“The Windy City”, “The Second City”, “The Capital of the Midwest”—whatever you want to call it, Chicago has long been one of the most desirable cities to live in within the United States. Located along the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago plays an important role in the regions cultural and economic scenes. Chicago has a population of about 2.7 million, making it the third largest city within the United States (with a population of 9.6 million, Greater Chicago is also the third largest metro area). The city is known for its excellent parks, its “Magnificent Mile” along Michigan Avenue, its many professional sports teams, its architecture, and, of course, its deep-dish pizza.
Unsurprisingly, there are many people that still want to move to Chicago. Though the city’s population remained fairly stagnant between the 2010 and 2020 census, there were some neighborhoods that experienced very high levels of growth.
Currently, Chicago is divided into 77 “community areas”, which effectively function as formally designated neighborhoods. Below, we will list ten of the best neighborhoods to live in in Chicago—though there are certainly many others that prospective renters might want to explore.
1. Near North Side
The Near North Side—home to the Gold Coast, Old Town, Goose Island, and River North—is perhaps the most iconic slice of Chicago, though it is also among the most expensive. The area is home to the Magnificent Mile—a world famous shopping district surrounded by a stunning skyline—along with the Gold Coast, Oak Street Beach, and the very famous Navy Pier. In short, this is the ideal neighborhood for anyone who wants to be fully immersed in the iconic Chicago experience, though with an average rent of $2,580 per month, it certainly has a steep price.
2. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is located about seven miles south of the Loop (the center of Chicago), with beachfront access to Lake Michigan. The area has long been a great place for learning, playing home to both the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. Currently, the Barack Obama Presidential Center is being constructed in the area’s Jackson Park. It was also home to the World’s Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in 1893.
Located near the northern end of Lincoln Park, Uptown has played a critical role in Chicago’s cultural scene since at least the turn of the 20th century. This beautiful and eclectic neighborhood is where jazz, swing music, silent films, and—eventually—rock and roll were all able to establish their strong Chicago roots. The area is also home to many important theatres, comedy clubs, and other entertainment venues. Today, uptown is experiencing a strong revival.
4. Logan Square
Unlike the neighborhoods mentioned above, Logan Square is not located directly on Lake Michigan—instead, the neighborhood is located in the north-central part of the city, within easy reach of Chicago’s blue line. The area is filled with beautiful homes, walkable streets, and a several desirable green spaces. Rent has been increasing in recent years, though the average rent still remains below $2,000 per month.
5. Wicker Park
Wicker Park has quietly—but consistently—established itself as the “hip” epicenter of Chicago, complete with new bars, constant live music, and a great variety of bars and restaurants. The neighborhood is located in the West Town designated area, located within easy reach of The Loop. The northern border of Wicker Park is marked by the Bloomingdale Trail, a former train track that has been converted into a walking path.
Greektown, as the name implies, was one of the first places in the United States to play host to a large volume of immigrants from Greece. Today, the neighborhood is still home to a large Greek festival, music festivals, and some of the city’s best dining options. The city of Chicago has laid plans to help ensure Greektown is a “vibrant business district” as well as a “prosperous and collaborative neighborhood.”
Interestingly enough, Bucktown is named for the many goats that once used to call the neighborhood—located directly north of Wicker Park—home. Currently, Bucktown contains an extremely interesting range of architecture, including numerous modern buildings, historic homes from the 1800s, and everything in between. The area is also known for its longstanding importance within Chicago’s Polish community and is home to several iconic Catholic churches.
8. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is one of the most well-known parks in the United States and, naturally, the area near the park contains some of the most desirable real estate within the entire city. The large park (which the neighborhood is named after) contains a free zoo, access to the lake, excellent walking trails, and many other features. You’ll also be able to find plenty of great places to dine, drink, and relax.
Lakeview is consistently named one of the best neighborhoods to live in within America’s largest cities. The neighborhood’s connection to Boys Town (known for its LGBT Pride Parade), Wrigleyville (home to the loveable losers—the Cubs), and other Chicago staples help ensure there is a constant flow of people. The area’s Belmont Theatre District includes more than thirty venues.
10. West Loop
The West Loop offers the perfect combination of what many people are looking for when living in Chicago: easy access to the Loop, great places to eat and drink, and a somewhat reasonable cost of living. The West Loop is also one of the easiest places to access the United Center, home to Chicago’s Blackhawks and Bulls. The area is also home to three colleges and universities, including University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Rush University.
Chicago is one of the best cities within the United States. One of the things that helps make this city unique is the tremendous amount of variation that exists between its many neighborhoods. If you are considering moving to Chicago, consider any of these excellent ten neighborhoods.