The city of Chicago is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. It is the largest city in the state of Illinois and the seat of Cook County.
It has an estimated population of 2,716,450 and covers about 606 square kilometres of land. It’s the third most populous city in the country—its nickname The Second City dates from a time when it was second only to New York, but these days Los Angeles is also larger.
The Chicago metropolitan area is also the third largest in the U.S., with an estimated population of 9.5 million people.
The city is largely built on a grid system, with some space for street parking. The city’s O'Hare International Airport is the sixth busiest in the world.
Homeowners in Chicago don't have to pay a city income tax like residents in many other metropolises.
Chicago is an international hub for commerce, technology, finance, telecommunications and other industries.
To provide for its workers, Chicago’s real estate market offers a lot of diverse options, from modern high-rise condos to brick bungalows, townhouses with landscaped yards and even traditional cottages.
Nickname(s): "The Windy City"
Population: 2,716,450 (2017 estimated)
Land: 227.34 sq. miles
Urban: 2,122 sq. miles
Metro: 10,874 sq. miles
Chicago has a few other nicknames which indicate what it’s like to live here: It has been called The City with Broad Shoulders in honour of its hard-working ethic and the Windy City on account of its weather. The city earned a hard-edged reputation a long time ago—something which has never really gone away—but it also inspires great loyalty in its citizens.
The city has great transportation options. Many Chicago commuters do not need to own cars because the efficiency of the elevated “L” train has them covered. And even car owners will find it easy enough to move around the city owing to the vast network of highways here. All Chicago residents are only a short walking distance away from a park.
Chicago has plenty to offer tourists, with many parks, art galleries, festivals and museums. Garfield Park Conservatory on the West Side has one of the largest collections of greenhouse plants in the U.S. Chicago has many large outdoor artworks like murals and mosaics. And tourists should most certainly not fail to taste the city's varied cuisine, ranging from cheap eats to Michelin-starred restaurants.
A large number of performing art theaters are spread across the city, offering tourists something fresh to see week in week out. Chicago has a particularly notable place in the history of blues, soul and jazz music, and this rich heritage is seen in the city's vibrant nightlife. In summer, many outdoor concerts are held in parks where tourists and residents get to hear world class groups such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform.
Chicago is comprised of 77 distinct communities which are contained within four major areas: Central, North Side, West Side and South Side.
This central area is the city's commercial hub and features the famous elevated tracks of the rapid transit network known as the “L” train. Many major commercial, cultural and financial institutions are concentrated here. It is home to high-rise condos, coops, and townhouses, many offering views of the city’s impressive architecture and infrastructure. The Millennium Park, Grant Park and many other green spaces afford residents and visitors excellent opportunities for recreational and relaxation.
The South Side is in some ways the most significant part of Chicago as it covers about 60% of the city's total land area. It was the home of former US president Barack Obama, and it has also had other notable residents such as Muhammad Ali. The area contains two of Chicago's most significant green spaces: Jackson Park and Washington Park. There are various attractions along the waterfront here—for example The Museum of Science and Industry—to entertain residents and visitors alike.
Chicago's North Side is the most densely populated residential section of the city. It boasts the huge Lincoln Park, which contains a zoo and a conservatory. There are also miles of beaches along Lake Michigan in this area, providing further outdoor recreation possibilities. Throughout the region there are plenty of schools and retail outlets close at hand.
The West Side is the home of the University of Illinois at Chicago and a couple of famous sports teams in the form of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. The area is packed with restaurants and nightlife, and it formerly held Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios. One of the largest medical districts in the US, the Illinois Medical District is located in this part of the city, providing many valuable services and research facilities.
Central Chicago, being the city's commercial hub, has properties that naturally cost more per square foot than in most other parts of town. To meet the requirements of inner-city workers, the majority of the city's lofty condos are here. Both high-rise and mid-rise buildings can offer magnificent views of the city's skyline.
The South Side has a higher percentage of single-family homes than other areas. There are bungalows, mid-rise condos, modest townhomes and multi-family dwellings here. This area tends to contain the most affordable homes in Chicago, offering homebuyers the least expensive per-square-foot deals.
North Side, being the most densely populated, contains a lot of townhomes with charming interiors and lovely landscaped yards. The area’s traditional brick bungalows and cottages are often in good shape despite being built years back—they are more likely to be found in the Northwestern part. There are condos here as well.
The West Side boasts newly constructed high-rise condos and apartment blocks, plus high-rise and mid-rise office blocks. Being the home of the University of Illinois, there are plenty of apartments here for students.
Property sales figures source: the Illinois REALTORS®, January 2019.
With over 600 public elementary and high schools, the city's education system has a big job to do, but it produces many students with high achievement and development levels. High-ranking high schools in the city include Northside College Preparatory High School, Jones College Prep and Lane Technical Prep High School, which was designated a National Blue Ribbon School to honor its high levels of student achievement.
Universities and colleges in the city offer programs in engineering, science, technology, business and the arts. For example, Chicago State University and University of Illinois at Chicago are public universities with courses across diverse fields. In addition, there are also many well-regarded private institutions here, such as University of Chicago and Illinois Institute of Technology.
Chicago has one of the most balanced economies in the U.S. on account of its high level of diversification. Boasting one of the U.S.’s largest science and technology workforces, the city has offices of technology companies such as Motorola Solutions and Salesforce. Of the twelve Fortune 500 companies which have their headquarters in the city, perhaps the most famous are the aerospace giant Boeing and the food companies McDonald's and Kraft Heinz.
The city's minimum wage is one of the highest in the country, and this may be one of the reasons why the declines in population seen in recent decades appear to have halted. The unemployment rate in Chicago is currently about 3.6%, which is below the national average and appears to still be falling.