How OFTEN do you need a car? That's the question. If you just need a car for a few hours a month, I recommend car sharing. Services are found all over Chicagoland.
I like I-GO car sharing. A lot of folks prefer Zipcar, but that’s probably because they don’t know about I-GO’s GO Budget plan. Fifteen dollars/mo and a 6-month commitment buys you 3 hours and 150 miles per month. Your CTA pass can even link to your I-GO account!
But, if you’re gonna drive 7 hrs/mo, Zipcar’s cheapest Extra Value Plan might be worth it at $56/mo, and I included the membership and registration fees in that figure. You get 7 hours of drive time and 180 miles per month. You can’t rent a car from a chain by the hour, so Zipcar buys you flexibility for cheap.
Again, if you have to rent a car, look for coupons online or discounts from your company, univeristy, or union (on the AFL-CIO website); or, check out Rent-A-Wreck for killer deals.
Wedding with 100+ guests? In general, most venues that can house a large party (125-170 people) at a private event in Chicago start at $5,000. Workable,
until you find out you must use their "approved" vendors (caterers,
florists, bar service, etc.), all of which cost a fortune. May we suggest:
Chicago has one of the highest sales tax in the United States: 9.25%. Illinois income tax is 5%, and is now one of the highest in the country, too.
Craigslist. You can also try the “free” apartment services. An agent will take you out in his/her car to look for a place. These companies will charge you a finder’s fee of $200-$300 if you take one of the apartments they show you.
Cheap rents and rental advice?
I checked the Reader, where I’ve always found the best deals. Live-able apartments in decent neighborhoods can be found at these rates, heat included:
1 BRM: $800
2 BRM: $1,250
3 BRM: $1,550
Many management companies will negotiate, reducing $15-$20/mo from the advertised price to further entice a potential tenant. Management companies are also changing their policies regarding security deposits. Some ask for $250-$350 in non-refundable “move-in” fees, which are ALSO negotiable.
Cheapest safe neighborhoods?
Most common to folks just starting out are Andersonville and Wicker Park. Also try Lincoln Square, Wrigleyville, and Albany Park. Be near a grocery store: Jewel, Dominick’s, Aldi’s.
You’re a performer, student, etc.? Forget your car. We have plenty of trains and buses. Live off the Red or Blue lines and you’ll be fine. The Brown line is safe, but may be inconvenient if you frequently travel after Midnight.
How much money should I save before I move?
I recommend 4 months of your projected
What about jobs?
The unemployment rate in Chicago was 9.3% for May. No industry has been spared job losses. If you're an artist, try the temp agencies first, then the papers -- Tribune, Sun Times, Reader. I also suggest you walk around your neighborhood and look for businesses that are hiring.
If you're working under a temp agency, you can leave with very little notice should you land something better or more permanent, and that's the advantage. The Larko Group is often advertised in PerformInk. I was a Kelly girl myself for a number of years.
How do I break into the entertainment industry?
That's a post of a different color, but I can tell you that print ads, commercials, and television series are non-existent right now, and feature film shoots are sporadic, even though we renewed our tax incentive. Since Oprah left, the Chicago job market is swimming in highly qualified television workers.
Get yourself the Not for Tourists Guide to Chicago. And read my other posts: