Cost of Living in Chicago

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While the cost of living in Chicago may not be as high as other US cities, such as New York and San Francisco, it is by no means a cheap place in which to live. With Chicago’s growth as a major financial and business destination in the USA, there has been a general increase in development and cost of living.

Cost of accommodation in Chicago

For expats living in Chicago, accommodation is likely to be the largest expense. Ultimately, how much expats spend on rent will depend on the area or suburb they choose to live in as well as whether they opt for an apartment or freestanding house.

Cost of transport in Chicago

Expats moving to Chicago will be glad to know that they won’t necessarily need to invest in a car. The city has a reasonably priced public transport network, which is comprehensive and efficient.

Cost of education in Chicago

There are many good public schools in Chicago which can be attended free of charge. Expats who choose to send their children to a private or international school should try to make sure that their employment relocation package includes an allowance for their children’s school fees as these can be high. Those opting to send their children to an international school should expect to pay in the region of USD 20,000 a year for tuition.

Cost of entertainment

Entertainment and leisure pursuits in Chicago are more reasonably priced than in other US cities. There are also plenty of activities in Chicago which cost little or nothing. For example, most museums have one day a week where there are no entrance fees. There are also lots of free music and arts festivals that take place in Chicago throughout the year, and plenty of public parks to enjoy at no cost at all.

Cost of living in Chicago chart

Prices may vary depending on area and service provider. The chart below shows average prices for June 2018.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

3,000 USD

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

2,000 USD

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

1,700 USD

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

1,100 USD


Dozen eggs


Milk (1 litre)

0.75 USD

Rice (1 kg)


Loaf of white bread

2.60 USD

Chicken breasts (1kg)

10.20 USD

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

12.50 USD

Eating out

Big Mac meal


Coca-Cola (330ml)



4.50 USD

Bottle of beer (local)


Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

65 USD


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

0.40 USD

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

50 USD

Monthly utilities (includes electricity, water and refuse)

150 USD


Taxi rate/km

1.40 USD

Bus fare in the city centre 

2.50 USD

Gasoline/petrol (per litre)

0.80 USD

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