Living in Chicago?

Connect with fellow expats in Chicago
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Chicago guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Chicago

Living in Chicago

Interested in living in Chicago? On the bank of Lake Michigan, the Windy City is the third-largest metropolis in the United States, and being an expat there can be both thrilling and confusing. Our InterNations Guide to Chicago provides you with information on contemporary life, climate, housing, and education.
Chicago has a wide array of leisure activities to offer, which gives the city its characteristic flair.
  • The relatively young population of Chicago is a fascinating mix of different cultures and languages.
  • Chicago offers a wide range of leisure activities; from museums and art to shopping on the Magnificent Mile, there’s something for every taste.
  • The climate in Chicago has it all; from cold and windy winters to warm and humid summers.
  • Rental leases are normally for twelve months and utilities need to be taken care of by the tenant.
  • There are many good schools in Chicago as well as some international schools; therefore, education for your children won’t be an issue.

According to recent news reports, people from various countries, including those with a valid visa and residence permit, have encountered difficulties when entering the United States. Unfortunately, the full extent of those issues seems to be unclear. Before you decide to move or travel there, or leave the country temporarily if already living in the USA, please consult a US embassy and an immigration lawyer if you fear you might be affected.


The more than 2.7 million people living in Chicago make up the highest population of any city in Illinois and all other states in the Midwest. Chicago has been home to quite a few well-known personalities, such as the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, the infamous 1920s gangster Al Capone, and the 1990s basketball legend Michael Jordan.

The city’s fame is based on much more than the people who have made Chicago their home, however; films, art, literature, and music all have made life in Chicago thoroughly enjoyable for expats and local Chicagoans alike.

If you are considering Chicago as your expat destination, you may be happy to hear that the city’s population is relatively young, with the median age slightly over 33. Many people living in Chicago are foreign-born, making the city a fascinating mix of cultures and languages to be heard, felt, tasted, and seen on the city streets.

For additional information on the population and demographics of not only Chicago, but the entire US, please see the corresponding article in our Expat Guide.

Contemporary Life: Museums, Arts, and More

Anyone living in Chicago will be quick to tell you that it is a very lively and vibrant city. One of its main highlights is entertainment. From cultural amusement to a swanky nightlife, Chicago has it all!

The Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, all located on the waterfront, are big factors in making life in Chicago not only entertaining, but educational as well. For art lovers, Chicago presents plenty of opportunities to attend gallery openings or quality exhibitions.

Furthermore, expats can enjoy the various forms of performing arts the city has to offer. From ballet and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Broadway-esque shows and the renowned jazz and blues scene, there’s a niche for everyone! Do not hesitate to check out Choose Chicago for information on upcoming events and attractions.

From the Bears to the Cubs, Chicago has a lot to offer sports enthusiasts as well! Read up on the most popular sports in Chicago and the US in our detailed guide.

International Cuisine and the Magnificent Mile: Food and Shopping in Chicago

Once you have lived in Chicago for a while, the tourist attractions might lose their initial appeal, yet Chicago has much more to offer than architecture and standard sightseeing. The famous Michigan Avenue, for one, is popular with locals and tourists alike. Here, what is known as the Magnificent Mile offers anything from expensive designer brands in high-class boutiques to secondhand shops, which can make everyone’s shopping dreams come true!

The various Chicago neighborhoods — which you can read about in our InterNations Guide on Moving to Chicago — all offer distinctive flairs to satisfy the different tastes of people living in Chicago. For example, the Loop area and State Street offer a wide variety of department stores and fashion chains, including Macy’s, whose eight stories make it the world’s second-largest department store. This megastore is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Due to its multicultural population, Chicago boasts a range of international cuisines as well. As is the case in many large metropolises, over time the immigrant population of Chicago has moved into neighborhoods with residents mostly of their own origin. To this day, these neighborhoods maintain much of their original atmosphere. Without question, you will find the food in these areas positively mouthwatering, and there are places for every budget and palate, such as Greektown on South Halsted Street in downtown Chicago; Little Italy just to the southeast of there; Chinatown on the Southside; and the Ukrainian Village just southeast of Humboldt Park. It is highly unlikely that food-loving expats thinking of living in Chicago will be disappointed!

Getting a taste for the local flavors on offer in Chicago? Then explore what awaits your taste buds beyond the city limits in our guide on American Cuisine.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Friedrich Schloßberg

"At first, I tried to google all information on Chicago. Then I found InterNations and some of its local scouts gave me a personal tour."

Kristina Serou

"It is great to live in the Windy City and to enjoy the American way of life. However, I am also glad to attend InterNations events to meet other expats."

Global Expat Guide

Top Articles Expat Guide