- Download our Moving to Chicago Guide (PDF)
Tucked between the American heartland and Lake Michigan, Chicago offers a vibrant, multicultural and business-oriented experience in northeastern Illinois. Chicago is America's third-largest city and keeps investing in itself, continuously improving infrastructure and education, and – as expats will notice – courting the world's largest companies to relocate their headquarters to within its windy borders.
Living in Chicago as an expat
New arrivals looking for employment in Chicago will discover a wide range of industries that cater for a variety of specialised fields in the city. With such a diverse job market, newcomers with skills in finance, manufacturing, IT, health services, and transport and distribution shouldn't experience much difficulty when looking for work.
A wide range of accommodation options is available in Chicago, and new arrivals to the city are sure to find something that suits their needs and lifestyle. Fortunately, housing prices in Chicago are also on the lower side compared to other major US cities. There's a wide range of areas and suburbs to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere. Living outside of the city centre is also not a problem, as all areas are well serviced by Chicago's efficient public transport network.
While health insurance is one of the more significant expenses expats will need to account for when moving anywhere in the USA, those relocating to Chicago can rest assured that they will have access to good quality medical services. The city is home to some of the best hospitals in the USA, primarily due to the presence of many medical schools.
Cost of living in Chicago
While the cost of living in Chicago is considerably higher than the national average, it is lower than many other large American cities such as New York City and San Francisco. The high cost of living is also offset by the fact that salaries in Chicago are also higher than the national average.
Families and children in Chicago
Those moving to Chicago with children will be pleased to find that the city offers a solid range of private and international schooling options. Not only that, but the city is incredibly family-friendly and offers plenty of attractions to keep kids busy on the weekends.
Outdoor spaces abound in Chicago, from the shoreline of Lake Michigan to Lincoln Park. There are also numerous waterparks, theme parks and an interactive children's museum where they can spend an afternoon of educational fun.
Climate in Chicago
Weather in Chicago is informed by a humid continental climate with distinct seasonal variations. Summers are warm to hot, often accompanied by high humidity, with average high temperatures peaking in the mid-80s°F (around 30°C). Winters can be harsh, characterised by cold temperatures, snow and the infamous 'lake-effect' snowstorms driven by the nearby Lake Michigan. The city often sees temperatures fall below freezing, with averages in the 20s and 30s°F (-6 to 1°C). Expats from milder climates may require some time to adjust to the city's brisk winter temperatures, but many find the summer's heat and the beauty of the city's four distinct seasons to be worth the winter chill.
For those contemplating a move to Chicago, the city presents an engaging blend of opportunities and lifestyle options. From its diverse job market, wide range of accommodations, high-quality medical services and well-established education system to its family-friendly attractions and unique climate, Chicago indeed has much to offer.
Although it's dubbed the 'Windy City', its charm extends beyond the fresh winds, offering a vibrant living experience that uniquely marries the hustle and bustle of a big city with the warmth and hospitality of the American Midwest. With continuous infrastructure improvements and strategic economic advancements, it's a city that never stops evolving, making it an exciting and dynamic place for newcomers to call home.
►Read about the ups and downs for life in the Windy City in Pros and Cons of Moving to Chicago.
"Chicago has a huge variety of things to do. There are also a lot of ethnic communities and neighbourhoods which makes for a colourful city." Read more about Toni's expat experience in Chicago.
Are you an expat living in Chicago?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Chicago. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.