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The Curbed Chicago moving guide

Everything you need to know to make the city your home

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.

▸ Should you move to Chicago?

Considering settling down in the city set against the backdrop of Lake Michigan? Here’s a primer to help you make the decision, including what the winters are really like, whether Midwestern friendliness is real, and all the free things you can do in our 600 parks.

Find your neighborhood

▸ How to pick a neighborhood

First, learn the layout of Chicago—there’s more to the city than the lakefront—and then figure out what’s most important to you.

▸ Where to live if you’d rather buy than rent

Renting in Chicago is more popular than ever before, but there are still some neighborhoods where buying a home is worth your consideration.

▸ The Chicago renters’ guide

From setting a budget to finding deals, here’s everything you need to know about renting an apartment in the city.

▸ The best websites for renting an apartment in Chicago

Looking for the perfect rental? Start here.

Settle in

▸ 10 renters’ rights your landlord doesn’t want you to know

Here’s what Chicago residents should learn about evictions, security deposits, and housing laws.

▸ Tips for fixing anything in your neighborhood

Get the city to take care of potholes, abandoned bikes, and dirty streets.

▸ How your neighborhood got its name

A failed gunrunner, squealing hogs, and goats gave us Streeterville, Canaryville, and Bucktown.

A corner of a bedroom. There are two arm chairs with a red table that holds a vase with flowers. There are multiple framed works of art hanging on the white wall. Against the other wall is a wall of wooden storage cabinets. There is a multi-colored patter

Get inspired

▸ Feast your eyes on Curbed’s favorite Chicago apartment tours

From Robert A. M. Stern’s Deco One Bennett Park to Jeanne Gang’s angular Solstice on the Park, check out these gorgeous buildings.

▸ A West Loop loft gets a tailored remodel

From surface flash to thoughtful design.

▸ This grand Wicker Park home started as a 19th-century carriage house

Architects turn a “rare find” into a modern dwelling in a historic neighborhood.

▸ Two architects turn an 1889 factory into their home and studio in the South Loop

Right next to the L.