Chicago is currently the third-most populated city in the U.S. (behind NYC and Los Angeles), with a population of nearly 2.7 million residents spread across 237 square miles. The population is currently undergoing a decline as more and more people move out to the suburbs; as a result, rent has been steadily decreasing over the past few years. Renters can still expect to pay slightly more than the national average, but far less than they would in most other major cities.
Chicago’s central location has made it a hub of transportation and commerce for over a century. Its job market has remained consistently strong, especially when compared to the national trend, with the finance, publishing, manufacturing, and food processing industries dominating. Oprah Winfrey may no longer be operating out of Chicago, but plenty of Fortune 500 companies—including Walgreens Boots Alliance, State Farm Insurance, Boeing, and United Airlines Holdings—are still based here.
In addition to its diverse economy, Chicago also boasts a number of world-class universities and sports teams, miles of beaches and waterfront along Lake Michigan, and over 550 parks. Traffic can be challenge, but Chicago makes up for it with its public transportation, bike sharing, and overall walkability.