Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Living in Chicago

I moved here 6 years ago and bought a condo four years ago. I live in Oak Park, right across the street from Chicago proper. The weather here sucks 4 to 6 months out of the year, the public transportation that people rave about is dirty, old, and the majority of people who ride the train are not professionals. It’s expensive and property values just tanked. Racial integration here is a joke compared to Los Angeles (where I lived for 17 years before moving…I’m white). I grew up in WI and thought I wanted to be closer to my family. I need to move. Just an fyi to those considering a move to Chicago. The people are nice though.

Sent by Shirley from Chicago

7 Responses to “Living in Chicago”

  1. Libby Says:

    So why do you stay? You sound miserable! There has to be more than just nice people keeping you in Chicago.

  2. Joseph Says:

    I have been living in Chicago for the last 4 years as a journalism student. I am from Orange County/LA, and to say that racial integration there is above par with Chicago, that’s the real joke. I’m Filipino, look Mexican and my name is Hernandez; it’s far easier for me here than LA, where people assume I speak Spanish and immediately raise their speaking voice a decible or two to account for the presumed language barrier.

    Try venturing out to Bucktown/Wicker Park, Pilsen, or Lincoln Square… Real city neighborhoods, as opposed to your suburb. Chicago is a world class city with world class problems… Sure, the CTA isn’t the greatest, but it’s better than LA’s one track Metra, or the buses that take an hour to turn a corner. We’ve got museums, a wonderful park program and more than enough culture.

    “What’s the difference between yogurt and Los Angeles? Yogurt has a live and active culture.” If you don’t like it, leave.

  3. chris Says:

    Born in illinois, lived abroad in 7 different countries, worked in 15 more, speak 4 langiages, etc.
    I love Chicago – a true world class city.
    I love the CTA despite its problems and I am a finance professional.
    I am not completely white, and I find it easy to integrate there.
    Hyde Park is another great neighborhood, besides the others previously mentioned. Heck, I even like Streeterville, South Loop, and parts of the Gold Coast/Near North Side.

    Life is too short. Trust your intuition. If it says to leave Chicago – then by all means do it. Geographical happiness is more important than money. Find your urban niche first, rent for a while, and then settle down. Don’t buy unless you can make a relatively long-term commitment.

    It took me a alot of time, but I found my city finally, and it was not Chicago, although Chicago made the short list.

  4. Louise Says:

    Wow. I think this is a first for me, I have never meet someone who lived in Chicago and didn’t like it. I grew up in Wisconsin (talk about bad weather), lived in Chicago for eight years and I am now living on the south east coast attending graduate school. I CAN’T WAIT TO MOVE BACK TO CHICAGO.

    But don’t take my word for it. Those I’ve known who have visited Chicago always rave about two things. #1- How CLEAN the city is. I didn’t even notice these until so many people visiting started to point it out. #2- When you ask people in Chicago what’s the best area of the city. You will almost always get the same answer, “it’s my neighborhood (Chicago has like 250 of them), it’s my part of Chicago that has the best food, people, things to do.” It’s laughable how people fall in love with this city.

    And one final note. The public transportation is so great and helpful.
    My entire time living in Chicago I never owned a car. I’ll I took was the CTA. Even “professionals” like me commuted.

  5. Jeff Says:


    I relocated back to the Chicago Metro area in 2003 following the IT Bubble Burst. I found the Chicago job market well diversified and solid opporunities in a recovering tech market (i.e. at the time in ‘03). The city is loaded with friendly hard-working folks. Although the weather is challenging its part of living in the northern climes .. get use to it, global warming is coming anyway.

  6. Joe Says:

    Joseph good call on the real neighborhoods of CHicago!! I’ve lived in Lincoln Square for 2 years now and is easily one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city!

  7. chicagosue Says:

    Though I now live in an eastern state of the US, I grew up on the Indiana side of the Chicago metropolitan area. I lived in Gold Coast of Chicago for three years while a student and then for three decades in a western suburban areas in Illinois. My kids attended high school in Oak Park, which has to be reminded that it also is a suburb. I did public health work in low-income neighborhoods of Chicago for twenty five years and have many friends, family, and colleagues still living in or near this wonderful city. I still visit Chicago often, but not frequently enough, as far as I am concerned.

    I think that anyone who finds winter disagreeable shouldn’t live anywhere north of Tulsa, so complaints about Chicago’s weather aren’t logical as it comes with the territory. Chicago’s snow is better any day than eastern ice storms and hurricanes, and I prefer Chicago’s climate to the bugs, alligators, and scorpions of southern states! Everywhere in the world that I’ve worked or traveled, if people had visited Chicago, they told me how much they had loved their time in Chicago and they always commented on the friendliness of the people and the charm of the city.

    Chicago has so many assets compared to the admitted realities that come with any urban, cosmopolitan city in the US. Chicago’s green spaces, architecture, museums, educational and job opportunities, and sports traditions are just some of the city’s assets. Chicago’s cultural heritage and the neighborhoods’ character are part of its hisotoric charm. And, though structurally old, Chicago’s metropolitan transportation system is enviable compared to the eastern city where I now live, which basically has a few buses.

    While I admit my bias, as Chicago will always be home to me, I think it is regional arrogance when Chicago is compared negatively to cities on the east or west coast. To me, there is nothing quite as wonderful as the Chicago skyline and city’s lakefront with sailing harbors along Lake Michigan, one of the amazing Great Lakes of the world. Add to the mix, great dining variation, active night life, interesting politics, and a terrifically diverse population, I think Chicago measures up well compared to any city of the world – with or without the Olympics!

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