Compared to Other U.S. Cities, Cost of Chicago Real Estate is Lower

Chicago cost of living

I can’t travel anywhere without scoping out the real estate market. Over my 22-year career in Chicago real estate, I’ve often compared our city to other metropolitan areas in every aspect possible—lifestyle, cost of living, what the city has to offer, etc.

Having recently visited each end of the United States with one trip to New York and another to San Francisco, I naturally dug into where the real estate markets currently stand in these cities. I was quite surprised to find that, when matched up with Chicago, there was quite a big difference in the cost of real estate and the cost of living.

Chicago real estate more affordable
Even considering the current real estate market and its volatility, housing in New York and San Francisco is considerably more expensive compared to Chicago. In looking at other major cities as well, Chicago consistently fares more affordable, with the biggest difference being that Chicago offers the lower cost of housing. Using Sperling’s Cost of Living Index, here’s how a range of salaries in Chicago should increase to across the country for a comparable lifestyle:

City Comparable Salary
Chicago $150,000
San Francisco $277,858
New York City $225,203
Boston $218,182
Washington, D.C. $179,838
Seattle $192,529
Los Angeles $194,959

City Comparable Salary
Chicago $200,000
San Francisco $370,000
New York City $300,270
Boston $290,909
Washington, D.C. $239,784
Seattle $256,706
Los Angeles $259,784

City Comparable Salary
Chicago $300,000
San Francisco $555,716
New York City $450,405
Boston $436,364
Washington, D.C. $359,676
Seattle $385,059
Los Angeles $389,919

That’s simply comparing how far your dollars go in those cities. When it comes to housing, Washington D.C. is most comparable to Chicago, and housing is 54% more costly. San Francisco’s housing costs are a whopping 206% higher than the Second City—not to mention that an analogous lifestyle in San Francisco means earning nearly double the salary you would need in Chicago.

Chicago homes sell a lifestyle as well
While Chicago real estate is considerable more affordable, that’s not always reason enough to pack up and move across the globe. Very few of us would purchase a home in a city that had nothing else to offer simply because the price tag was right.

But purchasing a Chicago home buys a lifestyle as well. Residents of New York and San Francisco might offer that those cities have much to offer in the urban way, but Chicago certainly doesn’t come up short. Chicago residents have a long list of reasons they love this city, and being able to enjoy those things doesn’t come with that high price tag.

Chicago homes put a roof over your head, sure. But becoming a Chicago resident also means:

Endless entertainment: From great food to a long list of leisure activities to all the music and theater to take in, Chicago will never leave you bored. Even those things that might be considered tourist attractions—Millennium Park, the Art Institute, Museum Campus, John Hancock Tower—are so magnificent that they continue to be enjoyed by longtime Chicagoans.

Healthcare: Chicago has some of the finest, highest ranked hospitals in the country, with Rush University Medical Center being named a top hospital by US News and World Report and Northwestern Memorial Hospital being recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals by a leading healthcare report.

Ease of living: Public transportation, walkability and an urban setting make Chicago an incredibly easy place to live. Plenty of Chicago homes for sale are within a stone’s throw of a grocery store, restaurants and things to do.

Great schools: Chicago’s private schools are noted for their commitment to academics, community and citizenship, and many tops schools are in some of the most coveted Chicago neighborhoods.

If you’re considering relocating to Chicago, give me a call. I’ll be happy to share my experiences and insight on real estate in the U.S. and tell you more about opportunities in Chicago real estate. I can be reached at (312) 498-5080 or by email at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

City photos from Flickr; Courtesy of (clockwise from top left) sneakerdog; sean loyless; eva abreu; http2007; dherrera; kevitivity; bryce_edwards.

What’s to Love About Chicago and Chicago Real Estate

What's to Love about Chicago and Chicago Real Estate

photo from flickr/By Monika Thorpe

The Wall Street Journal had an article this weekend that picked the mind’s of 4 notable Chicagoans, each noting their favorite parts of the city. Put on the hot seat were Grant Achatz (chef/owner of 4-star restaurant Alinea); Reggie Love (personal aide to President Barack Obama); Nate Berkus (interior designer, talk show host and Oprah favorite) and Jeanna Gang (architect and co-owner of Studio Gang, who designed the award-winning Aqua Tower).

I love this sort of spotlight on Chicago—an inside look from those who know and appreciate the city. The Journal calls Chicago the “most modern, and the most ‘American,’ of our big cities, as vast and variegated as the country that spawned it.” It attributes the city’s vast cultural appeal to its unique neighborhoods, top-notch food, passion for sports, gut-busting comedy troupes, and music that has influenced the globe.

Every corner of the city is filled with class and sophistication, with much to do and see. Plus, Chicago is the ultimate place for an upscale lifestyle, with highly-touted schools, college hospitals, symphony and art museums. That alone sets the city apart from other major U.S. metropolises, but there is one other key defining factor: the cost of Chicago real estate is well below its counterparts in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Better yet, most Chicago condos put you within close distance to take it all in. No matter what your interests, Chicago truly offers something for everyone. A few favorites from those familiar Chicago faces include:

Quality drinks and eats: In the West Loop, you’ll find yourself near Perman Wine Selections, a favorite of Chef Grant Achatz, who tells the Journal it’s a refined and intimate place for quality reserves. He also lists The Drawing Room in the Gold Coast, with quality upscale bar food and innovative cocktails.

Superb entertainment: Chicago real estate in the Loop is a stone’s throw to Grant Park, listed by Obama Adviser Reggie Love as the place to experience music fests, outdoor plays and several museums.

Shopping for high design: Nate Berkus calls on the Randolph Street Market, Broadway Antique Market and Pavilion in Bucktown for high-end design pieces and antiques.

History and Culture: The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a new perspective on the city for design buffs, and much of Chicago real estate brings its own architectural influence. Jeanne Gang recommends the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which currently has a scale model of the Second City on exhibit through March.

I love seeing such high-caliber locals divulging what they love about Chicago. A posh lifestyle is right at home here, letting you indulge in the activities you enjoy the most and knowing they are offered in Chicago at the highest level.

To learn more about what Chicago offers, sign up for email updates on available Chicago homes for sale, or contact me at (312) 498-5080 or at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

A Chicago Lifestyle: Where the Rich Don't Have to be Poor

I came across this recent column in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the frantic, often excessive lifestyle that occurs in Manhattan: rents that cost more than many mortgages and offer half the space, to bumper-to-bumper traffic just out your front window, to sidewalk carts that require a trip to the ATM to pay for a snack. Even if you’re not living the life of luxury, you’re probably paying for it.

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NYC, SF, OC Among the 10 Costliest Cities To Live (Chicago Ranks Far Below at 14)

Luxury Chicago real estate could cost a fraction of other major cities.

Luxury Chicago real estate could cost a fraction of other major cities.


Costs of living continue to increase, and a big-city lifestyle makes no exception. In fact, calling many of the country’s metropolitan areas home could cost you more than twice the national average of standard living. The ACCRA Cost of Living Index recently released the top 10 most expensive urban areas to live in, and New York City, San Francisco and California’s Orange County all made the cut. Chicago, however, down at #14, brings that Second-City lifestyle without wiping out much of your income.

In addition to lower living expenses, a Chicago home will cost you less than a home in most major cities, according to the Index. Compared with Chicago, here’s how much housing would cost in these major cities:

New York City: 213% more
San Francisco: 121% more
Los Angeles: 89% more
Washington, D.C.: 68% more
Boston: 18% more
Seattle: 16% more
Portland, OR: 0% more/less
Las Vegas: 0% more/less

The cost of owning a Chicago home or Chicago condo doesn’t quite rank among other noteworthy cities. Chicago real estate in the most exclusive buildings might only cost you the average price of a New York City home (about $1.1 million). Even Las Vegas, a city often thought to have all the hustle-and-bustle of a major city for a lower cost doesn’t offer any more value than a Chicago home.

Not to mention that Chicago can hold its own among the offerings of other cities. Buying a Chicago home might cost less, but the city is rich in culture, history, architecture, shopping, dining and a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Chicago is lucky to be home to a number of spectacular museums, along with many buildings that present some of the finest architecture in the country. You’ll also find upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile, , first-class dining throughout every many neighborhoods and one of the best symphonies in the world—all of which can be found just up the block from the exquisite Chicago homes. And with luxury living so obtainable, you’ll have plenty left to enjoy it.

If you want to learn more about the opulent lifestyle Chicago offers, please contact agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or email him at ssalnick@Rubloff.com.