33 things that will definitely happen to you when moving to Chicago

Your first year after moving to Chicago can be full of surprises, but the following are all pretty much guaranteed

Photograph: Matthew Bowie
One of the iconic views of the Chicago skyline from Willis Tower.

Welcome to Chicago! Now go buy a parka. We kid—there's more to Chicago than punishing winters. When you first move to the city, you'll discover there's also a summer here, for about two months, and in that short time span you will suck the very marrow out of this town. But there are plenty of other things you should prepare yourself for in order to smooth your transition into big-city life. (Seriously, though, go buy a parka.)

RECOMMENDED: Your guide to living in Chicago

1. You will have an argument about ketchup.

2. You will embark on a deep, though imaginary, love affair with Tom Skilling.



3. You will learn how to say "cold beer" in Polish (zimne piwo).

4. You will throw on a pair of shorts when it "heats up" to 45 degrees.

5. You will find yourself singing phone numbers like 588-2300 and 773-202-LUNA.



6. You will discover that when people say they are "from Chicago" they are usually from the suburbs.

7. You will angrily tell your cabbie that you can indeed pay with a credit card.

8. You will learn that "cornhole" is not as dirty as it sounds, and how to play it.



9. You will ponder why so many people eat Flamin' Hot Cheetos, after constantly seeing empty bags on the ground.

10. You will have your bike or parts of it stolen.



11. You will talk indignantly about how South Side is ignored and then never go there.

12. You will begin to find corrupt politicians kind of endearing.

13. You will begrudgingly pay up for an umbrella with wind vents.



14. You will keep the Cubs schedule on your phone, not because you are a fan but because you want to avoid the Red Line like the plague on game days.

15. You will become adept at parallel parking in a space the exact length of your car. A little nudging never hurts.



16. You will get irritated at tourists holding up traffic by asking bus drivers for directions, even though you were doing the same thing a few months ago.

17. You will realize that the lakefront bike path is a people-choked clusterfuck and will avoid it at all costs.



18. You will go on several architecture tours, and they will never get boring.

19. You will take a summer trip to the Wisconsin Dells, and enjoy all the cheese (figurative and literal curds). 



20. You will find a favorite hot dog stand and defend it vehemently against anyone who disagrees.

21. You will be equally excited and terrified the first time the temperature dips below zero.



22. You will be astonished at how clean Chicago is compared to other cities.

23. You will go to Navy Pier...once.



24. You will knock everyone for eating dinner so early in the winter, until suddenly eating at 4pm sounds like a good idea.

25. You will quickly pick Cubs or Sox, even if you don't care about baseball.



26. You will be dismayed at the lack of mountains, or hills, or topography of any kind, really.

27. You will learn there's no such thing as a snow day here.



28. You will break up with someone because they don't live near a convenient El stop.

29. You will find out who Peter Francis Geraci is and become accustomed to his monotone.



30. You will be surprised how much Lake Michigan looks like an ocean, until it fucking freezes.

31. You will quickly learn the names of every local brewery and start to drink more beer than ever before. 



32. You will turn down a job in the suburbs just because of the commute.

33. You will discover there are no sweeter words to a commuter than "this train will now run express to Lake."


 

Also check out:
31 things that will definitely happen to you when moving to New York
24 things that will definitely happen to you when moving to LA

Comments

19 comments
Chuck F
Chuck F

First, if you've lived in Chicago long enough, you remember the jingle for Bouchelle Carpet Cleaners, (Hudson 3-2700, sung in a deep baritone voice).  


Second, Chicago summers don't last 2 months.  If a year is normal, it's more like 4 months, from mid July to mid September.  The last couple of years, my son's school (which has no A/C in the classrooms) has rotated kids in and out of room with A/C during the first several weeks of school, because of the heat.


Third, there are snow days in Chicago.  Now, I started in kindergarten in the fall of 1967.  So, the only snow days were in 1979, after the blizzard that cost Mike Bilandic his job.


My son started kindergarten in 2008.  To date, he has had 12 emergency days.  Four have been due to snow, including one day this year after the Super Bowl snow.  Seven have been due to dangerously cold weather.  One was due to the flood of April, 2013.


Fourth, I have not asked a girl for a date, because I didn't want to deal with driving to Chicago and trying to find a parking place, as well as paying for parking at every "white tablecloth" restaurant.


Fifth, I had the Dells.  I used to call Las Vegas the tackiest place on earth, until I went to the Dells.  Unlike a lot of touristy towns across America, there aren't many good places to eat, and all of the shops merely sell t-shirts and beach towels.  No arts and crafts.  No collectibles.  Nothing.


On the other hand, I always stop at the Mars Cheese Castle on my way back from America's Dairyland. 


Sixth, I like going to Navy Pier.  I love seeing plays at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and there are some decent restaurants there.


Seven, I don't wear shorts until it's the mid 70s.  The only people in Chicago who were shorts when its chilly are school boys trying to prove how manly they are and letter carriers trying to win bets at the post office.


Last, most people from the suburbs say, when traveling, that they are from the central city.  I've met people who have said they are from Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas, L.A., San Francisco, and Seattle who later have identified the suburbs where they actually live.


What's pathetic is the person who says he's from Chicago, actually lives in the suburbs, and won't go into Chicago proper, except to board a plane at Midway or O'Hare.  That means no museum at the Museum Campus, no MSI, no CSO, no game at an MLB ballpark, the United Center, or Soldier Field, and no Chicago Auto Show.  When I was dating my wife, we would often drive downtown, just to try out a new restaurant.  And frankly, there wasn't a restaurant in the suburbs worthy of a Valentine's Day, when compared to the old Eli's, the 95th, the Pump Room, when Lettuce Entertain You ran it.  

Mike M
Mike M

I was born & raised in the city (no not the suburbs). First off, whoever wrote this (since he loves to drop F bombs) is a fucking jagoff. That's Chicago for 'Asshole' for all you transplants as well as the idiot who wrote this article. I don't think that I've ever seen a bag of 'Flamin Hot Cheestos' on the streets. The hometown favorite is Jays by the way. Most transplants have probably heard the Empire phone number by now since it's grown to a national company and play the same number in other states (something most chi-towners may not know so I wont fault the writer too bad in that one). The only argument I ever had about ketchup with anyone were with my brothers on who was running to the Jewel to get some more when Ma asked. Pizza, well that one I'll give him. Chicago-Style means deep dish anywhere outside of Chicago but here in the city on the lake, the thin crust is the hometown favorite. Nobody does a better pie than us so, no matter where you're coming from you can leave that argument at home. I wont single out any particular area because everyone knows that we dont speak out mind here. Noooo, not us, ( cough-cough New York, cough-cough). The rest of it is so minnute in variation that you'll mold and develop you're own preferences. Chicago may be a single destination if you're not from here but once you are you'll be broken down into 1 of 3 categories, Northsider (yuppie Cubs fan with a little money), Southsider (a little less money but an ass kickin, gang-banger Sox Fan. Even if youre really not) or a Westsider. Nobody wants to be a Westsider and for the most part nobody cares if you are. There is no east of the city unless you're in a boat. The divide runs deep with all areas but the pride of the city blurs and even erases the lines when it comes to the Blackhawks & Bears. Lake Michigan does freeze over in the winter, never really gets warm to the rest of the world's standards in the summer, still recovering from a once pea green soup color and nothing even closely resembling a clear blue Florida ocean but you know what, its ours! And we simply do Chicago unlike any other city in the world. Anything you want, any food you want, any kind of people, any neighborhoods, any culture, any hospiitals, any education, it's all here. There is no better place. I know, I moved away for a short few years as I took it all for granted. Now I'm coming home with an embrace like never before to take full advantage of it all. I went out looking for the world and didn't realize I already had it right under my nose the whole time. Best city I've ever been in, period!

pauline_tricot
pauline_tricot

Cool article! I'll be travelling to Chicago soon! hoping that Verlocal will have more local activities to explore. They've just launched there. http://goo.gl/LrcRB4

Mike D
Mike D

Great article... Lived IN the city since 2006 and I checked off about 28 of these...haha

 Nicely done....

Michael A
Michael A

How could you leave out MALORT? 

Martin M
Martin M

You will start to see gang graffiti with funny names on walls

Sarah G
Sarah G

That's so funny! I have been there a couple of times  and I can tell that I find some of the mentioned things to be true. I'll share this post with my friends who live there. I'm curious to hear their opinion.

 http://www.londonremovals.co.uk/index.htm

Robert G
Robert G

No. The El ALWAYS expresses past the stop I'm trying to get to. ALWAYS.

Jonathan B
Jonathan B

I enjoyed this. There are so many neighborhoods in Chicago and all of them have different experiences. If you're looking for information about Chicago Neighborhoods or are looking for homes for sale in Chicago see: http://braxhomes.com/2014/10/24/living-in-chicago/  Has some good information for people thinking about making the move to Chicago

Byron H
Byron H

None of this happened to me. Obnoxious and lame.

Danielle T
Danielle T

Pretty much on target but I don hate how Time Out articles only refer to people who do NOT live on the South Side, further alienating people on the South Side. Way to keep up the stereotype. 

Crystal K
Crystal K

Lived here for 10 years and I only got 7

Joshua M
Joshua M

You will get a parking ticket.

Little N
Little N

Great List for the most part, but what about 'DA' Bears, the supposed Chicago Pizza (though 9 out of 10 Chicagoans eat thin crust), festivals, festivals, festivals; etc...

Amanda P
Amanda P

No one calls it cornhole.

Shiggy D
Shiggy D

i'm just here to blame obama for all the shootings

Jamie M
Jamie M

As a new Chicago resident (11 months now), I'm proud to report a solid 26 out of 33....