Chicago Apartments – Searching and Moving to Chicago

Spring is the time that most people look for an apartment in Chicago. Rental Leases are up and it is the first time for the year that it is warm enough that you can actually move furniture out of one apartment and into a new one without freezing. April-June are the high points for most apartment rental searches, so that means most people start looking in February, March and April in order to see enough places to make a decision on which lease to sign and where to move to in Chicago by May or June. 

There are many ways to start your search for a new apartment in Chicago. If you are moving here from out of town most people find that making an appointment with an apartment rentals listing/finder service is an efficient way to see a lot of apartments over one or two weekends (with a guide) that they visit and then they can make their decisions within a few weeks. This way of searching for a new apartment in Chicago has a higher price, though, because there is always a finder’s fee involved in the cost of the apartment. 

Other people prefer to go it alone looking at craigslist or other apartment rentals listing sites (like apartments.com) for individual apartment listings and see the units on their own time schedule. This is more convenient if you already live in the neighborhood and generally you find better deals this way, but it may take 2-3 months to find the right apartment unit. Craigslist has many search options and ways to filter the search results and RSS feeds so you only see what you can afford and most listings have some photos that help you weed out the seedy/gross places. 

A lot of people consider the night life and amenities in a particular Chicago neighborhood to be a large part of their decision on where to find an apartment. Getting around in Chicago with 9.5 million other people isn’t easy, so being as close to work, friends and convenient places to hang out is definitely an asset. The problem is that the places closest to downtown are the most expensive and the places closest to a lot of bars and trendy hangouts in Lincoln Park and Lakeview are also in high demand and therefore cost a lot, too. 

Sometimes you can find better prices on rent for apartments further north in the city like Buena Park, Uptown and Lincoln Square. These neighborhoods have a longer commute if you work downtown, but you can save $200-$300 per month on your rent. Another option may be to rent a condo that someone can’t sell in this bad real estate economy. Many condo owners who have moved or gotten married just want to recoup some of the cash they are paying in monthly mortgage payments so they are usually very negotiable on rental prices. You also get someone’s home that was probably taken care of much better than a rental unit. A lot of newly rehabbed condos with luxury details are available for rent from individual owners listed on craigslist or other classified sites.   

How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Chicago? 

I know people in Lakeview/Lincoln park that pay $1,000 per month for a 500 sq ft studio apartment without parking, and the price goes up from there. A 1 bedroom might be around $1,500 per month and a 2 bedroom might be around $2,000 especially if you want parking. Extra parking rental spaces can run from $150 – $300 per month depending on where it is located. 

If you go further north the prices drop a few hundred dollars per unit. Also, Oak Park is a convenient alternative where a 1 bedroom might only be $1,000 per month and the parking is free. Oak Park apartments are still walking distance to the el for commuting to work downtown every day and the suburb is right next to the city so you can enjoy all the nightlife. Other people have found Evanston to be an alternative to living in Chicago and paying high apartment rentals prices. Evanston prices are very comparable to Oak Park and the buildings there are very similar also. The only difference is which train line you take to work. The Purple line instead of the Green line.   

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