10 things I learned about Chicago only after moving to Chicago

10. While “Chicago-style” pizza is a very real thing, nobody is putting on any airs of competing with New York. Either they don’t care or they know that Chicago-style is inferior. Either way, since moving here, I have heard exactly zero people try to debate the differences.

9. When you tell someone where you live in the city, they will invariably reply, verbatim, “ugh, that’s such-a-great-area!” This is especially true if you are moving – it does not matter where you are moving to; people will always say this in response.

8. Incidentally, your neighborhood immediately “gives you away.” When people ask where you live, they are really asking about your marital status, income, where you shop for groceries, what you wear on weekends, and what you drink (Wicker Park, PBR… Lincoln Park, white wine… Wrigleyville, “whatever’s cheapest on draft, bro.”) This of course happens in many big cities, but, being from Denver, the concept was foreign to me.

7. Speaking of which, Chicagoans drink Goose Island like Coloradoans drink Fat Tire. It is an inoffensive, ubiquitous “go-to.” It may not be a conversation starter, but you won’t lose friends over it.

6. Also, almost everyone already knows that the ski resorts around here are horrible. There is really no need to tell them – they are fully aware. Anybody who is a serious skier travels somewhere like Colorado to do so. Anybody who skis within a drive of the city does so out of convenience. And perhaps sheer desperation. (Incidentally, it seems a very good portion of the city wants to move to CO. If you mention you did the opposite, people will politely declare, “what?! whhyyy?” … and you’re like, “well, c’mon guys, this place ain’t all that bad.”)

5. Almost everybody gets “fat” in the winter. Most of them lose weight in the summer. Your driver’s license is almost never accurate, because the range of weight varies by 10 or 20 pounds. Blame it on the winter hibernation and extensive amounts of food combined with great summers and beach days.

4. The architecture tour is the real deal. Like, everybody goes on the architecture tour. A lot of people who live here take everyone who comes to town, meaning most of them have been on it like half a dozen times. (In other words, if you visit the city, your host will likely try to drag you. If your host does not do this, you should drag them, because clearly they are not in the know. Either way.)

3. While it is your legal right to pay your cab driver with a credit card if you so choose, this does not deter them from throwing a hissy fit when you try to do so. (It is not uncommon for one to literally whine at you like a toddler. Some get really aggressive. Others pull the “my machine is broken” act. Try not to act surprised when any of these happens.) If you want to avoid the situation, just carry cash.

2. Parts of the west loop and River North smell like chocolate. This is because there is a chocolate factory on Kinzie and Milwaukee. We lived in this area when I first moved to Chicago, and although I have a week sense of smell and was all but immune to it, the first thing my mom said when she got out of her taxi from the airport was, “gawd… I want some brownies.”

1. And the biggest thing I didn’t know until I moved to Chicago? You can save big money at Menards!

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One comment

  1. whitmay · · Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I just moved here http://www.drhorton.com/Illinois/Chicago/Elgin
    and I have so much to still figure out, but I love it here already, i am worried about the winters and trying to figure out the transit system is hard but I’m sure soon I’ll have it down. Great post!

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