Renting a one-bedroom apartment in desirable central neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, West Town, and the Near North Side costs between $1,750 and $2,000 per month, according to apartment rental site Zumper. (Zumper also puts the average cost of a one-bedroom in Chicago at slightly higher than Zillow, at $1,670.) Single renters can save by looking for place in further-out neighborhoods like Kenwood, Rogers Park, and Irving Park, where average rents for a one-bedroom are all under $1,000 a month.
Whether you rent or buy you’ll have to pay utilities. According to numbeo.com, a basic utilities package of electricity, heating, water and garbage costs $121.16 in Chicago. If you add internet you’ll pay around $40.14. That’s below the national average of $47.83 and cheaper than internet in the rest of the country’s 10 largest cities.
With the essentials of housing, utilities and transportation covered, that leaves food. According to numbeo.com, a three-course meal for two in a mid-range Chicago restaurant will cost you $65.oo. A meal at an inexpensive Chicago restaurant costs $12. Whether you go fancy or no-frills, you’ll pay a 1.25% additional meals tax in downtown Chicago and a 0.25% meals tax outside of downtown. That’s on top of the state and local sales taxes.
What about taxes? As we mentioned, groceries in Chicago are subject to a 2.25% sales tax on food. That’s rare in the US. Then there’s the restaurant tax to worry about. Oh, and starting in January 2016, sales tax in Cook County will rise to 10.25%.
Plus, Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the nation. The statewide average effective property tax rate is 2.13%. That’s almost twice the national average. When it comes to income taxes, Chicago keeps things simple, though. Illinois has a flat income tax of 5%.
Chicago isn’t lacking in entertainment options. There’s the famous Lollapalooza music festival every summer, the improv institution Second City and, for traditionalists, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the “Big Five” American orchestras.
If you love sports, baseball is a very accessible sport, as cheap seats can often be had for less than the cost of a movie. If you go out out to four Chicago Cubs games, and then enjoy four pints of beer out at a sports bar in Wrigleyville, you can expect this to set you back about $122 a month.
If you love theatre, Chicago is filled with amazing world class productions like the Blue Man Group. Seeing shows like this, and then recounting the evening of entertainment over four cocktails at a hip Chicago nightclub will cost you $344 a month.
Chicago is a city known for its many distinctive neighborhoods. No matter your price point, your social scene, or your living needs, the city offers something for everyone.
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