Pros and Cons of Life In Chicago

I put this here because there’s no “factual” answer.

One of the places I’m hoping to matriculate to is the University of Chicago. Assuming I were to be accepted, what would be the selling points, and turn offs of the Windy City?
(In case it’s relevant, I’m from Long Island, New York)

Hmmm, I can’t speak for living downtown, but I grew up in the Chicago 'burbs, lived there 25 years.

Ups: the lakeshore can be just gorgeous in spring/summer. Lotsa neat nightlife & interesting neighborhoods to live in near downtown and points further (although since I haven’t done so, perhaps others can speak to this point more thoroughly). The Loop and the near north side have tons of places to shop/eat/drink/etc. TONs of summer festivals on the lakeshore. Decent transit via the El, commuter trains.

Downs: The weather. Winter is atrocious. I’m told its been milder the last few years, but it was once not uncommon to have a week or more at a time when it didn’t get above -10F. Not nearly so much snow as NY, though. Just bitter cold. Summers are muggy, spring/fall is wonderful, and if you live by the Lake its warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, so do that if you can.

Oh, yeah:

The Art Institute of Chicago (downtown on Michigan Ave in Grant Park) is world-class. I’m told the new stuff added to the Shedd Aquarium in the last decade is amazing, but haven’t seen it personally.

Also not to miss is the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum (natural history, the Dino stuff is killer), both close by Soldier Field, home of Da Bears.

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was leading edge when I was young, looking long-in-the-tooth last I saw it (hmmm, much like the Smithsonian Air and Space these days).

Zoos: Brookfield in the SW 'burbs, and Lincoln Park, near north side. Haven’t to either since I was a kid, no review.


Its urban, but not as expensive at NYC.

Tons of culture, the museum campus is a great way to kill a weekend.

Good music and storefront theatre scenes, if yr into that sort of thing,

great food,

generally a pretty friendly lil’ burb

if you stay close to downtown or the lake, public transportation is pretty solid.

Spring and fall are great, and absolutely beautiful!!!


Summer and winter kinda suck. This winter was unbelievably mild but last winter it was 20 degrees of ass cold for about two months straight.

If you are anywhere other than near the red line or downtown, publi transportaion is less reliable, and not all that well thought out IMHO (i know others will take issue with this, but i’ve waited an hour for the Clark bus too many time to write it off as isolated)

if you are used to NYC, you may find that the neighborhoods are a little spread out. Its too congested to be a car city, but it doesn’t have that NYC vibe where everything you could ever want is within walking distance.
did I mention winter sucks?

seriously though, I love it here. going on 5 years now and can’t think of anyplace else I’d rather live.

'cept maybe Las Vegas again

Resident of the burbs but I work downtown.


  • Public transportation is excellent compared to most cities, at least for getting around downtown and for commuting to and from the burbs. (Getting around in the burbs is another matter.)
  • Clean! Especially with Mayor Daley’s recent ‘beautification’ initiatives.
  • Neat lakeshore, especially the bike/skate paths.
  • People are pretty friendly for it being a big city, contrary to the general impressions (and sometimes experiences) of big cities. One thing I’ve heard mentioned is that we’re still Midwesterners, after all.
  • Restaurants - If you want just about any kind of food, you can find it here. You won’t find as good of deals on seafood as in various coastal regions of the US, but beef will be cheaper. Lots of variety, and some superb restaurants that easily compete with the top ones in New York, etc.
  • Seconding (thirding, whatever) the mentions of the cultural attractions. More museums than I can remember, great dance troupes, some wonderful theatre groups (Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Second City, and others I’m remiss at not mentioning).
  • Fairly safe. Obviously there are some ‘bad’ areas but the majority of the downtown isn’t really anything to worry about.


  • Weather can suck, yes. The last winter and summer weren’t bad, but we had a cold winter a couple years ago, and one summer (was it '97?) we had several hundred deaths related to heat. Spring and fall tend to be alternating 2-3 day periods of warm and cold weather.
  • Long wait at restaurants - If you want to go out to eat for dinner, get used to either waiting a while or making reservations. (At certain very popular restaurants, make the reservations well in advance to have a chance at getting in.) For all the restaurants we have, we have more people who want to go to them.

Sports. You like 'em, we got 'em. Including NFL, NHL, NBA, two almost-professional MLB teams, and one world-class baseball field.

Lots of green space for a city. The public parks are generally well kept and well run, with lots of sports programs and activities.

As long as you stay in the city proper, you can pretty much get anything you need or get to public transportation to get you there within a mile radius. The area directly around the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, is historic and beautiful, and the campus is really nice.

I could go on and on. I love this town.


40,000 restaurants to choose from

Some bars stay open for 24 hours, narrowly escaping liquor laws by ‘closing’ for two hours but selling six packs before then, so you can make it through the dark time.

Cubs, Hawks, Bears

Great museums, shopping

Great Italian Beef Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, Stuffed Pizza, the Berghoff restaurant

If you feel like escaping the city for a day or two you need only hop on the Metra or the El for 15 or 20 minutes to get into greenery and farmland. (Unlike some other big cities which sprawl out for miles)



The Bulls

Taste of Chicago


I agree with all the previous posters. You might want to shoot an email to tiggeril. If she has recovered from ChiDope, she may be able to give you some more info, because she goes to U of C. Good Luck.