Look, Chicago is a great city.
In fact, many would argue it’s actually the best city and it’s tough to argue with that.
The Windy City is home to some of the nation’s finest food, architecture, theater, museums and music, just to name a few examples. And if you moved there, all of that would be at your fingertips, all at a relatively low cost of living. What’s the catch?
As the classic hair-metal wisdom goes, every rose has its thorn. There are, indeed, some downsides to life in the City of Big Shoulders, and there’s more to it than those brutal winters you’ve probably already heard about.
So before you pack your bags for Chicago, here are four things you absolutely must know — and four reasons you might just want to go ahead and book those movers anyway.
Yes, the winters are seriously intense.
If the idea of trudging through a half-foot of snow while being pummeled by brutally cold wind and simultaneously trying to avoid patches of black ice while commuting to work makes you quiver with dread, you probably won’t enjoy Chicago’s winters. January and February, when the temperatures are almost always freezing, are particularly brutal. You will definitely need a good, thick coat, a solid pair of boots and lots of willpower to resist the urge to spend the whole winter binging on Netflix.
But the rest of the year is tough to beat.
Once you survive winter, you’ll remember why you love Chicago. Locals believe that the tough winters weed out the less hardy residents who are less deserving of the city’s non-winter bounty. From that first day in March, when it’s warm enough to go without that bulky coat, until the moment you get your first taste of pumpkin spice, you’ll be so busy basking in everything the city has to offer that the bleak winter will soon be a distant memory.
Summer can be a bit extreme, too.
Of course, you can have too much of a good thing. When Chicago’s dog days hit in August, you’ll probably be so tired of sweating — and paying for all that air conditioning — that you’ll be daydreaming of wearing scarves, building snowmen and drinking hot chocolate by a fire.
But Chicagoans are great at finding ways to stay cool.
When the temperature’s rising, locals get creative to distract themselves from the city’s swamp factor. Most locals head to the beach, to their neighborhood Italian ice stand or to one of the city’s many music, food and arts festivals to kick back and maybe even take part in a touch of day drinking to beat the heat.
You’ll start to hate your car.
Chicago isn’t the easiest place to drive, and especially to park, a car. Between the parking situation — sometimes scarce, usually pricy — and the bumper-to-bumper traffic, things can get stressful. And don’t even get us started on parking tickets, registration fees and red-light tickets.
But you don’t necessarily need it anyway.
Especially if you live near a train station, Chicago’s public transit system (the CTA) will serve you well. The city is also becoming increasingly bike-friendly, adding new protected bike lanes each year and expanding Divvy, its bike-share program. When it comes down to it, you might decide to go without ye ole gas-guzzler anyway.
Sports. are. everywhere.
If you’re not a sports fan, you might occasionally feel like you’re not in on the joke. When the Cubs or the Blackhawks win big, the whole city jumps on the bandwagon. And though this makes it feel like everyone in the city is suddenly your best friend, it can also be a pain when you’re trying to get to an appointment in the middle of a post-game traffic jam.
But that’s not all the city has to offer.
So long as you keep an eye on the team schedule, these crowds can be easily avoided. And there are plenty of other ways — concerts, comedy shows, art openings and the like — to keep yourself occupied if you’re part of the “what a sportsball?” crowd.
To be blunt, if you’re bored in Chicago, you’re doing it wrong. This city has got you covered.