Is Chicago A Cheap State To Live In?

If you’re contemplating a move to the vibrant city of Chicago, chances are you’re curious about its cost of living. The Windy City, renowned for its stunning architecture, diverse neighborhoods, and deep-dish pizza, beckons with its unique charm. But what about the affordability factor? Is Chicago a wallet-friendly place to call home? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Chicago’s cost of living, uncovering the key factors that determine whether it’s a cheap state to live in. Whether you’re a budget-conscious individual or simply seeking to make the most of your hard-earned money, read on to discover the answer to this burning question.

Cost of Living in Chicago

Chicago, known as the “Windy City,” is a vibrant and diverse metropolis that offers a wide range of opportunities for residents and visitors alike. However, before you decide to make Chicago your home, it’s important to understand the cost of living in this dynamic city. From housing to transportation, food to healthcare, this comprehensive article will provide you with an insight into the various factors that contribute to the cost of living in Chicago.


When it comes to housing, Chicago offers a variety of options to suit every budget and lifestyle. Rental costs in Chicago can vary depending on the location, size, and amenities of the property. In popular neighborhoods like downtown or the Gold Coast, you can expect to pay higher rates for apartments. However, if you’re willing to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, you can find more affordable rentals.

For those looking to put down roots and invest in their own property, home buying in Chicago is an option worth considering. The city provides an array of home types, from charming historic houses to modern condos. The cost of buying a home in Chicago is influenced by factors such as location, size, and condition of the property. While prices can be high in desirable areas, there are also more affordable options available in up-and-coming neighborhoods.


Public transportation in Chicago is renowned for its efficiency and accessibility. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates an extensive network of buses and trains, providing a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. The fares for public transportation in Chicago are relatively inexpensive compared to other major cities, making it an attractive option for daily commuting or exploring the city.

Alternatively, if you prefer the convenience of owning a car, Chicago offers a well-developed infrastructure and ample parking options. However, the cost of car ownership includes expenses such as insurance, maintenance, and parking fees. Gas prices in Chicago are influenced by various factors, including global oil prices and local taxes. While they can fluctuate, it’s important to consider these costs when budgeting for transportation.


Chicago is a food lover’s paradise, with a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes and budgets. The cost of groceries in Chicago can vary depending on where you shop and the quality of the items. Supermarkets and grocery stores in the city offer a wide range of products, from affordable basics to gourmet options. By comparison, dining out in Chicago can range from budget-friendly neighborhood eateries to world-class fine dining establishments.

In addition to traditional grocery stores, Chicago boasts an abundance of farmers markets. These markets not only provide fresh and locally sourced produce but also offer a unique shopping experience. Supporting local farmers and artisans while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of these markets is a great way to enhance your culinary experiences in the city.


When it comes to utilities, Chicago residents have access to reliable services. Electricity providers offer competitive rates, allowing residents to power their homes without breaking the bank. Water bills in Chicago are calculated based on usage, and the city has implemented measures to conserve water. Additionally, high-speed internet is widely available throughout the city, enabling residents to stay connected and enjoy seamless online experiences.


Access to quality healthcare is a crucial consideration for any potential resident. Chicago is home to numerous reputable hospitals, clinics, and medical centers, ensuring that residents have access to a wide range of healthcare services. When it comes to health insurance, options vary depending on your employment status and individual needs. It’s important to research the different insurance providers and plans available to find the best fit for you and your family.

In terms of medical services, Chicago’s healthcare landscape is diverse and comprehensive. From primary care physicians to specialists, the city offers a wide range of healthcare providers to cater to various needs. Additionally, the pharmaceutical industry in Chicago is robust, with numerous pharmacies and drugstores throughout the city. It’s important to consider the cost of prescription medications when budgeting for your healthcare needs.

Job Market in Chicago

Before deciding to relocate to Chicago, it’s essential to consider the job market and potential employment opportunities. Chicago has a diverse economy, with major industries including finance, manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and tourism. The city is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and serves as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The unemployment rate in Chicago, like in any major city, can fluctuate depending on various factors, including global economic conditions. However, the city offers a wide range of job opportunities across various sectors, enabling residents to explore different career paths and industries. Average salaries in Chicago can vary depending on the occupation and level of experience, but the city generally offers competitive compensation packages.

Education in Chicago

For families considering a move to Chicago, education is a significant factor to consider. The city offers a mix of public and private school options, catering to students of all ages. Public schools in Chicago are operated by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, which strive to provide quality education to a diverse student population. Additionally, Chicago is home to a wide range of private schools, offering specialized curriculum and smaller class sizes.

Higher education is also well-represented in Chicago, with numerous colleges and universities located throughout the city. Tuition costs for college and universities vary depending on the institution and program of study. Financial aid and scholarships are available to eligible students, providing opportunities to pursue higher education without excessive financial burden.

Entertainment and Recreation

Living in Chicago means you’ll never run out of things to do and see. The city is renowned for its vibrant arts and culture scene, offering numerous museums, theaters, and art galleries. From the world-famous Art Institute of Chicago to the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, there are endless opportunities for cultural exploration.

Chicago is also home to numerous theaters, showcasing a wide variety of productions ranging from Broadway shows to experimental performances. Additionally, the city is passionate about sports, with major professional teams such as the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks entertaining fans year-round. Attending sporting events is a popular pastime for many residents.

Quality of Life in Chicago

When considering a potential move to Chicago, it’s important to evaluate the overall quality of life. Chicago has made significant strides in recent years to enhance safety throughout the city, with lower crime rates recorded in many neighborhoods. However, like any major city, it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.

The cultural diversity and vibrancy of Chicago contribute to its unique atmosphere. The city embraces diversity, and residents have the opportunity to experience and celebrate different cultures through events, festivals, and community organizations. Furthermore, Chicago experiences all four seasons, providing a range of weather conditions throughout the year. From hot summers to snowy winters, the city offers a variety of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts.

In conclusion, while Chicago may not be considered a cheap city to live in, it offers a multitude of benefits and opportunities that make it an attractive place to call home. By considering factors such as housing, transportation, food, utilities, healthcare, job opportunities, education, entertainment, and the overall quality of life, you can make an informed decision about whether Chicago is the right fit for you. Remember to weigh the pros and cons, evaluate your personal preferences, and consider your budget when considering a move to this vibrant city.