Is it Possible to Live in Chicago on a Budget?

June 14, 2023

Chicago has a lot going for it, but the good things come at a price. The city is famous for its amazing food, dazzling architecture, and vibrant arts scene, but it can be tough to get by on a minimum wage salary. So, is it possible to live in Chicago on a budget?

It depends on what neighborhood you choose. For example, if you want to live in the Loop, rents there are typically over $2,000 a month. The city’s high property taxes also make it pricier than most other large cities in the country.

That said, it’s still cheaper to live in Chicago than San Francisco or New York City. And if you’re willing to move to the suburbs, the cost of living is even more affordable.

But the city’s affordability problems aren’t by accident. They’re the result of eight years of Rahm Emanuel courting entrenched financial interests. He turned the meatpacking district into a corporate headquarters corridor, the Friendly Confines baseball neighborhood into Cubsland and more.

The organization Lyon works for, the Organization of the Northeast (or ONE), has been fighting to keep and build affordable housing in neighborhoods on the city’s northeast side, including Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park. At ONE’s office, Lyon and other staff members see people every day who are struggling to find a place to live. They’re often in tears. Many are working full time but earning below the city’s poverty level, which is based on 60% of the area median income (AMI). Those earners can’t afford to live in the Loop.


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