One-bedroom apartment in Chicago with a nice bed and some nice furniture on the side

Average Salary in Chicago: Can You Afford the Cost of Living in Chicago?

Chicago is a major city that has a lot to offer to its residents and visitors, such as incredible food, good quality of life, and a wide variety of entertainment. This beautiful city is also known for its history and culture, making it a popular destination for travelers around the world. If you are one of those people that are considering moving to this incredible city, you may be wondering what the cost of living in Chicago might be.

However, before moving to this popular location, you may first want to know what is the average rent in Chicago. You may also be wondering about the average rent in Chicago, and monthly expenses regarding transportation and food, among other things. This guide will cover vital information you need to know before moving to this highly populated city and give you a better idea about the cost of living in Chicago. 

What to Know Before Moving to Chicago

Before moving to Chicago, you should know that this city is home to many Fortune 500 companies such as Kraft Foods Group, Inc., the Allstate Corporation, Caterpillar Inc., and McDonald’s Corporation. This means that there are plenty of employment opportunities waiting for you. 

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According to Glassdoor Economic Research, Chicago had 195,808 open jobs in November 2020. There are also a lot of available roles offered by different industries, such as business services, construction, real estate services, finance, and insurance services. You can work in Chicago as a graphic designer, teacher, electrical engineer, accountant, barista, nurse, or electronics engineer.

What Is the Cost of Living in Chicago? 

The average cost of living in Chicago is $63,251 per year, which is 23 percent higher than the national average. Several factors contribute to this, such as the average salary provided by employers, the type of career you choose to follow, and how must it costs to buy or rent a house or apartment. 

How Is Cost of Living Calculated?

The cost of living is calculated by comparing the prices of various goods and services on which the buyers spend their money. The cost of living in Chicago is calculated by factoring in the cost of healthcare, monthly rent, and food, which are then weighted based on spending habits and personal budgets.   

What Contributes to the Cost of Living in Chicago?

Average Rent in Chicago

The average rent in Chicago is $2,080 per month. The housing cost is influenced by different factors such as quality, size, and location of the apartment or house you are renting. You can choose an affordable studio apartment to live in instead of a two-bedroom apartment if you are on a tight budget. 

The most affordable neighborhood in Chicago is The Island, where the average rent is around $607 a month. On the other hand, the most expensive neighborhood is Streeterville which has a monthly rent of $2,819. However, the larger the apartment the more the housing expenses.

Average Transportation Costs in Chicago

Transportation expenses are fairly reasonable in Chicago. The average gas price in March 2022 in Chicago was $4.53 per gallon. However, if you cannot afford to have your own car, you can opt for public transportation and take the ‘L’ train, which has an average ticket price of $2.50. If you choose to take the bus, the individual price for the fare is $2.25. Public transit is well-organized in Chicago and can also be a bit cheaper than driving your car all the time.

Average Food Costs in Chicago

The average food cost in Chicago is $7,302 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This isn’t surprising since part of a person’s daily expenses is the food they’ll consume. The average cost of food if you eat at home is $4,571 per year, whereas eating out will cost you an average of $2,731 each year. Moreover, grocery prices in Chicago are eight percent higher than the national average.

Average Healthcare Costs in Chicago

The average cost of healthcare in Chicago is $5,691 per year. Healthcare in Chicago is one percent higher than the national average. The money people spend on healthcare include doctor’s visits, which have an average cost of $112.15 per visit. A dentist’s visit can set you back by $96.35, and an optometrist visit will be $105.09. 

Average Utility Costs in Chicago

The average retail price of electricity in Illinois is 9.75 cents per kilowatt-hour. The average monthly energy bill in Chicago is $151.23. The utility prices in Chicago, according to PayScale, are 10 percent lower compared to the national average. As for the cable and Internet service, the average monthly costs for a household are $114. 

Other Expenses to Consider in Chicago

There are other expenses that you might have to consider when living in Chicago aside from the rental and transportation costs. For example, the average person in Chicago spends around $3,292 per year on entertainment. In addition, a single person may also buy some personal care products and services, which can cost an average of $803, each year. Other expenses you might also want to look at are apparel, personal insurance, and pension contributions. 

Should I Buy or Rent in Chicago?

If you have the means and the money to buy a house, it’s better to invest in property in Chicago, especially if you see yourself living there for an extended period of time. On the other hand, renting might be the best option if you only plan to stay in this city for a couple of years. To further help you with your decision, below is some information you can consider regarding real estate prices. 

What Is the Average Salary in Chicago? 

The average salary in Chicago is $74,000 a year. Your salary can still be affected by factors such as your profession, your position in a company, and even the type of company you’re working for. The most popular occupation in Chicago is working as a software engineer, which has an average salary of $88,059. 

Salary Comparison by City in United States

City Average Salary
Chicago $74,000
New York $66,265
Phoenix $66,265
Denver $66,265
San Antonio $42,139

What Is a Good Salary?

A good salary for Chicago is $64,000 and above, since the cost of living in Chicago is $63,251 per year. However, it’s important to note that a good salary is relative and varies from person to person. What is considered a good salary also depends on the cost of living in that particular area.

Can You Afford the Average Cost of Living in Chicago?

If you make $65,000 a year, then you’ll be able to afford the average cost of living in Chicago, including paying for rent, food, utilities, and other bills. Chicago doesn’t just offer employment opportunities to you – It also provides a rich culture that you’ll enjoy. You’ll be amazed by the city’s enormous skyscrapers and world-class museums.

Cost of Living in Chicago FAQ

Is it expensive to live in Chicago?

Yes, it is expensive to live in Chicago as the cost of living is 23 percent higher than the national average. However, despite the high living expenses, the city also offers great employment opportunities to help you earn a high salary. 

Should I live in New York City or Chicago?

Whether you live in New York or Chicago depends on your preferences. New York should be your choice if you want to live in a vibrant city with exclusive shops and great landmarks. However, you should live in Chicago because the average salary is higher and this populous city has many great restaurants that you can try. 

What should I avoid in Chicago?

You should avoid going to places that have a high crime rate. One area that has a high crime rate is West Garfield Park. Moreover, avoid going to places that make you feel uneasy, especially if you’re new in the city. 

What is the cost of living in Chicago for a single person?

The cost of living in Chicago for a single person is $998.52 per month, although this excludes rent. Rent for a single person might range from $1,841 to $2,132 each month. It may cost you around $2,500 to $3,000 to live in Chicago, but this still depends on your lifestyle and any unexpected costs you may have to pay.

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