Moving to Chicago? Here’s what you need to know

 Are you Windy City-bound? Lucky you! Stunning beaches, incredible restaurants, world-class theatre and music: There’s a reason why Illinois’ biggest city breeds lifetime residents. At CONLON / Christie’s International Real Estate, we’ve helped thousands of Chicagoans—old and new alike—settle into our region’s fabulous properties. Call it Midwestern hospitality, but we want you to love Chicago as much as we do. Here’s some advice we’ve curated to help you make a successful transition. 

Neighborhoods reign: Chicago is a city of neighborhoods: CONLON / Christie’s can help introduce you to over 70 distinct communities. How different are Wilmette and Bronzeville? (Very.) Where’s the best Vietnamese? (Uptown.) How can you find affordable lake access? (Look North and South of the Loop.) Neighborhoods are often tight knit. We can help give you the lay of the land. 

Transportation is flexible: Don’t love driving? You don’t have to! Between the El local trains, the Metra commuter trains, buses, bikes, and taxis, you can easily navigate without a personal vehicle. Many people do! Be sure to check out the Divvy bikeshare program. And when the weather is nice, explore Chicago’s unique Water Taxi system, which delivers riders by boat along the city’s waterways. One popular Water Taxi journey takes passengers from the heart of the Loop to Chinatown and back.

If you do choose to get behind the wheel, here’s some good news: unlike some older cities that developed haphazardly, Chicago grew along a plan. Our streets are gridded: north-south streets have names, and east-west streets have numbers. Our counting system radiates from one intersection in the Loop, so you always know how far north or south of downtown you are. If you want to navigate with a local’s confidence, get to know the grid. It only takes a minute to learn, and a lifetime to feel great about.

The weather requires preparedness: The climate around here rewards planning ahead. As beautiful and easy as summer can be, smart residents make a habit of checking the weather for the occasional rainstorm or strong winds. But it’s winter that truly differentiates the newcomers from the old hats. You need wool socks. You need a quality winter coat. You’ll see a lot of goose down parkas around these parts. They’re stylish, yes, but they’re also necessary.

Our food is the best: Earlier this summer, Condé Nast Traveler named Chicago “the best restaurant city in America right now.” Whether you’re looking for cheap eats or molecular gastronomy, you’ll find something to please your palate. Of-the-moment favorites include Table, Donkey and Stick (Alpine), Giant (New American), and Parachute (Korean-American). Standbys include Pequod’s deep dish pizza and Mr. Beef’s no-frills Italian Beef. And tucked into neighborhoods across the city, you’ll find stunning mom-and-pop shops representing the best from Polish to Ethiopian to Vietnamese. 

At CONLON / Christie’s International Real Estate, we love offering a helping hand as visitors get to know Chicago. Our staff will happily share their personal secrets for maximizing the Windy City’s pleasures—their favorite neighborhoods, train lines, festivals, and restaurants. Once you unpack your boxes, stroll through your new neighborhood. Take the El to another side of the city. Check out a block party. Most importantly, meet your new neighbors! It’s the Chicago way.

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