Two years ago, I left Chicago to pursue a master’s degree in Southern California. When I told people I was moving to San Diego, my Midwest friends were convinced that I would never return to polar vortex winters and unbearably humid summers. As I prepared to finish school and begin my move back to Chicago, my new California friends would ask me why I was moving back to a place with real weather and subpar beaches. There are a lot of things you'll miss when you move away from Chicago. Here are five of them.
1. Public transportation: I never thought I’d be so happy to ride the Pink Line for the first time, or take two trains to go two miles because there was not a direct route. Having access to public transportation takes away the stress of worrying about rush hour traffic, expensive parking tickets and inflated gas prices. It also allows more spontaneity in your nights out with friends. When you have access to a reliable public transportation system, you do not have to worry about parking, leaving your car overnight or limiting your alcohol intake in order to drive home.
2. Chicago sports pride: Chicago sports fans are truly die-hard, loyal fans. There’s nothing like being in Chicago after the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons, or catching a Bears game at your favorite local watering hole. Even attending a last-minute Cubs game in Wrigleyville has its own special charm. Do I even need to mention the Bulls Dream Team? Needless to say, Chicago fans are the real deal and for good reason.
3. The bond of surviving winter: Getting through a Chicago winter gives residents special camaraderie. Residents of cities with more temperate climates will never share the same bond. They will never truly empathize with the embarrassment and pain of slipping on black ice in front of a crowd, showing up to a bar rocking your snow boots or having the realization that your snot has actual frozen in your nostrils. Fellow Chicagoans give each other that all-knowing smile and nod as they witness your slips and your need to take five minutes to remove your layers when you meet your pals for brunch.
4. The food: There is zero excuse to have a bad meal in Chicago. Whether you’re at the newest Michelin Guide-rated restaurant, your favorite bar down the street or a hole-in-the-wall taco shop, Chicago has some of the best food in the country at an affordable price. The city allows you to experience delicious food without breaking the bank.
5. The people: People in Chicago are just nice human beings. While people in other places may be polite, laid-back, smart, beautiful and so forth, people in the Midwest actually care about you. The mantra in Chicago, more than any other major city I’ve lived in or visited, is “how can I be helpful?” Residents here will actually stop to give you directions on the street if you look lost. Chicago is the ultimate city for networking and expanding your social circle. Chicagoans genuinely want to get to know you, a unique quality that will be difficult to find in any other major city.