Moving from St Louis to Chicago

I’ll be moving from the St. Louis area to downtown Chicago in about five weeks for school. I’ve only ever been to Chicago once, and even then, we weren’t in the city much. What tips would you guys have for a country girl that’ll be moving right to the heart of the city?

Get some good walking shoes. This is a walking town.

And don’t wear your Cardinals paraphernalia in Wrigleyville unless you are ready for some spirited conversation!..TRM

Oh I’m a Cardinals fan proud and true lol. I’m ready to get some crap, but it’ll be sent right back. I’m not worried about that lol

This would be a good topic for the Master to take up. In the meantime, however, we’re interested in hearing what the Teeming Millions have to say.

Learn the Chicago grid system. Trust me, it’ll be a lifesaver.

In short – Madison runs east and west and divides the city into the North Side and the South Side. State Street runs north and south and is the east-west dividing line.

An address corresponds to how far it is from Madison or State. For example, if an address begins 200 North, it’s two city blocks north of Madison…and for every 800, it’s a mile (except for part of the south side).

Also, learn the L system. If you ride it every day, get a 30-day pass; it’ll save you money.

Oh…and something I’ve observed…the more casual you dress, the less likely you’ll be panhandled in and around the Loop. My office dress code is business-casual, and I’d have to swat at panhandlers like flies. (Not that I’m a jerk - I literally do not carry cash.) But during the summer, when we don’t deal with clientele, we’re very casual – we can come in dressed in jeans’n’t-shirt…haven’t been hassled once!

As a footnote to the grid system, get used to people saying “block” when they mean “eighth of a mile.” If you walk from 2000 North to 2300 North, a Chicagoan is likely to call that “three blocks,” even though you may well cross six streets along the way.

Yeah, I’m most nervous about the bus system. That’s what I’ll be taking to school and work. The school provides all full time students with passes for all public transit, but I’m more worried about learning the system lol

The CTA website is pretty easy to use ( and has a decent route planner. And their bus-tracker is incredibly accurate. I use it from my smart phone and it is correct to the minute when a bus will pass a certain stop.

As a former Chicagoan who doesn’t drive, I can honestly say that I never had any trouble getting around inside the city on public transit (the suburbs were a bit trickier, especially on the weekends). Downtown is particularly easy since all of the rail lines feed into it and most of them interconnect in some way.

As a self-proclaimed “country girl,” you’ll either love the urban-ness of the city forever and ever or you’ll get homesick after the newnewss of everything wears off and the mundane drudgery of the city start popping up (waiting for the bus, getting caught in the rain with no umbrella, etc. etc.).

Just keep everything in perspective, keep your spirits up even on a bad day and explore, explore, explore.

(and though statistically you’d probably have to live in Chicago for hundreds of years before something bad happens to you, be aware of your surroundings if you happen to be walking alone.)