16 reasons why we can't leave Chicago, even after this evil winter

We'll admit this winter has made us question why we live in Chicago, but the answers keep us right where we are

Our skyline is beautiful, but it's not enough to keep us here.

You're not human if, after the third polar vortex, the hundreth snowfall, the bazillionth delayed El train, you haven't considered leaving this city. It's been a winter that's tested our will to live, much less our willingness to live in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Your guide to living in Chicago

So on this, the 177th anniversary of Chicago's incorporation as a city, we've compiled the reasons why we at Time Out Chicago are committed to this city. In the end, it's not our stellar theater scene, our incredible restaurants and bars, or our countless music festivals that keeps us here—any big city has those things (not as good as ours, but still). Our reasons speak to the quality-of-life factors, the things that make living in Chicago better than in any other city.

Why do you stay? Tell us in the comments.

16. All the messy toil and sting of the cold season seem to disappear on that one magic day—it usually comes in the second week of March—when the early afternoon clouds part, the sun beats down with intensity you haven't felt in months and suddenly you're overdressed. You shed your bulky coat, stuff it in your bag and smile. It's not quite spring, but the worst of winter is behind you.—Jake Malooley, senior editor

15. You don't need a car to live here. The CTA is slow, clunky, late and often full of putrid smells, but it will get you where you need to go. Eventually.—Laura Baginski, editor

14. The peopleare what make Chicago great. Here, I can hang out with good friends all the time and it is easy to do. My friends who move away tell me that maintaining friendships in other not-to-be-named cities is really hard, and building a great network of friends in nearly impossible. In Chicago, I know if I stop at my local favorite bar or restaurant, I will know the bartender (a friend), an old pal will already be at the bar, and another friend will walk in the door a minute later, all unplanned.—Martha Williams, photo editor

13. There's a lot of talk in the theater and comedy scenes here about "paying your dues"—appropriate for this union town. And this brutal winter especially has felt like dues paid. But paying dues pays off, whether it's getting in on the ground floor with future comedy legends, or reaping the riches of Chicago in summer. The work we have to put in makes the rewards all the sweeter.—Kris Vire, associate editor, Theater, Comedy, LGBT

12. Because the beach is 15 minutes from pretty much anywhere you are in the city.—Erin Delahanty, senior digital marketing manager

11. The location. Being located in the Midwest means that I can hop on a plane and in about two hours be in New York, New Orleans, New England, D.C., and other spots my friends and family live. Plus, being driving distance from Milwaukee, Madison, Michigan, Indy, Louisville and other places means getting away for the weekend is super easy.—Amy Cavanaugh, Food & Drink editor

10. In some ways I think the winter slog makes us better appreciate Chicago's good points, in a self-reinforcing fashion: If we're willing to put up with this bullshit weather, this city must be pretty damn great.—KV

9. The 4am bars. And the White Sox.—Jessica Johnson, senior online producer

8. It's a city filled with driven, motivated people who also happen to (mostly) be friendly Midwesterners happy to give you directions when you're lost.—ED

7. Chicago is still reasonably affordable. New York magazine recently published a feature laying out what its city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, can possibly do to make NYC affordable for the middle class. Here in Chicago, we don't have the same dire need to write those pieces. Not quite yet, anyway. That could change given Mayor Emanuel's fixation on making Chicago what he loves to call a "world-class city." Our city is world class, we don't need the sky-high rent to prove it.—JM

6. ​I can live alongside a massive body of water in a major metropolitan area—without paying a fortune.—Brent DiCrescenzo, managing editor

5. Chicago is now the place to set shoot your new TV show (Chicago PD, Crisis, Mind Games, Sirens, plus less-new shows like Chicago Fire, Shameless and the new season of Orange Is the New Black).—JJ

4. The beer. Confession: I hardly ever drank beer before moving to Chicago three and a half years ago. I’ve always been foremost a cocktail girl, but the vast number of breweries here and the availability of great beer has opened my eyes to all of the different styles available. I still have a ton to learn (and drink), but the beer scene has been one of the most exciting parts of living in Chicago.—AC

3. Every musical act in the world seems to play here, at some point. Sometimes it feels like every single last one of them is here in June, July and August alone.—BD

2. Chicago has all of the cultural richness of a major metropolitan city, but is very livable.  You can buy property or find a cheap apartment fairly easily, and live off very little if you need to. It was the perfect city for me when I was a broke college student, and it is still the perfect city for me as a first-time homeowner.—MW

1. The civic pride here is real. People here love to talk up their city, both the good and the bad (and then defend the hell out it when a non-Chicagoan dares to say something negative about the city). When I travel and people ask me where I'm from, I'm so proud to say I'm from Chicago.—LB


Myrionymos B

Many of those reasons are all saying the same thing--cheap. Know why its so cheap? Because you can get shot walking down the street more than in most other cities.

Mario E

16 Reasons to stay in ChiRaQ  ??      Well, I just gave you in  three comments about 50 Reasons not to even come to Chicago........Denial is the Word, no Other option  Choose one Chicago...

Scegline Uno Chicago....Scegline Uno...

Denial, Ignorance , Corruption,  and Crime are some of Chicago's highlights ....ohhh and Rude, very rude and unfriendly People...if we dont have to come back to this disgusting Corrupted Crime rude infested place we will not care ...Absolutely not.  16 reasons....i just gave you 6 postings chiRaQ.....

Mario E

Did I mentioned that to find a Good Chinese Restaurant You need to try like 10 first and Still can't find one who can cook good.......yes , there are many many good Restaurants in the Chicago /suburbs areas but there are also as many or more Bad ones.........Steak Houses? there are Great , Magnificent Steak Houses in California also, and in Florida even more, and in Texas...even more!!! and in many other places other than Chicago.... 10 Asian places!!!! All Average or Mediocre...

Even Benihana here Sucks!!! and Benihana is Extremely Great in Florida, California and Texas and most places....same goes with PF Changs , same exact case....

Royal Hibachi buffet in Hofman Estates

Green Panda in highland Park

Joy Yee in Evanston

Golden chef in wheeling

Tsukasa of tokyo in Vernon Hills

Szechuan Kingdom in Northbrook

Hibachi Grill Buffett in Elk Grove

Tongs Hunan in Northbrook

Bobby Chinns ...Seafood in Chicago ? not good...by an Asian , even worst..!!!!

all of these places are Average or mediocre.....all of them. even the ones that look Asian Authentic like Joy Yee where you find dozens of Koreans, Chinese and vietnamese people eating there.......Freezes are Incredible!!! extremely Good...

Same thing goes with Italian Cuisine..to find a good place you need to try 10/12   until we went to Mambo Italiano   magnificent Italian place.

The Polish food is horrible!!!! Brutal ...so is the German.....

Greek is really good here

Steak houses Super great

Mexican ? 10 places bad 2 good/average    Casa Bonita being the best and the owner is American...!!!!

Chicago has great steak houses and some other great cuisine but NY , Florida and Texas and California...have much much better in general....specially Asian and Italian....even Spanish food ( spain) Russian..NY has Everything and Everything usually Great.....Chicago , out of 50 Restaurants 40 are Average or mediocre......is not like that in the other states mentioned, at all.....

You people can fool someone who was here for a week and went to the Bean and to the museums and went to a few places...but we went all over the place all the time....all over the place..!!!! for 14 Months we eat at over 70 Different places and 75% of them were not good, Average or Mediocre....All Types of Food...from indian to chinese to Japanese to Mex to Greek to Rican to Cuban to European places ..French places in mundeliein....all over folks, all over...

We still dont get the fuzz about chicago...im sorry, we dont       and to Eat good usually you really have to pay up...that we can bcs of our Business....but the point is that if Overtime you go out to eat you need to spend $70, $80, %100 and more what s sooooooo great about Chicago Food? 

even the Steak houses are Overrated...Capital Grill, Sullivans, Burke's, Morton's .....The Chop house....Ruth Chris....Jordan's   Ron of Japan, Gene and Georgette.....all very good, but Overrated and Overpriced......

and lets not talk about the smaller Steak places like Webber and Wildfire....OMG!!! Brutal....is the Word

Good places? Seasons 52, but we have those everywhere

Prairie Grass....awesome place

Mambo Italiano

Hole in the Wall



in Chicago you have to go to a lot of Chains places in order to not Fail....unfortunatelly thats the way it is.........if you keep going to all those Greek owned dinners, Chinese places, Italians like tuscany, rosebud and other places u will find yourself not wanting to go out to eat again.....

Stephen V

#12, great but the water is too old to go in?

I tend to think the city must make up for the cold/overcast/dark winter weather, but for me I'd rather warm sunny weather over that and there are other places to live with milder winters.

Laurel W

And this is why I'll be returning to Chicago next fall after being in LA for three years. While the weather here is great, nothing will ever beat the Chi! 

Matt H

Dunno why I'm wasting my time posting this but fuck it, I saw this article and I just had a convo about this this morning after a good lay. Fuck you northsiders, transplants, and anyone else like this Pedro clown. I grew up on the south side, and I'm white, that's right, a white south sider, we do exist.

Chicago is not a sunny beach Mecca of niceness. For all of you who who think it's anything close to that, move, move to the south side, I DARE you, but you never will. You'll cite blacks as your reason, what a pussy cop out . The fact is life is fucking rough down there, it's gloomy, people worry about money, people worry about there safety, there's gangs, white, black, Mexican, you name it. Cops down there fuck people up, especially if your the wrong color. It's run by industry, no not high rise huge finance industry, put a fucking helmet on and do a shit job industry. Yes, it's nice here on the north side , yes I have it good now, life is a fuckin breeze, but it pisses me off when people who have only known the north side get pissed off at south siders for stating the facts, cuz it really does suck down there. Is it callous if me that I don't really care that that's the reality and I'm going to go on with my day here on the north side without a care in the world? Fuck it, just fuck it. I'm probably gonna get transferred to Cali anyway but no, northside...think jersey shore ...south side...think shit.

Dustin D

Possibly moving to Chicago if this job works out.  I grew up in the twin cities which has a lot of similar friendliness (Minnesota Nice).  You don't get the homeless beggars pestering you as much in the twin cities but that is to be expected in any larger city, but that is the reason I'm going is to help end the high level Generational poverty in the schools. Glad to see I won't miss Minneapolis too much moving to Chicago.

Monika L

@Dustin D  I'm thinking about moving to Chicago from Minnesota too, I hope it all works out for you.

Amanda N

Socioeconomic issues are present anywhere. And anywhere is better to live when you have money and social priveledge. No point debating it when contributors (note: it wasn't one author) are pointing out factors of one city that combine to make it unique from many other cities.

FullCreamAffiliates W

It's affordable and livable and full of appreciative good-natured people because of "the evil winter": points 16,14,10,8,7,6,2,1 are all a result of having awful winter weather. If the weather was more clement combined with all the social and cultural pluses we would have sky-high property prices and douches for neighbors, that is to say New York. 

An U

Chicago is a cigar mecca, we have some of the best cigar lounges in the country and you can find a cigar related event every other week without fail.  

Pete F.

I for one can say I've never once thought of leaving Chicago -- this winter or any other.


You know, it is amazing how you can live right on the lake, be in a great city, and not go completely broke in the process. Not too dense, not too spread out. And you can choose your experience by living in whatever neighborhood you choose, and yet it all fits together beautifully.

What a great city.

Kat C

Ditto. Great post

Pedro C

These reasons you can apply to any city. Has this author actually lived in Chicago? And as a minority? Have you traveled further down than 35th and Roosevelt? Where did you actually come from? Have you also put down that this "Midwestern Charm" includes people being overly sarcastic and racist to each other? I will never ever want to walk down Wrigleyville because there will always be people who want to fight.  I lived here for nearly 30 years and found Chicagoans to be most the vocal and yet the most lazy people when it comes to solving problems. Chicagoans are stubbornly proud of their shittiness and would put people down on people who want to do more than work in corporate offices or guilds. I would like to see this author to do more than a google search and questioning her friends in the office about Chicago. I live in a different city right now (Los Angeles) and I would say you don't have to put up with this crap. There's a better life out there and don't let this crap article written by some transplant from Michigan, Ohio or Indiana tell you otherwise.

Pedro C

@D S Hah, That's the good 'ol "Midwestern Charm" I keep hearing about. As also a born and bred (Ex)Chicagoan I don't hide behind a hastily slapped together screen name to throw insults. I thought someone as "tough" as you (being from Chicago and all) would reveal yourself.  I'm not a screenwriter nor an actor by the way. I don't even work in that industry. There's more to LA than that (if you even bothered to travel outside of the state) And more to my point, you just put me down because I wanted to do something better. I'm not surprised. This is the stuff I've been talking about. You want a comment war? You got it.

Katie F

 I'm truly sorry for you that you feel this way!!! I was born and raised in Lincoln Park (and live there to this day) and I can tell you that while racism and sarcasm are present in any city population, Chicago has way less of these people than any other city. Midwestern hospitality is prevalent here. I suggest walking around with a more open look on your face or maybe try smiling if you don't receive the amount of random smiles and waves that I receive on a daily basis from complete strangers. Otherwise maybe you should just consider moving because only .01% of the population doesn't like it here therefore you will have nobody to sympathise with. Chicago might be cold now, but it's the warmhearted people that keep me here and are the reason I will live here for the rest of my life. 

Pedro C

@Katie F Have you ever traveled outside of Lincoln Park? Have you even taken the red line past Chinatown and hung out at other places around the city? Do you even know about Hegewisch? Have you even been to Cal Park Beach? Or the St. Jude Shrine on East 91st street? Or even had a hot dog at Freddie's near Comiskey Park? Or eaten at Harold's Chicken on 119th and Western (technically that was in Blue Island)? Again, it seems that many people  like you think that Chicago is only downtown and Big Star Tacos. And they NEVER EVER dare to go to any other neighborhoods unless it's for their office charity event so they can feel good about themselves and drink Margaritas afterwards.  Of course the city works for you, you are probably not a minority and have never felt racism. Step into my shoes and walk around trying to do the best you can and have people outright REJECT you because you look different. Or have many of your friends and family question your philosophy because they don't understand it (and never will).  Y'all think I'm just some troll who doesn't know what he's talking about but unlike many of you I have been nearly everywhere in the city. I've driven inside it, I've taken nearly every line except for the Yellow, I've taken so many bus rides and I've eaten at nearly every restaurant at the crappy glass bowl that's the State building. I went to UIC for undergrad. I went to the Taste of Chicago every summer with my mom and dad.  Why don't you do something brave and take the red line all the way towards 95th. Tell me what you see and how you feel?  There many, many people that live in this city because they have to. Unfortunately this city doesn't work for them and it never will. So, I'm truly sorry that you are not aware of what's really going on but hey it works for you, good. Ignorance is bliss.

Pete F.

@Pedro C people from Chicago don't talk about "midwestern charm." This isn't Minnesota. Get out of here with that garbage.

Jess P

@Pedro C  Thanks for posting this comment. Your argument is well expressed (all you did was ask the question) and there is ALOT of truth in what you are saying. 

Spike Lee was just in the midst of a controversial flurry of news and blog posts for his rant about the hyper-gentrification of of Brooklyn. The same "columbus syndrome" that he feels drives white elite and mid class occupants into historically cultural neighborhoods is the same air that Chicagoans put on about the small pieces of the city they think is the whole. Nothing against Lincoln Park and Big Star Tacos because those places are great and help add to the city's make-up but that's not all there is. Sadly, people who live and seclude themselves in these parts do not really learn the entire character of Chicago all it's different colors, niches, wounds, scars, valleys and peaks---and that's a real shame. If in fact people did do that, it might be a different city than it is today which is still as segregated and racist as it was 40,50,60 years ago.

Alexander A

@Pedro C Many of us choose not to go to some of the areas you write about not because we are not brave, but because we are not stupid.  Why would you want to take the L to a neighborhood that lives like a war zone?  When you watch world news and they talk about all the gun violence in Chicago, they are talking about the same neighborhoods over and over again.  I choose not to go there, and if the violent people that live there want to leave the city, I would be happy to see them go.


As a born and bred Chicagoan, you're a fucking idiot. Have fun getting botox and getting your script turned down for the 127th time in LA.

Mario E

@Katie F chicago totally and Completely Sucks...!!!!!! and not because of the weather, because of many many Things and Negatives Chicago has that many many other Warmer or even colder places dont...

Mario E

@Katie F Chicago is one or the City in the US with more Negatives. All these things im going to say aren't invented by me or anybody else, these are Documented things about Chicago by the University of Illinois, University of northwestern, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, Travel & Leisure, Yelp and even people from Chicago and its Suburbs who lived here for Decades and are desperate to moved out of the Chicago .....here is the list .

Chicago is the most Public/Politically Corrupted Crime  Infested City!!! in the Country.

Chicago has the highest Violent Crime Rate among the big Five ( NY, LA, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia) despite NY having almost 9 million people, LA 8 , Houston 6.6 and Chicago 2.7 million people....!!!

Chicago has discrimination at its highest level and all over.

Chicago has Segregation, big big time Segregation.

Taxes in Chicago ( Cook county) are Ridiculous and one or the highest in the Country.

Chicago Ranks # 12 as Rudest Cities in the U.S and # 14 in unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.

People are Rude and very , Extremely Impersonal ( this might has to do with Certain people from Certain places) 

over 1200 yearly die in these areas via Accidents ( Illinois) because most people Drive like Maniacs , there are even Traffic signs in cities like wheeling, Riverwoods, Northbrook, Northfield, Buffalo Grove and other and I quote that says  " Aggressive Driving will be Prosecuted"   and make no mistake , these are really nice cities to Live, these aren't bad places......we have never ever seen those signs Anywhere in the world...!!!!!

Fraude is soo high here , our ATM Cards were Blocked 10 times because our Bank said these Areas are Infested with Fraude and if you are an Outsider using your ATM card here it triggers a Red flag, because the Chicago area is a Fraudulent area when it comes to that...sooooo if you dont use or places dont let you use your Pin # your Bank takes that as a Red Flag. in these cases because of the Chicago area Fraude/Crime/Corruption....

That Sooooo Called Midwestern Charm some people talk about here is a bunch of BS....total BS ....is a big huge Lie.people here are Rude!!!! Impersonal and Unfriendly....in Chicago and in the Suburbs...all you need is to go to Fresh Farms in wheeling...OMG..!!!!!!! they will bite your head off if you let them.

Taxes....? Taxes here are Ridiculous, specially in Cook county and with 500k you buy yourself a so So house..no big deal.....and pay 10k 12k in Taxes , while in most places is 4k or 5k....because of the state Taxes...Illinois is not either a Tax or a Friendly place to Retire at all , reason why IL still at 12.8 millions population and Warmer places have 20, 30 and even 40 millions population....nobody retires to Chicago, people retire to Warm and Tax Friendly places not Ice Boxes with Ridiculous wheather and Taxes......

most people we know here leave As soon as it starts Snowing in Chicago..where? Well.....Warmer places !!!!! like I said , nobody retires to the north, people Retire to the South or Warmer places......reason why 60% 70 % of the U.S population Live in California, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, NC , SC, GA, Tenn and other Warmer and nicer places.

Outdoors...? Illinois outdoors are Terrible!!! Horrible......you want to see great outdoors? go to California, Florida, Montana, ect...NY has one of the most special and Beautiful Outdoors, despite its whether...I will take NY to live a  thousand times before IL...

if you can overcome all these and the Awfull Pizza and that everything Evolves around Alcohol....Crime and Corruption...then By all means stay here, We really dont need or want Rude /in Denial people in our states....I went to Minnesota for a Week because we had a Anti money Laundering BSA Fraude and Compliance Meeting and We loved it...there is no way you can compare the Friendly people of minnesota to the Rude/Unfriendly people of Chicago....I will also take Minnesota any time before Chicago/IL.........bottom line...the Negatives in the Chicago are so many that the Exodus is huge...Every year thousands of people move on from Chicago Wheather, Taxes, rude people, Corruption, discrimination and Segregation.........Because our Hefty Income, we can live in Chicago in most places, but I need to say this.....the only people that find all all these Negatives unfair and will even argued about it is that small % of very Rich People who lives here.......but, let me also say this....with a Great Job ( we have it) Chicago will be our last last choice to Live or have children and have a Family...Everything in Chicago moves and goes with ALCOHOL.........its been great meeting all of you, We are Finally going back home to Warm Whether to the Beautiful Ocean to fish and get a sun Tan and to Eat in real great places...Our AML Project is over , thanks for the $$$$$ and Decent Food, but no thanks, you can all have your Corrupted.Infestest /Rude Chicago for Yourselves.........Ciao Ciao Fratellos....

Mario E

@Katie F And Katie and Company   Believe Me..!!! I was really really really NICE to Chicago ....its Worst , Much worst......I can Personaly Live with most Negatives     but Rude, Impersonal, Unfriendly people...???   Chicago people might not realize this..but , they Are those things....Read an Article from one of your most important Newspapers   and I quote...

" Be Carefull Chicago, We are Starting to Behave like New York"      Starting? he he he he he h was soon as you come here , stay here for a week...and in our case we were here for 14 Months you Feel those things and more......Personaly I think it has to do with , like i said before....Certain People ( S) from Certain places ( Countries)   please dont hate me..Im just been Honest and I write with Documented Facts...REality...not Fantasies...

the same way I call a Certain place..The Toilet of the U.S I also Call chicago something very very alike Dressed and Wrapped in Gold....because it is.

Mario E

@Pete F. @Pedro C he he he he he he he Esta gente acá creen que son Super nice y son Racistas y Rudos hasta decir no mas......never been in such Denial place like Chicago......they Envy California, Florida, NY , Texas big big time.....You can even mention those places here.....thats how in Denial chicago is and rude..!!!

Pete F.

@Pedro C  Jesus Christ, we get it, you've seen a black person. Get over yourself.

By the way, Old Time Tap in Hegewisch is one of my favorite bars, and I can tell you, they'd be the first among us to tell your ass to go back to Milwaukee, or whatever the hell suburb you're from.

Kat C

Pedro, I think you seek out trouble. I have been south of 35th street about 200 times. I l know if you are looking for trouble anywhere, you can find it. Every experience you described likely began because of your crappy attitude - so your problems with Chicago are on you, not the Coty.


Seriously? No mention of cultural diversity? Chicago has one of best diverse neighborhoods without feeling out of place wherever you go. We have Devon Ave, we have Little Village, Greek Town, Pilsen, Humboldt Park, Ukrainian Village, Uptown, Hyde Park, Lawndale and the list goes on. Yeah we might have great fine dining, but you know what, so do many other cities. Take a bus 20-40min in either direction in Chicago and your taste buds will be completely submerged in cultural ethnicity. On top of that it's Pazcki day today! Why are you not at a Polish bakery right now getting your yearly sweet Polish pastries?

Stephen V

Parts of uptown look like a hole to me, I can do without that diversity..


I agree that Chicago is culturally one of the best cities in the U.S. Subsequently some of the best cuisine, transportation, attractions, beautiful skyline and lakefront. I AM A Chitown native and insightfullly left November 2013..missed the polar vortex, and high crime rate. I lived in Lakeview which used to be one of the low crime areas...no longer the case. YES I love my hometown for many of the reasons mentioned in your article. However, I will love it even more as a summer tourist to enjoy it's wonderful attributes...but will be happy to fly away afterwards. .


Completely disagree with #3 unless the submitter is talking about rock and pop. The best jazz artists seem to skip Chicago. You need to go to NYC, DC, SF or NOLA to see them.