Chicago Cost of Living

Accepted a corporate banking analyst position with a MM bank in Chicago.... Salary is great for Corporate banking, however I know chicago is a pretty expensive city...just wondering what I should expect to pay for certain things, as I'm trying to create a budget:

So far I have: (per month)

$865 Rent; looking preferably for a studio or 1Bedroom on the north side
$150 parking
$50 cable/internet (seemed like other utilities tended to be included in rent)
$50 dry cleaning
$325 groceries
$150 eating out
$70 booze (beer, bottles, purchased for household consumption)
$50 (600/year) Gym membership
$86 public transport (i think thats the unlimited metro pass)

Any thoughts on expenses would be greatly appreciated. I've never been completely self sufficient, let alone in an unfamiliar city so I'm not sure what things cost....

Thanks.

Comments (31)

Mar 8, 2010

Fairly conservative, but doable.

Mar 8, 2010

You can find waaaaay lower rent in Chicago these days. Especially if you look in Wrigleyville or Lincoln Park, where you should be. Rents are still very depressed. A car is also not a necessity if you can manage, saves you on parking/gas/insurance, etc. The EL is great. Better up that eating out and booze tab, too...maybe its just me, but 50 bucks/ weekend going out is more like it, if you don't eat.

Mar 8, 2010

yea i'm still unsure about the car thing; Cars are among my biggest passions in life, so its hard for me to think about being out on my own, making a solid salary, and not owning one. Another reason I want to bring one out with me is because I'll be completely on my own, and it would be nice to pick up and go see friends in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, etc. on a whim.

I currently live in Pittsburgh, a city with a decent bus system, but no real train system...and a car is fairly necessary..... I also lived in London for a few months, where the public transport is extensive, and owning a car is much more of a cost/hassle than it is a benefit. So i dont know where Chicago falls on that spectrum when it comes to owning an automobile so its hard for me to judge.

Mar 9, 2010

WOW. I am looking to potentially go to B-school in Chicago in a few years. Is the OP estimate correct or somewhere in the ballpark?

850 for 1 br?! Really? - What about some place near U-Chicago, for a 2 Br? Man's that's a lot cheaper than I expected.

As for the rest. $350 for groceries? $50 for cable and Internet? (WTF! I pay over 130 after taxes for Verizon fios.), I think Internet itself is like $50 and $70 for booze? That's like a weekend bill. Props to OP if he can actually accomplish this.

Can someone confirm this? It would help me a lot to figure out my expenses if I were to go to school there in 2-3 years.

Mar 9, 2010

Just moved out of the City to the 'burbs last year.....

OP you're budgeted amounts will probably be doable, but definitely a little tight.
$50 for gym membership will need to be higher if you want to go to one of the nicer places. If you are looking for a bare bones place, that may work (depending on what's near you).
$50 for cabe/internet is definitely light. It will probably be over $100 if you get a decent package.
You know yourself best for food/alcohol. I probably spent a little less on groceries, but definitely more on restaurants and booze that you have quoted.

As for a car, definitely not necessary, but also definitely doable. I kept a car bc many of my friends and my gf were in the suburbs. Depending on where you live it can be easy (and nice) to have a car. Newer buildings in chicago have been required to have parking garages, so many in the South and West Loop will have indoor parking for you. If you're trying to live in Linkin Park or Wrigleyville a car will be more challenging.

Ari - you probably dont want to live near U of C. I'm sure they'll tell you its doable and there are a few select areas where its probably ok, but understand U of C/Hyde Park is a small oasis in the ghetto. It's getting much better than it used to be, but by no means a real desirable area (other than the Hyde Park mansions). My roomate was a U of C mba and we lived in the south loop. It sounded like the public transportation to school was kind of a pain, but she recommended staying away from Hyde Park to everyone. As a matter of fact her bf (U of C mba) and a few classmates I knew all lived on the north side. The few times I met up with them for drinks it was always north of the loop (maybe they met in Hyde Park at times and I just wasn't invited down there bc I wouldn't have gone).

Overall Chicago is AMAZING and you can spend what you'd like on an apartment, but to some extent you do get what you pay for. There aren't the bars like up north, but I recommend everyone at least consider the South Loop. For amenities and convenience it can't be beat. It's not for everyone and not a whole lot of night life, but give it a shot and see if it works for you. If not, go north.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Mar 9, 2010

Ok so $100+? for cable/internet? I'm still keeping my cell phone on my parents plan so that wont be a cost. The gym membership was based off of Quads gym in the northside (read some good stuff about that place)... As for the eating out/booze; thats what I spend (approximately) right now, but I am on a very tight undergrad budget, so perhaps I should up that alittle bit.

Is there anything else major that I'm forgetting?

Also, does anyone know of a good rental company/website for chicago? Rent.Com and Apartments.com have pretty much the same places; Craigslist is nearly 100% shit...Havent found too many places that I'd actually like to live.

thanks for everything so far guys.

Mar 9, 2010

If you can do without a car, do it. But it is nice if you have friends, and definitely doable. As for food and stuff, yeah...double that. Chicago is very expensive to hang out in. Drinks are expensive and so is food.

Mar 9, 2010

Chicago is not as expensive as people make it out to be, especially if you are living in LP or Lakeview. Your budget looks solid. Make sure to add gas in there if you drive a lot. Quads is a great gym. Any idea what your take home pay is per month? Make sure you enjoy living in the city while saving for a rainy day.

Mar 9, 2010

When you're young, living in the city and have no kids to drive around, owning a car is a straight waste of cash. Save the money or spend it out partying. If you want to impress a girl or something, hire a limo for an evening or rent out a luxury car. You'll still come out ahead vs. owning a car.

Mar 9, 2010

weekly take home is going to be about $775....obviously not including signing bonus or anything like that.

Mar 10, 2010
AMack:

weekly take home is going to be about $775....obviously not including signing bonus or anything like that.

you will be fine...to be honest if u ditch the car you need abt 2g to be comfortable. Add 500 if you like to drink.

Mar 10, 2010

Thanks for the input guys...

Know of any good buildings to live in? I'm only looking for a studio (something bigger than a dorm room though)... Some Property management company called "Reside" has some really nice places in Lincoln Park. (Reside on Wellington, The Belmont by Reside, etc.)?

Preferably looking for Northside, (LP, Wrigleyville, Gold Coast....maybeeee Lakeview). Budget is from $800-1100. Obviously the prices closer to 800 would imply I'm bring a car out cause I would need money for parking, but If i decide not to bring a car out my budget stretches up to about $1100.

Mar 12, 2010

What do you need parking for (assuming you have no car)? Rent in Chicago runs the gamut from $500 to $2k+ a month. Find something closer to the lower end. Once you've saved up money for your own house with a 3 car garage, feel free to buy as many cars as your heart desires.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Mar 12, 2010

With your take home pay, you can more than afford to live decently well in Chicago. For a major city, it's REALLY cheap, nothing like NYC in that regard.

Mar 16, 2010

$865 Rent; looking preferably for a studio or 1Bedroom on the north side
--Best places are about double this for 1br. Can get by with something mediocre for around there

$150 parking
--About right. As for car that's up to you. I go to supermarket/suburbs/gym/friend's houses with car and it's a big perk to have, but is obviously costly.

$50 cable/internet (seemed like other utilities tended to be included in rent)
--Elec/gas are not usually included. Cable/Internet will be more like $120

Other stuff depends on preferences. Both gyms I've been at have been >$100 but offer a bit more than the standard Xsport or Ballys or whatever.

Mar 16, 2010

Get a Zipcar account for about $250 if you drive a lot (15% discount, 2 month rollover). Costs about $60 a day if you get a retainer account and they pay for parking, insurance and gas. You can get a car when you need it and you don't have the expense when you don't.

Remember that if you buy a car you'll have to pay insurance and payments and maintenance. And gas. This will cost you at least $500 altogether.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Mar 16, 2010

Thanks for the input thus far. I'm still debating about the car thing. Presuming the Corporate banking salary and bonus increases each year I could easily afford the type of car I'd like after a year or so...

Any idea what utilities would run on a studio?

Mar 16, 2010

that's a very tough question because it depends entirely on your standard of living and how much you make. my rent alone is $3k.

I'd say the cheapest you're going to get away with on rent, and still be in a decent area, is like $700, and that assumes you're sharing a 2-3 bd apt with other people. Look to share a place in Lincoln Park or Lakeview. The rest is all how you manage your situation (i.e. take the bus, how often you eat out, how much you spend on booze / taking girls out in a month, etc).

Mar 16, 2010

I've lived in Chicago for the last 3-4 years and consider it one of the best cities for its value. South Wacker drive is close to the west loop, which is a great neighborhood, but it all depends on what you're looking for. The loop proper is relatively dead at night, that being said the west loop is a great place to live and has plenty of new condos and offers the ability to walk to work. Depending on your age it could be a great option. You could expect to pay anywhere from 800 to 1400 a month on a 1 bedroom depending on where you want to live and the quality of the building, location, management, etc. Feel free to PM me and I can offer some more insight with respect to your specific situation.

Mar 16, 2010

^ Agree with debrwil.

You can live relatively cheap depending on the building of course. I would probably choose to live in River North area, which is less than a mile away from S Wacker Dr. This is one of the livelier areas with many bars, clubs and restaurants.

When the time comes to relocate downtown from a residential neighborhood about 10 miles away, I will be looking in River North most likely!

Mar 16, 2010

......

Mar 16, 2010

lakeview, gold coast, near north side, streeterville

Mar 16, 2010

are pretty nice as well. Both are close to downtown and have a lot of stuff to do.

Mar 16, 2010

steeterville/gold coast area is nice -- you can get a studio for around $1000 these days and a one-bed starting around $1200+

Mar 16, 2010

I'm currently living in a nice greystone building in Lincoln Park. The cost of living is about one third of NYC. There are tons of bars and restaurants, convenient to the L and with Depaul nearby, if you want to pick up college chicks that is an option as well.

I do not recommend living in the loop, even if you are working there. The area is incredibly touristy, can be dead at night in a lot of areas, and is just as easy to get to from LP.

Personally, I don't like Lakeview as much as Lincoln Park, but some people do.

Mar 16, 2010

def live in river north. extremely close to the loop where you'll prob be working and close enough to the clubs and bars on hubbard st for the weekends. rent is about $1100 for a studio and $1300-1500 for a single.

Mar 16, 2010

thanks for all the info guys! I was thinking somewhere around lakeview/lincoln park would be good... what's the most liveliest of places and not too touristy? (like power monkey said, the loop area sounds too dead and boring at night)

also, do u think a studio or one bedroom would be affordable in a $700-800 range in Lakeview/LP... I might have to find roommates for that to happen?

Mar 16, 2010
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Mar 16, 2010