Do you want to continue living in Chicago after leaving college? The good news is that people living and working in Chicago love the city. There are jobs available and a high quality of life.
In order to take advantage of living in Chicago, you need to be prepared for what it offers (and what will be required from you). This includes how much you can expect to pay for rent, to get a local renters insurance coverage, the cost of living, and what you should get paid. With all the information at your disposal, you can make the best decision for your future.
Here are 5 things you need to know about living in Chicago after leaving college.
1. Rent is expensive (as is cost of living)
One of the difficulties you’ll encounter when setting up a life in Chicago is the price of rent. While far lower than in places like NYC and San Francisco, rent is still significantly higher than the national average.
How much higher? As of July 2022, you will pay about $500 more for a Chicago apartment than the national average. That amounts to $2,206 a month.
The cost of living is also high in Chicago, coming in at 23% above the national cost of living. This may seem prohibitive, especially if you come from a city where rent and cost of living is particularly cheap. However, there are mitigating factors. Namely…
2. Income potential is high
Fixating on the price of rent can make you lose sight of reality. Any dollar value means nothing without context. In Chicago, the important context is that income potential is high. The average Chicago worker salary sits at $74,000 per year. Compared to the national average of $56,310, the difference is significant.
In fact, since this means that Chicago earnings are 32% higher than the national average, they more than make up for the higher cost of living.
The good news for low-income earners is that Chicago’s minimum wage has just increased. It is now at $15.40 per hour for someone working for an employer with more than twenty employees and $14.50 per hour if you’re working for a smaller company. This is more than double the federal minimum wage.
3. You need renters insurance
Something many college-leavers do not know much about is renters insurance. Many young people haven’t even heard of renters insurance. However, it is crucial that you consider getting it.
Renters insurance covers your possessions in case of theft or destruction. In other words, if you lose your phone, it will pay for a new one. If the apartment you’re renting burns down, it will pay to replace your clothes, furniture, and other possessions. It pays claims even if your things are stolen in another country.
One of the most important aspects of renters insurance is personal liability cover. This will pay any damages you accidentally cause to others. Liability claims can quickly skyrocket, leaving you struggling to pay for a person’s health bills or repairs without insurance.
4. Inflation is making everything more difficult
While income potential in Chicago is high, and has risen in 2022, inflation is rendering those increases moot. With inflation at record highs, wages in Chicago are not keeping up. For this reason, it is going to be more difficult to make ends meet. A high-paying job sets you in good stead, but you may still struggle.
However, this is an issue throughout the country. Wages are increasing at a rate well below inflation in just about every city. The reality is that until inflation comes under control, the cost of living is going to be high no matter where you are.
The silver lining is that inflation will eventually drop. Prices will return to something resembling normal. If you manage to make it through 2022 with your finances relatively intact, you are in a great position going forward.
Choosing to live in Chicago after leaving college is a very attractive proposition. With salaries high, the cost of rent and of living in general are not prohibitive.