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21 signs you're not gonna make it in Chicago

Written by
Nick Kotecki

If you were raised in Chicago, the signs that you belong here are in your blood. But if you've moved here from elsewhere—even one of the suburbs—it could take a while to acclimate, to become a true Chicagoan.

Luckily, it doesn't take very long. Even if luck doesn't spring your way immediately, the process is not the thorough hazing one must undergo to successfully live in New York. There are still signs our fair city isn't for you. Chicago is much less about how much you can keep on your plate at once and more about what you're willing to put up with and keep a smile on your face. Maybe that's why the city basically turns into a laid-back beach town during the summer months. Chicago calls for a blend that's equal parts totally chill and nonchalant aggression. It's a hard balance to maintain. And without it, you might as well pick an end of the spectrum and flee to one of the coasts.

Without further ado, here are the telltale signs that maybe you're not gonna make it in Chicago.

1. You think it’s hot right now. Just wait until the humidity comes, you'll be begging for winter.

2. You think it’s cold and it’s December. Oh, the wind is blowing down your neck on Wacker Drive? Just wait until February when it'll slap you through your wool scarf.

3. You can’t handle working more than 40 hours per week. We live here partly for work-life balance, but face it, Chicago still has some of the highest standards in American work life.

4. You openly criticize the Blackhawks. We dare you to try this in the Loop during the next Blackhawks parade. This year, there were millions.

5. You’re disgusted by eating more than 2,000 calories per day. Um, pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, tacos. Hello? 

6. After six months, your only friends are from work and your roommates. You're going to have to do better than that. Chicagoans are one of the few breeds of city folks who collectively nice as a people. If you're still lonely after six months, you might have to return to your cute Midwestern hometown and reunite with your high school friends.

7. You’re too scared to drive. Move over or get out of the way—just don't slow down.

8. You never use public transit. For as much as we gripe about the CTA, we’ve actually got it pretty good. Have you ever tried driving (or parking?!) near Gold Coast or Lincoln Park during the weekend?

9. You’re not OK with always being the underdog. In a world where New York and Los Angeles reign supreme, get ready to receive some serious shade. That's OK though, we're better than that. We've got nothing to prove.

10. You’re never nice. This is the one compliment we get from New Yorkers and Angelenos—don’t fuck it up.

11. You're not the least bit passive aggressive. What Chicagoans don't say, they'll just do on the sly. We'll walk slow through crosswalks, dibs the hell out of our parking spaces and stand on the wrong side of the escalator.

12. You want deep-dish pizza every Friday. No one can handle that much dough, or that much cheese, or that much sauce on the regular. Plus, our best pizza isn't even deep-dish.

13. You’re always complaining that the CTA smells like piss. Big secret here: It's not just Chicago. Welcome to all trains everywhere in America, folks.

14. You haven’t figured out the easiest train system in the U.S. after a week. Yeah. Just...yeah.

15. You don't like free movies and free fireworks. These are just some of the things that are free almost every week during the summer months in Chicago.

16. You won’t live with a roommate for a while. Have fun in your Rogers Park studio, alone. Forever.

17. You haven’t tasted good Mexican food after two weeks. Do you have legs? Do you have eyes that can recognize the Spanish language? OK, walk 10 minutes and you'll find it.

18. On that note, you don't understand the slightest bit of Spanish. There are many, many neighborhoods here where English is not the predominantly spoken language in Chicago. A good chunk of Chicago culture is also Latino culture.

19. You are always buying those dudes’ mixtapes for $5. Sometimes you just gotta walk away.

20. You’re too snobby to take cabs. Like permanent Uber surge rates? Boy, oh boy, do we have a city for you!

21. You won’t go to the beach because it’s not the ocean. Fine, we'll keep it to ourselves.

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