20 Things I Learned from Living in Chicago

Reflections on a year spent in the Windy City

1) Just when you think winter will never end and spring will never come, it’s summer
The perfect two months or so of summer almost make you forget how cold the other ten months are.

2) It’s (almost) always cold
As noted above, three seasons out of the year it’s chilly and windy

3) Summer is as beautiful as winter is harsh
The plethora of outdoor activities and festivals bring the city alive during the sunny, hot and absolutely gorgeous summers

4) Tax is crazy
You think you know the total of your purchase? Just wait, that Cook County 10% + tax will bump it up!

5) So is the traffic
It doesn’t matter whether you live or work in the city or the suburbs – rush hour is almost always double or triple normal commute times

6) Never complain about your commute, because someone always has it worse
I had a 30-50 minute commute, and I soon learned that any commute under an hour is “normal” or even “decent”

7) One drop of rain (or snow) is enough to triple your commute
Forget about getting home in time. Everyone seems to forget how to drive if there’s a hint of inclement weather.

8) The food options are endless
In addition to being famous for deep dish pizza, there is a long list of famous restaurants all across the city in addition to just about every chain you can imagine

9) Deep dish pizza is just as good as it sounds
The best type of pizza in the world, in my opinion

10) There’s more than just hot dogs at Portillo’s
This beloved Chicago-based chain is also popular for their Italian Beef and Chocolate Cake Milkshakes

11) There is never a shortage of things to do
There is so much architecture, history, art, shopping, nature preserves as well as general sightseeing opportunities in this great city – you could live here your whole life without ever running out of things to do

12) Everything is expensive
The downside of #9

13) There’s also a permit for everything
But hey, at least it makes for colorful stickers on your car!

14) Never drive anywhere without your I-PASS
You’ll need it for most of the interstates. Plus, it saves you 50% off the regular toll cost

15) That rolling stop could cost you
Outlawed in some suburbs, I was unfortunate enough to live in suburb that still has “Red Light Cameras”: if you run a red light or don’t stop completely, they send you a bill

16) “The Chicago area” covers roughly 1,000,000 suburbs
Seriously though – you could live an hour and a half outside of downtown and still refer to it as “Chicago”

17) Chicago natives are fiercely loyal to their city
Most of the people I met had been born and raised and then stayed in Chicago because they love the city for all that it is – traffic and all!

18) It is one of the greatest cities in the world
It is the greatest big city I have ever visited, let alone lived in. Chicago is truly a world class city

19) It’s no place for fashion designers
While numerous companies are based out of Chicago, the complete lack of apparel companies make it a hard place for designers to succeed

20) Like any city, it’s the people that make it great
I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people during my time in Chicago. It truly made my time in the Windy City so special!

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