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30 Things You Need To Know About Living In Chicago

Sure, living in Chicago is all fun and games—until someone puts ketchup on a hot dog.

Kris Norton

144 articles, 0 comments

1. Your Neighborhood Defines You

chicago-theater-on-state-street

Source: Flickr user Tim Reed

Despite the numerous changes and facelifts the city has seen over the years, the backbone of Chicago is still its neighborhoods.

Residents are fiercely loyal to their area and everyone will be able to guess your demographics from your income level down to the beer you drink based on where you live.

2. Be Nice

smiling-people-at-a-party

Source: Navy Pier Facebook

Manhattan is always so quick to remind Chicago that the two cities don’t compare. So let’s clarify the biggest difference: you won’t find that self-important attitude here in Chicago.

They’re proud to be the third largest city in the country but no one feels the need to brag. People are nice here so check any attitude at O’Hare.

3. Pay The Extra For The Good Umbrella

umbrella-in-trash-can-on-city-street

Source: Flickr user Aaronth

On a rainy and windy day, you won’t walk a block without finding a mangled umbrella haphazardly discarded in a trash can. Invest in an umbrella with wind vents, they’re worth every penny in this city.

4. But That “Windy City” Name Has Nothing To Do With The Wind

inigo-montoya-meme-do-not-think-you-know-what-chicago-style-politics-means

Source: Meme Generator

It’s a common misconception but it’s actually in reference to the political climate in the city. And yes, everyone in Chicago knows it’s a circus.

5. And No One Calls It Chi-Town

chi-town-graffiti

Source: Image Shack

Unless they’re trying to be ironic, of course. But even then it’s not all that popular.

6. Chicago Has Beaches

crowd-on-lake-michigan-beach

Source: Flickr user Chicago Fire Rec Soccer

Just because you’re in a major city in the Midwest doesn’t mean you’ll never see a beach. Lake Michigan might not be an ocean, but it looks remarkably like one and you don’t have to worry about jellyfish or getting salt in your eyes.

No matter where you are in Chicago, you can be at the beach in 15 minutes.

7. Navy Pier Is For Tourists

carnival-swing-ride

Source: Navy Pier Facebook

You’ll go once and realize that’s more than enough. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater located there is the notable exception, so good it’s worth the crowds.

8. The Look Of Chicago Never Gets Old

couple-looking-at-cloud-gate-bean

Source: Millennium Park Facebook

The art and architecture of Chicago alone will make you truly proud to live here. And yes, it’s a giant mirrored bean. Because why not?

9. Respect Sidewalk And Escalator Etiquette

o-hare-terminal-c-walkway

Source: Flickr user N I C O L A

Keep sidewalks flowing in a standard traffic pattern by staying to the right and avoiding abrupt stops. On escalators, stand on the right and move on the left. It’s courteous.

10. Don’t Believe All That Ketchup Hype

ad-against-ketchup-on-hot-dogs

Source: Flickr user Greg Dunlap

You will see signs and hear rumors that putting ketchup on a world-famous Chicago dog is a crime so heinous, you’ll be excommunicated.

But the truth is, you’re free to use ketchup on whatever food you’d like, including hot dogs. Is it weird? Well, yeah. Will people stare? Probably.

11. But Cheese Goes With Everything

graffiti-urkel-painting-cheese-matters

Source: Flickr user Benjamin Lipman

Did I say the backbone to Chicago is the neighborhoods? I was wrong. It’s cheese. Glorious, glorious cheese. It can be put on everything and no meal is complete without it.

12. There Is No Such Thing As Spring Or Fall

people-bundled-up-on-snowy-street-corner-blizzard

Source: Flickr user Ariceli Arroyo

If you believe the calendar, you’d think that winter starts in late December and ends in March. Keep dreaming!

Winter begins in mid-October and lasts through April in Chicago, so give up any plans for skimpy outdoor Halloween costumes and don’t be surprised if your Easter egg hunt gets snowed out.

13. You’ll Gain 10 Pounds Every Winter

checking-weight-scale

Source: Flickr user Jodi Green

Don’t let it make you feel bad, everyone does. The food is delicious and the temperatures are cold. You’ll shed it when the ground thaws out and you’re back outside again like everyone else.

14. Chicago’s King Sits On A Cooler Filled With Tamales

fresh-tamales

Source: Big Girl Small Kitchen

Lesser known than their hot dogs and deep dish, Chicago does tamales better than anywhere else this side of Mexico.

And if you see a man appear out of nowhere with nothing but a cooler filled with tamales, bow down. That’s The Tamale Guy and things are about to get delicious.

15. Chicago Pizza Isn’t Just Deep Dish

thin-crust-pizza-cooking

Source: Armitage Pizza Facebook

To many people’s surprise, there are plenty of thin crust options around including traditional and square-cut tavern style.

You can keep the comparisons to New York pizza to yourself, though. No one here is competing, they’re too busy stuffing their faces with awesome pizza.

16. But OMG, The Deep Dish!

fresh-deep-dish-pizza

Source: Navy Pier Facebook

There’s a reason why Chicago is known for their deep dish. Not only did it start here, but there’s nowhere else that will ever blow your mind this hard.

Grab the utensils, though, because deep dish is a legitimate meal.

17. You Don’t Need A Car

l-station-from-train

Source: Wikipedia

By El, bus, or train, the CTA will take you around every corner of the city that you need to be. Granted, it’s outdated, you’ll meet some interesting characters on your journeys, and you’ll probably be late, but you will get there.

18. If You Have A Car, Get Used To Tickets

orange-parking-ticket

Source: Debt Stoppers

Finding parking will become the bane of your existence in Chicago and parking tickets will be routine. But, your parallel parking game will reach gold medal status.

19. No, You’re Not The Only One Who Gets Nervous Looking At This

cars-parked-in-chicago-parking-deck

Source: My Dinner Table

Speaking of parking, you’ll undoubtedly have many Final Destination style thoughts whenever you see the Chicago Parking Deck, no matter how long you live here. You’re not the only one.

20. Respect The Buskers

puppet-bike

Source: Puppet Bike Facebook

Chicago has some really great street performers. When you have a minute to spare, stop and watch, give them a clap, and then give them a little spare cash–especially if it’s Puppet Mike with his Puppet Bike.

21. Cubs Or Sox, Make Your Choice

map-showing-cubs-white-sox-fans-geography

Source: New York Times

The Chicago Cubs or The White Sox. You don’t have to be a native to cheer for the home team, but you have to pick one and stick to it.

You can’t have both. If you can’t decide, use the map to make your choice.

22. There’s No Point In Mentioning Anyone’s Accent

mouth-words-spelled-in-chicago-accent

Source: wbez.com

You have a better shot finding someone in Chicago who cheers for the Yankees than finding someone who admits that they have even the slightest hint of an accent.

23. Pass On The Chains

hero-coffee-bar-sign

Source: HERO Coffee Facebook

If you want to be a true Chicagoan, then give your cash to the little guys, not the big chains. Pass on Starbucks and try one of the many awesome coffee shops here like HERO, Bad Wolf, Wormhole and more.

24. Watch Out For The Bikes

bike-lane-on-city-street

Source: Flickr user JenRene Owens You Are So Beautiful Photography

Chicago has worked really hard in building a system for cyclists to get around the roads and the two-wheeled community is growing. But, it definitely makes the roadways crowded. Keep a look out, especially while parking and opening your car doors.

25. Your Cabbie Doesn’t Want Your Card

woman-getting-into-cab

Source: Flickr user Colleen Kelly

Don’t believe the cab driver who is yelling at you that he only takes cash, even when you’re staring at a credit card machine. He’ll probably even tell you that it’s broken. It’s all a big sham.

But if you know you’re going to be taking a cab and don’t feel like dealing with the hassle, carry cash.

26. The Truth About The South Side

people-holding-hands-in-a-circle

Source: The Wild 100’s Chicago South Side Facebook

Don’t take your Chicago geographical advice from the news or a few TV shows that will have you believing that Chicago’s South Side is nothing short of the gateway to hell. It’s just not true.

There are plenty of places you can go in the South Side that are good, just as there are some West Side areas that aren’t.

27. Michael Jordon Wins Life

michael-jordan-defense

Source: Michael Jordan Chicago bulls Facebook

Perhaps the greatest athlete of all time, Michael Jordan is legend. And Chicago is proud to claim him as their own.

28. John Belushi > Jim Belushi

jim-belushi-holding-cigar-paparazzi

Source: YouTube

Just know that John Belushi love runs strong. Jim Belushi hate runs even stronger.

29. You’ll Get An Education In Polish

four-shots-of-malort-liqueur

Source: Food Republic

Chicago has a large Polish population and the bars here are a popular destination. You’ll learn that “zimne piwo” is Polish for “cold beer” fast.

But if you’re not a heavy weight and someone offers you a shot of Malort, walk away.

30. How To Say The Street Names

paulina-brown-line-stop

Source: Chiacgo-L

If you want to blend in, don’t pronounce Paulina like the female name. It’s “Paul-eye-nuh.” Likewise, Devon is “Dev-on” and Throop is pronounced like “Chroop.” No one said it makes sense, that’s just the way it is.

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posted on: September 21, 2015
72,043 views, 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Ced

    You have a good lists Kris. My wife and I are planning to have a vacation in Chicago and this article will be helpful to us!

 

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