Mention a move to Chicago, IL, and you might elicit warnings about the Windy City’s epic winters, the ongoing Cubs/White Sox feud, or locals’ utter refusal to garnish their hot dogs with ketchup. Then again, you’re just as likely to hear about its world-class architecture, cultural institutions like The Art Institute and Steppenwolf Theatre, and the perfect summers that make those winter months so worth it. And with so many people feeling a bit of real estate sticker shock in cities like San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY, it’s no surprise that more and more people are choosing Chicago as an affordable option for big-city living.
To find out what makes this Midwestern city so special, we spoke with two locals about what being a Chicagoan means to them. Homeowner Kim Vargo has lived in Chicago for 10 years with her husband, Scott. The duo chronicles their DIY journey from first apartment rental to current dream home at Yellow Brick Home. “Before we bought our house, we didn’t think Chicago would be our forever home,” says Vargo. “But then every time we went somewhere else, we realized we always thought, ‘Oh, Chicago has this too,’ or ‘Chicago has this better….’ Whether it was food or nature, we just realized we couldn’t live anywhere else.” Photographer and designer Nathan Michael credits Chicago for the creative and community support that has helped grow his business.
Here are seven things to know before you go, from these two locals who have made the move and do plan to take off their coats and stay awhile.