Throughout its 186-year history, Chicago has proven itself to be tough over and over again. The city burned to the ground in 1871, a tragedy known as the Great Chicago Fire, but we rebuilt it with an ambitious master plan and turned it into the birthplace of the skyscraper. Our winter season is brutal, but that doesn’t stop the hardiest people in the U.S. from moving here—Chicago is the third-largest city in the country. And we slogged through 108 years without the Cubs snagging a championship, the longest drought in sports history, to finally see them win the 2016 World Series.
There’s a sense in the city that we’re all in this together, whether that means cramming into a crowded L train or making it through a dreaded May snowfall. And we all have access to the best parts of Chicago, too: the stunning open lakefront that’s packed with runners and beachgoers in the summer, innovative architecture like the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower and the Brutalist Marina City Towers, and a reliable public transportation system that won’t stress you out during every commute. The realities of living in a big city exist, specifically the gun violence on the South and West sides, segregation across neighborhoods, and a population that’s declining. But the city—which just elected a new mayor, Lori Lightfoot—is working hard to address those problems.
To help you navigate a move to Chicago, we’ve created a guide with everything you need to know about living in the city on Lake Michigan. Consider this your introduction to all Chicago has to offer and how to make the most of it, including how to find the perfect neighborhood to live in, everything you need to know about renting or buying an apartment, and what to do if you have any problems with your new place. As the city’s slogan says, welcome home.