Thinking about moving from CA to Chicago? We’ve outlined everything you need to know before making the big change. From lifestyle, housing situation, and the current job market— you’ll have everything you need to know before deciding if the Windy City is right for you.
If you’re ready to start looking for your dream apartment in Chicago, reach out to AptAmigo for your own personal apartment assistant. Just tell us your lifestyle and preferences and we’ll formulate a list of apartments you’ll love. Choose your favorites, and we’ll schedule a whole day of tours so you can make a confident decision. If you have special requirements like a pet-friendly apartment, or a unit with skyline views, we can help with that, too!
Related: What to Expect When Moving to Chicago Alone
Lifestyle in California Vs. Chicago
California is notorious for its shining stars and bright lights. It’s hard not to love Los Angeles with the sun glinting off the ocean, the dazzling Hollywood sign, the luxury, and the relaxation. But California isn’t the only destination for someone trying to put their name on the map. Chicago is a major business hub, and connections made here have the potential to propel you to the next stage of your career.
If you’re an industry worker, a creative, or a go-getter at large, you can fully expect Chicago to match the same grinding energy as Los Angeles. Chicagoans work hard and treat themselves by playing hard afterwards.
With so many different opportunities, everyone in Chicago has their hands in a couple of different skills. With a constant stream of new start-ups, initiatives, and perspectives, it’s easy to grow an learn in this city. This includes what you do for fun once the workday is over. From dropping into a magic show, to having a libation at a 1920’s style speak easy, your palette for adventure will be ever growing in Chicago.
Los Angeles has a variety of different homes to choose from — whether it is a classic Mediterranean style house or a modern luxury low, mid, or high rise. But the cost of living in a space like that will put you out, on average, an extra six to eight hundred dollars a month, compared to Chicago. That being said, Chicago’s more limited selection of mid-rise and high-rise apartments is ultimately for your benefit. The views of the skyline and lake allowed from a higher elevation will take your breath away every morning.
Because everyone takes public transportation in the city, any amenities not included in your apartment will be just a short walk away. But don’t worry; if you don’t feel like leaving your amazing new home, San Francisco’s popular service Instacart has recently arrived in Chicago to bring anything you need right to your door.
If you still aren’t sold, houses with a lawn are readily available in the suburbs, located roughly thirty minutes to an hour outside the city.
While it might be called the Golden State for other reasons, we understand that the golden temperature is an added bonus to living in California. Though average temperatures can fluctuate in different regions of the state, the temperature in California generally stays above freezing, even in the winter.
With that in mind, the biggest adjustment to living in Chicago will most likely be the winter weather. The winter months typically dip into the 20-degree range, and it is not uncommon to see negative numbers from time to time.
However, between the floor-length puffy coats and city officials lighting train tracks ablaze, you’ll always get from point A to point B in comfort and in style. An unexpected plus of chilly winters is that spring and summer are that much sweeter. Fluttering between high 70’s and low 80’s in June, July, and August, the city springs to life with beaches, outdoor markets, and festivals. It’s well worth the wait in our opinion!
California has an interesting relationship with driving. On one hand, nothing beats cruising down the 101 with the top down and the wind in your hair. On the other hand, you’ve got stressful gridlocked Los Angeles. Either way, you need a car to get most anywhere, despite the traffic. While Los Angeles has a public transportation system similar to Chicago, it is not the preferred method of getting around for those who live and work in the city.
Good news: when you move to Chicago, those traffic problems will be a thing of the past! The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the best and preferred way to get around. Many Chicago residents don’t even have cars due to expensive upkeep and even more expensive parking costs.
The CTA runs to almost every neighborhood in Chicago, and can get you from one side of the city to the other 24 hours a day. The CTA buses are a little bit slower, but the express trains rocket you from top to bottom with only a stop or two in between. While it takes some getting used to, you’ll be taking the CTA like a pro in no time!
Los Angeles is known for being the place to “make it or break it,” but it can be incredibly difficult to get your foot in the door. Many people who move to LA quickly find out that “making it” is not as glamorous as it once seemed. While there is value in working hard for what you want, Chicago can give you the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
The Chicago job market is growing faster than the U.S. average. This past year, Chicago saw a 1.8% growth in jobs, and this trend is expected to continue year-over-year. Many businesses call Chicago home: from Fortune 500 headquarters, to startups, and even tech companies relocating from San Francisco. Chicago provides an abundance of excellent job opportunities.
Advice for Moving From CA to Chicago
If you’re ready for a change of scenery and an opportunity for growth in your life, give AptAmigo a call to find the perfect place in this bustling city. There’s no need to spend your precious time apartment hunting when you can have apartment experts do the legwork for you. Our team of apartment experts will help you relocate with zero stress! The best part? It’s absolutely free.
To make your transition to the Windy City even smoother, be sure to read our advice on reasons to avoid Chicago rental brokers.
Rebecca is a freelance writer with eight years of journalism experience. She recently graduated with a BA in Communications and a minor in journalism. She currently bartends in downtown Chicago and spends her free time exploring the city and making connections.