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Old 09-30-2010, 11:42 PM
 
16 posts, read 24,493 times
Reputation: 18

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Hey everyone,


I've been browsing this forum for years, never made a post or an account until now.

I currently live in New York City (Brooklyn to be specific, very different environment than Manhattan) and will be leaving next year. Prior to this, I lived in Portland, Oregon and I'm currently looking at Chicago as my next city (and hopefully settling for quite some time).

I like living in a dense city, I like the idea of not having a car and using subways, walking to most places, etc. It seems Chicago can provide me with this, from my last trip to Chicago, it seems it's a much cleaner and prettier city than New York. I currently live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I'm heavily involved with the indie music and art scene, I hear Chicago has a strong one as well.

I keep reading on this forum that Chicago is expensive and has high taxes, I'm not sure about property taxes, but I'm paying almost 10% combined city and state income tax, as opposed to 3% in Chicago. I have the budget of a little only lady, so sales taxes don't bother me much. I'm sure Chicago is more expensive than other places, but for me, it's a steal. The weather doesn't bother me either, I've always been fond to the cold.

I've read several times that Chicago is nothing like Manhattan, I like the sound of that. I like the the diverse culture of Brooklyn but I avoid Manhattan at all costs. It's too crowded, loud, angry and depressing. I like density but Manhattan is a bit much.

I know Chicago has corruption, so does the US government, I've just learned to look away, pay my taxes and vote every few years.

Here's where I'm debating this city, I keep hearing mixed things about the job market. I currently have a BA in communications, very diverse and good resume and I'm a great worker with a good image. Once moving to my next city, I will be getting my MBA. I know the job market stinks at the moment, it does everyone, I understand this. I'm curious about Chicago's job market over the past 10 years and the next 10 years. I know unemployment has always been kind of high there, but there also is a lot of poverty and a low percentage of college graduates when compared to NYC, DC, Boston, San Fran and Seattle.

I know some people on this forum will say there are no jobs available if they are unable to find something over $75,000 a year. I currently make $40,000 in NYC and I'm very happy. I have zero debt except for student loans (which I never missed a payment on), pay rent on time, go out to eat when I want, travel 3 times a year, pay for all of my hobbies, put 5% of my paycheck into my 401k and 10-25% into my savings depending on the month.

How is the work culture in Chicago? In Portland I was considered a workaholic If I did an hour of overtime during the week, in New York if I don't work 70 hours a week and don't answer e-mails at 2am, I'm considered lazy. I'm looking for a nice balance, I know the Midwest is known for a strong work ethic with strong views on a healthy family, is this balance likely in Chicago? I'm looking for a city to call home, hopefully one day buy a condo, get involved with a great community and make great friends. I'm an unmarried male in my mid 20's. I don't plan on having children nor having a big lifestyle change in the near future, I'm very happy on my current budget.


Any advice would be very helpful.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:12 AM
 
Location: Chicago
4,684 posts, read 9,712,692 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisacup View Post

How is the work culture in Chicago? In Portland I was considered a workaholic If I did an hour of overtime during the week, in New York if I don't work 70 hours a week and don't answer e-mails at 2am, I'm considered lazy. I'm looking for a nice balance, I know the Midwest is known for a strong work ethic with strong views on a healthy family, is this balance likely in Chicago? I'm looking for a city to call home, hopefully one day buy a condo, get involved with a great community and make great friends. I'm an unmarried male in my mid 20's. I don't plan on having children nor having a big lifestyle change in the near future, I'm very happy on my current budget.


Any advice would be very helpful.
Chicago sounds like a pretty good fit for you. As to the work culture, obviously it varies more by company. But in general I'd say Chicago would settle comfortably in the middle between your experiences in Portland and NYC.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
818 posts, read 2,080,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdiddy View Post
Chicago sounds like a pretty good fit for you. As to the work culture, obviously it varies more by company. But in general I'd say Chicago would settle comfortably in the middle between your experiences in Portland and NYC.
I would agree, and take that a step further and say the overall culture in Chicago falls somewhere in between. Not nearly as relaxed as Portland, but not as fast paced as New York.

Chicago is definitely cheaper to live in than New York, especially Manhattan. One of the things I would say is different, though, is that while it is quite possible to live in Chicago without a car, there are somewhat less options than in New York. Only two train lines, the red line and blue line, and a few busses run 24/7. While NYC has some trains to suburbs (LIRR Main Branch, etc.) that run 24/7, none of the trains in Chicago (METRA) do. While New York has frequent trains to Hartford, Boston, Albany, Philadelphia, and DC, there are only two train lines with more than 1 or 2 options a day here- one that goes to Milwaukee, and one that goes to Saint Louis. That, and certain outdoor activities that require a car anyways, would be the main things you'd be giving up.

As far as job market goes, Chicago seems to be faring a bit better than the Midwest as a whole, but not as well as some cities like Dallas and Seattle that seem to have weathered the recession/ economic downturn of the last few years quite well. I'd put it middle of the road to slightly better on a National scale given these economic times, but still quite tough by historic standards.
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 30,404,441 times
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I would agree with what others have said on here. Whenever there is a discussion of Chciago being expensive, it's always with the same old caveat: Unless you're from the coasts. If you're living happily in NY on 40K, you will be fine here. I did internal communications for a national laboratory in the suburbs and made well more than that two years out of college (but my commute sucked -- don't work in the 'burbs!)

If I hadn't had my suburban job, the SO and I probably would have gotten rid of our car and used Zip Car for the occasional weekend shopping trip. The car almost never moved on the weekends.

if you're looking for a big city feel with less of the rat race than you've seen in NY, I think Chicago would be a very good option for you. I'd suggest coming down in the hard-core part of February. New York's winters are really quite mild comparitively.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:47 PM
 
1,728 posts, read 4,538,329 times
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Chicago has far worse winters than the East Coast because of the cold and snow. If you are happy in BKNY on $40K, you will do more than fine in Chicago. Outerlying Chicago neighborhoods are less expensive. If you are into the arts scene, Logan Square toward Wicker Park would serve you well. The economy in Chicago is pretty middle of the road compared to other places, but plan on spending a long time trying to find a job. There are jobs to be had, they just aren't as plentiful as in the past. Public transit is not as available as in NYC. Chicago is more spread out, so a car is an essential for grocery shopping and big box store errands unless you happen to live close by to them. Difference between NYC and Chicago is that we have Target and Walmart in the city and major supermarkets.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:07 PM
 
1,210 posts, read 2,944,846 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisacup View Post
I'm curious about Chicago's job market over the past 10 years and the next 10 years. I know unemployment has always been kind of high there, but there also is a lot of poverty and a low percentage of college graduates when compared to NYC, DC, Boston, San Fran and Seattle.

The job market historically is pretty good. There are a lot of Fortune 500 companies here and some very well known corporations. McDonalds, Sears, Boeing, Walgreens, Exelon, Motorola, Allstate etc have their headquarters here. Chicago also has a lot of jobs in the financial sector, 2nd to only NYC really.

The market at present is getting a lot better. This will depend on what exactly you do, but there are definitely jobs. If you are searching for something reasonable, and it sounds like you are, I think you'll be just fine. Once you get your MBA you'll be pretty marketable as well since you have actual experience. Companies like Accenture and Deloitte have a strong presence here and like hiring MBAs.

Unemployment here does tend to be higher, but I really think that's more due to the poverty in the really poor areas of the city. College graduates and skilled professionals have plenty of opportunity, even in this market.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 98,963,911 times
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The key to living an efficient car-free life in Chicago is to live near an L station, particularly on a line that connects to other lines somewhere besides downtown. (The Brown and Red lines are the best for this.) Bus coverage is comprehensive but not particularly speedy. Membership in a car-sharing club such as iGo or Zipar and quick access to a car-sharing parking area is a bonus.
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Old 10-02-2010, 06:04 PM
 
16 posts, read 24,493 times
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Thanks for the advice, aside from the cold, Chicago seems like a good city for me. Nothing is perfect, I'll learn to put up with it. I currently use a zipcar in NYC, it works out well. I'm looking at Wicker Park or Logan Square depending on what deals I can find, an apartment I like, etc.


New York is way too much, most of my friends that have lived here have been pushed out of many apartment due to ridiculous rent increases. Any more advice would be helpful.


Thanks!
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Old 10-02-2010, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 98,963,911 times
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Mash Queens and Staten Island together, throw in a slice of Brooklyn along the shoreline north of downtown and a small chunk of lower Manhattan downtown, and you roughly have Chicago. Oh, and you get it at about a 40% discount. No slow-paced hayseed town but a lot more manageable than NYC.
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:26 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,736,633 times
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You can easily live in Chicago without a car. My sister (a single, middle-aged professional living in Lincoln Park) did so for years, as did all of her friends. It's definitely far more common to be carless (if you're middle-to-upper class, that is) in downtown Chicago than in, say, DC.
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