Loop, etc.).

Just because it took me a whole year (and way too much rent) to figure out the difference between $1,200 in Gold Coast vs. $1,200 in Lakeview, doesn’t mean you should have to. AptAmigo is here to help!

Inspired by my experience - and AptAmigo's mission to help everyone find their perfect apartment - I dove in to our 4,000+ reviews, and a bunch of boring pricing data so you don't have to. Finding the best neighborhood for you that fits your budget makes a big difference in quality of life. To make your move to or in Chicago a lot easier we have mapped out the median cost of rent across Chicago neighborhoods, whether you're looking to rent a studio, one bedroom or two bedroom apartment.

The results bring to light a few key details you should keep in mind when apartment hunting.

1) Chicago: Location, Location, LOCATION!

The first piece of advice we have for you is to pick a neighborhood that fits not only your personality, but your budget (check out AptAmigo’s Neighborhood Guide). River North is for those who like to work hard and play harder, and The Loop is for those who like to just work hard. Each neighborhood is fundamentally different, and it pays off to know what you’re in for when you move next door to Wrigley Field.

Even though River North may have captured your party animal heart, it may not be within budget. If so, check out neighborhoods like Lakeview or Boystown, and utilize the Red Line for easy access to all the River North clubs, bars, and parties your heart desires.

The median price of a studio in Boystown is $1,346 while the median for a studio in River North is much higher at $1,782. A round trip on the CTA is about $5. You can do the rest of the math.

Neighborhoods like River North, Streeterville, Gold Coast, etc. are much more expensive because the convenience is real, and the units tend to be newer and come with more amenities. It’s going to cost extra to live within walking distance to some of the city’s best restaurants.

2) Split the Rent

So you still have your heart set on a building in Gold Coast with a few amenities? Find a roommate! Above you can see that the median cost of a one bedroom apartment in Gold Coast is $1,700. Below, you can see that the median cost of a 2 bedroom in Gold Coast is about $2,600. Split that with a roommate you’re paying $1,300 for a great building, with luxury amenities, in a vibrant neighborhood. Best of all you’ve just saved yourself $400!

3) To features & amenities, or not to features & amenities.

This is the question. Can you live without a rooftop pool deck? How often are you really going to use that state-of-the-art gym? The majority of high rise buildings in Chicago come equipped with an AMAZING list of amenities from living wall gardens and golf simulators, to rooftop dog walks and half basketball courts. Rent is higher in these buildings as a result, so definitely make sure you value these before paying for them. Our data suggests amenities are one of the least important drivers of a great living experience. But, if amenities are a must have, AptAmigo has you covered.

If want luxury amenities on an “I still have roommates” budget, check out these hacks. Private condo buildings often have rental units available by owner. Tons of condo buildings have a gym and pool, but might not break the bank. If you really need a pool but get nauseous at the thought of paying a premium, try living North in Lakeview, Wrigleyville, or Boystown. These neighborhoods have less expensive options and are close to the lake. Trips to the beach and runs along the Lakeshore are free!

4) Explore the Wild Wild West

Our map shows that the farther North you go the cheaper the rent can be, same can be said for the South. However, the West Side of Chicago not only has cheaper rent prices, but it doesn’t skimp on the nightlife. Plenty of smart Chicagoans have gotten the hint and are packing up their wagons to head out west to Logan Square, Bucktown, and Wicker Park. Living within CTA access to Logan Square or Wicker Park provides you with all the nightlife you could ask for, AND rents that actually allow you to go out!

Calling all West siders! It’s pretty obvious we’re missing some key areas of Chicago. Don’t worry, we’re not ignoring you. We just need more data! Email us at to share your experience. We'd love to know how much it costs to live within walking distance of Emporium or the Logan Square Theatre!

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