How to adjust as an expat in Chicago?

Chicago - November 4, 2018

Being an expat in Chicago is never easy. Being far away from your hometown comes at a certain price. You may be scared, nervous, not knowing what to do first. However, you shouldn’t feel like that. Chicago is a place that welcomes new people and it will be easy for you to adjust. Just follow our simple guide on how to adjust as an expat in Chicago and be ready to call this city – your new home.

Things you should know before moving to Chicago

Of course, you want to be prepared before you move to a new city. That’s why we offer you some basic things you should be aware of before coming to the Windy City.

Costs of living/renting a place

The first thing you need to do is to find a place to live in. Chicago offers a lot, at reasonable prices, compared to some other big cities, like NYC. For a one-bedroom apartment, you will have to pay 1000-1300$, which is not cheap, but it is much cheaper than some other cities in the country.

Money, a pen and paper
You should know the costs of living in Chicago

However, if you plan on staying here for a long time – you should consider buying a home. The prices are around the national average of 200,000$. The utilities’ price is also around the national average and cheaper than some popular cities in the country. After finding a home, be sure to find a reputable moving company to help you move.


The state of Illinois pays their taxes high – it’s second most expensive tax system in the country when talking about properties. Income taxes have a flat rate of 5%. So do your math. Feel like moving here is too expensive? Read our guide on how to cut moving expenses and save some money.


With summertime temperatures around 25 degrees C, you may think Chicago weather is quite nice. However, as an expat in Chicago, you should be prepared for the winter months. Winters can be pretty harsh and cold in Chicago, so you need to be prepared. That means that you need to upgrade your wardrobe with some new layers of clothing, boots, an umbrella, etc. Furthermore, if you have a car – be sure to have some snow brushes and other winter equipment on hand.

Extra tip – if you want to adjust as an expat in Chicago, and you want to do it fast – accept the weather as it is, as soon as possible. Natives are bored with “I’m too cold” stories from people coming to the city.


Chicago offers a lot of choices when it comes to having fun. However, some of them are not exactly cheap. So, you may want to check some free attractions in the city that will help you meet some new people and adjust as an expat in Chicago.

Adjusting to the city

Depending on where you come from, moving to Chicago can be a sort of a culture shock for you.  Some new vibes and a fresh atmosphere can be exciting, but also scary. You may not know how to deal with the culture shock or how to adjust as an expat in Chicago. You shouldn’t worry. People in Chicago are very friendly and welcoming, you will not have any troubles meeting new friends or being discriminated as a foreigner. You should just relax and go out, take as many social opportunities as you can, and become part of the city.

The negative side

Of course, one negative side of Chicago is definitely cold winter weather. If you come from a warm place, this may be a shock, or maybe a bit depressing for you. However, you should accept it and find a way to deal with it. One option is visiting someplace warm – Florida, for example, is just a two-hour flight away. Once the winter goes away, the city wakes up, so you can enjoy many festivals, going to the beach on the lake, etc.

Winter in Chicago - hard on any expat in Chicago
Cold weather may be something you will have to accept as an expat in Chicago

Meeting new friends

One may worry about meeting new people when they move to Chicago. You shouldn’t be nervous about it, though. There are many ways to do it. If you have a job, feel free to ask your co-workers out for a drink. Furthermore, if you are a parent, you will definitely meet other parents at your children’s school. People are very friendly and communicative, so you shouldn’t have any problems there.

Want to adjust as an expat in Chicago – go shopping!

One way to meet the city and adjust to it is going shopping. Luckily, Chicago offers a first-class shopping experience. Way to start is definitely along Michigan Avenue, but there are also Oak Street and State street to spend some dollars in. One more thing to do when you move to Chicago is to go around your neighborhood and explore. See what are the local shops and meet your neighbors there.

Choose a sport team

One way to adjust to life in Chicago is through sports. Cheering for a favorite team is in your best interest since people here love sports and their teams. As an expat in Chicago, you will enjoy seeing its professional teams like Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls or Chicago Blackhawks.

Person holding a Chicago Cubs hat
Cheering for a sports team is one way to adjust as an expat in Chicago

Decided to move to Chicago?

If you decided to move to Chicago we can only say – congratulations! You will love it here and feel like a native once you meet the city and its culture. Wherever you are moving from, Wolley Movers offers you professional moving services. You need to start packing your things and preparing for your move. Our advice is to start on time and let professionals help you.

Professional movers know what is the best and easiest way to move your items with a minimal risk of damage and delay. So, as an expat in Chicago, you want your move to go as smoothly as possible, so you can start your new life chapter the right way.

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