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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

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